Monday, October 31, 2011

Airline Bike Fees

Recently i've been thinking of doing some bicycle touring.  Some goals include touring breweries in Europe (Holland, Belgium, Germany), checking our Vancouver Island BC, going down the US west coast on route 101, and also checking our some of Quebec's excellent biking trails and routes.

 As part of my initial research I wanted to know how much it costs to transport a bike via commercial airlines as checked-in luggage.  The results were quite surprising as I learned that this is a very costly option when compared to similar sport equipment such as golf clubs.

Here are some examples of bike fees for flights within North America.  Apologies if this table is a bit rough, it has been copied from my notes while I was researching the subject.  Total amount to travel with one checked-in bag and a bike is in the left most column.  Keep in mind this is likely to change as airlines are constantly updating their fees.

Airline nameFirst bagSecond BagOverweight Over sized 63-80" / 81-115"Special Bike FeeNotes
Alaska Air
Total - $70 - $145
$20$20$50 51-100lbs$50 / $75NoneNo Special bike fee but overweight and oversize charges apply.  Also First and Second bag fee.
Total - $360?
$25$35$100 51-70lbs $200 71-99.9lbs$100$100Hard to tell but it seems like every fee can apply???
Total - $175
$25n/an/a as long as < 70 lbsn/a as long as <= 115"$150Linear dimensions must not exceed 115 linear inches.  Must be under 70lbs.
Air Canada
Total - $110
$25$35n/an/a$50Only regular baggage fees plus bike handling fee.
Total - $100
Freen/a (I think)$50$50None"Each guest is permitted to bring one bicycle and one helmet, but oversize and overweight baggage fees will be charged per bike per direction"
Continental AirlinesTotal - $125$25n/a n/a n/a$100"Continental Airlines accepts a non-motorized bicycle with single or double seats (including tandem) or up to two non-motorized bicycles packed in one case as checked baggage. A $100 service charge applies each way for domestic travel."
U.S. Airways
Total - $225
$25 n/a n/a n/a$200Just the $200 fee

Considering the costs involved in transporting my bike which ranges from $100 to possibly $360 each way, and much more internationally, I have decided to get a folding bike.  I figured if I can save a few hundred dollars each trip for both myself and my wife, it is worth it.  The manufacture I picked is Green Gear Cycling Inc out of Eugene, OR in the US.  They are more commonly referred to by their bicycle brand, Bike Friday.  I've decided to purchase a Bike Friday New World Tourist for myself and a Crusoe for my wife.  Each can be packed into a regular suitcase which will only incur regular baggage fees.

When I get them early next year I will post a full review on this site.  I will also do a write up on the configuration in which I ordered them as most of their bikes are either full custom bikes or a 'stock' bike personalized for the individual buyer.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Murray Beach Provincial Campground in New Brunswick

While on our summer vacation in New Brunswick we decided to take a drive to the Northumberland Strait, specifically to Murray Beach.  We were lucky and the weather was absolutely perfect.

View Larger Map

The campground was very pleasant.  It has a nice mixture of treed and non-treed sites.  Sites that are in the trees are very nicely shaded while most of the ones closer to the water are out in an open field.  The campground also has a nice mixture between full service sites for large RV's and also large non-serviced sites.  In addition there are a few very rustic cabin sitting on top of a 60 foot high cliff for rent as well.  I was not able to look inside of the cabins, but I assume they are as rustic on the inside as the outside.  From outside of the cabins there is a great view of the confederation bridge.

Here are a few of the shaded camp sites.

As you can see its not very busy even in August.

The beach is long and uncrowded, even during prime vacation season.  The nicest thing about the beach, and all of those on the strait, is that the water is very warm.  In fact it is warm enough to swim in comfortably unlike those on the Bay of Fundy. 

The view from those cabins

Here is the tourism website for the campground.

The coordinates are 46.1776, -63.9791

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fundy National Park

I was recently on vacation in New Brunswick, Canada.  Since I already have a park pass, I decided to drop into Fundy National Park to check it out as it's been at least 10 years since I was last there.

The park is relatively small, at least in comparison to those in the rockies.  It has 3 campgrounds, two of which have many accommodations, with the other more rustic.

 I decided to do a short hike while there as well and picked the Mathews Head loop near the water.

I wouldn't categorize it as an easy trail but perhaps moderate since there are a few steep climbs up the costal cliffs.  The senery is very nice as you get some beutaful views from the water facing cliffs along the trail.

As usual here is the track and elevation profile from the hike.

Here are some pictures from the hike.  It was fairly foggy when we were hiking but you can be assured the views are very impressive once it clears.

If anyone wants GPS coordinates from the area please leave a comment and i'll get them over to you.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bald Hills Hiking Trail in Jasper, Alberta

This weekend I made a quick two day trip to Jasper to do some hiking.  Since Bald Hills was high on my to do list, I decided to do it on Friday.

This trail leaves from the second parking lot at Maligne Lake (just past the bridge) with a clearly labeled tail kiosk present.
The trail is clearly marked and very easy to follow the whole way up to the lookout. At times it can be a little demanding due to the steady incline and somewhat steep sections, however it is well worth the effort.  Part way up the old fire road you can branch off on a shortcut route which is steeper but takes some distance off your hike.  I decided to take the longer, but slightly easier route.  Past the Lookout you can follow a well established trail almost straight up to the peak. Conditions were excellent all day, making for astonishing views from the summit.  I would highly recommend doing this hike so long as you are reasonably fit.

Here is a map with the tracks from my GPS. As previously noted, on the way up and down the trail I opted not to take the shortcut route, so this map reflects that fact.

(click to enlarge)

This is the elevation Gain. The start of this graph is from just past the trail head, and ends down near the first parking lot at the lake.  Total elevation gain to the summit is around 610 meters.
(click to enlarge)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Long Island Lake Municipal Campground

Last weekend we were looking for a place to do some front country camping with friends that wasn't too far from the city of Edmonton.

We decided to try Long Island Lake Municipal Campground near Westlock, AB.  The campground is a small, well run, campground with a rather pleasant beach area.  Most visitors seemed to be family oriented, perhaps because of the beach which has a playground on the perimeter.  We were glad to notice this was not the 'party all night' crowd and things were very quiet by 11:30pm.  A large number of ATVs were present in the campground but all of the owners respected the rules and left the machines on their trailers.

Campsites vary in privacy but overall are decently sheltered from the neighboring site, with the exception of a few that are very near the road and are more RV oriented.

All things considered it is a decent option for a quick camping trip if you are not looking to drive too far from the Edmonton area.  It seems to book up early so you may have trouble securing a site last minute.

View Long Island Lake Campground in a larger map

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lakeland Canoe Circuit

While I was researching a trip to the Lakeland Provincial Park area, I was in search of GPS coordinates to help me locate the backcountry camp sites.  Unable to find such a resource I decided to make some records while I was in the area.

Before departing I cross referenced points on the official map to points on my topo map I had loaded into Garmin Basecamp.  This gave me a good estimation of both portage and campsite locations.  These proved to be reasonably accurate.

I'll provide both estimated gps waypoint data as well as actual gps waypoint data for the sites I visited in this post.

Some general observation are that campsites and portages are not always marked well.  Some have nice signage, while others have none at all.  Trails are well maintained for the most part with little bushwhacking and walking though mud required.  Jackson lake seems to be much more windy then the others so perhaps plan some extra time when traversing that lake.  Motor boats are present on all lakes but are generally small and do not create huge wakes.  Canoe carts are present at all portages and seem to be in very good shape.

The official map is provided here.  Alberta parks site is hereLac La Biche has some additional information on their site.

Jackson Lake Area

Jackson Lake Staging Area
N54 51.655 W111 32.736

Jackson Lake Staging Area Dock
N54 50.373 W111 31.359
This is the end of the trail leading from the parking lot to Jackson Lake.

Jackson Lake East Campground 
N54 48.757 W111 31.354

-3 Tent Pads
- Some movable Benches
- Many picnic tables
- Bear bag hang
- One fire pit for each site

Jackson Lake South Campground
 N54 48.250 W111 31.757 (Approximate)
 - I have not visited this site.
- Accessible from Kinnaird Lake as well as Jackson Lake

Jackson Lake Peninsula Campground
N54 48.331 W111 32.934

- 1 Tent pad
- Bear Proof Locker
- May be open to weather
- Due to a high water level this was actually an island site when I visited instead of a peninsula.
- fixed place picnic table with firepit.

Mile 10 Campground
N54 49.091 W111 34.632 (Approximate)
- I did not visit this site.
- Accessible by quads (atvs)

Kinnaird Lake

Kinnaird Lake Campground
N54 47.200 W111 32.145 (Approximate)
- I did not visit this site.
- Map shows 1 site

Kinnaird Island Campground
N54 47.083 W111 31.561 (Approximate)

- I did not visit this site.
- Map shows 3 sites

Unnamed Campground
N54 46.918 W111 31.241 (Approximate)
- I did not visit this site.
- Map shows 2 sites

Portage Between Kinnaird Lake and Blackett Lake
N54 44.958 W111 32.193 (Kinnaird Lake Side)
N54 44.804 W111 32.806 (Blackett Lake Side, Approximate)

- When I was there water levels were high and the Blackett end of the portage was underwater.
- 3 carts were available, however I had to hike to the other side to get one.

Blackett Lake Area

Blackett West Campground
N54 43.968 W111 34.194 (Approximate)

- I did not visit this site.
- Map shows 1 site

Unnamed Campground
N54 43.555 W111 34.342
- Located on an island
- One tent site
- Grass is very high and overgrown
- No obvious bear bag hang or bear proof locker on site
- Area behind picnic site is very overgrown and makes the site feel enclosed
- A bear and two cubs were spotted on the island earlier in the day so I left in search of a different place to stay

Blackett Lake Southwest
N54 42.546 W111 34.707 (Approximate)

- I went by this sites location but could not see the actual campground, only an unused trail presumably for snowmobiles.
- No signs were present
- Did not look used at all if it did exist

Blackett Lake Campground
N54 42.663 W111 34.069 (Approximate)
- Located at the end of an quad (atv) trail used to haul in motor boats from the road.
- seemed like a busy site with lots of quads and motor boats

N54 42.581 W111 33.798
- Located in the same area as the above sites but on the opposite site of a peninsula.
- One site
- Bear proof storage locker
- Nice clear side
- Had a bear wander into the site just before departing for the day.  He got scared when he spotted me and ran up a tree.

Blackett East
N54 43.668 W111 33.151 (Approximate)
- I did not visit this site.
- Map shows 1 site

Unnamed Campground
N54 43.591 W111 32.591 (Approximate)
- I did not visit this site.

Portage Between Blackett Lake and McGuffin Lake
N54 44.910 W111 34.429 (Blackett Lake Side)
N54 45.552 W111 35.093 (McGuffin Lake Side)
McGuffin Lake Area

McGuffin Lake Campground
N54 46.695 W111 35.470 (Approximate)
- I did not visit this site.
- Map shows 2 sites

Portage Between McGuffin Lake and Jackson Lake Ponds
N54 46.986 W111 34.225 (McGuffin Lake Side)
N54 47.222 W111 34.218 (Jackson Lake Side)
- Short 750m portage
- Avoid the tall narrow cart which is of a different design then all the others.  If no other cards are available, it is easier to hike to the other side and get a 'normal' cart.

* Please note this information is provided as-is with all faults.  The content here is provided on a casual basis and is simply a documentation of my experiences at this park and should not be used as a substitute for official documentation.