Saturday, September 06, 2014
A biking and sea kayaking summer highlight.
One of my hiker friends has a place on Thetis Island and generously invited us hikers to visit. I missed the first get-together, which was kind of cool because they sailed up from Vancouver to Thetis Island, about a 6 hour sail on the inside passage between the mainland and Vancouver Island. The second invitation, one other friend and I decided to bike there, that is, we took the commuter train to Vancouver and the Seabus to North Vancouver, then biked 28 km to the ferry terminal, took the ferry (one hour 40 minutes) to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, biked 32 km to Chemainus, then took a small ferry (30 minutes) to Thetis Island and biked 2 km to our friend's house. That was a fun day, but it took all day, as we had to wait for the ferry scheduled departures. We left at 7:30 in the morning and arrived at 6 pm. It was a warm sunny day and there was a wind off the water, it was a great ride. We were dusty and sweaty, we went for a dip in the ocean that evening, so refreshing. I don't have any photos of our bike ride. Or any photos after the kayak, as my camera battery ran out.
The second day, we went sea kayaking, my first time ever. I wanna do everything, now I want to kayak too. Too many fun outdoor cardio choices.
Arriving at Thetis Island on the small ferry
Sea kayaking day, getting to and in the water
One launched, two to go
We went along one side of the island, stopped at the tip for lunch, then came back up the other side of the island. Some amazing shoreline and cliffs along the way
Lunch spot and views from there
Leaving the lunch spot, heading back up the other side of the island
Heading through the channel towards home
The next day was rainy in the morning so we read books. In the afternoon we visited a winery, hiked, went to the pub and played darts, went to the dock where our friend showed us her sail boat. The island is mostly forest with a rocky shoreline, but at one end by the ferry terminal there is a small farm and some pasture and also there is the winery on a hillside close to a small fresh-water lake. The cars lined up along the road to wait for the ferry. We went back home on our bikes the same way we came, it was a fun small holiday of cycling, kayaking, reading, hiking, visiting, swimming, ah summer life on the island...
Thursday, September 04, 2014
Another summer highlight
This trail had interesting history and impressed me with the youngness of the province I live in, British Columbia. There were no roads for wheeled vehicles on mainland British Columbia before 1858. The settlements were mainly forts engaged in the fur trade, and furs moved by canoe or through mountain trails by horse brigades east to the fur headquarters in York Factory on Hudson Bay because of its convenient access to the vast interior waterway systems of the Saskatchewan and Red rivers. Called "factories" (because the "factor," i.e., a person acting as a mercantile agent did business from there), these posts operated in the manner of the Dutch fur trading operations in New Netherlands.
In 1858, gold was discovered in the Fraser Canyon and the influx of people and money resulted in wagon roads being built and the horse packing trails were abandoned. These trails are now being restored for recreational hikers and backpackers, the trail I went on goes from Hope to Kamloops, which was between the canoe fur-trading routes of the Fraser and Thompson rivers. In the very early days, the canoers portaged along the trail, later they left canoes at both ends.
Really, no roads in BC until 1858, that's amazing.
Hope Mountain Centre organized this back pack
We camped at one of the midpoints of the trail, then day-hiked east one day and west the next, to the next camp along the trail. The horse brigade had established camps along the trails.
I love hike starts. Look at those big packs. The first day we started at the Jacobson Lake parking lot, and hiked to a camp on the trail, Conglomerate Flats.
There were 13 of us, 5 leaders including 2 historians (one a retired high school history teacher), two trail-restorers and one guide-organizer, and 8 signed up to hike and learn the history.
Kelley Cook, one of the trail restorers. She did a lot of research and a lot of physical work with a crew to find and restore the trail
The beginning of the trail was in the forest. The tree in the first photo, I don't know if the photo resolution will show you the detail, but it has a vertical slash in the bark, which Kelley says was a trail mark made by the horse fur brigade guides.
Coming up through the tree line to the first camp. This was the biffy, the first time I have seen one like this, but from what I heard, they are the latest style of campground toilets.
Food stored high so bears can't get it in kevlar bags so birds can't get it either. We stored our food like this overnight and when we were away from camp on day hikes.
We gathered and ate together, we were not allowed to have a fire as it was dry and forest fire season, but we gathered around the remnants of an earlier season camp fire
Pharrel, Kelley's Karelian Bear Dog. This dog was so cool, he had a mellow and dignified temperment. If I get another dog, I want one of these. He is bred to be alert and to stand off bears. Luckily we didn't encounter any bears. He had is own back pack for food, and he had a collar in Hudson's Bay blanket colours.
Some day hike scenic photos
Hellebore, a very toxic plant, I learned on this hike. It is everywhere.
There were a lot of alpine flowers too, we were challenged by the leader to learn 5 of them. Another challenge from the leader, you have $12, how could you use this to change the world. There were some interesting answers, from buying seeds and donating the produce to the food bank, to donate our $12, and as a group it would be $156 to a worthy cause, Kelley suggested to the trail restoration, to host a power net-working seminar, to consider donating time to a worthy cause, which doesn't cost anything (the realization that $12 can not do much, but donating time can)
more scenic shots - Palmer's Pond
We visited Campment Du Chevreuil. The HBC managers were usually English or Scottish and the workers-packers- canoers were usually French-Canadian and native. Some of the camps had French names.
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Comments welcome on what kind of tents, stoves, water purifiers, sleeping bags, backpacks etc you use.
My pack pack is a Gregory Contour 70 and I love it. I have had it for about a year. I chose it because it fit me the best, it feels light even when it is heavy, lifting it from the ground takes an effort, once it is settled and cinched, it is awesome. The outdoor store, Mountain Equipment Coop, let me try out lots of back packs with weight in the and I am happy I found a good fit. It has a lot of pockets and pouches, I prefer a pack with a streamlined exterior with zippers for access top to bottom, but I went for the fit. I am learning where to pack the stuff I bring and need. Tent, sleeping bag and pad, extra clothes, food, stove, first aid and tools etc.
Now I know how much I don't know. I don't know the names or the specific terms. The stove closest has the biggest capacity, you can cook a regular dinner on this stove for half a dozen campers. It has a metal guard to keep the heat in. This kind of stove is also the heaviest, so it is great to bring when you have a group that is sharing weight and meals.
The stove behind it is a burner with a pot or pan, you can use this stove to make all kinds of smaller meals, soups, rice, pasta, dehydrated foods. It is a lighter stove.
The stove to the right, the Jetboil, only heats water but comes with a bowl. You can use this stove to boil water and add to small meals in a bowl, soups, tea, instant potatoes, dehydrated foods, instant milk powder, instant oatmeal etc. The Jetboil is the stove I bought, I think I can make quite a variety of foods and not have to scrub the pot and it is the lightest stove of all and the unit that boils the water is insulated, so it is very fuel efficient.
Chemical -- tablets or drops. The drops are 2 small bottles, the drops are mixed to activate, the water is ready to drink after 30 minutes. I chose the tablets for now. One small tablet per litre of water and it is ready to drink after 10 minutes.
This zaps the bugs, it takes a few minutes. This was a small unit, but with time and patience, can serve a group. With the chemical and UV purifier, the now inert debris stays in the water.
Water micro filter
You can get these in small or big units. Our leader brought a big one, she could quickly provide gallons of drinking water for a big group. The bugs and other stuff are filtered out of the water.
In terms of bulk, tablets are easiest to pack, followed by the drops in two small containers, then the UV purifier, then the water micro filter.
I like these two tents the best, the one on the left is a BIg Agnes, one door, 2 person tent. The orange one is a Big Agnes, 2 door, 3 person tent. They are both super light, and more expensive than the average tent, which I think is worth the extra expense if they are quality and last a long time, and they have that reputation
More views of the two Big Agnes tents
Some more tent styles.
A slightly heavier, much cheaper 2-door, 2-man tent.
I favour the 2-man Big Agnes green tent because I don't like the side doors. I have a bit of lower back stiffness and find them harder to get in than sliding backwards through a front door.
A light, big and roomy tent held up by hiking poles. This was one of the leaders' tent. It takes some skill to get right, but it is light and roomy and medium expensive.
Some like a simple cover and ground sheet, it is cheap and medium light, gives lots of room, but is dependent on trees and rocks for the roof ties, although one could use hiking poles as well.
It takes skill to put up as well.
I am also looking at some MEC and MSR newer-model, medium-price and under 4 pounds (not as light as Big Agnes, but only about 4 ounces heavier) 2-man, front-entry, mesh under the fly tents. The Big Agnes I like has a mesh for the main tent roof, and we left the fly off on a glorious summer night. I couldn't take a night photo, but imagine looking up at the star-filled sky with the trees framing your view.
Sunday, August 31, 2014
This summer's highlights were the Ladies Back Pack July 25-27, the Hudson Bay Company Trail Back Pack Aug 8-10 and the Thetis Island Cycle and Sea Kayak Aug 11-14.
The Ladies Back Pack was to give us over-night back packer wannabes some skills and equipment information. At the end, and before the HBC Trail back pack, I bought a stove and water purifier. I don't have a tent yet, but I know which one I want to get. Last year when I did the West Coast Trail, it was with mostly borrowed equipment.
We had a great group and great weather. It was an all-around awesome experience.
We walked along a ridge with a bit of a climb to our campsite, in a flowering alpine meadow among trees
After dropping off our big packs and having lunch, we went for a hike further up the trail
Stopping to check the map at a trail junction
The scenery was splendid, we got at and above the tree line, and saw some patches of snow
At the end, getting ready to go home - and a whiskey jack bird in the tree close by, ready to clean up the crumbs.
Everyone was so positive, we did a game of roses and thorns, everyone was to make a comment on what was good and what was bad about the back pack. Everyone declined to offer thorns and there were plenty of roses. We tried to find a uniting thing for all of us, interests, books read, origins, etc. There was not one thing that all of us said yes until we finally found it, every single one of us were tom boys and kids.
Next blog will be only about equipment
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