The weekend after returning home from two months of bike touring in Europe a big group of our friends were getting together for an overnight trip at Brew Lake. We thought it would be a great way to see everyone again, and get F out hiking with her buddies.
We left town at 8 am and it was already super warm. Our family does not do so well with warm, which is my we tend to pick places like Alaska, the Yukon, Greenland and Norway for our holidays. F in particular does not deal well with heat as she does not like getting sweaty. Turns out that our car also did not like the heat, because as we were driving up the logging road the clutch started failing to engage after changing gears. Luckily it still (almost) made it to the trailhead before we had to abandon it in hopes that it would be better once we got back.
F started hiking up the road with our friend Tim and his daughter, T. I didn't catch up to them before we got to the trailhead, where everyone were busy getting there kids ready for hiking. The trail is more of a route. It is overgrown in the clearcut and goes through several boulder patches. Normally challenging trails tend to keep the kids entertained, but that was definitely not the case for F on this day. Things quickly went down hill on the way up. It seems that everything was wrong if you asked F. I must admit that I also thought that it was way too warm and way too buggy. I think both Christian and I had this expectation that F could easily hike this particular trail, and F was very determined to show us how incapable she was. After a two hour meltdown F had convinced us that it was best to go back home to do the laundry and clean the apartment (it sure could use it). They say that you can't make them eat, sleep, or poop... but I guess you also can't make them hike. We have later determine that there were lots of things that we could have done better in this situation, but I was still impressed with Christian's calmness and compassion. Our main lesson for the next trip was to change our language. We would like to keep it upbeat and positive, and not try to bring any time constraint into the situation (like, we have to keep going to catch up to your friends, or before it gets dark, etc.). We (more recently) did an overnight hike into Conflict Lake which went very well, so maybe we learned something.
I decided to continue the trip with N, so we had a snack and rearranged the gear. I quickly made it up to the lake and not so much later all the families had arrived. The lake provided a perfect, cool swim, and a small breeze kept the bugs away. And despite the heat it was really nice up there. Kids all enjoyed playing, some in the lake and some on shore.
The Nelson family had left their tent pole at home, so Scott shared the tent with N and I, which made me feel better about carrying a four person tent up there. In the morning N crawled over and cuddled Scott, but later woke up surprised that it wasn't her dad she was snuggling.
Sunday morning I woke up to the sound of mosquitos buzzing and although they got better later in the morning the nice breeze never came back to take them away. The heat was also pretty brutal, so I was happy when my ride, Maya and Gili, decided to make it an early departure. I took my time packing, while they started heading down with their three year old. At two we were back at the car driving back towards Vancouver.
"Daddy - what's an adventure?"
"It's when you don't know how things are going to turn out."
"Why did you call this an adventure?"
"Well, we didn't really know how things were going to turn out..."
It was the first overnight trip without mom for F and I (sort of - we did go up to Cathedral Lakes for a week this summer, but Mom couldn't stay away and had decided to come up and join us after only a night). The plan was for me to tow/carry her up to the VOC's Brew Hut. We figured it would be our last chance before the snow really closed in for the season and we could no longer drive the first 10 km along the Chance and Roe Creek FSRs. Line and N would have a relaxing weekend at home, and avoid the storm that was supposed to settle in on Saturday night.
After F and I finished grocery shopping Friday night (I've learned that one of the key ways to get F excited for a trip is for her to pick the food) I put her to bed, packed the things, and made some final tweaks to F's towing harness (which had been prototyped while skiing the previous weekend). It was probably 1am by the time everything was set, but we weren't getting up *too* early the next morning, since we'd planned to drive the road and only had to travel ~5 km. I picked up our good friend Norkio who would join us for the trip at 7 am.
Shortly after leaving the highway, at about km 2, we ran into the classic gong-show of multiple cars trying to turn around and leave or park on a narrow logging road. Uh oh. There was snow on the road, and if that wasn't enough to dissuade you there was a downed tree too. I got out and ran up the first bit of road to check the snow depth and the tree. Snow was ~1/3 the tire diameter, all super wet and heavy. It seemed we could drive under the tree at the very edge of the road. The snow was from earlier in the week - just a single storm's worth - that we'd expected should have been rain at this elevation... just like it was raining now. I'm not normally one to risk getting myself stuck... but with 8 km more road and snow that wasn't too deep I figured I should test the waters. With 4-low, real winter tires, and chains on all 4 wheels the vehicle made slow but steady progress uphill. But I didn't feel I had the safety margin to push it for the whole 8 km so we turned around and parked. While sorting ourselves out for skiing some guy showed up in a jacked-up 4-runner and tried to make it up the road using momentum and mudder-tires... it's not really clear to me if he thought he was going to drive the whole road on momentum, or how he was planning to go around the tree at that speed, but he got stuck at the end of our tracks, then un-stuck, then almost slid off the road, then almost slid into a different tree, then almost slid into my car. I held F well off to the side of the road for the display.
We started off with F being carried. Norkio helped me shoulder the load, with an additional small pack strapped to the back of the child-carrying pack. It felt pretty heavy, but manageable. After probably less than a kilometre F wanted to come out and be towed instead so we got her out, clicked into her skis, and started towing. F has actually gotten pretty good at being towed, so we were making reasonable progress... at least whenever she wasn't falling over and laughing about it. Mostly, though, she just sang or talked to Noriko while cutting out of the skin track so she could make her "own track in the fresh snow". A dozen more downed trees made the towing more challenging, and washed away regrets about not driving the road. F shuffled on her skis through the occasional bare patches where flowing water had washed away the snow. A few hours of towing and a few snack breaks later, near the bridge over Roe Creek (km 6) F requested a break, so we loaded her back into the backpack so she could nap while I carried her. This time she felt really heavy. I was having difficulty shouldering the load and keeping up to Noriko. The pack felt like it was stabbing me through the hip belt, and no adjustment could fix it. I thought maybe I was starting to get soft - I haven't hit the gym nearly as often since N was born - but in retrospect I think it was the extra water weight (see the end of the report). We struggled on, passing by a number of parties (mostly daytrippers) on their way back after bailing on their own Brew Hut plans.
At around 1:30 pm, 3 hours from dark this time of year, we made the call to turn around halfway up the R200 branch (km 8.5ish). F had woken up from her nap very wet and a bit cold, and the rain that had been following us all day had turned into wet heavy snow. There was a cold wind. The storm was coming in early, and it was pretty clear that we would get hammered by it in the alpine, in the dark, breaking trail looking for the hut in a whiteout. Now, I've done more than my fair share of alpine-storm-whiteout navigation, but there was no way I could be sure I'd be able to keep F warm and safe. This was the first time (for F) that we weren't going to complete our nominal objective. F was crushed (even though I started trying to prepare her for it the moment we hit snow at km 2). F is often pretty vocal when she's upset, so I didn't realize just how crushed she was until she managed a "get the tears out of my goggles" in between sobs. She had literally *filled* her ski goggles with tears, and the water line had just reached the bottom of her eyes. I was simultaneously heartbroken and stunned that it was physically possible to generate such a large volume of tears. I drained her goggles and actually started heading towards the hut again for a few minutes before I came to my senses.
I got F warm by putting my primaloft sweater (the only spare clothes I was carrying for myself) over top of all her clothes and changing her mittens. Fortunately she quickly warmed and cheered up a lot on the ski back down. Even more fortunately Steve Grant, who I loosely know from all his positive contributions to the outdoor community, overtook us on his own ski back down to the car. We chatted a bit and he tipped us off to the location of an old trappers cabin not too far from the road, about halfway back to the car. The goal switched from making it back to the car in the dark to trying to make it to the cabin before dark. We experimented with a variety of techniques:
With about a half-hour left before dark we came to Steve's unmistakable markings - a little snow wall, and "cabin" scratched into the snow. I ran off on reconnaissance while F and Noriko hung out - the last thing I wanted to be doing was go bushwacking around in the dark with F looking for a cabin of unknown quality/location. But it turned out that Steve had truly saved our day by hiking all the way to the cabin and back - it was easy to follow his tracks straight there. The cabin was small and with some obvious rodent problems, but it was dry inside, it had a wood stove, and there was even some only-mildly-damp firewood. I retrieved F and Noriko and we rolled in just after dark. F was so excited to be in "the secret cabin" and to make the sea-animal-shaped mac' and cheese she'd selected. I was excited to find some soap so we could properly clean up after the rodents. We even managed to (mostly) dry out our soaking wet clothes.
The next day we made some snowmen in the ample slush-rain before hiking back to the road and skiing out. F insisted on walking back to the road herself, and she did, except for the part where all the recent precipitation had turned it into a river. I carried her through that. Then more skiing/towing down the logging road. We only had one meltdown, when F became unconsolably upset/scared that some snowmobiles were going to come and that they would be really loud. Other than that pretty smooth sailing. When we made it back to the car I declared that the weekend had been our first "real" adventure together, and then needed to explain what that meant.
When I got home I gathered all the wet stuff I'd been carrying (as well as F) and weighed it. 97 lbs. I could swear it wasn't that heavy before - it had just soaked up a lot of water (of course, most of the food was also eaten by this point). So, I guess I'm not getting so soft. Line asked F what her favourite part of the trip was. "The slush-rain!" she declared.
I have since invested in a cheap all-plastic adult-sized raincoat for F. It fits over top of all her ski clothes, is long like a trenchcoat in the body, long enough to completely cover her mittens in the arms, and I put little clips on the edge of the hood to keep it from blowing back off her helmet. We tested it rain-skiing at Cypress this weekend - she was bone dry under there, even after standing in the water pouring off the roof. Perfect...
(F: Daddy, we have to hurry up, otherwise we might miss the jellybean station.
Normally I am not a big fan of bribery in parenting, but when it comes to making my almost 4 year old hike, I will do basically anything to make it fun for her. So far I have found that bringing her best friend, who is almost two years older, along is the best. Other kids will also work as long as they are not too fast. Playing a chase game or a hidden game can also help move things along. However, on the away to Harmony Lake, there is no doubt that things could have easily turned out very different without the jellybean stations. Our friend, Scott, would occasionally hike ahead, get out the bag of jellybeans and if the kids showed up within a certain time frame they would all receive a jellybean.
Scoot and Sandra had invited us to spend the weekend with them in Whistler. Sunday morning (Oct. 1st) Scott and Christian had run up the mountain, and Sandra, my dad and I had taken the kids up the gondola on Whistler Mountain. The goal was the Harmony Lake loop. After taking the peak-to-peak back and forth we started the hike, but right out of the gate F declared her legs to be way to tired for walking. We hadn't really explain to her that we were planning on hiking and now we were paying for it. It took Christian a solid 15 min to get her going. The going was slow until Scott broke out the jellybeans, but then the hiking was smooth the rest of the day.
We had a nice lunch at Harmony Lake, did the little loop and then hiked back along the Harmony Meadows trail. A total of 3.5 km and around 150 m of elevation gain. It was a beautiful day, mostly sunny, with a dusting of snow on the mountains and the fall colours starting to surface. We saw a little with of frost, which got F really excited about the upcoming ski season. N slept the whole way and continued to sleep, while I had a celebratory hot chocolate in the chalet.
On the second day I got a text on our satellite messenger from Line:
Line: "Part of me wants to come up with the first shuttle tomorrow, but that is probably kind of crazy."
Me: "No smoke or bugs. Bring cash for camp fee, and the big tent."
Line: "You always know just what to say. I can't get hold of the lodge, so can you ask about a shuttle up tomorrow at 10am when you get back from hiking?"
... a few logistic messages ...
Line: "I still can't get hold of them. I will make it for 10am. Camping at base."
And so Line packed herself, our 6 week old baby N, and the additional food/gear they'd need for 3 nights of camping into our car and started driving East from Vancouver, stopped at a provincial park on the side of the road that night, and caught the first shuttle the next morning to join F and I up at Cathedral Lakes.
Matt Gunn had started hustling people together for a multi-family trip to Cathedral Lakes at the end of August since well before N was born. Since it was so close to the birth we had decided that I would go up with F for some daddy-daughter time, and Line would get a chance to "relax" at home with the new baby (as anybody with a young child and a baby knows it *is* in fact relaxing to hang out with just the baby). Matt was quite successful - a loosely-knit group of 11 (? I think... there were so many) families of like-minded backcountry families converged on the park for more-or-less a week. I travelled up and camped with our friends Tim and Michelle and their son L. Other families we knew well and planned to camp with included Scott and Sandra and their kids E and H, and Jen and Jon and their kids L and M. We got to know other families up there too, it was great. But with so many families and so much kids-in-the-woods going on Line just couldn't stay away - she only lasted a day before she got cabin fever and just had to join us. Of course, the smoke and bugs arrived along with her.
It worked out great for me - I still got 2 days and a night "alone" (as alone as you can be with so many families) with F for some quality daddy-daughter time, and later got to spend time with the whole family. Jon and I even snuck out for a day to go get off-route climbing the North Buttress of Grimface; this would turn into 15 pitches of the hardest climbing I've ever done in the alpine, eventually topping out after 10 hours on the wall... fortunately with Jon to lead essentially all the pitches. So I got a taste of adventure in, too.
On our last day we were actually evacuated (at a pretty casual pace) due to worries that a nearby fire on the other side of the border might get too close to the area. Better to be evacuated casually as a precaution than in a hurry. The ranger was a little bit worried, though, when he came by to give the order and asked if all members of our party were accounted for... "Well, Line is out hiking solo with her 6-week old baby... but she'll be back by 1:00, and we're not scheduled to go down until 2:00". I started to get a little worried too as 1:00 drew closer, but our friend (and midwife who helped deliver both F and N) Lena had already run off down the trail to let Line know so I concentrated on getting our gear squared away.
A few things we learned on the trip:
It seems this trip happened so long ago... but as it turns out 2 kids leaves much less time for blog-posting than 1 kid...
In a marriage you divide responsibilities. Line's usually in charge of planning and writing the trip report; I'm usually in charge of carrying the heavy things and taking pictures. However trip reports involving ridiculousness and/or suffering are generally my responsibility. So, with that segue, I present the prelude to our first post-birth, 2-kid, camping trip.
A few weeks after the birth of N, our second daughter, my parents flew in from Ontario to ease my transition back to work. They are real workhorses, so our apartment was in tip-top shape. That, along with a fast postpartum recovery (despite pushing out a 4.6 kg, heavier than the 97th percentile, baby girl at home), had Line thinking we should go on a camping trip the weekend after their departure. Everybody was excited about the idea. My parents were to fly out Wednesday night, with N just over a month old.
The day of their departure my dad called me at work to report sewage was leaking into our apartment. We live in a basement suite, and one of the pipes running across the ceiling in our gear room had developed a crack. I called our building manager and the landlord came by, wrapped the pipe in duct-tape, and promised to return the next day to fix the problem properly. This would involve replacing the whole length of pipe, which crosses the entire length of the gear room, foyer, and F's room (where it's buried in the ceiling).
My landlord generally makes a pretty big mess when he does any work, so I knew I needed to be prepared. After seeing my parents off I set to work on fortifications. I evacuated all climbing gear and most of F's stuff to the living room, and hung poly-tarp over everything else. Since our apartment is small this meant that essentially all space, except for our bedroom, was either a refugee camp for our belongings or a future battle-ground. The whole family slept in our bed.
The next day Line (somehow) managed to keep the kids out of the house all day so the work could be done; I met them in the park for dinner. We came home late to find fresh sewage on the walls, floor, ceiling and door of the gear room, sewage stains all over the inside of F's play area (which they appeared to have at least attempted to wipe up with bleach) and floor. The kitchen, which wasn't even involved, had broken glass and sewage-soiled clothes on the floor as well as debris from behind the drywall (including rat poo) in the sink. I called the building manager to ask when people would be back to finish cleanup... "So, you're saying there are areas that require additional cleaning?" Apparently he was under the impression everything was buttoned up.
Line managed to isolate the kids in the bedroom while I speed-cleaned the kitchen and bathroom (also soiled, somehow) so we could put them to bed (again, in our room). Shortly after F went to sleep N woke up and needed to be changed. As I picked my way across our sewage-stained apartment heading for the change table (which, thank god, I had also covered in poly tarp) N looked up at me, smiled, and cooed. I smiled and cooed back and soon enough we were having our very first cooing conversation, right there amongst the sewage stains. It totally melted my heart, along with all the frustrations of the day.
The next morning Line managed to evacuate the whole family, without F touching anything, to our friend (and frequent saviour) Michelle's house. I knew better to trust that things would be cleaned properly so I left work early to check the place out before the rest of the family would return. I found that the centre ~1m of the obvious sewage-splatters on the door/wall had been spot cleaned away, but that was about the extent of it. I called the building manager, who started the trek over to personally help me return our suite to a livable state while I went to rent a carpet-cleaning machine. The rental experience is worth mentioning:
The clerk filled in the "time rented" field of the paperwork, then started counting with their fingers and out loud... after getting lost in space and restarting like 3 times. I look down and see that the next field is "time due back". It's a 24 hour rental.
Clerk, muttering to self: "6:30, 7:30, 8:30, 9:30..."
Me: "Um, so... what are you counting?"
Clerk: "I'm trying to figure out what time it's due back. It's a 24 hour rental."
I explained how many hours were in a day, that it was therefore the same time as now, only tomorrow, and the paperwork was quickly finished. I'd finished scrubbing the carpet in F's room by the time our building manager arrived. While he cleaned and re-painted F's play area I cleaned the gear room. I was working hard and at max cardio, and I think I was sweating more than during my bike ride home - but we only had a limited time before Line would arrive with the kids. Somehow we got the place sanitary just before their arrival. But this was now Friday night, so after putting the kids to bed it was time to start packing for the weekend.
The actual trip
Saturday morning we were both relieved to have survived the poo situation and we almost high-fived as we drove away from the apartment (close to) on time, but we didn't want to jinx it. There was still a ferry to catch. The destination was Newcastle Island, which seemed like the perfect choice - it's just a few ferry rides and a short stroll through town away, but with no cars on the island it has a really nice feel. Not quite backcountry, but not quite car-camping either. The plan was for us to pile all our gear into our new-to-us double chariot and push it on foot; N would be worn in a sling and F could choose between riding on top of the pile of stuff or riding her bike (in which case I'd chase her on foot). Our friends Ignacio and Pascale, and their twins, would join us by bike.
We made it to the Ferry Terminal with plenty of time for me to drop off the family and drive back to the cheaper parking. At the cheap lot I ran into our friend Pascale where she was attempting to assembled her twins into their chariot solo. Her husband, Ignacio, had just left to go retrieve their forgotten chariot-bike-attachment, thinking they would miss the ferry for sure. Fortunately we accidentally brought ours and it was in the car! Ignacio was called back, they rode their bikes to the ferry and I ran. Everybody made it onto the correct ferry. We even all made it to the next ferry, with F doing a mix of biking and pile-of-stuff-riding - and even having enough time for a few rounds of bouncy-castle and popcorn at a fair we passed along the way.
Newcastle was... perfect. F climbed around on rocks and played in the sand while N lay under an umbrella and continued trying to figure out how her arms and legs work. We cooked dinner on a picnic table by the beach while F and the twins explored together and ran over to the playground.
That evening, on the 'long' walk from the tent to the washroom, F was in charge of holding the headlamp. This made the darkness a lot less scary. We spotted a deer in the dark. On the way back I even managed to convince her to go into the middle of a field, turn off the light, and look at the stars. It was a great night for it - clear and dark (this was a few days before the solar eclipse, so there was no moon). These days she always wants to look for the Big Dipper, because she knows it's a thing. I tried to explain the Milky Way too. Back at the tent, perhaps for the first time, F settled down to sleep quickly. Usually she tries to use the tent as a bouncy castle for a while, something we'd feared with a baby in the tent.
The next morning F and I went for an explore/bike, but (as usual) ended up at the ocean where she popped some rockweed, watched crabs, and poked washed up jellyfish while Line and N relaxed in camp. As I kid I grew up near fresh water... the ocean just has so much going on. In the afternoon we took advantage of the low-low tide (eclipse, remember) and explored the lowest parts of the inter-tidal zone. Barely above water was a myriad of sand dollars. I'd never actually seen a living sand dollar before. If you are a sand dollar the place to be is clearly the intertidal zone between Newcastle and Protection Islands.
The way back was nice too - I ran after F as she biked past a long multi-ferry lineup of cars. Fortunately there is (almost) always room for walk-on passengers. Back on the ferry Line and I finally executed that high-five we'd been saving from the previous day.
On the last weekend in May Christian had another ski-trip planned for training purposes - for his Garibaldi Park Traverse. He had decided to ski the Neve again (for the 3rd? time this year). He was going to take the bus and hitch-hike to Elfin, and then F and I would pick him up from Rubble Creek in the afternoon. We all arrived at the trailhead within a few minutes around 5pm. We then headed to Alice Lake for an evening swim. Christian was really happy to cool down after a warm ski.
We headed to the Chief campground for dinner and socializing. Not surprisingly the campground was full, so we resorted to ninja camping for the night. In the morning we headed to the newish climbing area, the playground, up the Mamquam FSR. After a breakfast we set up a rope for F on the 5.4. She was really excited as she started climbing up. After a few meters though, she decided that she would like her daddy to come along, so she was lowered and Christian tied in below her. They climbed up together, but about half way up F started getting progressively more upset. We tried to convince her to come back down, but she insisted on climbing to the top, despite the fact that she was now full on crying. She did make it to the top eventually and was lowered down. On the ground we had a cuddle and I asked her why she wanted to go to the top. I thought she might be scared of being lowered, but she answered:
"Something in my belly said: (now whispering) I need to get to the top"
Like last year we decide to join the VOC's Winter Longhike. It is a big party in the mountains. During the day everyone build snow caves, and in the evening everyone have fun cooking in the snow kitchen.
We had a late start leaving the city due to a grumpy wife and a fairly late night the previous night - cause by some tummy problems. Still, F was really excited about the concept of sleeping in an igloo. So, even though it seemed highly unlikely that Christian would have time to finish (or even start) making an igloo, we gathered all our junk (including a backup tent) and drove up the mountain. Vehicular backlog started at km 3 but didn't actually take too long to get up the mountain. Christian carried most of our things and ended up towing or carrying F most of the way as well. I though this was fair, since was carrying the 23g fetus. Eventually we arrived at the general area, but F was becoming more and more upset - complaining about her belly. We set up the tent, then took it back down and started to leave without even really saying hi. At this point F was inconsolable, but it wasn't clear if it was because she was tired, cold, hungry, upset stomach, or bummed that she wasn't going to sleep in an igloo or even the tent (she loves the tent). She cheered up a bit after a brief tour inside a snow cave, but we still decided to call it off. I think this was our first mid-trip bail with her; certainly from an overnighter.
Halfway back home - with F crying out in panic/pain from the back of the car and begging for us to somehow help her - any hint of doubt about calling it off was gone and we re-directed to the hospital, suspecting something serious - maybe appendicitis. It soon turned out that it was just constipation, and she managed to take care of it herself. We asked her if she still needed to see the doctor and she asked "will I get stickers?". The nice traige nurse gave us some stickers and let us make our escape.
While packing up Line and I noted that we first met at VOC winter longhike; I don't think either of us could have guessed where we'd be 10 years later.
It was Christian and our friend Tiff's birthday on Nov. 8th and 9th Nov, therefor a double b-day bash has planned. We gathered a few friend - most seem to bail due to lack of snow or injuries. Our friends must be getting old. Probably better off since Keith hut usually is very busy.
We had an early start from Vancouver and took 3 hours or so to hike in. There was just a dusting of snow on the trail, and good coverage started right around the hut, so the walk in was easy. We were the first to arrive at the hut other than a few people that arrived the previous day. Christian, Tiff, Kelsey and Jeff took of for some skiing, while Fenya and I stayed in the hut. We played games, danced and watched as the hut slowly filled up. Christian and Co arrived back around dinner time after a few runs. Kelsey and Tiff are new on skis, so there had been a good amount of falling. Snow was reported to be good, and coverage okay.
There was some good partying going on that evening. Birthday pie, mulled wine and a dance circle in the snow. Still everyone was in bed by 10pm, which I guess is more like 1am backcountry time.
Sunday the snow conditions had deteriated a bit, but is was still good. As the privous day we skied of the ridge below motel 66. We just took one run before heading back to the hut for lunch and packing up.
It was a great weekend out. I had actually never spend a night in Keith Hut during ski season before as I have always deemed it too busy. It was busy - very busy, but it was okay. F did well with all the people. True winter is coming though, so it might be a while before we get to go on an overnight trip again. In mid-winter access to many huts gets too long, and the easy accecable huts gets too busy.
In the spring a few of my friends (Rich So, Doris and Avery) did the Vancouver 100, which is the Baden Powell trail twice in one day. You can read Rich trip report here. I have no ambition to do anything that crazy, but I did need a goal to become in hiking shape for our Chilkoot trail trip at the end of August. I figured that completing the Baden Powell trail one section at the time would be doable for me and F over a summer. In the early summer Michelle and her son decided to join us as well. This is my report of our attempt.
There was a fair amount of swearing under my breath on the way to the Tenquille cabin last weekend. The snow started on the Tenquille Creek branch approaching from the Birkenhead side. Not enough snow that we couldn't drive the road, but not enough to ski in the forest. We carried our skis for 1 or 2 km. After putting on our skis we quickly lost the hiking trail and followed a boot-pack onto a terrible tightly treed side hill with lots of logs and a snow cover too deep for walking and too shallow for skiing. This was the point were Christian and I started wondering if we might have gotten ourselves in over our heads. This feeling was reinforced when a toddler pee break was needed in the slushy rain. Luckily F seemed unfazed by the situation and kept telling Christian that he should be a sparrow and fly through the bush. We decide to lose some elevation and cross the river in hope of mellower terrain and easier skiing. The skiing did become slightly easier, but by no stretch of imagination was it good. Our packs were pretty heavy too - around 60 kg total, but it probably wasn't the best packing we had ever done. Friday evening after returning from work at 5.30pm we managed to make a soup, carve a pumpkin, fix a costume, wax the skis, paint F face as a tiger, pack for the weekend and leave the house at 8pm to go to a halloween party. It was time efficient, but not weight efficient packing. I generally had a pretty bad time getting to the lake, but I kept seeing the deep post-holes in the snow from the previous weekend, and thought that they must have had it quite a lot worse. Around the lake the skiing became nice and pleasant, and we arrived at the hut in the afternoon four hours after leaving the car.
It was still snowing when Ben and Christian headed off for a ski on the slopes just South of the hut towards Fossil pass. They skied three runs while Meredith, F and I got set up, played and cooked dinner. The hut is really nice and we managed to gather up enough firewood for a small fire. There was only one other party in the hut, so we had lots of space. The night was mostly uneventful.
In the morning I woke up to a beautiful blue bird sky. Ben and Meredith looked almost ready to head off, so I got myself ready in a hurry and joint them. We skinned to the top of McCloud. The valley was filled with clouds, but the sky above was blue and the mountain views amazing. All my doubts about the trip from the previous day evaporated in the sunshine. The ski down the ridge was a nice dust on crust experience, so we did it twice before skiing all the way back to the cabin.
In the meadows next to cabin, Christian and F were skiing together. F proudly showed me how she can now ski only holding daddy's hands. She even skied a few meters all by herself. Everyone was super stoked!
We had a quick lunch before heading down. The ski down was about as terrible as I had expected and took us about 3 hours. Although we at times thought that the combination of early snow conditions and a toddler was a bit too much, we still ended up with a warm fuzzy feeling once back at the car. The blue bird summit and F's first ski by herself made it all worth it. It was good to be reminded about our limits, though without any actually consequences. It will probably be a little while before we do another overnight ski trip - at least a few weeks.