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:
Say Nuth Khaw Yum
Upper Fowl Lake
Alice Lake loop
Malcolm and Cormorant island
Recent tips and thought
Making a low DIN tech binding
What is in our backpacks?
The bike canoe trailer
Making kids crampons
Digging a snowcave
Make a kid towing harness