We were both in a slight state of shock as we drove onto the Nanaimo ferry Friday night at 8.25pm. Just two hours earlier Christian had returned home from work finding all three of us sleeping. We had all fallen asleep at nap-time, but just didn't wake up at our usual time as we were all jet-lagged after returning from visiting family in Europe just two days earlier. I was especially tired as I had made a trip to Seattle the previous night to pick up a used cargo bike (yes, we are now a two cargo bike family). Christian woke us up wondering what the plan was. As per usually we had not managed to book a ferry despite knowing that we needed to travel to the island on a long weekend, so our original plan was to aim for the first ferry Saturday morning. However, with a four hour nap it was clear that the kids would not be going the bed anytime soon, so we quickly decided to leave as soon as possible. I had by some miracle managed to pack during the day, so we quickly packed the car, made some dinner and drove to Horseshoe Bay. We were pretty stoked about making it onto the 10.40pm ferry, so you can imagine our shock as we drove straight through the ferry terminal and basically straight on to the ferry at 8.25pm. The ferry wasn't even full. Now we just had to hope that my jet-lagged, pregnancy brain had remembered everything we needed (and wanted) for 5 days of beach camping.
We had a relatively short night on the side of the highway by the Big Cedar trailhead. Kids were up early, so we decided to go check out the big cedar (it was big), before driving the rest of the way to Tofino. In Tofino we stocked up on a few last items before heading out towards Vargas Island in our hired boat with Pascale and her two four-year old kids. Christian decided to paddle out to the beach, since conditions were good. After a 20 min boat ride we arrived at a quiet beach in a calm bay. It looked perfect. The rest of the day was spend exploring the beach, setting up camp and relaxing in the sun. Later our boat came back with Adam, Tracy and their one year old daughter, and shortly after Christian arrived. In the early evening Jeff arrived by kayak with his 11 year old son.
After our trip to the East Coast of Canada, I flew to Europe with the girls while Christian returned home. After spending a grueling 35 hours in transit, we arrived in Harrachov in the Czeck Rebuplic. Here we spent a week playing, relaxing, and joining lots of different fun activities with my mom, her partner and all of their children and grandchildren. After our family holiday I had convinced my sister and her partner to come hiking with us in Krkonose National Park. I had not made a particular plan; but some last minute messaging with a friend at home with polish connections settled out the plan. A friend of our friend even booked our accommodation.
After waving goodbye to the rest of the family we drove to Karpacz on the Polish side of the border. We had some trouble locating diapers last minute, but we did succeed before taking the gondola up to the alpine. It was busy - very busy - like Joffre Lakes can not even compare busy. We headed off towards Dom Śląski, where we were planning on hiking back across the Czech border, but the trail was closed for maintenance, so we had to back track a bit along the Polish-Czech friendship trail before we crossed the border and hiked the last little bit to our hotel, Luční bouda, for the night. On this trip I was carrying N, and my sister and her partner were carrying all our stuff, which luckily wasn't too much as we didn't need to carry dinner, breakfast or a tent.
Apparently it's called 'mizzle' - a mix of mist and drizzle - but whatever the name it seems to be the dominant weather pattern here, on the easternmost piece of rock in North America. Although F definitely has her objections I actually kind of like it. It's much more comfortable for hiking with a heavy pack than hot sun, and it even keeps the bugs down somewhat. We saw a lot of mizzle on our trip, along with hot sun, a few icebergs, some world-class scenery, and more whales than I've seen in the rest of my life combined (by at least an order of magnitude, and despite living on the west coast for the past 14 years, with three month-long kayak-based trips in there).
For our daughter F, aged 5, it would also be the longest hiking trip she's done by a wide margin. 75 km over 10 days / 9 nights, with 8 of those nights in a tent. Of course, the same could be said for our almost 2 year old N... but she was carried for substantial portions of the trip. That, combined with Line being 5 months pregnant, made us wonder if we'd actually complete the trip at all... but with the help of another family (Scott and Sandra who have a 7 year old, E, and a 4 year old, H, of thier own) we decided to keep with our plans and at least attempt it, even once we knew kid #3 was on the way.
Our friend Pascale has gotten into the habit of booking a group site on Newcastle at some point in June. This was the first year we were able to join. We have however been to Newcastle before. Last time was in fact N's first camping trip at 5 weeks old. Originally we had planned on just walking on the nanaimo ferry, and walking along the waterfront to the Newcastle ferry. Wednesday night Christian suggested that we try to bring a canoe, since the kids have this newfound joy of canoeing. I have been trying to pack for our trip to Newfoundland next week, so even the thought of finding a canoe and organizing the stuff seemed overwhelming to me, so I told him that he would be in charge. By Friday evening he had borrowed a canoe, removed the roof box from our car, and packed most of our stuff. We were ready to go.
After having taken the basic paddler course with the Beaver Canoe club, I was keen to get out to test some of my new skills, so we decided to join some of our friends on the River of Golden Dreams in Whistler. This turned out to be both a lovely and expensive day. We still don't own a canoe, so we usually rent one. Most of the time we rent close to were we put in as it is more convenient, but often also a little more expensive than renting from MEC for example. We decided on the same strategy for this trip.
After being parents for almost six years we are starting to get the hang of planning family friendly camping trips. If you want to go during popular times like long weekends to places that are easily accessible, it often requires planning well in advance - something we never used to do before kids. I now often have a reminder in my calendar 4 month before a long weekend reminding me to book whatever campsite, and it seems that I am not the only one. This year we got an email from our friend Krystil in January keen to get started on planning for the May Long weekend. Before long we had settle on Singles Bay on Pender and booked out all but two of the campsites there.
Here are five tweaks we've made to our Haul-a-Day cargo bike; some are quicker than others, but they've all made our lives easier. Of course we extended the fenders almost all the way to the ground... but we also did some more creative things like shimming our kickstand to bring the balance point into an easier spot, permanently mounted ski-straps in just the right spot for towing, made a chariot attachment adapter, and added some "wheels" in the back corner of the frame that let you easily push it around when oriented vertically.
This year I managed to book the ACC's Wendy Thompson hut over Easter. That in it self is a bit of a feat. To insure that we could get the spots, I was ready by the computer as reservations opened exactly 6 months before Easter. At that point I didn't have a plan or a crew, but at I had 16 cabin spots - ready to get filled with families.
Last year we had such a good time at Methow Valley and I felt like I wasn't quite done with the area, so we decided on a return. This year I was a little more prepared and ready to book at the time the reservations opened up. We decided on February (as oppose to December) in the hopes that the longer days and hopefully better weather would make the drive less eventful. We aimed to make the drive in two days, but ended up driving almost all the way on the first day before booking a hotel for the night. In Winthrop we met up with one of the other families, Scott, Sandra and their two kids, H age 4 and E age 7. We spend the day playing on a snowy hill and on the outdoor skating rink. We had another night at a hotel here, so we would be ready to head out bright and early the next day.
Say Nuth Khaw Yum
Discovery Islands Bike loop
East Coast Trail
Recent tips and thought
Pandemic pondering and wandering
Tweaking our haul-a-day
Making kids crampons
Digging a snowcave
Make a kid towing harness