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.
The winter is well over now, but I've been meaning to type down something about our record-size snowcave from this past January, before I loose the measurements... It was a great trip, with two families and 7 people total in the same snowcave. A combination of prior snowcaving experience and the help of Miriam, our favourite extra-adult, allowed us to dig out what is certainly the largest snowcave I have yet constructed - Final dimensions were 4.1m long by 3m wide, with a ceiling height of 1.2m (in the center of the sleeping platform - standing height in the vestibule). A smooth ceiling ensured not a single drip, and the ceiling thickness of 65cm meant no sagging overnight (at least, not enough to measure with our avalanche-probe ruler). In the morning I could jump on the ceiling and not punch through.
We spent this past Christmas up the the Coquihalla Lakes Lodge along with Miriam and 2 other families. Ignacio and Pascale stayed in our cabin along with their twins and Pascale's mother. Our friend Anne arrived later with her entire (adult) family visiting from France (Father, Mother, Sister) and stayed in another cabin. We were fortunate to have good snow conditions - a reasonable base/coverage with some medium density powder on top. On the first day Ignacio, Pascale, Line, and I left the kids to play at the cabin with Miriam and Pascale's mom while we went to check out Zoa for a possible trip with the whole family (ok, and to get a little kid-free skiing).
A few years ago I made a pair of crampons for F, and posted about them. I've since made a half-dozen pairs for her as she's grown and for a few other kids we've gone hiking with. I didn't really explain how to make them very well, though. So here are some instructions.
Last weekend the weather was forecast to be beautiful, so we made a last minute decision to go camping, and convinced a few friends to come. After a few emails back and forth we settled on Joffre Lakes. The park website had some serious warnings about ice on the trail. We figured it probably wasn't so bad, but still decided to bring microspikes for all the adults, and Christian stayed up a few extra hours making kid crampons for the four hiking kids. In the end the kids ended up disappointed due to the lack of ice on the trail. One of them still insisted on wearing the crampons on a ice covered mud puddle at the upper lake.
We arrived at the parking lot around 11am and managed to snatch the last free parking spot. Scott and Sandra had to park at the new lower lot. The trail was busy. It seemed particularly busy when you are wearing giant backpacks and have four young kids blocking the way of other hikers. The kids did amazing though and we arrived at the second lake within a couple of hours with very little complaining. Christian had put his new hiking tactic - the "slow down you whipper-snappers you're hiking too fast!" game to good work. We had a long break and only lost a few gold fish crackers and half a bagel to the very aggressive whisky jacks.
The trip sure did not start out relaxing. First I spend two days packing food, sorting gear and trying to squish it all into the car, while N constantly tried to rearrange everything. We picked up Christian straight from work, made it onto the ferry and then spend an hour driving towards Ucluelet with two screaming kids in the back. Eventually though they settled down and we drove most of the way there in silence. We didn't make it passed Kennedy Lake before nightly road closure, so we camped on the side of the road. From here on everything seemed to only get better though...
See also posts from different legs of our trip:
We "just" (ok - it's been a month) got back from 2 months cycle-touring around Europe. We toured through Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany (with a few flights, ferries, and trains in there). We took it easy in terms of distances covered, averaging about 40 km per day, so that the kids would have lots of time to play. But we still had some long days, and several days with elevation gains approaching 1000 m. Trip reports to come (spoiler - it was incredible)... but most questions are about the logistics and equipment, so let's start there!
Our youngest daughter, N, rode in the chariot bike trailer all the time. Our oldest daughter, F, had the option of riding her own bike, sitting on the back of my cargo bike, or sitting in the chariot. I would say that she rode her own bike about 25% of the time. Not surprisingly, she had a strong preference for sitting out all of the long uphills. She also never really went in the chariot unless she wanted to sleep or it was raining. Usually I would tow the chariot and we would just strap F's bike sideways across Line (mom)'s panniers. If we anticipated a lot of switching back-and-forth Line would tow the chariot and I would use the cargo bike to tow F's bike (riderless) as this was a faster transition. If I was already towing the chariot, but needed to take F's bike as well, I could also stick it vertically on the back along with all our stuff, or sideways on the front rack, but both of these took more time to set up than towing. So we had a lot of options.
All the listed weights were "typical underway" weights in the middle of the trip (specifically, when we weighed everything just as we left our friend's house in Zurich). We weren't carrying very much food/water at the time - only a day or two. Sometimes we carried for up to 4 days. We could definitely feel the difference. You can add up all the weights below, but I'll save you the trouble - all the stuff and kids together weighed in at 343 lbs being hauled around by 303 lbs worth of parents.
Dad's setup - Haul-A-Day (cargo bike), by Bike Friday
Rider Age: 35 years
Rider Weight: 158 lbs
Bike Age: 2 weeks
Bike (+ gear) Weight: 124 lbs (or 251 lbs if I also had F on the back and was towing N in the chariot - the most common configuration)
Drivetrain: 3 chainrings (30-50), 8 cogs (34-11) (with 20"x1.75" wheels and 170 mm cranks)
Lowest Gearing: 1.29 (ratio of pedal to pavement movement)
Highest Gearing: 6.64 (ratio of pedal to pavement movement)
Accessories: Beefier frame option, massive kickstand, dynamo-hub powered lights, "BigFoot" footrests with slot for towing, passenger railing / cushion, front rack (frame, not wheel, mounted).
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.
Previous Post: St. Moritz to Innsbruck
Also see: Our European bike tour - people and equipment
I talked my mom into joining us for part of our trip long time ago. She expressed interest in the Donube River, and mentioned something about sleeping on a boat every night. That sounded a bit out of our price range, but I figured that a river trip in the area sounded like a good compromise. After a lot of time spend on the internet late at night I settle for Innsbruck to Munich via Achen Lake. My mom and her partner met us in Innsbruck the day after we arrived there, and Lisa's parents were generous enough to let us all stay at their house. We had a nice time chatting with Hans in the garden over several glasses of wine. We went out for dinner in the area, and the next day we all went back to Lisa's downtown apartment to pack up the bikes and get them ready for our last section.
The Inn River bike path follow the river crossing over occasionally. I was surprised by our speed, but I guess you cover ground pretty fast when it is dead flat. We made an afternoon stop at Alpenbad Wattens, which turned out to be a great decision. The place was a amazing. Lots of different little pools for the kids, a bigger pool with slides, and one with jumpboards. The water colour seemed extra beautiful with mountainous background. Both F and N had a great time splashing in the pools. F even tried the water slide a few times. Late afternoon we headed of again to find our campsite for the night and AirBnB for the night. We biked around Weer for a while looking for Camping Plankenhof Tyrol. No one in town seemed to know were is was, and town was no bigger than we biked through it multiple times. Eventually we found it tucked in behind the Hotel of the same name just were it was suppose to be. They could improve their signage though. The campsite was almost empty, but filled with plum trees of many different variaties. My mom and Leif also had trouble getting into their AirBnB, but we eventually figured it out, and everyone had a great sleep.
The following day it was time for our big elevation gain of 400m. I had made sure that my mom could take the train up the hill, and F decided to join her while the rest of us pedalled up the steep switchbacks to Achen Lake. In a strick of luck we happened to cross path with the coal fired steam engine going up the 128 year old cog railway. We waved frantically to mormor and F as they passed by. The smoke from the train settling in the valley was not the best for the high output cycling. We all met up at the lake for a swim and some playtime before we headed to our AirBnB for the next two night. It was a great apartment over looking the lake. That evening we celebrated N's first birthday. Mormor had presents and a dress for her, and I made sure she got her favourite, watermelon, for dessert.
The next morning it was my turn to run up a peak, and I chose Bärenkopf with lift assist. It was just 500m of elevation so I was up and down in 2hours. After taking the gondola back down I sprinted towards the lake to catch the ferry to Gaisalm where I was suppose to meet the family. The boat was just about to leave when I arrived to I didn't have time to lock of my bike, so I just wheeled it on board. Turns out that although bikes are allowed on board they are not allowed to exit at Gaisalm. I had to pay for my bike to be ferried around the lake while I was at Gaisalm with the family. The weather wasn't the best, and we had to hid on the terrase of the closed restaurant. We did manage to get a small hike in before taking the boat back.
We had a long day ahead so we started out around the lake early the next morning. The ride around the lake was really nice, and I wished we had more time to explore all the little play stations, but we just stopped at a few. We gained our first bit of elevation temporarily going into a side valley, and rewarded ourselves with a break by the Seeache River. We enjoyed throwing rocks in the water, but you have to be careful with my mom around as her aim is pretty terible, and you never know if you have to dutch a rock flying straight at you. The whole day we followed these nice gravel paths along the river up and and down small hills. I only notice crossing into Germany because I checked the map. The real challenge came as we biked around the South side of Sylverstein Lake. Christian and Leif headed of with the kids, and I stayed behind to take it slow with my mom. My mom has some problems with her breathing on the uphills due to her asthma, but she did really well; I was very proud of her. We all met up again in the town of Fall for well earned ice cream. We spend the night a nice little guesthouse in Lenggries.
We were now following the Isar River bike path the rest of the way to Munich - always on nice bike paths - often next to the river, but at times weaving its way through forests and country side. We had our first break of the day a bit earlier than planned, but the river banks just passed Bad Tolz were just took good to pass by, so we spend a few hours. We were to spend our last night together in Ickinger at a warmshower I had contacted long time ago. Joerg had found my very early request rather weird, but I wanted to make sure that we would all be able to have a place to stay together. I am sure he had also warned me that we should not cross the river at Ickinger Wehr, but I had long forgotten. It quickly became apparent why it might not be a good idea. The bridge is super narrow, so we had to take everything apart and carry it through individually. The chariot need to be collapsed to make it through. It was probably still faster than the 20km detour to go around though. The hill afterwards were super steep, so we again left my mom behind to later be picked up in the car. We met Joerg biking around town looking for us. He welcomed us all into his home with open arms despite it already being quite full as he was hosting a Syrian refugee family. His wife had made sure there were pizza in the oven for everyone, and we made a big salad. We all squished around the dinning table that evening, and then enjoyed watching all the kids play in their great garden. We later set our tent up in the garden, while my mom and Leif stayed in a room inside. The next day it was time to say goodbye as my mom and Leif were on to their next holiday in the Czech republic. We were so grateful that they decided to take on the challenge and join part of our adventure. It sure made it extra special.
We continued towards Munich along the Isar. As we approached Munich the bike path became increasingly busy until we entered out the other side. We had last minute secured another warmshower in Unterföhring with Daniela and Stephan. They returned home two years ago after 20 months of bike touring. Now they were expecting their first child. We enjoyed listening to stories from their adventures, and they were keen on getting a few ideas about bike touring with kids. I did find it a bit challenging to stay in strangers house with kids. The next morning we biked the last 30km to our airport hotel. We picked up some bike boxes about half way there, wrapped them in our tarp and tied them to the side of the cargo bike. It would have been nicer to just fly home that night rather than having to take apart everything to bring it into the hotel only to put it back together to bike the last 2 km to the airport the next morning. The evening with two kids in a small hotel room felt really long and not relaxing at all.
The flight home marked the final leg of our two month trip. It sure had been an amazing two months. I wasn't sure how we were going to like being on the road for so long, what we were capable off, or what we would enjoy the most, which is why I arranged such a diverse trip. I could have easy continued for many more months. I liked the cycle touring a lot more than expected, and it sure will not be the last time we go. I did expect that we would love Norway the most, but was unsure if we would be able to make it up the mountains. The mountains sure were challenging, but they were also so rewarding.