"Why does it always rain on this trip?" F asks as we pulled into the alley after returning home from another successful trip to Saysutsun (Indian Arm) with our bike canoe setup. It is really rainy, and I guess it did rain last time we did this trip, but we had hoped that we would make it home before the downpour started this time. Maybe next time we will manage to miss the rain...
The trip was a little cool down from our weeklong stay on Nootka Island and a warm up to our Port Alice loop bike trip. Sure we also did some biking on this trip, but it was generally pretty chill. The trip started out with a ferry from Port McNeill to Sointula on Malcolm Island and a short 7 km bike trip across the island to Bere Point Campsite. It was just a week since I fell and dislocated my shoulder on the Nootka trail, so I wasn't sure how bike touring was going to go. We made sure that my bike was lighter than normal, so I didn't have to handle a heavy bike particularly when walking, but it was still a little nerve racking on the first day, especially once we got to the bumpy gravel roads. It seemed totally fine, though, and I enjoyed the ride across Malcolm. F on the other hand was not too stoaked due to the pretty good downpour, but N happily biked the first couple of kilometers through the little town of Sointula. She has been learning on her pedal bike the last 6 month, but only recently learned to start and stop independently. She was very proudly showing me how fast she could go. Luckily the road was not busy, because she had definitely not mastered the skill of riding in a straight line yet.
After a few days of recovery from our Nootka trail hike and some warm up to biking on Malcolm and Cormorant Island, we were ready for the next step of our trip: the Alice lake loop. We fuelled up with some amazing scones from Mugz 2.0 Coffee House before starting the uphill out of town that would last all afternoon. Luckily we could follow low traffic logging roads right out of town, so we did not have to deal with the stress of the highways. For our oldest daughter F, who is 7, this was the first bike trip where she could not just choose to go on dad's bike whenever she wanted; she was not particularly impressed with having to bike 23km of uphill on the first day. As the day went on though she seemed to grow with the task, and slowly realized that she would be able to do it. She was so proud of herself when we pulled into the Three Isle rec site. The site was not officially an overnight site, but it seemed like a perfect little campground to me. It had a small river to play in, a nice view of the lake with the three isles, and a couple of picnic tables.
"Wrong ways, wrongs ways" W is constantly yelling in the backpack as we quickly hike towards the car, despite having just left it two hours earlier. She is painfully reminding me that we did not do our homework well enough and therefor hiked several kilometres down the wrong trail, not realizing our mistake until we were crossing a river that made us suspicious. We are on the clock as the sun will set in about three hours. Luckily the kids are cool and hike the trail back to car at record speed. We all get back in and drive the last half kilometer to the actual trailhead. It is past 6pm when we get started the second time around and we speed along the trail. W is still periodically yelling "Wrong ways!". I tell her no: this is the right way. Little did I know that she was just for-seeing tomorrow's navigational errors.
An hour or so after leaving the car for the second time, we arrive at the Chain Lakes site. It is surprisingly nice with a good view over the lake as the sun was setting behind the mountains. We somehow managed to cook dinner and eat dinner, make a bear hang, and set up the tent before it was completely dark. I think I was asleep before any of the kids.
I don't know exactly how I went down, but I knew right away that something was wrong with my arm. I screamed loudly until I saw Christian run towards me. I could move my fingers, but my shoulder really hurt, and I could feel the top of my upper arm bone outside its socket. My shoulder was dislocated. Luckily W was okay despite having gone down with me in the kid carrier backpack. She just quietly observed as we got the carrier off and wondered how to deal with the shoulder. It was only the second day of our trip, we had only hiked 3km of the beach and I was sure this was the end of our holiday. Miriam corralled the kids while I apologized to Christian for ruining our holiday. Christian consoled me and suggested we try and put the shoulder back in before worrying too much about the future. Usually we have this little wilderness first aid booklet in our first aid kit, yet somehow that didn't make it on this trip. But Christian said he remembered a method to gently pop in a dislocated shoulder from a wilderness first aid course he took more than a decade ago, and directed me towards a big rock. I lay chest down on the rock and dangled my arm freely downward - this already felt better and I started to relax. Christian started applying firm but gentle traction downwards to my arm, pulling it away from the socket; after a bit of gentle searching things must have lined up - it suddenly jumped in to place with a loud pop. Christian said my arm became a few centimetres shorter. I immediately felt better, but the arm still felt very sore. We found a comfy place to hang out a little further along the beach, got everyone settled down and I took some good painkillers. We sent a satellite text to our emergency contact in town while we contemplated our options. It quickly became apparent that we would not need immediate rescue so we decided to set up camp and see how things were the next morning.
It was a week and a bit before out 3 week summer vacation, which were to start out with a week of hiking, so we felt like we needed to get the kids out doing some training and also check all the gear, but we did not want to leave early or return late, so we opted for a return to Seymour. This time the snow was mostly gone, it was hot and it was buggy... very buggy. We quickly made it to Brockton Point, hoping for a little breeze to blow away the mosquitoes, but there was none.
We were not sure where we would be able to camp with the snow now gone, so Christian and I took turns scouting the area, while the kids relaxed with some reading and water play. We eventually decided that the best place was the exact same as on our last trip to Seymour, there was still a little bit of snow left there and the mosquitoes was in slightly smaller quantities. We still retired to the tent early for extra long bedtime stories. The next day the kids did some scrambling on the rocks before heading back home.
After having more than one kid my favourite time of year has become right after the ski resorts close. Usually we get a couple of weeks of good skiing at the resort after closing - the access is super easy and the skiing usually is too. This year the post-closure season was unusually long, so we spent many weekend days both at the Cypress cross country area and on Seymour. With the skiing still good on a beautiful weekend in late May we decided to bring the overnight gear. We had a rough start to the day, with F having all sorts of problems, but eventually realized the real problem - she hadn't really eaten anything. Once that was dealt with the rest of the short ski was straightforward. At Seymour you can camp after entering the backcountry shortly after Brockton Point, so we stopped to set up camp just on the other side of the boundary. There is a nice flat and out of the way area just west of the trail. The rest of the afternoon the kids and I just lazed around in the sun, while Christian went to summit all the nearby peaks.
We recently acquired a pair of Atomic Backland boots on the cheap (broken/missing hardware - which I fixed) that fit our oldest daughter, who's 7. The only problem is that she's a DIN 1.75 (or maybe 2, soaking wet). The tech bindings with the lowest release values I could find were the Dynafit Rotation 7 (2.5-7) and the Hagan Pure 8 (4 - 8). But neither of those quiet cuts it. Rather than spend another season hauling two separate pairs of skis around for her (one for up, one for down) I decided to try and swap the springs on a set of tech bindings to get a lower release value - and I feel like I succeeded.
Before we get started comes the obvious warning - I don't know anything about ski bindings. If you modify safety equipment based on a description somebody posted on the internet of what they did (for example, this blog post) and things go wrong you have nobody to blame but yourself.
The first step was to pick the binding to start with. After looking at as many photos online as I could find, and making some guesses as to the internal mechanisms, I decided on the Hagan Pure 8. Also, it's a lighter binding and it's always nice to save a few grams.
I thought the easiest way was to just make a little slideshow of some images I took disassembling the binding. Assembly is just the reverse.
If you go by the saying "adventure is when the outcome is uncertain" then today I ended up having a quality adventure in the city trying to retrieve a kite stuck way up in a tree at Columbia park along with 4 young kids. I think many would have given up long before, but the ridiculousness that ensued is perhaps what makes it a story worth telling...
I thought, in this pandemic year, I might break my streak of taking the big kids snowcaving every winter. It's become a bit of a tradition. Usually we go up to Red Heather, but we've been sticking to our local mountains this year (fortunately there are a few places on the North Shore that are accessible, yet not overcrowded, if you know how to navigate). Fortunately the snowpack is pretty deep this season, so being stuck on the North Shore wasn't a problem. It was Line who came up with a plan for how to overcome our usual strategy of bringing along an extra adult to help dig and manage the kids - she'd just come up herself carrying W, then head back down for dinner/sleeping, and come up again the next afternoon to pick us up. Since W is only 1.5 years old we decided against her spending the night in the cave, as we'd be without the backup of a warming hut.
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