On my journey to summit all the peaks on my Island Alpine Quest, I don’t often find time to hike a mountain more than once, but when I do, it’s because I’m hiking with my children. On October 27, I led a group of ten that included Hemingway and Octavia on a quick trip to Gemini Mountain in the Nanaimo Lakes area. It was a less than perfect day: cold wind made short work of our layers, cutting through our clothes to thoroughly chill us, but we took the chance to cross the saddle between the two peaks and scramble to the summit of the second bump.
My first visit to Gemini Mountain was on a bleak, blustery day, back in 2016. It was the type of day where we wore our jackets, gloves and toques, and by the end of the hike, our gloves were filled with icy water. Relative to that trip, this one was an improvement in almost every metric. But it was still frosty, and above 1300 metres we found ice on the tops of puddles– Hemingway took delight in smashing the ice with a hiking pole.
Total Distance: 5.7 km
Starting Elevation: 1138 m
Maximum Elevation: 1518 m
Total Elevation Gain: 626 m
Total Time: 5h 44m
On October 14th, I led a small group of Island Mountain Ramblers on a relaxed hike to Green Mountain. Octavia (25 months old) and Hemingway (5 years old) came with us to enjoy the day, and they were the primary reason for the pace. The weather was perfect. The frost from the evening before still lingered in the shadows, but the sun warmed the open terrain, illuminating the spectrum of colours around us, and the valley surrounding the mountain.
The brilliant reds, yellows, and purples of leaves dangling from branches created a rich tapestry on the hills around us. The large field of bracket ferns had already died, yet their brown corpses still stood tall, dried by the sun, and as we walked through them their feathery fronds brushed against us. The bright colours of the fall were contrasted by the stark green of the evergreens that dotted the route.
Total Distance: 5.2 km
Starting Elevation: 1085 m
Maximum Elevation: 1464 m
Total Elevation Gain: 378 m
Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
I struggle to find a balance between work, play, and family. When it comes to my annual vacation, I pack in as much playtime as I can, and this means I often leave my family at home while I’m off on an adventure. With my busy schedule, sometimes I’m unpacking one backpack by putting gear straight into a different one. This is exactly what happened on my August 13-15 backpacking trip to Mount Phillips. On August 10th, I hiked off the Augerpoint Traverse; with the next trip only a few days away, I didn’t have time to put anything away before getting ready for my family backpacking trip to Arnica Lake and Mount Phillips in Strathcona Park.
We had an ideal forecast, and if not for the haze of smoke in the air from forest fires, it would have been perfect conditions. Fortunately, the smoke didn’t hinder our breathing – it only obscured some of the otherwise amazing views.
In addition to my wife and two children, I led a group of five Island Mountain Ramblers on a trip that I offered as an easy backpacking trip. The trip was split into three days, and the lion’s share of the distance and half of the elevation was planned along the well-manicured trail to Arnica Lake, where we set up a basecamp for two nights. Of course, the second half of the trip, out to Mount Phillips, is where the suffering was found.
Our Westwood Ridges Ridge Ramble was hiked under mixed skies. The five adults and two children took our time exploring the picnic shelter, memorial garden and picking our way through the salal to the upper ridge.
As parents, my wife Kim and I fall into all-too-familiar parent-child relationships with Hemingway and Octavia. My behaviour exemplifies the old platitude: When you love your kids, you want the best for them. You’ll go out of your way to make sure their lives are better than how you perceived your own to be. I take my children on backcountry adventures to give them formative experiences at a young age, experiences I don’t remember having when I was their age. Of course, believing that these adventures are making their lives better is a romantic notion; I wonder if Hemingway feels the same way. Continue reading “A family snowshoe loop: Featuring another family!”
You’re four-and-a-half years old now–time sure flies. I made only two resolutions for 2018, and the first and most important one was to get my whole family out on a mountain adventure (Paradise Meadows doesn’t count). You’ve been my adventure companion on many trips, but it wasn’t until our January 6th trip that we summited our first mountain together: Mount Elma. It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort to see your smile when we crested the hill and walked out onto Mount Elma’s summit plateau.
Total Distance: 12 km
Starting Elevation: 166m
Maximum Elevation: 1418 m
Total Elevation Gain: 446 m
Total Time: 5h 30m
You’re a natural outdoorswoman! It was back on December 16th, 2017 that we finally got you out on your first snowshoe trip. I hosted a family/beginner snowshoe trip with the Island Mountain Ramblers as a way to get the whole family outdoors together. You were already 14 months old at the time — a whole year older than your brother’s first time! I’m sorry we waited so long to get you into a backpack and out in the snow! We tried to make it happen last winter, but between your age and the weather, we just couldn’t find a day that worked.
1Trip went well with 6 of us, arrived to within 80m of summit (Donkey’s Back feature), but needed to belay from there and didn’t have enough time to finish and get back with all 6. As it was we had a 16 hour day car to car. Got beyond the bergshrund below the East Ridge by belaying lead climber over an ice bridge to test it.
On the approach down low (near valley bottom), we returned differently than we went up, and it was a mistake. As the approach trail (really an old decommissioned logging road) becomes VERY DENSE, turn up hill and proceed at 45 degrees to the hill in the same direction on a climb/traverse. Much easier than slogging through brush in the valley. All this could change as more logging is imminent.
Possible to do in a very long day, but we did not complete.
We caught the first ferry of the day at 10 am to Newcastle Island, entertained by tales of Captain Hans. We knew, thanks to Peter’s meteorological research that rain was about to beset us but it had held off so far. Very casual, we had lots of stops to admire views and breathe in the salt air. Small wildflowers abounded and low tide conditions revealed many sandstone formations. After a brief snack break circumnavigation of the island continued…then circumnavigation of Maillard Lake, then lunch break overlooking the float plane base. Ah, the postponed rainfall started and left us scrambling for our waterproof gear. After lunch, we visited the sandstone quarry and enjoyed reading the great historical signage in the quarry. Then, back to the ferry for a 2:30 sailing back to Nanaimo. Wet but not cold, we trotted back to our cars, happy to have had a leisurely stroll on Newcastle!
We just finished our first father-and-son camping trip, or at least our first attempt. You’re only three and a half years old, and we’ve already done a lot of overnight backcountry trips, but never one in snow, and never just the two of us. I was excited, and so were you. It was an ambitious undertaking: I would be on skis, pulling you in the sled. Our goal was to head out from Raven Lodge, and camp between Battleship Lake and Kwai Lake. Beyond that, I was willing to be flexible, because above all else I wanted you to have a great time.