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Skipacking with Fiona

Fiona is 6, she is a proven outdoors-capable girl.  I have been promising to take her camping for several months, and this weekend we got the chance to go.

We decided Banff national park needed some visiting and so with some advice from my friend Scott, who used to live in Banff, we set off to camp at the far end of the Spray Loop starting near the Banff Springs Hotel.  On the way up, I asked Fiona if we should snowshoe, hike or ski the loop and she insisted skiing was our mode of transport for this trip.

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The temperature was a balmy -15C when we started and warmed up into the -10 range as we skied, and it made for a great afternoon.  Fiona kept talking about how nice the trail was.

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We set up camp and ate our dinner before it got completely dark, and we had time to read several chapters from the book I am reading to her before 7.  It was cold enough to make holding a book and turning pages difficult, so we turned in relatively early.

I woke up several times during the night and checked on the happily snoring Fiona to make sure she was not suffering.  Each time, I checked the thermometer on my pack and it got as cold as -30C – a potentially catastrophic temperature if we hadn’t been prepared.  We did not need to resort to any of our emergency clothing or run off to start a fire (the fire pit is about 200m from the campsite).

The real test of our mettle was Fiona’s 7:30 call of, “I need to pee.”  It was -30C and still pretty dark, but if you need to pee…

If you haven’t ever had to get out of a warm sleeping bag at -30C to help a little girl pee, I cannot say I recommend it.  It did get my butt out of bed, and once I was up, it wasn’t that much of a stretch to get making breakfast.

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After a tasty breakfast and taking down of the tent, we had our next serious challenge in which we donned our very seriously cold ski boots and had to ski as fast as we could for the first few minutes so as to not inflict frostbite on ourselves.

The day warmed as we skied the second half of the loop, and we had another great day of skiing and drinking of gatorade slush as we made our way back to the car.

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http://vimeo.com/84178875#at=0

 

My bike on the Iditarod Trail
My bike on the Iditarod Trail

Back in the days before before fatbikes were common, there was a bike/run/ski race on the Iditarod trail called the Iditasport.  In 2002, it was replaced by the Iditarod Trail Invitational.  In 2001, the final year of Iditasport, RJ Sauer made a documentary called “A Thin White Line.”  The film is now on Vimeo and if you haven’t, you should watch it.  I am not in it since I did the race in 2002, but it is very accurate in its portrayal of the trail and racers.  When I talk about “type 2 fun” and “I’m not giving up just because it’s hard” it is in direct reference to this film.

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Chilcotins Gun Creek Lakes Tour Day 1

The kids and I got back recently from our trip to the Chilcotin mountains of BC.  We tricked my friend Vik into coming along and carrying some of our heavy food.  Our plan was to take from 5 to 7 days to make a loop up Gun Creek, over Deer Pass and down past Spruce Lake and back to our original parking spot.  Having kids along meant a lot of extra weight in gear and food since they eat similarly to and adult and sleep in a sleeping bag at night.

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Elbow Loop Bikepacking: Dad and Two Kids

Summer of 2012 was drawing to a close we wanted to get something of an adventure in before the summer ended.  So the two kids and I decided to go for a five day, four night bikepacking trip in the Elbow Valley.  Tadhg and I had done the Elbow Loop trail a number of times before and we both enjoyed it as well as Elbow Lake and so we decided to add an out and back trip through Elbow Pass to Elbow Lake to the main 42km loop.

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Our first day started early in the afternoon after a swimming party in the morning.  The first leg is an easy and relatively flat section of the trail to the Big Elbow campground.  We had the entire campground to ourselves.  The kids played an assortment of games involving sticks and rocks and after a relaxing supper, we got to bed relatively early.

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Winter Fatbikepacking With a 9 Year Old.

I have a passion for winter bike riding.  I love sleeping outdoors in the cold.  This year, my son finally reached a height where he can ride an extra small sized Salsa Mukluk comfortably.  It therefore made sense that we should go out together on a fatbikepacking weekend.

We started out from the car around noon on Friday March 1st, with our gear distributed as follows:

My bike:

  • Tent fly and footprint with poles
  • 2 Sleeping bags
  • Food
  • Stove
  • Clothes
  • Water

Tadhg’s bike:

  • 2 lightweight sleeping pads
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Just starting out.

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