“More food please.” We had been in the car for an hour and a half. He had eaten 2 pears, 2 oranges, an apple, a sandwich and a granola bar. We were popping in to get our camp permit anyway so I picked up a pair of masala dosas to go and we headed out of the Banff townsite with Tadhg stuffing his face.
After packing the bikes, we were on the trail by 3:30, our plan was to bike 11km along the Lake Minnewanka trail to the very originally named LM11 back country campsite (actually, it has a name, it is numbered to avoid confusion). The trail starts out with a bit of climbing, but most of it is rideable by Tadhg since he has been riding to school this year and is super fit.
The trail is not so snow covered that we need the fatbikes we are riding, but they aren’t totally overkill either. Tadhg has grown over the last couple of years so he now carries his own clothes and sleeping pad, as well as the 3 liters of gatorade that he loves so much.
Several snack stops down the trail, we come to the LM8 campsite. Though it is now twilight, we decide to press on, but not for long, as dark comes early this time of year. By LM9, it is full dark and we decide to camp. Unfortunately, we have neglected to bring a book, since dinner and food hanging is done by 6. After a bit of walking around, we decide to turn in around 7.
With the temperature forecast to only go as low as -9°C, I have no concern about the cold. I didn’t even bother to zip my sleeping bag, since using it spread like a quilt lets me move much more freely. Several times during the night I am awakened by the pitter patter of unwelcome little rodent feet as mice or voles seem pretty convinced that they will find food in our tent. Where are the owls and martens that we love so much?
Even our properly hung food bag does not escape attention as one of our granola bars is 90% eaten and another few have been opened and sampled by some sort of critter capable of robbing food from a bag suspended by a metal cable.
Since we now have the whole day to ride, we decide to head further away from the car. After 5 km and several snacks, we turn back. Tadhg’s riding continues to impress me, there are some rock gardens and technical sections that he would have been walking just this summer, but they are trivial to him now.
As we got to the LM8 campground, we realized that one od Tadhg’s mittens was missing from his bike. Though we rode back to look for it, we did not find it, but we did get some more riding done on this wonderful trail. We also ate more snacks.
Even with the one mitten lost, we did have a great overnight ride and both Tadhg and I called the trip a success.
The final stats ended up: day 1 – 9.5 km, day 2 – 27 km. The only climbing that seemed significant was the 100m gain at the car end of the trail.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While we were late for the New Year’s group ride, we followed their route and Tadhg kicked ass. He rode lots, pushed the steeper parts and had a great time.
You know your family is hardcore when the slow biker recognizes the coldbike family on the trail in BC when he is from Newfoundland and you are from Calgary. I somehow failed to snap a photo of Malcolm, but he is my favourite kind of people. http://theslowbiker.wordpress.com/
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.
Vik has a nice summary of our recent trip on his blog, stay tuned for our writeup.
Originally posted on vikapproved:
I’ve been wanting to get my mountain bike to the Chilcotin Mountains of BC for a couple years now. All the photos I’ve seen have been stunning and the trip reports glowing. I’ve chatted with a few people about getting a trip together, but nothing materialized until this summer when Doug [aka Coldbike] agreed to a tour.
I didn’t realize at first that he intended to bring his kids, but that became an interesting aspect of planning the trip since neither of us had been to the area. This would be my first bike tour of any kind with young kids so I had no idea what to expect from them. We guesstimated some daily distances based on reports we had read and a study of the maps we had.
Our initial idea was to do a 4 day loop starting at Mowsons Pond Campground heading up Gun…
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