Vancouver 2016: Days 2-4

After Haley and I’s whirlwind tour of downtown Vancouver area on the 2nd, it was a relief to go stay out at my aunt Dianna and uncle Scott’s beautiful home in Maple Ridge.

Day 2

Pretty typically, when I travel anywhere I like to start my day with a run to get my bearings.  I woke up to a quiet house and headed out for a run around the neighbourhood, keeping my eyes peeled for the mama bear and three cubs my aunt had mentioned that frequented the area.

The loop I did was just over four km, so I ended up doing it twice because I wanted to test my 5 km time (and finally got a 5 km under 25 minutes – success!).  Of course it was raining a bit as I ran, and there were a few decent hills, but something about running in a new area is always fun.

Back at the house, everyone was eating breakfast and getting ready for the day.  Once all us ladies were cleaned up, we piled in my aunt Dianna’s CRV and headed to Fort Langley for the day to explore.  Fort Langley’s downtown area has tons of cute little shops to explore, and an amazing restaurant with lots of gluten-free options called Wendel’s.


Although Wendel’s was packed when we came in, somehow we managed to find a five-person table and have lunch.  I had the Creole chicken salad and a latte – both were delicious.  And I got to have another g-free, vegan chocolate chip cookie.  * praise hands emoji *

We explored down main street after lunch, although I don’t think any of us bought anything despite all the cute things we saw.

On the way back to my aunt’s house, we stopped at Bruce’s Country Market to pick up some fresh fish and groceries for dinner.  I even nabbed some kombucha!  We spent the rest of the night prepping dinner, then feasting and visiting.

Day 3

We decided to head out to Whistler to visit my aunt and uncle’s son, Chad, and get out for a hike.

Because I’m crazy, I did a driveway WOD first because I wanted to get some strength stuff in first.  I borrowed a travel WOD from Carrots ‘n’ Cake that I afterwards renamed the inchworm express because I did four rounds of 10 inchworms, not to mention the burpees and push-ups involved too.  My arms felt like jello!

We piled into the car around 9 to head out to Whistler.  It took about 2.5 hours, but the scenery was lovely and as always there was lots of visiting, so the time flew by.

many many car selfies

 


Since Chad is a Whistler local and conveniently a guide, he picked a nearby hike for us to do: Cheakamus Lake.  The hike is lakeside with minimal elevation gain, and 16 km round trip.  It was a slightly cloudy day and it was amazing how the lake’s color changed as the clouds moved.


As Dana sets a pretty brisk pace when we hike together, I guess I’m trained now to motor along.  I didn’t even realize it until the halfway point, but unfortunately I’d been rushing everyone along the whole way.  After that, I tried to adopt a more relaxed pace.

Between my little morning workout and the 16 km hike, I was feeling pretty tuckered out by the time we got back to the parking lot.

Luckily, great minds think alike, and pizza was on the agenda for dinner at Creekbread Pizza.  The g-free crust was pretty good, and Haley and I had no trouble polishing off our individual pizzas.


After dinner, we wandered around downtown Whistler exploring.  It is amazingly pedestrian friendly in the shopping plaza (unlike Banff where parking is a nightmare).  By the time auntie drove us back to Maple Ridge, it was dark out and staying awake was a big struggle.  Both Haley and I napped on the drive home, despite my best efforts to stay awake.

Day 4

After all the exercise the day before, I elected to take a rest day and just luxuriate in a sleep-in instead.  It’s so dark out in the countryside where my aunt and uncle live, and blissfly quiet too.  It was wonderful!

We all had a lovely slow morning of breakfast and getting ready, before heading out to the seaside for lunch.  After we parked in White Rock, the first restaurant that caught our eye was Jan’s on the Beach.

Gluten-free fish and chips?  Sign us up!  Haley and Grandma enjoyed the fish and chips (I sampled some of theirs – and WOW they were tasty), while I had the prawn/chicken curry.  Funny thing to have, I know, but I was chilled!

After, we headed down to the pier to check out the views.  Some people trapping crabs caught our attention for a bit (hey, we’re from a landlocked province.)

When we got back from the seaside, we decided to take my aunt and uncle’s dog Sade (a wonderful friendly lab) for a walk on some trails near their house.  Our little walk turned into a pretty epic 9 km hike with some extreme elevation gains!  I didn’t have my phone on me to measure, but I bet we gained 400-500m over 5 km.  Needless to say, we all came home quite sweaty.

We had a late dinner in Maple Ridge at Browns Socialhouse.  The chain is a favorite of my parents, and I can see why.  I had the chicken social bowl and it was delish!


I’ll be back tomorrow with one more Vancouver trip recap about our last day, with lots of pictures!
PS. This is Peanut Butter Kait’s 100th blog post!  Yay!

Summer 2016 Happenings

Time to break up the radio silence that’s been ongoing this August on Peanut Butter Kait! It’s been an incredibly active and busy summer, and I can’t believe the September long weekend is right around the corner.  So, what have Dana and I been up to?


Crossfit

It’s hard to believe my blog used to consist of daytoday workout journaling. I haven’t done a post like that in forever!  None-the-less, my love for crossfit is still ongoing and as strong as ever.  I’ve been hitting up class throughout the summer at my home box, CrossFit Sunalta, about four times a week and seeing good gainz.  Things I used to loathe like double unders are slightly less sucky now, so that’s fun.  If I could just master kipping pull-ups, there would be nothing left to dread (#kiddingnotkidding).


I conned my dear friends and fellow Sunaltans, Anna and Meg, into doing a 3-person ladies team competition on October 1 here in Calgary. The WODs have not been released yet, but I’m confident we’ll have a blast!  I’m hoping we can start squeezing some training in for the competition soon, as it’s really only a month away.

Penny

Although we’ve only had Penny since November, it truly feels like she’s been part of our little family forever. She’s not the most affectionate animal generally, but that probably comes from living on the streets of Mexico for seven years.  With that said, she ADORES Dana with her whole tiny heart and worships the ground he walks on.


We’ve had a ton of fun taking her hiking this summer – everyone is always amazed when they see her out on the mountain, but her cardio conditioning is second-to-none.  My own dog makes me look bad.


I love her to death.  Other than when she does things like eat my earplugs or other miscellaneous household items.

Hiking

… which is the theme of summer 2016. I’ve done several hikes since we got back from backpacking the West Coast Trail.

July 23rd I hiked up to Taylor Lake with a group of ladies.  Our boyfriends/husbands were out on a bachelor party backpacking weekend so we thought we should also get out to the mountains.  Taylor Lake is pretty, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone as it’s 95% hiking in the bush with no views.  The lake itself is lovely.  Worth 12 kilometers of forest hiking?  No.  Maybe trail running would have been more suited to the trail?

We spent August 12-14 out at Nipika Resort near Golden, BC for our friends’ wedding. Highly recommend checking the resort out!  Dana and I tried out trail running on the Saturday on the cross-country ski/snowshoe trails and had an absolute blast.  Somehow the 5 km we intended to do turned into a sweaty 10 km.  Now a pair of Salomon Speedcross 3s are on my Christmas list…

On August 20th, Dana, Penny, and I headed out to the Banff area to hike up to Harvey Pass.  It’s a very popular hike, but unlike Taylor Lake, I completely understand why.  The elevation gain up to Harvey Pass is about 1000 metres, but totally worth every gasping breath and burning glute on the way up.


We had a beautiful 28 degree day, but luckily the forest and then the gusting wind on top kept us reasonably cool.  We ate lunch at Bourgeau Lake and then carried on up to Harvey Pass.  The views up there are some of the best I’ve seen in Banff National Park!  All three of us were pretty exhausted driving back to Calgary after with about 20 km round trip under our belt.  Five star hike!

Camping

Just this last weekend, we headed down south to Waterton National Park with our friends Meg and Wade, and my sister Haley, for a car camping trip. We had warm weather on both Friday and Saturday, but it was pretty dang cool on Sunday morning as we packed up.  11 degrees!  We camped at Crooked Creek Campground which is a little bit too commercialized and noisy for me, but alternatively, I did appreciate having hot running water to wash dishes every night.


Hands down, Waterton is my favorite National Park in Alberta. The mountains are incredible there!  On Saturday, we had planned to hike Crypt Lake which is a super iconic Waterton hike.  Unfortunately due to a grizzly bear in the area, no dogs were allowed on the trail.  Since we had Penny along, we couldn’t do Crypt.  Our second choice was Carthew-Alderson, but due to construction on the Akamina Parkway we couldn’t access the trailhead without a shuttle, which we couldn’t take because of Penny.  Sigh.

We ended up hiking the popular Bertha Lake trail. Our hiking book rated the hiked 2/4, which I think is an insult to a beautiful trail.  Yes, Bertha Lake is very popular.  Yes, part of the hike is in the forest.  But Bertha Lake itself is absolutely gorgeous!  We hiked up to the lake, and then did the lake loop and headed back down to the bridge to eat lunch.

About 16 kilometers, 650 m elevation gain.  Up at the lake, we saw two black bears from a distance, and got very close to a buck with a large rack.  There were lots of berries around the lake, so you can understand why Waterton is known for bears.  On the way back to the campground after, Meg and Wade saw a grizzly from the car!  It turned out to be a great day of hiking, despite the disappointment of missing out on Crypt Lake.


Vancouver

To wrap up the epic summer, my mom last-minute planned a girls’ trip to Vancouver for the September long weekend.  My mom, sister, grandma, and I are heading to Vancouver to have a little getaway and see my mom’s childhood best friend.  On Friday, Haley and I are flying in early in the day so we can tourist around downtown Vancouver, and then we’ll meet up with the family in the evening when they fly in.  Any Vancouver recommendations?  Leave me a comment!  The weather forecast looks horribly rainy, but nothing a little shopping, eating, and drinking excellent coffee can’t cure.


How has your summer been?

West Coast Trail 2016: Day 6

July 5, 2016

Campers ⇒ Gordon River (13 km)

Since I’d gotten basically no sleep with my blossuming cold, I was raring to go by 5:30 AM when Dana woke up.  To my delight (*sarcasm), it was raining.  But c’est la West Coast Trail.  A small river was flowing under a tent but luckily we didn’t get wet in the night!

We sleepily and quickly made our daily oatmeal and my horrid instant coffee, then packed up camp with a little less care than usual (AKA the tent was pretty wet still!  But we were going home!).

The girls, Regan and Jess, got moving faster than all of us due to their protein bar/no cooking lifestyle.  Then Katie and Jon headed out.  Finally, close to 7 AM, Dana and I were all loaded up and ready to go.

Although there is a cable car at Campers, since the water was low we decided to just hop across on the rocks.  Dana got a little wet but amazingly I stayed pretty dry!

The ladders immediately got our heart rates up (of course), and pretty soon we had peeled off our rain coats despite the drizzle.  My cold was in full force and I was huffing and puffing (and honking my nose) the entire day.

The pressure was on that day because we had (according to the book) 7.5 to 8.5 hours of hiking ahead of us to get from Campers to the Gordon River ferry, and the last ferry of the day was at 3:30.  Knowing that 5 of the 13 kilometers ahead of us could take one hour per kilometer, we had to keep our pace pretty brisk.

To hikers from home (Calgary), I realize 13 kilometers in 7.5-8.5 hours sounds insanely slow, but the West Coast Trail is a different beast.  Plus we were at the “hard” end, which has more elevation gains, slippery rocks, slippery roots, slippery felled tree bridges – essentially adding up to a very slow deliberate pace if you want to finish the trail with no broken bones.

Oh, and slippery boardwalk too.

After a few kilometers just us two, we heard some whooping ahead of us on the trail which turned out to be Katie and Jon at every kilometer marker.  They were good pacers for us, and the four of us hustled along pretty swiftly.

We don’t have too many pictures of this day’s hiking, as we were too preoccupied with racing to the ferry.

Of course, all things come in threes, and I hadn’t had my third accident-prone thing happen yet.  This end of the trail has quite a few log bridges to cross, and when I say log bridge, I mean a fallen tree that is now to be used as a footbridge.  Some are hatched with an axe for traction, but most are slippery from the constant dampness.  Some are a few feet off the ground, but some are up higher above obstacles like fallen logs or perhaps a creek.

I was at the tail end of the pack as with my short legs, I’m the slowest.  I was certainly worried about falling off one of the log bridges, but couldn’t be too cautious as we were trying to be speedy that day.  Of course, I proceeded to slip and fall off one of the log bridges.  Luckily, it was only a couple feet off the ground and there was nothing major to poke my eye out.  Dana heard me yelp and turned around just to witness the fall in action.  With adrenaline rushing through my body, I did a push up with 35 pounds on my back and was on my feet by the time he got back to me.  I shook it off, and we carried on.

Some unoriginal jerk took the kilometer 69 marker which made the challenging kilometers seem fruitless.  We hadn’t seen Thrasher yet, so we were all starting to panic a bit as we knew Thrasher was 5 km from Gordon River, and it was already 11 AM.

And then there Thrasher was.  And the unofficial campsites just minutes from the top of Thrasher that Monique had advised we stay at.

Even though we were both exhausted from the quick pace of the morning’s 8 kilometers, Dana and I dug deep inside and found a bit of extra crazy fuel to drive us forward.

I’ve never hiked that hard or fast on difficult terrain like that in all my life.

But adrenaline makes us do crazy things.  Dana and I flew up the harsh elevation, dodged roots, and were practically running for 2+ kilometers.  We both had sweat dripping down our faces when we stumbled upon the rusted out donkey engine.  Shortly after that, we caught up with Regan and Jess.

Catching up with them reassured us that our pace was okay, and that we would catch the 3:30 ferry.  Unfortunately, as Dana and I took a Nuun/snack break, I asked him what the time was.  12:00.  All the adrenaline suddenly stopped pulsing through my body.  I was acutely aware of how exhausted I was: my feet throbbed so much I could barely stand on them, my pack felt heavy again, and my poor nose was so congested.

With 3+ hours now to catch the ferry, all urgency left my pace and poor Dana had to coax me onwards.  I basically wanted to lay down and die on the Trail around kilometer 73.  To make matters worse, I don’t think there were markers for kilometers 74 or 75.  Again, the Trail seemed endless.

Fresh, clean, new hikers – just off the ferry – passed us in groups.  A big cheerful commercial group beat us to a ladder, and we had to wait for them to all climb down.  Everyone was saying things like “congrats” and “you’re one hour from the dock”, but I’m sure I looked haggard. 

The new hikers were dodging puddles, trying to keep clean.  Dana and I strode right through the mud and puddles, as we couldn’t possibly get dirtier or wetter.  One clean hiker looked at Dana with apparent horror (possibly due to his scent or the amount of mud on his clothing).  Dana told me to remind him to never hike the West Coast Trail again.

Probably around kilometer 74, I leaned against a log on the side of the trail and started weeping.  I was so tired.  I couldn’t possibly go on.  Even worse, we could see the water through the trees, and even heard the ferry.  I knew we were close, but I was so done with the West Coast Trail.

Dana found some more sugar candy in his pack, and basically force fed me.  With a tiny bit of wind in my sails, I limped forward and then, suddenly, we were at the top of a very steep, long ladder.  There was an orange buoy laying in the grass next to it.

I somehow got down the ladder with my trembling legs, and then Dana followed suit.  We were finally at the Gordon River dock!  We had made it!

As we had just missed the 1:30 ferry by 15 minutes, I raised the orange buoy and we took a few pictures.  The next ferry wasn’t until 2:30 so just as I was sitting down to wait, we were both surprised to see the ferry come into view.  The operator had seen my blue pack cover weaving through the trees, and he came back for us early.  I could have kissed him.

The picture of us below is full of many emotions:

  • So proud of both of us for finishing that crazy hike.  Dana’s GPS watch clocked the West Coast Trail at 115 km… which is vastly more than the quoted 75 km.
  • Pure exhaustion.
  • Desire to never hike the West Coast Trail again.
  • Pure amazement that insane people (like us) do that trail for fun.

The ferry dropped us off, and we headed to the trailhead building to sign out.  We were happy to see Garbage Bag Greg, Regan, and Jess all hanging out there.  Dana called the Express bus to see if we could come home a day early (and we could – yay!).  The warden arranged for a $5 shuttle into town, and soon the pick-up truck was there to drive us in.

The driver dropped us off at the Port Renfrew Pub, and it was like a high school reunion in there with all the hikers who had just finished.  We were surprised to have caught up with Nate, Sara, and Heather who all finished the Trail just minutes before us!

I had saved a pair of leggings to change into (thank you Kaitlyn of the past!) and was so, so happy to take off my wet, muddy boots.  My feet were incredibly damp and swollen.  I took a picture (because of course everyone wants to see what my feet looked like).

I’m assuming the food at the Pub was delicious because everyone licked their plates clean, but I couldn’t taste anything with my cold.  Freshly showered Katie and Jon joined us for some drinks too, and it was nice to see all our buddies together!  I’m sure we all smelled wonderful at this point, but my cold was a blessing as I couldn’t smell anything.

The Express ride back to Victoria was hilarious.  It was very noisy for 20 minutes as everyone rehashed their epic stories and exchanged tales, and then it got very quiet as the entire bus fell asleep.  I find napping adults so, so funny.  (Of course, I was also one of those napping adults.)

These are some of the great people we met on the Trail!

With that, my long-winded retelling of our trip comes to an end.

The West Coast Trail tested my limits in ways I couldn’t even fathom before.  I like to think I’m pretty strong, but the muddy trail, weather, and weight of your pack (and getting bear sprayed) add elements of endurance that most people can’t imagine.  I can’t believe I finished it! 

Although I swore left and right I’d never hike it again, I have this odd feeling 2016 won’t be my last time on the Trail.  As every day passes since we finished, I feel more and more nostalgic for the quiet serenity of the rainforest and the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore.  Part of me even misses the mud.

Thanks for reading!

chow meme west coast trail