We were back in Ontario for Easter. With no bikes on hand, but access to a brand new track and Mike, we figured this would be a good time to do some stride analysis on our running to try and identify any major issues.
I won't bore you with the full 20 minute slow motion video from multiple angles - but here is a short version so see what we were up to.
In short: the "North Trip" of ski touring trips. It was a lot of fun. I think in future "vacation" type trips, we would make some changes:
- go when it is warmer
- allow more days for rest (or snowstorms)
- do a more in depth cost analysis of helicopter access versus two days of your life and being able to say you did it under your own steam
The drive to Lillooet was spectacular, if a little long. Also not sure it would be something I would want to do with snow on the roads, but our conditions were fine.
Our sleds. These worked out pretty well. Overall travel speed with the sleds was slower than I expected, but our total weight was not carryable, so we didn't have much choice. When hauling a sled I felt like I was working hard, but wasn't uncomfortable like an 80 pound pack would have been. Changes for next time will be a better harness system, and probably the use of some sort of duffel bag - this would be lighter than using packs, and would also allow easier access to contents during the day. Depending on the trip, being able to ditch the backpack and haul just a sled would be way more comfortable.
First sunset of the trip, still with a few hours left to haul. We had a a few stretches of skinning in the dark on this trip.
Day 2 of the trip, still hauling our sleds in. At this point we had already decided to change the trip plan, from an extended loop to an out and back. The idea was to have more time to explore in the alpine without sleds, but even with the reroute we were still looking at another day past this one. Almost the entire access was along a logging road.
Finally. 35 kilometers and 17 hours of sled dragging later.
Hazards of the trail.
Basecamp, drying in the sun.
We were going to take a laid back day on day four to recover from all the sled dragging. But after a few hours relaxing in the sun we couldn't stand not taking advantage of the nice weather anymore, and headed out. This meant a pretty late day.
And this is why we should have allowed more time (and maybe taken a helicopter). One week of dragging a sled along a logging road, with a few days in the alpine? Pretty good. Two weeks of pulling a sled through terrain like this, with days off to bag peaks and go skiing? Unbeatable.
We were able to get to a skiiable point just five minutes before the light left. (which meant once again finishing the day with a few hours skinning under starlight)
The next day we really needed a rest day. It was also mostly cloudy and snowing, so we spent the day almost completing an igloo. Those are hard.
The day out we decided to go for it. The packs were finally carryable (for the most part). Kick wax and desperation got us through all 35 kilometers and back to the car by 7pm.
It hasn't snowed in awhile around here. In fact, it's been getting kind of warm. So when we were talking about touring this weekend, trying to find some gorgeous powder runs wasn't even in the picture: not only would they have been tracked out over this past week (terrible, I know), but they would be covered in sun crust and possibly experiencing some wet snow sloughs. Instead, we decided to go tree skiing on the north side of Needle peak, where we would be in safe terrain and have snow that hadn't seen any sun.
Well. I guess that all the snow on top of the forest sees the sun, gets heated up and mushy, then falls to the forest floor and freezes into death chunks. Within the first 2 minutes of our skin up, it was obvious skiing was pretty much out.
Not to mention the surface hoar that we saw from the parking lot.
In any case, we had already driven all the way out there, so we went for a bit of a tour along the ridge. Lots of ideas were generated for future trips when skiing is better.
We spent this past weekend in Vancouver - Caroline went down midweek for a work conference, and her company was good enough to pay my way as well. We figured we could use this as a great excuse to hang out in Vancouver and, more importantly, go to MEC.
The drive down was slower than normal. I spent 2 hours at the Coquihalla summit looking at this:
Notice the people who should be on the bus are standing beside the bus. Bad crash I guess. It was too bad I was driving alone - someone could have skiied a run or two.
In any case, I finally got to Vancouver on the Friday night. Saturday we spent four and a half hours at MEC learning and refining our gear selection. Which was a part in allowing us to finally kickstart planning this Icefield trip for this winter. First step was to assign the reading:
Then we figured out our stove setup. This has been a long time in the refining process, but I think we have it nailed. Our next overnight we plan on boiling two pots of water, one with the full set up and one with nothing. Maybe another with half the setup. It should be interesting.
It boils down to 3 components:
1) The Base Plate. This is critical, or the stove will melt itself into the snow and fall over, which pretty much ruins your night. There are lots of do-it-yourself systems out there with various types of foam, aluminum foil, plywood, etc. They all seemed pretty complicated, large, and heavy. We found this one at MEC. I have high hopes.
2) The whatcha-ma-call-it. To trap a lot of the escaping hot air. This is half the weight of the setup, but I think it is very effective. We will test.
3) The Muffin-Top. Light and effective.
We also worked on refining our route choice. More on that later. However, while researching various routes I found a bit of a gem in a trip report:
"Fyles and Dalgleish went on to the final, tottering pile of
rock which called itself a peak, but seemed hesitant about announcing their
victory. They commenced throwing rocks at the blade like crest of the ridge and
triumphant shouts finally re-echoed their success in knocking over the
unattainable summit. "
We had a quick (very quick) night out in Okanagan Mountain park this weekend - the idea was to make sure the dog didn't explode spending a night out in the cold, with a very easy escape route if it looked like there was going to be trouble.
It was a success. I think the dog may have been more comfortable than we were - as it was only -8 degrees, and we had our full winter tent and -20/-30 bags. Being too hot in the winter is awkward. We also decided that sleds are an absolute must for any multiple night ski trip. Even with the bare minimum for a single night, the weight of our packs focuses most of your attention on your shoulders, rather than where you are.