Are we there yet?

I think we’re still in Scotland…

After a fairly stressful and frantic last few days prior to leaving, we finally arrived in Vancouver (if through slightly different routes), to find it is having an unseasonably warm winter.  Genuinely warm(ish) and sunny – we are feeling slightly cheated!  Nothing quite like hitting the ground running though, so after getting to bed at 1am local time we set off that evening on a weekend expedition to Tetrahedron Provincial Park to celebrate Burns Night.  Yes, Burns Night.  Tom had even managed to source some haggis, neeps and tatties to add to the authenticity. This weekend was organised by Neil McKenzie, our kilt-wearing friend from back home who is very kindly putting  us up while we’re here. What with the rubbish snow conditions we were really a little dubious as to whether we had actually left!    Through general mismanagement we managed to miss the 7pm ferry, which meant that we camped in the car park under the stars at the beginning of the trail that night. This turned out to be a better alternative than the trek to the hut that had been planned – which would have been done in the dark – and for at least one of us would have been fairly catastrophic.  It was challenging enough in the daylight!  Generally icy terrain with a fair bit of ascent, it was pretty straightforward up until when it wasn’t.  I had only done two days of ski touring last year, but in Scotland you are generally just going up a hill and then down the other side.  This, it seems, is not the norm. At least not in Canada. Skiing down and skinning up narrow, icy paths through trees is where its at apparently.  Having not been on skis this year it was definitely being thrown in the deep end – not to forget we were carrying packs on our back with all our kit,  including whisky, haggis, neeps and tatties to feed about 10…  I could identify with turtles after falling over a few times.  Thankfully the pack comes off, otherwise I would probably still be there.

Heading for the Edwards Lake Hut with Haggis Laden Packs!
Heading for the Edwards Lake Hut with Haggis Laden Packs!

We arrived at Edward’s Lake hut around late morning (it was a beautiful day), and thankfully got to dump our belongings and rest a bit before continuing. The hut system in Canada is absolutely amazing, extremely well equipped with wood burning stoves and a good supply of wood.  There are even toilet facilities – which came as a bit of a surprise as it seemed unlikely that someone would install plumbing – and then we read the sign inside which asked you kindly not to throw any garbage down the toilet as all waste was airlifted out by helicopter.  I shudder to think about living in that flight path!

There had been a general intention to step up the training two months before we left, but winter colds and the sorting out of stuff got in the way.  Around this time I was really wondering whether I couldn’t have managed to squeeze in a few more gym sessions, really.  I wish I had.  No matter, on we went up the mountain through the woods – the entire time there was a little voice saying “this is all well and good, but how is this going to be coming down?” When we got to a bit of a clear spot just before the final ascent to the summit, Tom suggested perhaps he and I might start making our way back – the second time in all the years I have known him he has turned down reaching the top. This was, without a doubt, the most welcome thing I’d heard all day.

The view was great from here, summiting clearly wouldn't improve on it.
The view was great from here, summiting clearly wouldn’t improve on it.
View from the top of Mount Steele
View from the top of Mount Steele

The descent?  I blame the rubbish snow conditions.  And rental skis.

When we finally reached the hut we started getting supper under way.  Hats off to them, the guys put together a traditional Burns Night Supper with all the trimmings (if whisky counts as a trimming) from very basic beginnings – mashing the potatoes and swedes with a water bottle actually works pretty well, who’d have thought?

The boys getting down to business
The boys getting down to business

We weren’t treated to the Ode to the Haggis as Neal still hasn’t memorised it, but the general gist was there.  The evening then descended into general mayhem but Tom and I ducked out early due to body clocks/jet lag/general exhaustion (delete as appropriate). As the sleeping area was above the living area we did catch the highlight, which was a very heated debate over the difference between a biscuit and a cookie.  No one is quite sure who won.

After Burns Night, Australia Day.

The next day started predictably slowly, and keeping with the international  theme we were celebrating Australia Day.  It was January, in Canada, but we were playing cricket in the sunshine (albeit on a frozen lake).  The boys got so hot they had to take their tops off – ok, this was nothing like Scotland now.

Tom getting bowled out - thankfully he didn't need a box...
Tom getting bowled out – thankfully he didn’t need a box…

That didn’t stop the theme however, and after 18 months in Edinburgh we had our first deep fried mars bar miles away on a frozen lake in BC.  Tom’s skills with a camping stove, a few tortilla wraps and some pine twigs are really quite extraordinary. Actually, it’s quite amazing what you can do with the above – pretty much all the left over food saw the same treatment.

Tom working his culinary magic with a few tortilla wraps and some pine twigs
Tom working his culinary magic with a few tortilla wraps and some pine twigs

We had a leisurely tour back, leisurely due to frequent turtle moments, and then made our way back to the ferry.  A mention here for Snow White the slightly temperamental truck, which is our mode of transport while in Canada.  She is a bit of a madam, and occasionally decides she is lacking attention so refuses to start until coaxed – this happened after a pit stop on route to the ferry.  Thankfully the travel gods were with us and we didn’t miss it, so got back at a reasonable time and collapsed into bed – this was more important for Neal of course, who had to work the next day…  Ah well.

One thought on “Are we there yet?”

  1. I can’t stop laughing about the turtle moments. I’ve had many Glastonbury turtle moments when setting up/packing up to go home :-p

    Randomly, check out this link to a page full of camping hacks. Some of it you’ll probably already know, but some are just good plain fun. I can’t wait to try some of them myself when the kids are old enough to go camping 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s