Monthly Archives: October 2012

Updated my blog header!

… OK, maybe this isn’t that exciting, but it’s been something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, and I think even small achievements should be celebrated!  

Hope everyone is having a great – and productive – week!

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Moved again

In the crazy way of things working out in this world, M and I have moved again recently.  Only this time it’s to an entirely different city, and not just to a bigger place that is closer to work…

We’re now living in Calgary, Alberta – over the Rocky Mountains!  Marty got a job that’s taken us here, so I’m trying to work on my portfolio and update my resume and start looking for a new job…

In the way of all things, I’m considering updating my blog to give it a look that’s (kind of?) consistent with my portfolio – and  update my portfolio on here as well, because it’s pretty sad thus far – but we’ll see how it goes.  I’m enjoying the time off work, but it can’t last forever, I guess.  Anyways, I’m still playing with ideas, so stay tuned for any changes…

Calgary has been pretty lovely so far.  The temperature dropped pretty much as soon as we arrived, so it’s been between 0 and 15 degrees since.  We had a small snowfall the day after we arrived, which was unexpected, but the fall colours have been pretty spectacular.  Being out of a job, I’ve been trying to get out to walk the dog (dog!) and it’s been nice to explore some of the parks around here.

All in all, I’m excited to be here.  I’m looking forward to a change in scenery (literally), as well as a change of pace from Victoria.  I’ve liked the vibe of this city so far, and I have to say that I’m looking forward to a real winter that isn’t just rain and grey.  We’re moving into our new place mid-month, and I’m hoping to get in some photos of cool design soon!

Until then, I’ll enjoy the beautiful fall and keep looking for some work…


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West Coast Trail – Day 5, 6 and 7

NOTE: I found this saved as a draft in my posts list…  It should have been posted in June with the rest of my summaries!  Just in case anyone was wondering, we did finish the hike and I haven’t just been posting from the middle of the West Coast Trail! 


Day 5 – Tuesday June 5

Cullite Creek to Camper Bay – 5 km

Day 5 was a really short day for us.  We decided to take it easy after our previous two days of long kms and tough terrain, so we just went the 5km to Camper Bay.

The hike for the morning was relatively uneventful.  The morning started out with a ladder (of course…), just to get our heart rate up and hands warm!  The terrain was more of the same – mud and roots – aside from a section of bog walk.  The bog was my favourite section of the hike.  Just gorgeous.  The trees were all little and stunted, clear open areas with lots of moss and shrubby plants like labrador tea.  It was boardwalk almost all the way through this section, which helped to keep feet dry as well as protect the delicate environment in the area.

We arrived at noon, and had the afternoon to set up camp, wash out some socks and enjoy the sunshine on the beach!  It was pretty fantastic.  I had a chance to dry out our tent fly and my sleeping bag in the sun, which was awesome because I hate damp weather!  A note of caution to hikers, however: keep an eye on your gear when it’s out in a place it could get damaged.  I hung my bag over a big piece of driftwood and put a rock on it to keep the wind from picking it up, but the wind still pulled it over, and the smashing of the rock on other rocks actually tore a small hole in my bag!  Silly decision, but at least I had a gear repair kit in my bag – a small patch of sticky fabric and good as (almost!) new.  Oooops…

This was also the day that our camera gave up on life.  It was pretty upsetting, as we didn’t take a huge number of pictures to begin with, and the camera was brand new (purchased for the trip!)  I only have one more picture from the last couple of days, so it will be coming up further in this post…

We were the first people at camp, and thus got our choice of tent sites.  We picked one a bit further back from the beach – the wind was pretty howling during the evenings, and we liked the bit of privacy the bushes afforded.  We built a small fire and invited a few other hikers over in the evening.  There was a small ranger cabin nearby, and two of the rangers on the trail came by to share news and loan us their radio so we could listen to the weather report.  I have to say that I really enjoyed meeting people on the trail – it was nice to have just the two of us hiking so we could set our own pace, but it was good to have interesting company around a little beach fire in the evenings!  All-in-all, this was a really satisfying day, and a well needed rest-up.  Camper Bay was a nice campsite and had good options for shared or more secluded tent locations.

Day 6 – Wednesday June 6

Camper Bay to Thrasher Cove – 8 km + 1 km

We got up the next morning, had our routine of oatmeal brekky and coffee/hot chocolate, and set off again.

We hiked along the beach from km 65 to 66 – the terrain was big flat rock shelf, with the added challenge of having several surge channels to consider.  We did fine by staying fairly close to the shoreline, but walked over to have a look at a couple of them – they looked huge and sketchy.  Avoid, avoid!  At km 66 we decided to continue on through the forest, as our pace wasn’t particularly fast and we weren’t certain we could make it past Owen Point with the tide coming in.  The initial slope back up to the forest trail was steep and slippery with algae on the rocks.  I wasn’t very happy with it, but at least I had a relatively light pack by this time…

The hike was more of the same, but starting to get into big tree coastal areas – more of what I think of when someone says “coastal temperate rainforest” to me.  Big trees and lush green leafy foliage.  The path meandered along without any huge inclines up and down – it was more of a steady climb.  I’m not sure if I would prefer this to the steep up and down of the ladders – the effort you expend on a ladder is over fairly quickly and it pretty gratifying to climb twenty stories (or whatever) in a few minutes.  The slow uphill was pretty draining and eventually just seemed never-ending.  Ok, I think my answer is that I would prefer the effort of a ladder for the short term reward… Ha.

Anyways, the path was nice, with lots of underbrush and big fallen logs.  A lot of them had been cut into bridges over small creeks, which was really lovely, but at times kind of sketchy because of how rotted out some of them were becoming.  And slippery!  You really had to watch your feet.  I thought it was a sneakier kind of challenge than the root-and-mud bogs of the previous days, because the look of the ‘bridges’ was so nice, but you couldn’t let yourself be fooled, or you’d definitely fall off into a creek four feet (or sometimes more) below you.

After  several km of this forest hiking, we hit the signposts marking the way down to Thrasher Cove.  Boy were we excited to see it – only 1 km to the campsite and dinner! – and boy were we mistaken…  Yes, it was only one km to the beach, but it was a steep (up and down) climb and then descent, with the most switchbacks we’d encountered on the trail.  It was slick and very steep for most of the climb down, with a few ladders at the bottom thrown in for good measure.  The beach was really nice, and most of the tent areas were right on the sand above the tideline.  By the time we reached the beach, it had started to rain a little bit, so we opted for a site a bit further down towards the creek, and up off the beach under the trees.  It kept most of the rain off our tent, and we had a completely dry night.  Which was great, because by the time we had finished dinner, it was pouring out!  We packed our food into the bear box early and curled up to play some crib in the tent before calling it an early night.

Day 7 – Thursday June 7

Thrasher Cove to Gordon River/Port Renfrew – 5 km + 1 km

On the last and final morning of our trip, we woke up to complete downpour.  The skies had opened and rain was not interested in going away.  Luckily (or cleverly??) we’d opted to spend the night under trees instead of exposed on the beach, so our gear was dry.  Believe you me, a wet morning is a grumpy morning when it comes to this lady…  It was a pretty no-nonsense camp pack-up, as we wanted to get moving and get warm as fast as possible.  The +1km we hiked on the way down was our second challenge of the morning, combined with the torrential rain.  We left camp and were soaked through in 5 minutes.  {I have to note that my boots were amazing and my feet were not wet once during the trip except for the time I waded across a creek in them.  This was possibly the best thing about any of my gear.  Dry boots.}

The uphill switchbacks were painful, and my day deteriorated into a mental chant of “5 more km, 5 more km”… only to further deteriorate into “warm bed, hot bath, slippers” not soon after.  The hike itself after the first km of crazy switchbacks was lovely.  The path widened out into coastal douglas fir and cedar forest (classic!) and the steady uphill went on forever but was ok fo the final day.  We passed some interesting logging relics and lots of big rusted cable.  It seems amazing to me that anyone would have pulled a steel cable as thick as my wrist through that forest, but hey.

The day rained on and on and on, but as long as we kept moving, we stayed relatively warm.  I couldn’t help but think that we’d had such amazing weather, it almost wouldn’t be a complete trip without torrential rain.  And what better day than the last day, where you know you have a chance to change, dry out and be back in your warm and comfy bed that night?  The rain was pretty epic, though, and I was totally sick of it even by the end of the day’s hiking.  We passed several hikers going in the opposite direction, just getting started on their trek, and felt really sorry for them.  At least we weren’t heading into another week of the same, and our trip hadn’t started out with us soaking wet and miserable.

At the Gordon Creek ferry we came upon two other groups of hikers who had been with us for most of the way.  They had pulled the fishing buoy up for the ferryman to see (a big red marker in the trees), so we waited for about ten minutes while he  made his way across to pick us up.  Those were the coldest ten minutes of my entire hike!  The boat was mercifully short, and the ferryman cheerful, and by the mid-afternoon we were at the trailhead cabin, where the (amazing!) park ranger let me use the washroom to change into dry clothes…  I wish our camera had still been working, as I just put on whatever I had left that was dry, in as many layers as possible.  It was a good look!  And really, just like that we were off the trail and finished.  We went to a cafe in Port Renfrew to get a coffee (and poutine!!  Nothing like hiking 75 km in a week and then getting back to good old civilization…) and kill the four hours until the bus could take us back to the city.

I have to say that this was probably the single-most challenging activity I’ve ever undertaken.  It took us weeks of preparation, both physically to get ourselves into shape (kind of) before the hike, as well as having our gear prepared and also the mental challenges of being on the trail itself.  I can’t say enough about packing light, especially for women.  If you can challenge yourself to not overpack your clothing and other gear, and plan your food and rationing in advance (we did this and still had lots of snacks leftover!), it really makes a huge difference in how you feel on the trail everyday.  I started out with about 26 lbs of gear in my pack, plus water, and reduced it down to about 20 by eating for the last few days.  It made a big impact on my ability to hike the trail, keep my balance and not be completely worn down at the end of the day.  Investing in lightweight gear was, imo, a great thing to do.  The mental challenges were to not get frustrated (ha!) and to be easy on myself with the pace and the things that happened on the trail – slipping and falling, having grumpy moments, being in your own head in the wilderness for 24 hours a day.  While the trail was challenging, I also feel it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life to date as well.

And last but not least… Would I do it again?  Absolutely.  Just maybe not for a few years… 🙂

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Something yummy…

I made some jam this summer.  In fact, I made a lot of jam this summer!  I’ve always had a love of canning jam, a throwback to the days when my Granny would spend hours over a big pot of delicious strawberries, to be poured into jars and kept like shining jewels for winter.  Delicious shining jewels, I might add.

I’ve always loved the idea of preserving – an afternoon of work for weeks of enjoyment when the weather turns cold seems like such a great reward.  So in July I took an evening class on canning basics to brush up, and learned a few tricks to expand my repertoire of canned goodies from just jams into some pickles and salsa and chutney!

In total, I made the following:

  • Strawberry jam
  • Strawberry-Vanilla Bean jam
  • Pear-Vanilla Bean jam
  • Peach jam
  • Peach-Candied Ginger jam
  • Pickled Beans
  • Pickled Beets
  • Butter Pickles
  • Tomato Salsa
  • Peach Chutney

All in all, I’m really excited for when they’ve had some time for the spices to get really flavourful.  Pickled beans and strawberry jam are pretty much my favourite preserves.  Small batch canning is a great way to go, pretty easy with a few simple rules to follow, and you get such yummy results!


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