Monday, September 23, 2013

Cycling the Kettle Valley Railway

It's called McCulloch's Wonder. A railway engineering marvel that took nearly 20 years to build. It traverses incredible canyons, mountains & rivers, winding its way through some of the most breathtaking vistas and views on the planet.

In 1910 Andrew McCulloch was hired as the Chief Engineer of the Kettle Valley Railway. It would be the project that would forever define his career. He was an avid reader of Shakespeare and to this day you can still see that influence... Juliet Creek, Othello Tunnels, Iago Mountain. They all are names inspired by this passionate man. After the KVR opened, it was a main route for moving goods from the interior of the province to the coast and the railway thrived for many years. But then declining demands for moving ore, fruit from the Okanagan and other goods forced the inevitable closure of the line and, sadly, the last section of the railway was closed in 1990.

But fortunately for us the KVR has been reborn into a remarkable trail for hikers, walkers, cyclists and explorers. Tens of thousands of tourists, from all over the world, come to experience the wonder of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail. And since this 'wonder' is basically in our back yard we thought it was about time we did too. Together with four of my wonderful friends we started to plan our first biking/geocaching trip.

The KVR is approximately 600 km long so obviously we weren't going to tackle it in just one trip! The most
popular section of the trail is the Myra Canyon route but we decided to save that for another time. On this trip we decided to visit Tulameen.

Tulameen? Where is that you say? Well let me tell you that Tulameen, British Columbia is one of my favourite places in BC. It is a quiet little "cabin town" just north of Princeton and about 3 hours from Vancouver. Once upon a time this land was the hopeful destination for thousands of gold miners, searching for their fortune. Today the air is heavy with the echoes of their past. Ghost towns like Granite Creek and Blakeburn are waiting to be rediscovered and lovely little Coalmont lingers on still. If you're a history lover, there is no better place to explore in BC than Tulameen.

We rented a gorgeous little house right in Tulameen called The Front Porch. This adorable little cottage went way beyond our expectations. It was clean & well stocked, beautifully decorated and just a few metres away from the Kettle Valley Railway Trail. If you're planning a visit to this area we highly recommend the Front Porch as your home base.

On our first day, after a hardy breakfast, we got on our bikes and got started biking up the KVR. There are about 70 geocaches between Tulameen and Brookmere. We cycled along beautiful Otter Lake, water on one side and mountain on the other. It was just breathtaking. Most of the caches along the KVR series are pretty easy finds. They aren't meant to be difficult, they are meant to get you out there. And we were sure loving being out there.

Signing the logbook

We were starting to think, well this is nice. Nice bike ride, nice easy caches and then we came to SITC#5 Thank You Kris and Jordy - GC2ZEJD. Once we read the cache page we knew that one of us would be "up a tree" - literally. At this point I have to digress a bit and explain that we are a group of "mature" women. Now we don't consider
ourselves old, in fact we act like teenagers most of the time, but the reality is that 3 of us are already grandmothers! Tree climbing isn't something we do very often any more. But you know, there is something to be said for pushing your boundaries and stepping out of your comfort zone. After a lot of encouragement from my fellow cachers I was the one who made the climb. I haven't been that excited to sign a logbook for a long time!
The next day we took our bikes to Princeton and then biked the KVR from Princeton to as far as the HooDoos cache. This gorgeous section of the KVR includes one of the many tunnels along the trail. This tunnel travels underneath the Hope-Princeton highway and is about 300 metres long. At first we thought, "piece of cake!" but then, when we got about half way through, we were very happy that we brought our flashlights along! It was so dark we couldn't even see the bikes we were sitting on! After the tunnel we crossed the Tulameen River and rode along some of the most beautiful countryside I've ever seen. Our main goal today was to reach an earthcache called "The Red Wall" and we were so glad we did. This unique and historically significant site is not to be missed. Wow.

Before we knew it our first biking adventure was over. Fortunately we had no mishaps or flat tires.... just some aching, under-used muscles and some sore backsides! And it was all worth it...we collected a lot more "smileys" to log, spent time with dear friends and gained a hundred more memories to cherish.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Caching in the Nahatlatch Valley

signing the logbook
 OK... I have to admit, I've always been jealous of cachers whose significant other is also into caching but today was my birthday and Tony, my husband, knows that this is the one day I will say... "I want to go geocaching all day with you and I don't want to hear any complaining." He gives me a major sigh and then goes out to pack the truck.
love our truck
Fortunately for me, he's totally at home in the woods, he loves exploring logging roads and he also owns a great big Ford F250 4x4. When I need to get up to the top of a mountain, he is my hero.

So today, on my birthday, we decided to head up to Boston Bar. The plan? Getting up to the Nahatlatch Forestry Lookout Tower and grab all the geocaches along the way.

See the tower?
We left Aldergrove at about 8am and were in Boston Bar by 10. Crossing the bridge into North Bend, we turned onto Chaumox Road and soon arrived at our first cache of the day...NV Series - The Fairy Ring Field (GC3PQQH). The NV Series (NV is short for Nahatlatch Valley) is an awesome bunch of caches put out by the Hannilake-Harrisons. I was very impressed with each cache we found in this series... the hides were inventive & creative, they were clean and filled with interesting swag and they were all hidden at safe pullouts along the road. One hide (GC3PRX7) was especially well done but that's all I'm saying! You just have to see that one for yourself!! Then, surprise, surprise I even got a FTF! (GC4E5JE) How cool is it to be first to find on your birthday? Only a true geocacher can appreciate how special that was for me.

Amazing view from the top!
So it was all smooth sailing, finding cache after cache, until we tried to find the road up to the forestry lookout. We had read some previous logs that mentioned that the road up had been a bit hard to find but we thought "we have our mapbook... we'll be fine." NOT. Turns out that the BC Backroads Mapbook is not quite accurate in this area and we ended up taking the wrong road for a while. DO NOT take the road to Keefers... take the road to "Wilderness Ranch" and you'll be good. In hindsight I should have printed the satellite map from which would have been very helpful at the time.

Tony and the tower
Once we found the right road I was so excited and I was also very glad I wasn't driving! This is definitely a 4x4ers dream road and takes some skill to navigate. There are some serious hairpin turns, some major boulders to navigate around and quite a bit of deadfall after the tower. If you have a big truck we would recommend that you park at the tower and then walk to the last three caches in the series. We just made it through the deadfall with only inches to spare. There is nowhere to turn around at the last cache so you will have to back up for quite a while unless you continue forward about another 800 metres down the road. We found a grassy spot there that was big enough for our truck.

The Nahatlatch Forest Fire Lookout was rebuilt by the Four Wheel Drive Association, SWATT, some geocachers and BC Rec Sites & Trails. What a project to undertake! Wow.
The "Rebuild" geocaching series was created by Trixnbun in honour of the rebuilding of the Lookout Tower and the entire series is such a great tribute. The hides are not difficult and I love that the hints are good so that there is no unnecessary wear & tear on the environment. Every once in a while we'd get a glimpse of the view of the Fraser Canyon and it would just take our breath away. Finally we arrived at the lookout and we were so excited to see the brand new rebuilt tower. The view from this spot is truly amazing. I'm sorry to say the pictures just don't do it justice. You have to see it in real life. Spectacular.

Making lunch inside the tower
After a great lunch (with birthday cake of course) inside the tower we finally decided it was time to head back home. 26 caches later we are a lot more tired, a little more bruised and I was, apparently, another year older!

And it was SO worth it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Sunshine Coast - Our Journey to Texada Island

Around the beginning of December we start to dream... of green forests and quiet beaches, ocean views and no traffic. We dream of our next trip to Texada Island.

Travelling to Texada Island requires a trip up the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. This road trip is one of my favourites in our province. It involves windy roads, three ferries, great big forests and lots of geocaches! And so much more for the explorer in you.

After getting off the ferry in Langdale we make our way first through Gibsons. Now if you're from Canada you know that Gibsons is home to Molly's Reach of the Beachcomber's TV show that ran from 1972 to 1990. If you have no idea what I'm talking about just click here. It's a Canadian icon and part of our genetic makeup! This great cache (GC137C1) will give you an awesome view of 'the Reach'.

Continuing north we meander through the beautiful little town of Sechelt and then through places with lovely names like Redrooffs Road, Halfmoon Bay and Maderia Park. Just past Maderia Park, to the north, is Mount Daniel. Historically Mount Daniel served as a spot of local aboriginal importance. Young teenage girls were isolated at this spot to assemble rocks in "moon circles" as way of entering puberty. The hike up to to the top of Mount Daniel is about 3km one way. The view is incredible and of course there is a cache there... (GC20PZK). If you have time then make your way up Mount Daniel.

After Mount Daniel we're almost at Egmont and the next ferry to Saltery Bay. But wait... before the ferry, no trip up the Sunshine Coast would be complete without a side trip to the Skookumchuck Narrows. Skookum means 'strong' and chuck means 'water' and that's exactly what you will witness at this incredible display of nature... very strong water. Skookumchuck Narrows forms the entrance of Sechelt Inlet and before broadening into Sechelt Inlet, all of its tidal flow, together with that of Salmon Inlet and Narrows Inlet, must pass through Sechelt Rapids. On a 3 metre tide, 200 billion gallons of water flow through the narrows connecting Sechelt and Jervis Inlet. The difference in water levels between one side of the rapids and the other sometimes exceeds 2 metres in height! There are, of course, a few caches in Skookumchuck Provincial Park including a very educational earthcache (GCMXRA).

Now it's time for the ferry to Saltery Bay (don't you just love that name too?). This ferry is a little cozy one compared to the ferries that cross to Vancouver Island but we just love it. We grab some soup & crackers in the gift shop and settle down by one of the big windows and just soak in the incredible scenery of Nelson Island and Captain Island. It is just spectacular.

Finally we are on the last leg to Powell River. As the crow flies we've only traveled about 144km but really there is no where in British Columbia where you can travel "as the crow flies!" Going around inlets, skirting mountains and the odd ferry trip makes the trip to this point about 6 to 8 hours long, depending on ferry waits and how many geocaches you stop for!

Powell River is a gorgeous little town with beautiful views of Texada Island, Malaspina Strait and Vancouver Island (waaay in the distance). Originally home to world's largest pulp mill, Powell River has grown into a adventurer's playground. From hiking to beachcombing, from geocaching and everything else in between... Powell River is the destination for outdoor enthusiasts!

We spent the night in the cozy Westview Centre Motel which we love. It's clean, very affordable and minutes away from the ferry to Texada (though their driveway is an experience!) and then, the next morning, we treated ourselves to an awesome breakfast at the Marine Inn. There is nothing like a cup of tea, delicious eggs benedict and a view of the ocean all rolled into one!

Finally it's time to take the last ferry to "our island." Yes, we have to admit that Texada Island has become our island. It feels like coming home. We drive up to our 'Retreat' and the weights and worries of reality slip away. We are here once again and it has been worth every mile to get here.

If you'd like more information on exploring Texada Island, check out some of our previous posts.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Golden Birthday

About two months ago Tony asked me what I wanted for my 50th birthday. I told him I'd get back to him.

Not long afterwards I found out that one of the Gold Country Launch Events was happening in Clinton and it was happening on my birthday! "I know what I want." I told him. "I want to go to this event, I want to geo-cache ALL day and I want you to be happy about it ALL day." "Really?" he said, "Can't I just buy you some jewellery?"

Honestly it was the best day and I thought it was very appropriate to be celebrating my 'Golden' Birthday by seeking a bunch of Gold Country caches.

Gold Country Geo Tourism program geocaching
If you're not familiar with British Columbia's Gold Country GeoTourism program you really should check it out. Recently featured in the Wall Street Journal and listed under GeoTours on, Gold Country GeoTourism is a world class program that draws geocachers & explorers from all over the world to our beautiful province.

Along For The Ride 1 & 2
The morning of the launch, August 26th, we all descended upon Reg Conn Park. It's always so great to meet up with old caching friends & make some new ones. Even Tony made some new friends as he hung out with the guys we had dubbed "Just Along for the Ride." I think they're planning to start their own support group!

After a speech by the mayor of Clinton and even the local Member of Parliament we were off and running. Literally. The thirteen new caches we were given that morning took us to amazing vistas, historical sites and even filming locations - a new twist in Phase 2 that I absolutely love! Every cache was well researched and well written and fun to find.

So thanks everyone for the awesome weekend!
DisneyGirl & the Wild Thingys

with Knitting Chick & fisher007
  • Thanks to the Wild Thingys (aka Peppermint Patti, Rallymaster, Nature Owl, laphamclan & Chilcotin Sam) for hosting a great Meet & Greet on Saturday night. I haven't heard so many good caching stories (or laughed that hard) in a long time!
  • Thanks to Knitting Chick & fisher007 for joining us on the hunt and the adventure. What we won't do for a smilie eh?
  • Thanks to the people at Gold Country for their GeoTourism program. I love that it encourages us (and the world) to get up off the couch and explore.
  • And a big thanks to my very patient hubby, who searches for 'geotrails' and 'geopiles' like an expert and who has put thousands of kilometres on the truck just for me. And thanks for asking me what I want for my birthday!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Leap, Leap, Leaping

February 29th.
It only comes once every 4 years. For most of the world it is just an extra day in the year but for a geo-cacher February 29th represents the 366th day. The chance to fill that elusive square in your 'Each Day of the Year Calendar'. It's a huge motivation to take the day off!

And that's just what a whole bunch of us did this year on February 29, 2012. Our fellow cacher, Adroit Seeker, planned an event called "Leaping From Cache to Cache" that took us along the Suiattle River in Washington State. The plan was to hike the trail and then get as many caches as we could along the road on our way back. This power trail includes more than 100+ caches in all. It meant that many of us would break records that day. It sounded like a whole lot of fun.

5am is so early!! but it still astonishes me what I will put myself through just for a whole whack of smilies on my caching profile page. I met tabbywmn at the border, we picked up Fisher007 just across the line and then we made our way to Bellingham where we met Adroit Seeker, Cyclepath Cacher, sweet-marie, 32fordroadster & Team ItTakesTwo. From Bellingham we travelled an hour & a half to the Snoqualmie National Forest where we met our American cacher friends. It was time we got started on our Leap Day!!

The road to the Buck Creek Campground has been closed for about 7 years but if you're up for an easy 5km hike then I highly recommend it. We were treated to beautiful views of the river, waterfalls along the way and towering trees. We had lunch at the end of the trail in a great log shelter with a view of the river, watching the snow drift down as we ate. It doesn't get much better than this.

 I had never cached on a power trail before but now I know what "power trail" means! With about 20 of us we literally leapt from cache to cache and we made short work of the series and a bunch of us broke our 'most caches in a day' record. On top of that we also had the privilege of watching fisher007 find his 1000th cache. As you can see he was pretty excited!

After we finished the trail and the road (in record time I might add) we made our way back to Bellingham for one more event hosted by the Three Bottles family. Yummy Mexican fare, an ice cold Corona and meeting more cachers. What a perfect way to end the day.

Thanks again to Adroit Seeker for planning such a great day for us and thanks to all my caching friends, those kindred spirits, who made the day so fun and enjoyable. I had an awesome time. Hope you did too! I'm sure we'll all remember Leap Year for a long time....too bad we have to wait 4 years to do it all over again.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Finally.... Haida Gwaii!

We've been married for 30 years. Yeah us!!
And for most of those 30 years we've talked & dreamed about making a trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands (now Haida Gwaii). As our 30th Anniversary drew closer we thought... "What better reason did we need?" Celebrate 30 years of marriage & exploring British Columbia by going on the ultimate road trip!
So the planning began. Those of you who know us know that we don't go anywhere without a plan & without doing a lot of research ahead of time. For us that's half the fun! If you're reading our blog right now because you're thinking of a trip to Haida Gwaii I hope you'll find this entry useful & helpful. I've written it with some how-to's, recommendations & must-do's!!

Before we left on our trip there were a few things we needed to do ahead of time. We reserved our spots on the ferry for there and back. Since the trip there was an overnight run we also booked a sleeping berth. I was very pleasantly surprised at our cozy little room on the Northern Expedition. With our own TV & bathroom and very comfy beds we actually slept a lot better than I expected. Another thing we did was book all our accommodations. We decided that we wanted to move around and explore different areas of the island so we reserved three different places - the Hecate Inn in Queen Charlotte City, the Sand Dollar cabin at North Beach Cabins near Massett and for the last three nights we stayed at Chateau Lawnhill in Lawnhill. The last thing we did (OK..I did) was put together a "Our Trip to Haida Gwaii" binder complete with copies of email correspondence, ferry confirmation numbers, special places we wanted to see and even a copy of tide table on the dates we planned to be there. The binder was also handy for writing down all the caches that I found during the trip. Yes I'm a geo-dork and just a bit of a type A personality!

Exploring Haida Gwaii was like being on the pages of a National Geographic magazine. Everywhere we went we were struck by beauty. I think Tony got so tired of me saying... this is soooo beautiful! But it was true. We spent a week exploring from one end of Graham Island to the other. Here are some of our favourite spots that we found...
black bear at Rennell Sound
Almost everything we read about Haida Gwaii said don't miss Rennell Sound so we figured that we'd better make sure to go there. Well the books weren't wrong.
We went to the sound on our first day on the island. We sure enjoyed the drive there....driving through beautiful forests on gravel roads has always been one of our favourite pastimes! We knew that there was a steep hill at the end of the drive but Tony managed the 24% grade like a pro! After the hill we continued on to the trail head for Gregory Beach. I was excited to learn that there was a cache hidden on this trail... just another bonus for visiting here. After we found the cache (GCX55R) we continued on down the trail to the ocean. Wow is all I can say! Rennell Sound is the only west coast beach that is accessible by road and apparently one of the best beach combing beaches on the entire west coast of North America. We didn't find anything special that day, no beautiful sea shells and no coveted glass fishing floats, but we did see an enormous black bear walking along the beach ahead of us. A once in a lifetime experience! Thanks to geobyrd for the great cache...absolutely one of my all time favourites and one I highly recommend!

sad end to Kiidk'yass
A beautiful legend & a mystery all rolled into one....that is the story of Kiidk'yass or the Golden Spruce. Kiidk'yass was a tree with a rare genetic mutation that made its needles yellow. For centuries the Haida Nation had revered Kiidk'yass as a mythical force... sitting on the banks of the Yakoun River, it was a thing of beauty and according to the Haida, would be there till the end of generations. Then in 1997 an eco-terrorist named Grant Hadwin cut the tree down as "a wake-up call" against industrial logging. The logic of this act escapes me but that is not the end of the story. Released on bail, Grant Hadwin disappeared while on the way to his trial. His broken, abandoned kayak and belongings were found on a remote island but no trace of Hadwin was ever found or has been found since.
Fortunately, about 20 years previous, cuttings had been taken from Kiidk'yass by a group of botanists from UBC. After the Golden Spruce was felled UBC offered one of the new golden saplings to the Haida people which they accepted and planted near the base of the original tree.
Today, beside the Yakoun River, you can still see the once mighty tree, now lying on its side, with a brand new yellow spruce planted at its roots.
The 10 minute walk to the Golden Spruce is accessed from the road to Juskatla and takes you past some of the most amazing old growth forest we have ever seen. Of course there's a geocache there too - thanks geofran - (GCXE4C)... just another reason to come to the wonderful place.

We arrived at our cabin on the very northern end of Graham Island on a beautiful sunny day... perfect timing to explore this amazing area. If you love long walks along the ocean (like me) then this is the place for you... sandy shoreline as far as the eye can see. Just to put it in perspective, Long Beach, on Vancouver Island is about 25km long. The continuous length of sandy beaches on Graham Island starts at Massett, continues all along the north coast, around Rose Spit and down to Tlell on the east coast, approximately 100 kms of sandy beach. Incredible and just waiting to be explored.

below Tow Hill
Tow Hill, on the northeast end of Naikoon Provincial Park is a volcanic plug that stands out above the tree line, easily seen from miles away. The 45 minute hike to the top is an easy one since the whole trail is a boardwalk! First time I've ever seen that. At the top you'll find a cache appropriately called "Beware of Cliff" (GC2X0VQ) and a view that is awesome. On a clear day you can see Alaska. Really.
The Pesuta Shipwreck was the one "must-do" that we never made it to. Weather, time constraints and high tides all made it a little difficult to get to but we have some friends who went there this summer and they really enjoyed the hike there and exploring the wreck.
It's one thing to see history in a glass case or read about it in a book. It's a whole another thing to see it and touch in the middle of the rainforest. That was our experience when we hiked to one of 4 Haida canoes that have been abandoned on Haida Gwaii. No one knows why these half finished canoes were left to rot but they were. Were they not carved properly? Did they crack? It's a mystery and we love mysteries. You'll find the trail head for the Juskatla Canoe at N53 36.145 W132 16.913 and the canoe at N53 36.121 W132 16.701.

This 26 million dollar museum & Heritage Centre in Skidegate is incredible. From the huge authentic totems to the tiny baskets woven with spruce roots... well worth the $15 entrance fee.

Balance Rock is a huge glacial erratic just north of Skidegate that sits perfectly balanced on the point of another rock in the middle of a beach near Skidegate. "Rock-In-Out" (GC21AMY) is the perfect cache at this location. You've got to see it to really appreciate it.

There are many places to stay on Haida Gwaii... from campsites to B&Bs. The pitfalls of reserving a place through a website is you never know if it's as good as it looks in the pictures! We were fortunate to find three very good ones and I'd highly recommend each one of them.
HECATE INN in Queen Charlotte City was clean and quiet. We had our own apartment with a separate bedroom and kitchen which was great for making our own meals. They also had internet access which can be pretty important if you need to keep in touch with your family. NORTH BEACH CABINS was the most rustic of the three places we stayed. The Sand Dollar, which was our cabin, had no electricity but it was cozy with a propane stove & heater and the incredible North beach was only minutes away. Lisa, our host, has added all sorts of beautiful touches to make her place special... even stained glass windows in the outhouses! CHATEAU LAWNHILL was the last place we stayed and from the moment we arrived Ron, our host, made sure we felt at home. We appreciated all the advice he gave us for exploring the island and sure enjoyed the huge salmon steaks he brought us!

Before we knew it our week had come to an end and it was time to head home. We really hated to see it come to end... there was so much more we would have liked to see but well, reality beckons.

The wonder & beauty of Haida Gwaii is not something we will soon forget. It truly was the trip of a lifetime.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Day with the Baerg Family

Mount Cheam, British Columbia
When I was about 10 years old my dad went on a mountain climbing hike with a bunch of guys from our church. Their goal? To climb to the top of Mount Cheam. I remember him coming home that night absolutely exhausted but full of stories to tell. Later when I saw the photos...all these guys standing at the top of the peak with nothing but glorious blue sky all around them...well I knew that someday I wanted to be there too.

Fast forward to 2011... almost 40 years had past and I still hadn't achieved my goal. And I was getting a little frustrated. Every time we would drive by the mountain on the freeway I would say, "Someday I'm going to get up there." I think Tony stopped listening to me. Then I discovered geocaching and sure enough, before I knew it, there were a bunch of caches hidden along the Cheam trail and two on the peak! Now I really have to get there!

Climbing Cheam (or any mountain for that matter) is not something you do lightly or something you do alone. Unfortunately for me, Tony is not interested in climbing any mountain unless hunting or fishing is involved, so if I was going to get up there, I had to figure out how to do it on my own.

Enter my good friend Carol (in geo-caching world aka Nurse Hatchett). Carol's family, the Baergs, have a family reunion every three years and every six years one of their family reunion traditions is to climb Cheam. They've been climbing the mountain since the 1970s & this year Carol invited me to join them.
I've decided I really like this family.

So on August 27th, one day after my 49th birthday, I became a member of the Baerg family for a day. I was so excited.

The forecast was for perfect weather and it did not disappoint. Not a cloud in the sky. Perfect.
We all met near Bridal Falls and 15 of the Baergs, plus me, packed into some borrowed trucks to make the trip up the Chipmunk Creek FSR to the parking lot at the trailhead. The road up to the trailhead is rough, to say the least. In order to keep the snow melt from turning the road into a river in the Spring, there are cross-ditches dug every 200m or so... makes for a very interesting ride in a big pickup loaded with people. Once we got to the parking lot we noticed that the truck with all the teenagers was no longer behind us. We waited a bit and finally we asked some other hikers who came up shortly after us. Had they seen a truck full of young kids? "Oh yah," he said, "They had major car trouble." Great.

I wondered what we were going to do. Were our plans to climb the mountain all for nothing?
But it soon became apparent that the Baergs are not a family that gets into an uproar too easily. By the time Rick (one of the dads) decided to head back down to rescue the kids most of them had already hitched rides up to the parking lot. Thank goodness for Good Samaritans! So let's hike...we'll worry about the truck later!

The alpine meadows on Mount Cheam are incredible. I lost track of how many different mountain flowers I saw and the geocaches were placed just right so that I could use the excuse that "I am looking for a geo-cache" instead of "I can't breathe anymore & my legs are on fire."

There are 12 caches on the way up to Cheam Peak and we found 8 so I was pretty happy with that. I really wanted to find at least one cache on the peak and was happy to find CHEAM - GC1F94M at the! is all I can say about this cache location. There's another great view from GC2EJ9G and GC1FCKC really was a great spot to take a break! All the caches we found that day were well done and I highly recommend them all.
View to the north from Cheam Peak

Mary & Elizabeth


Carol & Me at the top!
The family trudged on & on, the younger set moving at a quicker pace while the rest of us went just a little slower! At this point I have to tell you about the two oldest members of our hiking crew.... Mary & Elizabeth are Carol's aunts... they've been on almost every Cheam hike since the Baerg family reunion began... and they are now 80 & 82! I was pretty impressed by all the beauty that surrounded me but these two ladies and their determination impressed me the most that day.

 About 2 hours later we stepped onto the ridge at the top of the mountain. I was absolutely speechless which is, if you know me at all, quite something. The view was overwhelming. A 360 degree view of the Fraser Valley. Unbelieveable. I had waited 40 years to get here and it was worth every minute.

And that should be the end of the story shouldn't it? But it turns out that our day of adventures was not over yet. Once we all got back down to the parking lot, piled into the one truck that we had left and started backing out it soon became apparent that there was now something wrong with this truck. The power steering was gone! But once again, the Baerg family did not panic... the truck has just enough maneuvering capabilty to navigate the road and our driver, Rick, has, apparently, pretty strong arms. As we start down the road I hear Rick's wife, Annette, ask him quietly, "How's it going?" And he says (also very quietly), "I don't think I want to tell you.... we have no brakes either."

Are you kidding me?
I thought coming down the trail on Cheam was tough but this was brutal. Hairpin turns, gravel road, cross ditches & major cliffs. It took us almost 2 hours to drive 6 kilometres... the whole trip in first gear. But you know, as we turtled our way down the mountain, with Rick white-knuckling the steering wheel, that family visited and reminisced and laughed....mostly they laughed. And I realized then that they were making another family memory. A great one. One that they'll talk about in 6 years when they climb the mountain once again. They'll laugh and say "Remember the last time we were here and the trucks all broke down? Wonder what adventures will happen to us this time?" And maybe they'll ask me again if I want to come along.

the Baerg Family - at the top! August 2011

Thanks, Baerg family, for the awesome adventure. And thanks for the memory.

I finally did it!