Exploring with the boys

There are countless ways to explore the vast wilderness here in Fernie and the surrounding valley, with ski touring being one of the most fun choices even if it does kick your ass a bit. Creating the opportunities to get out and do so is however quite challenging due to a variety of factors; finding the right crew, getting said crew to commit to a time, conditions being safe… and the list goes on. So I count myself lucky with the adventure myself and mates had on the weekend, staying out at Thunder meadows once again for the long-awaited celebration of Tim’s 29th birthday.

Years in the making, Tim was finally able to secure a booking of the legendary Fernie hut for a couple of nights of birthday/St Patty’s day shenanigans. After some unforeseen circumstances, the initial group of 10+ ended up just being myself, Tim and Rob. A small but mighty group, we would not be deterred and decided to head up anyway on a sunny Friday for just one night. Having done the trip a couple of years back, we were treated this time to much better weather and being able to approach the cabin off the back side of the ski hill would cut our uphill skin by a couple of hours much to our delight!

After waiting for Rob to finish up work in the morning, we got going shortly after midday, taking the chairlift up to Polar Peak and then dropping into Polaris bowl for our first run of the day. To our surprise the conditions were great, some nice playful spring turns got us down to the bottom where we pushed through a flattish section of trees to the next downhill pitch. Again, we enjoyed a nice party lap in the sun down towards the bottom of a drainage where we would transition for the uphill.

Lucky for us, a group earlier in the morning had set the skin track up “Easy Street” so we were able to navigate easily up to the cabin. The going was relatively tough, the sun making it very hot and sweaty however I felt good with my pace and for the first time really felt the advantage of my lighter touring setup (G3 synapse and Marker Kingpin). We stopped a couple of times in the shade  for a breather and to view a couple small loose slides happening in the distance. With the warmer temps and sunny days we have had recently, there was definitely evidence of loose avalanches and our skin track even passed a decent size 2-3.


Above: Rob and Tim at the start of easy street, looking back at Polar peak in the far distance and the second downhill pitch, Large slide at the top of the skin track.

Rob and I pressed on and made it to the cabin around 3:30pm, reassured Tim wasn’t far behind with our ‘ca-caw’ and ‘hootie hoo’ method of communication. After chilling out for a bit, we made the most of the fading sun by skinning up the ridge for one final downhill lap under the watchful eyes of some giant Turkey vultures. To our disappointment, the conditions were pretty cruddy but nothing a few beers, dinner and fireworks wouldn’t fix.

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The next day we woke up well rested and took our time getting ready. We were greeted with another fantastic blue bird day and after consulting some maps and photos, made our way up the ridge again to descend in Orca bowl, having been denied the chance to do so a couple of years earlier due to horrible white out conditions. We scoped out some different aspects and chose some mellow terrain which provided some nice turns in the North facing spring pow. We stopped halfway down to watch some other group ski some amazing lines down chutes on the other side of the bowl.


The run out of the bottom of the bowl down Orca road was a fast, slick and narrow pump track through the forest providing some fun and terrifying moments on weary legs. We all made it down in one piece, bringing us out by one of the cross-country ski trails near Island Lake lodge from which we had to skate a further 10-15 minutes along the road to get to the car park where we had dropped my car the day before. It was sweaty work and  it felt amazing finally taking our bags off after a few hours.


Looking back up at the top of Orca bowl from the bottom of Orca road

The tour was wrapped up in the best way with a hot tub and beer back at Robs place before a few more drinks out in town later in the evening for St Patrick’s day. A great way to spend the weekend and get a taste of the spring sun, which has already gone back into hiding. Hopefully we get as good conditions in a couple of weeks for Tunnel creek…




March Pow Madness

Last weekend saw the annual “Griz Days” festival in Fernie, a celebration of community, mountains and the mythical Griz; a fabled man creature who was born in the mountains and shoots snow from his musket across the Elk Valley in which Fernie lies. It seems as though he was pleased with the festivities as the Fernie factor produced over 50cm of fresh powder from Friday to Saturday.

I managed to sneak in some morning laps on the ski hill before heading to a busy shift at the Pub. The hill was crazy busy and made even more so by the fact much of the terrain was closed due to avalanche danger. They even issued warnings at the lifts to keep an eye on children because the snow was so deep haha.

The following Monday, a few buddies and I decided to do some slack country ski touring into Mongolia bowl. What we experienced was one of the deepest and fun skiing conditions I’ve ever encountered. There’s not too many opportunities to ski in waist/chest deep powder! Luckily enough one of my buds Matt who was in the crew is a great photographer for the local cat-skiing operation Fernie Wilderness Association (FWA). I normally don’t stop for photos when skiing, especially in good conditions because it’s too much fun. On this day we were all happy to oblige! Full photo credit to Matt Lewis, if you ski with FWA make sure to get him taking photos for you.

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Matt taking a break from camera duties to shred the deep 

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Ryan hitting a tree feature

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Rob getting the goods

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Rob could’ve used a snorkel

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Me 🙂

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Me again

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Rob all smiles at the bottom

Trip to Aus

February came and went in a flash with Meg and I spending the first 2 weeks of it in Australia for a trip back home. It was our first visit back since 2016 for a friend’s wedding and much like last time we were super busy jumping between catch ups with friends and family.

This time around my brothers wedding took main stage at the Gunners Barracks in Mosman, Sydney. A small international posse of friends and family gathered on a stunning summer day where we got to see my brother James tie the knot with Sophie. It was an amazing day and a great chance to catch up with the family and old friends James and I have known since childhood. I didn’t bother taking too many photos as the photographer was sure to do much better, despite mild harassment from our mate George.


Freshwater Beach, Sydney

Apart from the wedding, we spent the rest of our time in Sydney catching up with my high school and uni friends over some amazing meals, 30th birthday parties and beach sessions. We did manage to sneak away for 4 days up north to Noosa for a mini getaway and to have some time to ourselves. I hadn’t been to the small beach town for many years and it was nice to show Meg another part of the country that we used to vacation to as kids. We definitely enjoyed the 30+ degree days, amazing restaurants and the beach at our front door.

This time around we didn’t have to spend too much time doing many touristy things as we covered that in the last trip. Instead we got to hang out with the fam a bit more, including celebrating Chinese New Year with my Dad, George and his mum Veronique. It was the first time in many years that we got to celebrate it together and in a proper Chinese banquet style restaurant. Dad treated us to an amazing dinner of lobster, xo scallops and barramundi.




Winter life

Above: Rob enjoying some rare winter sun above the inversion. With the White Pass chair down for repairs, we both slapped on some skins and hiked up to higher elevations in the resort to find some fresh snow.

It’s been some time since I’ve posted something so I thought I’d update anyone who reads this thing on how winter in Fernie is going so far. Where to begin…

First off, snow. It has been coming down hard and fast with the official ski hill figure creeping past 6 meters for the season and considering it is still only January, this is very promising. Initially before the ski hill opened we had quite a snowy November, bringing the base up to 1 meter before opening however the month unfortunately ended in a whole lot of rain which put a delayed start on much of the resort terrain opening. In true Fernie style though, like a Christmas miracle on cue, the snow came heavy just before the holidays so Meg and I got to enjoy some great pow days before the huge tourist rush came to town.

The snow has not only been plentiful but coupled with very mild temperatures which is making skiing extremely enjoyable however causing some havoc with the snow pack and danger of avalanches on the resort and in the back country. Regardless, ski patrol on the hill have been doing a great job of trying to open as much terrain as possible and if you head up enough days you’re lucky to get first tracks through some terrain that has been closed for days/weeks.

Back to Christmas, Meg and I ended up driving back to her hometown to spend it with her family. Enduring some horrible winter road conditions, we made the most of our time up there enjoying 4 separate Christmas dinners with all parts of the family and mainly staying indoors as temps dipped to -30 for most of our visit. It was a nice way to spend our first Christmas together and likely our last one in the Northern Hemisphere before our plans to move to Aus in 2018, so we definitely made the most of it!

New Years was rung in with our Fernie friends around a bonfire in similar frigid conditions to the week before. Pallets and old Christmas trees provided the fuel to keep the raging fire going with countless bottles being passed around the circle. A great way to sign off 2017 and with feeling only mildly worse for wear the next day, we spent the first day of the new year cross-country skiing with some friends.

Just after New Years the town saw its usual lull as school was back in session and most people returned to their usual routines. During this time, as mentioned before, the snow has been amazing and I managed to go cat-skiing for the first time. A last-minute decision, I tagged along with some friends who had signed up and it turned out to be a very good day.

We went with Fernie Wilderness Adventures and I couldn’t say enough great things about them. Their super cosy lodge, heated cat and the guides were all top notch and combined with 8 runs through thigh deep fresh pow, open trees and drops made for an amazing ski experience. It was one of those unique experiences that made me extra thankful to live in a mountain town like Fernie and I was riding a high even though I had to rush straight from the lodge to work. I didn’t end up finishing at the pub until 1 am but  still had a smile on my face because as most people who love and make the most of this town know, you work and play hard!

It’s not long now until Meg and I head to Australia for my brothers wedding, something we are both really looking forward to. As I’m enjoying skiing so much at the moment, trading the snow for the sandy beaches and hot weather is somewhat bitter sweet but I’m extremely excited by thought of spending time with family and friends, some who I haven’t seen in many years, as well as seeing my brother tie the knot! Only a week and a half til we leave so til next post enjoy some photos of the daily goings on of a ski bum in Fernie…


Halloween 2017

Last week marked my 4th Halloween spent on Canadian soil. Again, it didn’t disappoint and our household definitely put in the extra effort for our costumes. Luckily enough it paid off as I won the prize for best costume at the Northern bar in Fernie. It was up to the crowd to judge so I bounced my jerry-curl wig and executed some prince like hip thrusts to gain some extra applause and it was enough to make the $500 cash prize mine. It was oh so sweet and the cherry on top of a great night out. Thanks to Meg for helping me pick out some of the costume and perfecting the make up for my purple rain look. Hope you enjoy some photos of the night 🙂


Above: piecing together my prince “symbol” guitar with cardboard. I used a wire coat hanger in between two layers of cardboard to strengthen the guitar and it seemed to do the trick, the guitar made it through a whole night in the bar without falling apart! Meg starting the hair spray for her David Bowie look and Brandon painting his nails for the Freddy Mercury look.



Above: Meg with her own spin on a classic David Bowie look.


Above: Brandon transformed into Freddy Mercury’s housewife from “I want to break free”.


Above: Me as the one and only Prince Rogers Nelson. I bought the wig and puffy shirt but the rest of the clothes were found at Value Village in St Albert. I added the sparkly shoulder patch from a discarded dress and the guitar and shoulder strap were made from arts and crafts scraps. Together we oddly all fit into a theme of dead androgynous/gay superstars, I guess you could say it was an homage to some absolute legends of music!

Above: Tim as the pet monkey who got lost at Ikea haha, Sarah as a lovely cinderella and Meg’s Bowie pumpkin carving.

Above: Sammy as a Glow wrestler chick with Mitch the nerd, below are the finalists from the Pub Halloween competition (Kate the glow-worm and Madli & Matt as a Mexican and a wall), My lovely co-workers for the evening Justine and Jenna as scary dolls and Jake AkA Dr Seuss.

Fall in the Kootenays

Above: Rob on the ridge leading up to the top of Mt Hosmer. Amazing views!

After a seriously hot summer and record-breaking forest fires, the temps have taken a sudden turn in the valley bringing with it some amazing colours and the first snow on the peaks. It is coming up on 4 years since I moved to Fernie and I’d have to say that it is the most spectacular I’ve seen it. The low temps have made for some great hiking weather with less crowds on the trails, an ideal time to go exploring. Below are a few photos of some new and some familiar sights…

Above: Earlier in September saw some nicer weather, Meg and I rented a paddle board and had a picnic out on Norbury lake. The next day our friend Jenna celebrated her birthday with some sprinkler/water bomb action.


Above: our first visit out to Silver Springs this year as it has become quite the hot spot. We were lucky enough to have the place to ourselves as we hiked to the third lake. My buddy Jordy’s puppy, Ziggy, enjoyed some swimming lessons along the way.


Above: panoramic view on the hike up Mt Hosmer, (Rob) steep scrambling on the way up in a foot of snow and some nice fall foliage. It was my first time hiking Mt Hosmer and I was not disappointed with the views. Rob and I had some snowy conditions on the way up which is a decent slog without too many flat sections but the trail is intuitive, even with snow covering. The conditions were more slippery on the way down with compacted snow/mud but it was fun sliding down and getting the skiing muscles working again 🙂

Slocan and Valhalla

Above: admiring the water of the Slocan. Shallow areas like this led into steep drop offs. The mean depth of the lake is 171m with a max depth of 298m!

Early in the summer Meg and I had booked a Fall trip in Kootenay National park to hike the famous Rockwall trail, a 3-4 day adventure  that we had been building up to for the past few months. Unfortunately however we had to cancel the trip last-minute due to a combination of factors but mainly because of the continuing risk of fires nearby, which recently caused an evacuation alert to the next two towns over and would have surely obscured the views on the hike because of smoke.

Having already booked the time off, we both went back to the drawing board and looked to plan a last-minute trip somewhere within 3-4 hours drive that wasn’t close to the fires, a tall order during BC’s worst bush fire season in history. We stumbled upon the small town of Slocan in the West Kootenays about a 4.5 hr drive from Fernie with a beautiful lake backing onto Valhalla provincial park. This was the place! And after a quick call we arranged to rent a double kayak for 3 days and paddle the length of the lake from the north end.

We took off early Friday morning to get to the rental place, Smiling Otter, by 10.30 so we could get a shuttle up the lake. Long story short, someone forgot their hiking shoes about 30 minutes into the drive so we had to double back and ended up just missing the first shuttle. We tried to call them but turns out this little town doesn’t have cell service so all we could do was wait in a quiet little cafe and catch up on local gossip.


The guy who runs the rental company, Jim, got us kitted out and drove us north whilst entertaining us with some interesting if not slightly strange conversations. We bid him farewell and hit the lake paddling by around 1.30 under partly cloudy skies. Having not kayaked much, let alone in a double, it took us a good little while to find our rhythm however we managed a steady pace keeping to the lakes edge and enjoying calm conditions and stunning views of the mountains until we came across our campground for the evening Wee Sandy Beach.

Dotted along the west coast of the lake, there are 7 official campsites with plenty of other places you could pull up on a whim, all first come first serve and the best thing being that they’re free! We had the place to ourselves with an epic spot right on the beach next to a waterfall and running creek. It has to be one of the nicest campsites I’ve ever stayed in! After setting up camp we hiked up to a small lookout at dusk before tucking into some dinner. We brought along the dehydrated meals from Backpackers Pantry we had purchased for the Rockwall trail and decided this trip was the best chance to try them out. Meg had the pad thai and I the beef stroganoff and we were both pleasantly surprised with both. They were deceptively large meals and quite tasty, the resealable pouches made for handy trash containers too.


We both slept well despite a cold night nearing zero degrees and woke up to watch the sun rise with breakfast. We packed everything up and continued paddling south along the shoreline, lucking out with a bluebird sunny day and glassy lake conditions. The shallow water was clear and turquoise next to the yellow sandy beaches and we made a couple of stops at Nemo creek beach for some lunch and Cove creek beach for a swim before finishing the day at South Evans beach. All in all a decent 5-6 hour day of paddling which was helped at the end of the day with the wind at our backs.

We spent the night doing crosswords and reading, enjoying the fading light down by the beach at the campsite. This night we were joined by another couple however along with them, we had only seen about 8 or 9 people over the past 2 days, truly amazing considering how beautiful this place is and it only being mid September.


South Evans beach

Having done so much paddling on our second day, the third was much shorter and after waking again at sunrise we took to the lake and were back to the Smiling Otter before noon. The paddling was harder going with a decent head wind and we got a taste of the warnings that we had read about conditions changing quickly. We felt lucky to have had such a calm day previously and could see if it were windier how treacherous it could be. At the end of our 3rd day we had paddled around 44km and the shoulders were feeling well worked!


Stoked with such an awesome experience, we packed up the gear and decided to put our legs to work on a short hike in the area. Jim had suggested such a hike, Gimli peak, in the south of Valhalla which we could do in a couple of hours and still have time to drive back to Fernie by night fall. Driving up the rough road to the trailhead took some time and we encountered a small family 3/4 the way up who told us it was a further 30 minute drive and then a 2 hr hike one way. With this new information and happy with the trip already, we decided to turn around and had a picnic by the river before driving home.

We were both pretty exhausted by the time we got home and were happy that we made the decision not to hike as we would’ve got home around midnight instead of being on the couch demolishing pizza by 8pm. We are already talking about going back next summer and hopefully spending more time on the lake which would allow us to do some of the full day hikes. I would recommend Slocan and Valhalla to anyone wanting an amazing camping/backcountry experience without the crowds (and cell service 🙂 )

Side note: it was sad to find out the other day that the wildfires ravaging Waterton National Park had destroyed the visitors centre and many of the beautiful hiking trails, including I believe the Tamarack trail, that I wrote about just 2 months ago that Meg and I had completed. I feel fortunate that we were able to see the park in all it’s beauty as the scars of fire will remain for many years to come. As I write this rain is falling in Fernie and I can see snow on the peaks, I hope that this is also hitting those fires and they come to an end soon.



Fernie Three Sisters

Above: Meg and I with the East horizon in the background at sunrise.

August was a busy month here in Fernie which saw Meagan and I doing lot’s of hiking, camping and most importantly putting together my permanent residency application for Canada. The former being much more enjoyable, amongst several outings we managed to hike up the Three Sisters here in Fernie and make summit for sunrise, something we had done together a couple of years before.

This time around we teamed up with my buddy Eric who was taking his family for their first trip up in the Fernie backcountry. We all convoyed to the trail head up Hartley Lake road and after a quick beer we took off on a 30+ degree day in late afternoon.


The hike took us past the familiar sights of the Jumping waters and Bisaro cave before we treated to some beautiful wild flowers out in the open meadows. We kept a decent pace the whole way and I was pretty impressed by the stamina of Eric’s parents who didn’t miss a beat. We made it to the ridge just below the final push for the summit by mid evening and had plenty of time to set up camp, enjoy some dinner around a fireless pit (extreme fire bans this summer) and find a suitable tree to act as a bear pole.


One of the main motivators for the hike this time was the fact we would be up in the alpine for the Perseid meteor shower, a phenomena which would’ve been obscured down in town due to the smoke and light pollution. I managed to spot a few comets flying across the sky however due to tiredness and a fairly bright moon, Meg and I didn’t get to see too much.

We all rose as a group by 4am to make the push to the summit, donning head lamps in the dark of the morning. Despite a very poor sleep due to noisy high winds, we made excellent time on the way up with the final ascent taking around 1.5 hours. Again I was very impressed by the fitness of Eric’s parents and our group as a whole and the more I got chatting to them it seems as though they have a good pedigree for mountain activities.


We all enjoyed a beautifully serene sunset which was blood-red behind the mask of bushfire smoke. With perfect timing, the wind had died for the whole period we were up there allowing for camp stoves to boil up water for us to enjoy a cup of tea and instant coffee whilst we huddled in sleeping bags and watched the valley wake up.


Following a few last pictures we began to descend back to our tents in full light where we managed to spot a lone mountain goat grazing on the slopes. We were all packed up to hike back to the cars before mid morning with Meg and I deciding to hike back the way we came whilst the others continued on Heikos trail to Island Lake Lodge for a much deserved lunch. We made good time and were back into town for lunchtime and a chill Sunday before the work week began again.

Strangely enough, the last time we had done this hike was also a season where wildfires were wreaking havoc just south of the border in the USA and here in BC. This summer has been no different and as I write this staring out of my balcony, I can scarcely see 50m in the distance as the smoke is so thick. The worst season for fires in BC history has seen almost all hiking and biking trails shut down for 100km in each direction. It’s an uneasy time for people here in town, firstly for the proximity of the fires to us and secondly because we live in a town full of people who are passionate about being outdoors who are currently being limited in doing so. Looking back I’m glad we made the effort to do this hike as it may be off-limits for the remainder of the summer. Fingers crossed for some much needed rain!


Hiking the Tamarack Trail

Above: view of Lineham lakes

Having had poor weather last Fall down in Waterton Lakes National park which saw us abandon our hiking/camping plans, Meg and I were excited to make up for it and a couple of weekends ago set out to complete the Tamarack Trail. Located within Waterton in south west Alberta, the trail is touted as the longest (and best) the park has to offer, treating hikers to stunning views along the continental divide and a relatively secluded backcountry experience.

We drove down on a Thursday evening after Meg finished work and stayed just outside the park at Crooked Creek campground in our camperised Ford Escape before starting the trail early on Friday morning. The campground was busy, mainly with trailers and RV’s but the sites were nice and reasonably priced at $25 a night.


Treated to a beautiful sunset on the drive to Waterton

Rising at around 6 am, we had a light breakfast of hard boiled eggs and bagels before driving into town for a much needed caffeine fix. Being just outside the park, it took us around 10 minutes to get into town and grab a coffee at which point we were glad that we hadn’t done the whole drive in the morning from Fernie. After that we popped in at the Visitors centre which opens at 7.30 just to check in and receive our backcountry permits before driving to the Rowe lakes trailhead off the Akamina Parkway. We had arranged for a shuttle to pick us up there and drop us to Red Rock Canyon to start the hike.

Before I go any further, I should say that technically we didn’t hike the normal Tamarack trail route. Instead of hiking the snowshoe trail to Twin lakes and then across to Lone Lake, we opted to hike the Blackiston valley trail. We did this mainly because we had heard and read that the Blackiston trail was a much more scenic and less trafficked route compared to the snowshoe trail which is a multi use trail/old fire service road for 8.5km to the first campground.  I haven’t hiked both before so couldn’t judge myself but we were not disappointed with our route and all in all it was only 4-5 km shorter so we didn’t lose too much credibility.


Anyways after a nice chat with our shuttle driver we arrived at our start point and readied our packs to begin the 14.3 km hike to our campground at Lone Lake. The trail took us quickly to Blackiston falls which we stopped at briefly and were easily admired from the brand new platforms erected in the past year. We pressed on and were treated to views of a creek running through walls of red rock, every bit as nice as the canyon itself, and then for the next couple of hours we would hike through mainly wooded forest. The trail was overgrown and narrow in some sections with the odd fallen tree needing to be ducked or climbed over, features which I tend to like on a trail as they make the whole experience a bit more wild and therefore enjoyable.

The last 4-5kms to Lone Lake saw a bit of a steeper incline (previously very gradual gain in elevation) that opened out into beautiful meadows with bear grass in full bloom and many other mountain flowers on their way. We passed only 2 other groups the whole time we were hiking, a group of 4 that were on their way down to Red Rock canyon and an odd group of 2 consisting of a Canadian guy and a German girl who were going the same way as us. I say odd because when chatting to them we discovered that they a) had ran into a bear early on in the trail and did not have any bear spray/bear bangers b) the German girl did not even know what “pfeffer spray” was and that there were even bears in the park and c) they didn’t know where they were camping nor had they registered for a permit with the park. The Canadian dude seemed to be quite a seasoned backcountry expert but he lost some credibility when he thought that there were no grizzly bears in Waterton and that he and his German counterpart were just going to camp somewhere in the “alpine” region of the park. Funnily enough they hiked close behind us for half an hour or so before we stopped for lunch, I think because we were slightly better prepared. I know bear spray isn’t full proof by any means but it’s definitely better than nothing!

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We reached Lone lake by mid afternoon and lucky for us had first pick of the sites. There are only 4 tent pads at the lake which is nice as it keeps the numbers at a minimum. Soon after arriving we made quick time of pitching the tent and filtering some water from the lake. We used our recently bought Katadyn hiker water filter, which works really well and produces some amazing tasting water. Definitely recommend it for extended hikes. After some down time and a dunk in the lake, we had a nice chat to a group of 4 female school teachers all doing the hike together before tucking in to our hearty dinner of ramen, spam and broccoli. I believe we consumed 200% recommended daily intake of salt but I figured we were low in electrolytes anyway.

The night proved to be quite warm and I slept in my down sleeping bag without any layers and completely unzipped. We woke up around 5.30am to get an early start on the day but mainly because nature started chirping loudly. We chowed down on a can of beans and made some coffee using these nifty little filters by a Japanese company called Kantan. They are single use, one cup filters which sit on the rim of a cup and produce some good coffee.  We would have used them as kindling if we had made a fire to be more enviro friendly but unfortunately had to carry them out as trash.

The lake was beautiful and still as we took off just after 7am and were kicked right into gear as the trail climbs a good 200-300m of elevation for the first 30 minutes. After this the next couple of hours were quite enjoyable walking through dense forest with some gradual ups and downs until we reached an open meadow which would start the somewhat gruelling ascent up to lineham ridge. The plus side however was the amazing views and abundance of  flowers that got better with every step towards the top.


Once we reached the ridge we walked off trail right to the edge to get some great shots of Lineham lakes where we also caught a glimpse of some mountain goats grazing in the distance. We then continued on to where the trail starts to descend again and stopped for lunch with a view of upper Rowe lake in the distance. The next 9km of hiking would be all descent, approx 950m in total, in 35 degree weather and to be honest was quite a slog. There are still some beautiful views as you get closer to Rowe lakes and you get to ford some nice creeks which offer a great chance to cool off.


Our pace slowed in the last few km’s as we started to tire (and we would later find out that Meg was sporting some insane blisters). Despite this we pushed on and made it back to the car by mid afternoon, deciding to bypass the short walk to lower Rowe lake. Never the less we were elated once we finished and after giving Meg’s feet some much needed tlc, we celebrated our first backcountry hike of the year with a beer and poutine back in town before heading back to Fernie.


Note: Just some extra info that might be handy for others planning to do the same hike.

  • We hiked the trail on the 7th and 8th of July. Temperatures were seasonally above average, high 20’s to low 30’s. It was pretty hot going hiking during the day but the plus was the night stayed warm too. We only encountered small patches of snow on the trail but nothing that was difficult to cross or that presented an overhead hazard. I imagine it would be a different story in early June.
  • We chose to hike from Red rock canyon to Rowe lakes instead of the traditional way which goes in the opposite direction. Personally I enjoyed this way as the elevation gain seemed more gradual during the first day so the legs were in good condition for the harder second day. It also saves the best views til the end so you have anticipation as an extra motivator. Going the traditional route would mean a very big first day ( a Swiss couple at Lone Lake hiked ~9 hrs and looked exhausted) with a somewhat less interesting second day. Either way you’ll have an awesome time!
  • We both had 3 litres of water each at the start of the hike which took us to Lone lake. There is accessible flowing water most of the way up Blackiston valley however we didn’t need to refill. We didn’t encounter any water sources between Lone lake and a few km’s beyond Lineham ridge (except for a stagnant looking lake that was off trail) so it’s a good idea to fully stock water in the morning when leaving.
  • Have some sort of insect repellant at Lone Lake. The flies/mozzies were fairly annoying but seemed deterred by some repellant spray. Also best time to use the outhouse is early in the morning, smell is minimal and you avoid the swarms whilst doing your business.
  • If you don’t have the convenience of having a car at each end of the trail, the Waterton shuttle is really worth it. We had friends who hitch hiked back to their car  some years ago but it took them over an hour to get a ride and they had already started walking closer to town. We were pretty beat by the end so loved having fresh clothes and some water waiting for us.






Vancouver Island!

Above: Halfmoon bay on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

Finally, a destination in BC that had long been on the list to visit was finally ticked off a few weeks ago. Meg and I were able to book a week off for the road trip in early June to avoid the peak of summer crowds and before we both got busy with work in Fernie.

We took off on a Friday morning driving west on highway 3 as far as Osoyoos before stopping for some impromptu put put golf and a bit of dinner. We would have loved to stay in this pretty town but unfortunately the campsite at Hayes point provincial park was fully booked so we continued on until dusk and made camp in the back of the car at Sidewinder Provincial park (one of the few pull out highway adjacent campgrounds that we would frequent on the trip). It was a very basic site with pit toilets and a running river to wash up at and was enough for our car camping needs.

The next morning we took off early and stopped for breakfast in Princeton before reaching Vancouver by early afternoon. We had less than 24 hrs in the big city but we were luck enough to stay with Megs friend Curtis right in the downtown area so we were able to walk around the city easily and enjoy some of the sights and local fare. Sushi, a porchetta sandwich from “Meat and Bread” and some beers from the Steamworks brewery went down a treat.  We spent the rest of the night chatting, drinking and catching up life as well as youtube fails and music videos.

As fun as it was to be back in a big city again, we were both keen to move on from the concrete jungle so after saying goodbye to our friends in the morning we drove to Tsawassen to take the ferry across to Schwartz bay and on to Victoria. It cost $90 for the both of us and our vehicle to board the ferry but although quite pricey, it was worth the money as the ride is quite enjoyable and the whole process of boarding/disembarking is run really smoothly. We reached Victoria by the early afternoon and checked into our air bnb before renting some bikes and cruising along the coast.

After building up a decent appetite we popped by the famous Red fish Blue fish for a seafood fix. As far as touristy food establishments go, this one definitely lived up to the hype and was super affordable. We went for a few fish tacos and a jerk fish poutine (amazing!) which cost us under $30. After chowing down on the provided seating on the dock and enjoying the view, we headed to the Bard and Banker pub (nice old fashioned interior) in the downtown area where we tasted some local beers and racked up a good tab whilst enjoying some live music.


Taking a dip at the Sooke pot holes

The next few days were spent with some of Megs hometown friends Alyssa and Blake who live together in Mill Bay. The quaint little town made for a nice base for the next few days where we hiked in the Goldstream provincial park, took a day trip down to the Sooke pot holes and kayaked around Newcastle Island up near Nanaimo. We even got to squeeze in a round of frolf (frisbee golf) at a fun course in Bowen park.

To finish off our trip we all headed west to Tofino and Ucluelet for a couple of days of exploring. On the drive across we stopped at a kitschy farmers market with grazing goats on the roof where we indulged in some tasty home made pastries before checking out Cathedral grove. The giant trees are remarkable to see in person and would be a taste of the beautiful coastal rainforest we would see as we travelled closer to the west coast.

We met up with Alyssa and Blake at Surf Junction campground just outside of Ucluelet which would be home for the next 2 days. For the large amount of sites they have, you still feel relatively secluded as each one is separated by dense trees and bush. The amenities were as you could expect for a campground with the added bonus of a hot tub which we got to try out one evening.

Our stay on the West coast consisted mainly of doing little hikes along the coast which were gentle strolls on gravel pathways compared to the leg burners we’re used to in the mountains. Never the less they were enjoyable, taking in some scenic views of the ocean under grey skies whilst being weary of the multiple wolf warnings we came across at almost every stop. Apart from hikes, we also checked out the famous Tacofino food truck which again lived up to the hype (and for a cheap price) and had a couple of beers at the Tofino Brewing co where I got to catch up with our buddy Ryan who had lived in Fernie previously and I’d visited in February in Japan. (FYI the brewery is a great spot to hang out for an hour or two in the afternoon sun with an open plan warehouse floor which seems popular with tourists and locals alike).

We spent the last night at the campground sipping a few beers around the hot tub and later around the campfire, chatting about future plans for the summer and beyond. Unfortunately our time was short on the island but we got to see enough of it to know that we will visit again sometime in the future. The next morning we grabbed a coffee and breakfast pastry at Zoe’s in Ucluelet (highly recommended) and did the small hike to half-moon bay before starting the long journey back to Fernie. It was a bit sombre leaving the coast but as we neared the mountains we were glad to be heading home.