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The Trans Canada Trail sections on Vancouver Island offer so much variety. I’m always keen on new trails that are different than anything I’ve experienced before. Yes, most of the sections around Nanaimo are still dirt single track with trees around. Most trails are like that. But the views and twists and turns and connections to other trails are always different. I get a kick out of all the different trail connections along the way.
I was roaming farther and farther down the island, hiking parts of the Trans Canada Trail but hadn’t seen on section right in my own backyard, in Extension. The Extension Ridge trail connects the Abyss trails off Harewood Mines road south to the Extension Area. From there, it continues to Nanaimo Lakes Road.
Extension Ridge is a beautiful part of the trail with single track winding all the way up and along the ridge. A power line crossing offers some mixed views, nice to see the neighbouring hills but for that you get to see the powerlines and towers as well.
Backpacking stoves can be complicated little beasts. There are many different types each type, each with their own wide variety of specs, pros and cons. You’ll need to know some of the lingo before you go anywhere. Here’s a glossary to get you started.
Alcohol – Alcohol stoves are popular in the lightweight backpacking community. They can be easily made and just require a bit of alcohol to burn which can be purchased at many hardware or drug stores. Alcohol stoves take longer to boil water than liquid fuel stoves and iso-butane stoves.
CrunchIt – A tool from JetBoil used to punch a hole in iso-butane canisters so they can be recycled. They cannot be recycled if they still have iso-butane in them. You can also do this with a screwdriver through the side of the canister.
Drip-feed – Using a remote iso-butane canister upside down and using the liquid from the canister. The liquid is used to burn instead of the the pressurized gas. When the liquid is used, it’s a lot less temperature dependent. The gas reduces to a liquid at a low temperatures and if you don’t use the liquid from the start then the liquid won’t work in your stove.
Esbit – A brand of Hexamine tablets.
Fuel jets – The jets spray the vaporized fuel out to be burnt. They can get plugged if you are using a dirty kind of fuel. The jets might also have to be changed out if you are using a different type of fuel like iso-butane or kerosene compared to naphtha.
Hexamine – A type of solid fuel that’s often sold in tablets. You place the tablet in a holder under your pot and light it. The tablets were originally used to heat military rations. Can be expensive.
Iso-butane – the mixture of butane that canisters use for canister stoves. It’s pressurized in the stove. It’s a lot less volatile than propane and doesn’t have to be in as thick of containers.
Kerosene – A type of fuel that can be used in some liquid fuel stoves. It’s available widely outside of North America and can be used as an alternative fuel while travelling. The stove jets often have to be changed to use Kerosene and might have to be cleaned more often.
Multi-fuel – Stoves that can use different types of fuel. It used to mean different types of liquid fuel like white gas, kerosene, gasoline or jet fuel. Some new stoves can burn iso-butane canisters as well as liquid fuel.
Naptha – The liquid fuel that comes with a lot of camp stoves these days. It’s often called Coleman gas.
Priming – The process of heating up the tubes on the stove so that the liquid fuel can be turned into a gas and burned in the stove.
Remote – Remote stoves are not attached directly to the fuel canister or bottle their fuel is from. There is a fuel tube that connects the stove to the fuel bottle. Non-remote iso-butane stoves attached directly to the top of the fuel canister. Remote canister stoves can be used upside down with a drip feed attachment that makes them work better in cold temperatures.
Trioxane – A type of solid fuel that’s often solid in tablets. Often cheaper than Hexamine. Gives off many different chemicals when burned so keep away from fumes.
Being part of hiking groups online is a mixed blessing. On the one hand there’s a constant supply of assistance, inspiration and motivation to get outside. On the the other hand, there’s a steady stream of beautiful trail pictures streaming by making it difficult to focus on anything other than… going outside.
A last minute change to plans this past weekend meant I had some time to hike but not as much as I originally though. Driving a couple hours to hike was out of the question so I quickly searched for some trails closer to home to try. The benefit to having that constant stream of trail information means I’m never without a long list of places near home to see.
Whisky Lake near Nanaimo River Road had come up a few times in my feed and new trails around there. I had never seen the idea and liked it’s likely 5km route out and back from the power lines on Nanaimo Lakes Road.
Off we go.
I parked on Nanaimo Lakes Road just before it forks into a dirt road and start hiking along the power lines. I was using one of Phil’s Maps of Nanaimo mountain biking trails to find the ones I was looking for and see what’s there. I knew there might be some new ones around Whisky Lake and possibly some on the way that weren’t mapped yet. Follow along with the map of Nanaimo and you’ll see the route I used.
A short connector trail from road to road, Tangerine was a better route than rocky logging road.
Unnamed trail? to FNG
I’m sure this trail has a name somewhere but it starts just up the road from Tangerine. It’s mostly through reforested clearcut but would be a nice ride or run.
It crosses a logging road, goes through some recent slash and into the woods to start what I think is FNG, or so the sign said.
Walking around the lake to the west, I bumped into the the end of Riparian and Schadenfreude. I took Schadenfreude until I had to turn around near the south end and then came back up and started Riparian back towards the lake.
Turning around before Wonderwall starts. The trail continues down to the right of the photo below. Another day.
Riparian and Whisky Lake
Logging road, and garbage
Riparian spit me out on the logging roads near where FNG ended and I walked down towards the Magic Carpet start and looked for a better view of the lake.
Magic Carpet to Hot Tamale to Samba to Black Jade
Next to the lake Magic Carpet leaves the logging road and heads up the ridge back toward the powerless. The trails all blended together and finally spit me out on the logging road near where I started.
Trail: Coal Pile
A bit of time to kill before I had to be home, sent me looking for one last short trail near the care. Coal Pile is short but green trail through the woods near the powerlines. It runs over a pile of coal along the way.
Della waiting patiently.
In my ongoing search for sections of the VI Spine Trail to hike, I wanted to find out more about the south end of the Alberni Inlet trail. It’s being built in 3 stages and while all the stages are there for the trail, they aren’t all used the same amount. Some parts are easier to find than others. This weekend I headed out to find the section that heads north from Franklin River.
To the Franklin River Alberni Inlet Trail Parking Lot
The trailhead has a brand new parking lot and an information sign about the 3 stages of the trail. Stage 1 ends at China Creek 11 km south of Port Alberni (measured from where Ship Creek Road and Anderson Ave turn into Franklin River Road near the entrance to the Inlet trail).
The turn off to the parking lot down Franklin Creek is 16.2 km from Ship Creek Road, and then another 3.4 km down the spur to the trail parking lot.
Starting the trail
There are two entrances to the Alberni Inlet Trail heading north from this Franklin River parking lot. You can walk 380 m down the road from the parking lot to find the single track start to the trail. Alternatively you can walk 650m up the small logging road that starts beside the parking lot and enter the single track there.
I had lunch on a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the water. When I realized I had cell reception, I couldn’t resist posting something on instagram.
Exit to the logging road
I started the trail on the single track down the road from the parking lot. To finish, I exited out onto the logging road and walked down from there. I recommend taking the single track. It’s more scenic.
With it’s many trailheads and beautiful scenery, the Alberni Inlet trail is going to become a popular destination in the years to come. The China Creek entrance to the trail is already seeing many new visitors. The trailheads further south will undoubtedly see fewer hikers because of the longer drive if you do make the trek, you’ll probably get the trail all to yourself (hopefully not everyone will read this post and go out to hike at the same time!).
I paced up and down the river trying to find a shallower spot the cross. The water wasn’t moving quickly but it was deeper, and colder, than I wanted to wade through. Turn back? Wade through?
I was on the shores of the Nitinat River this past weekend wanting to continue my hike but the Nitinat River was in the way. The sun was out but the river was cold. Swimming wasn’t in today’s agenda.
My goal was only a kilometre away. I decided to get on with it. Boots off. Pants rolled. Into the water.
50 feet later my feet were numb but finally out of the frigid water onto the warm rocks on the other side. Boots on. Pants unrolled. Hike on.
Since helping a trailbuilding project near Tuck Lake for the Vancouver Island Spine Trail a couple years ago, I haven’t been able to shake the idea. A 700km trail up Vancouver Island. I got myself on the board and am starting to hike the completed sections (we’ll have a map up on the Spine Trail site soon!). I started near Tuck Lake last weekend. A few photos from the bright sunny day:
I slammed on the brakes and the truck barely slowed before we hit.
We found the first drainage ditch in the logging road on the way up to Mount Apps on a sunny Sunday in February 2015.
The snow was nowhere to be found so we took advantage and hiked up to somewhere that should be covered in the white stuff.
We nearly hit the ceiling of the truck when we hit the first drainage ditch in the logging road. The sun was coming straight in the front window. I couldn’t see much. The drainage ditches are a small ditch followed by a small bump dug in the roads by the logging companies to direct the water out the other side instead of washing away the road. They’re good for preserving the roads. Not so good to hit driving 40.
“Oh, there’s a bump there!”
The logging road winds up the hill until it washes out. We parked and hiked up the road.
15 minutes later a nice sign told us to go into the bush to get to Mount Apps and Zella Lake. Convenient. That’s where we wanted to go.
Some nice moss getting a tan.
Odd dead trees at the end of a clearcut. Didn’t look like they had any burn marks but there was an entire line of them at the edge of a clear cut. Do they die at the edge?
Views back into the valley.
Before the summit, a plateau extends south with a small lake on it. Even the plateau offers great views east to the straight and west into the valley.
This might be my favorite photo of the day with the fog in the valley and the painting-like mountains in the background. I didn’t even notice it until I was noodling around on the computer with the photos and saw the layers of mountains in the background.
A cairn. We’re on the right track.
South over the small lake on the plateau pointing south to Mount Joan on the right and Mount Curran on the left.
Facing east out to the straight over Denman and Hornby.
Mount Joan again through the trees.
I threw in an entry because I can’t resist the chance to win some new merino wool base layers. And it just looked so cool. I ate something lucky that day because I received one of the shirts in the mail a few weeks later. Stoked!
Two questions you probably have right now; Who’s Simon Beck and what’s merino wool? Valid questions.
Merino wool is a soft, fine wool from the merino sheep. Icebreaker and other outdoor clothing manufacturers have exploded onto the scene in the last few years with comfy, warm-when-wet base layer and insulation pieces that don’t smell. Unlike polypropylene or other synthetics, the wool naturally resists the bacteria that leads to the smell. No bacteria. No smell.
Now on to Simon Beck.
After mucking about with some designs in the snow after ski touring and orienteering, Simon started sharing his designs online. It took a while to take off but no he’s travelling the world stomping out beautiful, massive snow designs in the mountains.
He recently teamed up with Icebreaker to make designs for a line of shirts with them. The shirts are Icebreaker quality with Simon’s cool designs on them.
Icebreaker is donating $20,000 from the sale of the Simon Beck line to Protect Our Winters, a world-wide non-profit dedicated to keeping our winters around for the next generations.
Here’s Simon doing his thing.
You can find more about Simon and his artwork on Simon’s Facebook page
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I haven’t been able to get out for a ski yet. The snow on the island is getting lower and lower.
We did get out for a snowshoe in January up to Helen McKenzie Lake in Paradise Meadows. We left from the Raven Lodge at Mount Washington. Here’s a few photos.
I couldn’t resist the warm temperatures and bit of sunshine and had to get out hiking. My little furry hiking companion and I ventured out to Stocking Lake in Ladysmith January 25th. It felt summer like with the warm breeze but the temperatures were still cool. Good thing as the wide trail to get up to the lake is a grunt. Here are some photos.
The official trail starts at Ryan Place Gate and then forks to go up to Heart Lake via a connector trail or over to Stocking Lake. I turned left to go to Stocking Lake. That lead along the power lines for a few hundred metres. You can cut out this section by going further down Davis Road in Ladysmith then up Hall Road and Thetis Drive. You’ll find the trailhead in the next photo and get to skip the powerline walking.
The actual trailhead to Stocking Lake with some interesting houses next door.
A wet day. Even the ditches next to to the road were lush and full of water for photos.
The access road ends and turns into rough double track at a Ladysmith water supply pond.
The old pipes coming out of the ground are wood wrapped in wire. They aren’t used any more but a lot of old water supply pipe is still in the ground.
Not sure what these were sticking out of the ground. I think they are vents or access points to the water pipes that run along here.
A steep section.
And a convenient bench right after to rest.
Favorite spot of the day. I could have sat here for hours and watched the stream run by. The ferns hanging into the water and the wide shallow stream made me think of a place I spent a lot of time as a kid.
The dam. The access road comes up to this point and forks to go both ways around the lake.
Hard to miss these signs.
Some days I can’t wait to see the end of the rain. Others I appreciate it to no end because it creates places like this.
Della waiting for me. She’ll wait if I’m standing but if I crouch down then she comes running.
Perfectly still water. You could see the tiny leaves of the plants in the reflections.
Our other hiking buddy we found near the end of the hike.
Another view of the lake before heading back down.
You’re probably thinking that’s a weird title for a blog post. It is kind of.
But that’s what I want. It’s my birthday this weekend. Birthday’s aren’t what they used to be when I was a kid, but they’re still fun. On the other hand, I can ask for bigger things now.
And this birthday I’m asking for a big one. 700km of trail to be exact.
I’ve been helping out the Vancouver Island Spine Trail project recently. They’re building a trail from Victoria to Cape Scott. 700km of awesomeness. I love the idea and I can’t wait until it’s finished but it needs more money to keep moving. It’s completely donation based so far and the more money it gets the faster trail gets built. Can you help out?
I would love to raise $1000 for the Spine Trail for my birthday. Before the end of January donate to the Spine Trail and we can help this awesome project move that much faster.
It’s quick and easy to donate at Canada Helps to the Spine Trail.
Getting outside can be tough. It feels so good when you do it but it just seems like there are so many obstacles in between work and laundry and dishes and cutting the lawn and actually getting out there.
Some days I can get outside without even thinking about it. Some days, I feel like I’m imprisoned inside drowning in a todo list and might be able to see outside if I can just swim through all these pages of items to check off.
The last couple of years have changed getting outside from an optional thing to a required thing for me. It’s not just nice, it’s a must-have. If I’m stuck inside too long I feel like I have cabin-fever. I start going squirrelly. At first I had no idea what was wrong with me. I just happened to feel good the weeks I got outside. But then I wouldn’t feel great the weeks I didn’t and couldn’t figure out why.
Once I figured it out I started planning out every adventure I could. I’d have lists of adventures to do and places to go. I could mountain bike here, trail run there, hike that day and sail on this day. I just replaced my indoor todo list items with outdoor todo list items. Not ideal but it’s better.
I’ve been following the british adventurer Alastair Humphrey’s for a while now. I love his down to earth style with everything, even though he’s been on some huge expeditions. And he’s got a good solution to actually getting outside on a regular basis.
I’m sure many other people have thought of this before but no I’ve seen has written about it so much. Lots of people get out of microadventure all the time, they just don’t call it that.What is a microadventure?
Not a huge adventure but a small one. The best part of the microadventure is that they are intentionally small. They are easy to do because they don’t take much time, can be done anywhere in the world and don’t take much gear. You can go overnight if you want but you don’t have to. Even a couple hours is enough for a microadventure. Trying to plan that huge perfect adventure and failing? Just do a microadventure instead. They fit much better into a busy lifestyle.
He’s running a microadventure challenge right now. Your Year of Microadventure digs into microadventures and challenges you to do more. Go small and go more often.A couple other tips to get outside
I like things on a schedule. I don’t have to think about them as much. If I have a scheduled time and day that I get outside, then it just happens. There are no questions. It doesn’t get pushed around by other things on my calendar. If time is already booked off in the calendar, that’s precious time and never gets bumped.
Make a trigger
Habits start with a trigger. You can make going outside a habit by starting it with a trigger. Days of the week can be a trigger. So if it’s Saturday then you go outside. Or time on the clock. It’s 12pm on a weekday so I go for a microadventure away from the office.
Change your environment
Habits are like elephants and you are the rider. If the elephant is going to sit on the couch and watch TV then you are too, there is no dragging it around. The trick with the elephant is to force it outside with changes in your environment. If you change your routine so that you walk home from work then you’ve forcing the elephant to go outside. If you schedule time with friends outside on a microadventure, then the elephant has no choice, it’s going outside. Don’t let it choose. Force it outside.
What adventures are you going to do this year? Are you going to break out some microadventures?
GPS are becoming so popular these days with avid outdoors people and folks cruising around cities. If you own a smartphone, you already have a gps in your pocket. Knowing which streets to take to an address is great if you’re driving but how do you follow the maze of logging roads and trail networks through the woods to exactly the spot you want to go? Trail GPS and the software that comes with it can help you there. Garmin is one company that makes excellent GPS and they have a great piece of software to help you get the most of that hi-tec little gadget in your pocket.
This is the first post in a series on the features of Garmin Basecamp and how to use them. Follow these and you’ll spend less time fiddling around with Basecamp on the computer and more time outside hiking.What’s Garmin Basecamp?
Garmin’s GPS software is called Basecamp. If you’ve had a Garmin for a while you might remember MapSource, a clunky program for loading maps and tracks onto Garmin GPS.
Anything you want to do with your GPS software you can probably do with Basecamp. There are some limitations and things you’ll need to pay for but if you use your GPS regularly it’s worth it.
What’s in the rest of this series?
The rest of the series will include (eventually) everything you can do with Basecamp. They will come out with new versions and (hopefully) more features to make our lives easier. I’ll link to all the posts below when they come out.
Here’s what we’re going to start with:
How to view a track from your GPS
How to create a track in Basecamp and send it to your GPS
How to view photos in Basecamp
How to create waypoints in Basecamp and send to your GPS
How to edit and clean a track from your GPS
How to export GPS tracks from Basecamp