Documenting the back country with 4 young kids

 

I woke up to temperatures cold enough to freeze the melting ‘snow rivers’ underneath our tent pad. With the kids locked in a deep sleep I enjoyed a moment of silence and soaked in the cool, fresh mountain air. Bliss. How lucky we are to be here.

Just a few weeks prior my friends Nicolas and Natalie had a crazy idea and proposed a 28 km backcountry camping trip into Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC spread over three nights and four days, and one mountain pass with four boys aged 7, 8, 9 and 10.

Wooohooo! I’m in.

No need to ask the kids…they’ll love this!! Backcountry camping, big heavy backpacks, long arduous hikes, steep uphills, and sore feet…what’s not to like?

Six hours before we left my biggest concern was how to get all this gear into my 60 litre bag, and into my boys two 30 litre backpacks. Wool socks, Moon Cheese, camp fuel, bear spray, tent, sleeping bags, Thermarests, clothing, and lots of food among other gear.

This trip quickly established itself as both a mental and a physical test of strength and will for each child as they struggled on the first ascent with loaded backpacks, and a steep, rooty up hill path.  While I carried the heaviest gear theirs were busting at the seams and weighed in between 10-15 lbs. I am sure this added to the many stops and drops along the forest floor as little bodies screamed in distaste at the sheer steepness of the trail.

But with lots of coaxing, breaks, a few needed temper-tantrums, and snacks we prevailed and reached Helms Creek campground 9 hours later. Annnnd luckily my husband had already found and dug out the tent pad from under 2 feet of snow. Thanks David…love ya!!

The next day we saw Black Tusk standing stoically in front of us. We looked up with jaws open mesmerised by the sheer beauty and vastness of the landscape. No one complained. No one talked. The fatigue melted with the snow.

With blue bird skies and a hot mid-day sun we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Stopping occasionally for water breaks, and lunch we trekked on for 9 km ocassionally breaking through the snow. Progress was slow but only because of the soft snow. No more complaints. In fact, I truly believe that this day was a game changer for the boys as they realised the benefits of hard work.

Our final campsite was Garibaldi. Our feet were cold and wet, and our stomachs empty. But our spirits remained as high as the mountains surrounding us. Once more we had to pitch our tent in close to 3 feet of snow but the experience was worth it as I saw all the boys grow and accomplish tasks they never thought they could. Whereas, I always knew they could they now believed it!

 

Dog Gone It. That was a Fun Ride!

 

Dog Gone It! That was a FUN Ride with the pups!

Over the past few weeks I have been meeting and documenting some pretty hardcore 4-legged friends that can seriously shred the gnar. I’ve watched them hop, run, walk, play, eat, and even steal doggie treats out of my camera bag.

In preparation for an upcoming article with Mountain Bike For Her I turned to social media to find my eager models (2 and 4 legged ones). Riding again with a furry friend made me think a lot of our family dog when we used to take her riding. How she loved it. And how I loved watching her gracefully clear fallen trees yet aggressively tackling a tight turn. I marvel at a dogs athleticism…and their ability to find the route of least resistance. I’ve always said that if you want to win a DH race follow your dog. It might not always make sense but it’s fast.

These action shots weren’t easy to get and I cannot wait to show you the rest once the summer issue of MTB4Her comes out. In other words, can’t release the ‘hounds’ just yet. Get it? Anyways, I’ve got some real beauties and am totally stoked at the results.

Thanks to my new furry and non-furry friends for making this real. Your exuberance is infectious. Let’s go ride again!!

Woof!

 

The Winter Blues Got You Down? Trying Riding. It’s a Bonafide Cure!

Winter. It’s cold and it’s beautiful. And just because there’s snow it shouldn’t mean you should stop riding.

The Bike:

For snow…fatter is better.

Honestly, I had no idea that fat-bikes were a game changer until I tried my friends’ Rick on a wet-snow kinda day. I was squirrely riding down on my regular mountain bike and barely making the uphills. The fatter tires in comparison gave me stability, control, traction and renewed confidence.

As much as I’d love to own my own fat-bike my bank account says otherwise. And I hate cheap, heavy equipment. Call me a snob but over the years I have gotten used to quality. So I rent. I found Flying Spirit Rentals based in Squamish, BC. They have high-end rentals. I can also rent bikes at the Whistler Olympic Park. They have both electric assist and non-assist bikes. And don’t think that having an e-bike is cheating. Riding in snow is just as hard regardless of your choice of weapon.

The Clothing:

I layer. And I usually have a big honking backpack with me to carry both my camera gear, food and extra clothes. I like to wear my ski helmet and goggles on colder days. I also find the goggles provide better protection on sunny days with a high UV factor and brightness from the snow.

For my feet I have a pair of 45NRTH Wölvhammer winter boots. They are equipped with Shimano SPD’s. And they rock. Warm, waterproof, rugged and built for cold, winter days. If I’m on flats I use a pair of warm, waterproof winter boots. While climbing clipless pedals make the job easier I also like the freedom of flats. On warmer days snow can also ice up rendering cleats useless.

On my face I always wear a balaclava. This is mostly because I’m a wimp to the cold and hate having chapped lips. But the main reason is to keep my cheeks warm so that the air entering my lungs has been warmed up slightly. For asthmatics this is important. Wheezing is not fun.

Finally, on my hands I alternate between a pair of Pearl Izumi Lobster Claws and a pair of Black Diamond gloves which are water resistant and windproof. In my bag I always carry an extra set of gloves as well as an extra pair of socks. Just in case.

The Fun-Factor:

The fun-factor is high. Very high. As is the sense of adventure and exploration. Skiing is fun too but the bicycle can take you places and it’s always an adventure. There are days when you can slice through powder and other days when the you get all squirrely. There are also crashes. But they usually don’t hurt.

So you see riding in winter doesn’t have to be scary. You just need to be prepared and have a positive attitude. Besides with a fat-bike you can ride anywhere you want, any time you want!

Preserverence

@Cecile Gambin Photography

A feel-good blog today 🙂

Check out this little guy. He’s nine years old and riding technical trails. He didn’t get there overnight. I know as I’m his mother and I’ve watched him pedal, fall, stumble and try again.

Some days I know I need to sit back from an already hectic life and reflect. And I realise I can learn from that very same lesson that my nine year old has been learning from over the past few weeks.

It might take me a wee bit longer but eventually I realise that life is good, and that through preserverence I can achieve what I want.

NYE 2015 with a Killer Light Show from Mother Nature

©Cecile Gambin Photography

Happy New Year!!

Spent the last day of 2015 teaching my eldest son to take landscape photos at Whyte Cliff Park, BC. This entire week Mother Nature has been giving us unreal light and sunset colours. While Santa gave me a Sony A7ii back in September, my eldest got a Nikon Coolpix and he was quite eager to use learn how to use it.

May 2016 be everything you want it to be. As for myself…looking forward to more photo sessions with my kids 🙂