Monthly Archives: June 2014

Who else gets an RCMP escort in a bike race???

lee hunter RCMP KCIBRAfter last year’s great experience (fabulous weather, good friends) at the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Race (aka Haines 2 Haines) we thought it would be fun to do it again. The bike race runs from Haines Junction, Yukon to Haines, Alaska (240km) and you can ride it solo, in a 2 person team, a 4 person team or an 8 person team.

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 11.55.08 AMWe pulled together an 8 person team, with the focus being on creating a fun experience for the kids – all about having a goal to train towards and feeling the pride of accomplishing something difficult. With that in mind, we let the 4 kids pick their own legs. This was a good decision from an engagement perspective and an incredibly poor decision if we were actually being strategic about anything… (noted for next year – kids ride the last 4 legs!!!).

Friday night we camped at Quill Creek, which is just near the end of leg one. It meant that we didn’t have to get up at 6:00 am on Saturday morning to head down the highway from Whitehorse. Hunter had a great time hanging with friends and pogosticking/mountain skateboarding under the midnight sun…

Last year the weather was near perfect – no winds and temperatures in the mid 20’s for the whole day. This year, not so much… it poured rain all day on Friday and the winds showed up. Saturday the skies cleared off and there were even moments of sunshine (moments), which helped to offset the significant headwinds that were in place for almost every leg.

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The race starts with a 19 km leg, of which half is uphill coming out of Haines Junction. We had an import for this leg, a local Haines Junction runner and dog musher, and she did great – coming in 40th out of 89 riders.

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Leg two is just under 40 km in length and mostly flat with some rolling hills. It runs parallel to Dezadeash lake and the headwind came into full play here and Ruby (above with mom Heather & brother Quinn), our 10 year old rider, got pummelled and had to work hard just to keep moving forward. Unfortunately this dropped us into 88 out of 89 teams. The upside is that she worked really hard and finished the leg – a great lesson in perseverance!

IMG_9727Tim rode leg three for us and was a ROCKET! Soooo proud of him – being at the back of the pack, he had to work really hard for the first 5 km to get within reach of a set of riders that he could chase down. He came in 24th out of 89 riders for his leg when you compare times.

tim KCIBR

Leg four was Anais – another one of our junior riders (10). She was a late addition so didn’t get to select her leg, but bravely took the one available. It was a tough one, with another big up hill section in the front half. It was also long (29km). She and her dad Dave tackled it side by side and her quiet conviction was impressive, even after a bike malfunction early on that had us swap out bikes and she rode Hunter’s bike for most of the leg!

Her team mates were out to cheer her on for the last 500 meters to the checkpoint, running along side. Smiles on everyone’s faces!

Martha took on leg five, just as the rain started to show up. It was a long slog into the wind on her mountain bike, even with the shiny new slicks and clip less pedals…

IMG_9792Hunter selected leg six again this year (27km), which was great as we knew what to expect and even had a time to compare against. Normally the checkpoints are much busier, with lots of people and infrastructure but from checkpoint #2 onwards (transition from leg 2 to leg 3) we seemed to be closing out the checkpoints as one of the last few coming in… it was a bit depressing!

IMG_9800Hunter took off like a rocket, with me as his chaperone riding behind him. At about km 2, we had an RCMP vehicle come up the road towards us with his lights flashing. Hunter waived while all the adults thought – shoot… we’re going to be busted for having 2 riders out on a leg at once. Turns out that a large grizzly bear had just been seen about 2km down the road so we got an RCMP escort for the next 3 km! Hunter was thrilled and I had to smile as he is certainly a kid that would appreciate it!

IMG_9807We caught our own little weather system and ended up with heavy rains and hail at one point on the leg. Hunter did a great job and you could really see his growth and improvement from last year, which was also reflected in his results – he came 75th out of 89 riders, most of which rode the leg without the weather system as they were that much ahead of us in terms of time window. He was 4 minutes slower than his time last year, which was ridden in 25c sunshine and no headwinds. REALLY PROUD OF HIM!!!

Hunter handed off to Hayley (10) for leg seven. She had her dad Rod riding along side to keep her company and check to make sure her cape was flying properly! Unfortunately, checkpoint 7 had actually closed by the time we got there so we came up with our own finish line for her to cross. With the knowledge that the checkpoint was closed, Hayley chose to ride her entire leg (37.5km) to prove that she could do it. FABULOUS JOB…

There is a rule in the KCIBR race that the last rider must leave checkpoint 7 by 7pm Alaska time, whether their team mate has reached there or not. We were definitely well behind that target schedule so sent Jennie, our leg 8 rider, ahead so that she could make the 7pm start. Although we didn’t have a chance to cheer her on, we heard that she had a great ride and came in 65th overall for her leg.

IMG_9852We had lots of fun cheering our team mates on through the ride, even if we were the only ones out on the road. It was a different experience from last year when you were surrounded by other riders and their support people cheering as well. The flip side is that it was really quite peaceful for the kids…

IMG_9846We rolled into Haines around 9:45 alaska time (10:45 yukon time) and were able to sweet talk the folks at the Lighthouse Restaurant into allowing us in, as they were trying to close, for some food. After lots of patient waiting, we finally finished dinner around 11:30 ak time and headed out to the cabin that Rod, Martha & Hayley were borrowing as we didn’t want to wake up our other friends at the campground.

The cabin was tucked away in the woods and had a beautiful view (in the morning). We climbed up into bed in the camper and everyone was sound asleep right away. Morning brought typical SE Alaska weather of rain and fog. We all headed out to the Mountain Market for breakfast and ran into our camping friends, who had been quite worried about our “no show” the night before! With the rain in mind, everyone made the dash to the ferry terminal and we all luckily caught the ferry over to Skagway – it saves about 3.5 hours of driving. The kids enjoyed watching Frozen in the on board movie theatre while the adults chatted and caught up. We topped off the day with a yummy thai lunch at Starfire in Skagway and some shopping for alcohol and smoked salmon, which are both cheaper in Alaska than the Yukon.

IMG_9860It was a LONG and adventure filled weekend and has created a great set of shared memories for many of us.

Father’s Day on the Wheaton River

hunter Tim shuttle vehicle

After sitting around in a funk and watching the water on the gauge at the Wheaton level not move much above 15, we decided to head out for a father’s day run. Hunter was also feeling quite anxious about his first solo run down the Wheaton so we wanted to get that out of the way before it turned into a much bigger deal.

wheaton valleyThe Wheaton is in a beautiful valley about an hour south of Whitehorse. The river winds through the mountains and the scenery is breath taking, even on a cloudy and rainy day… It is also in the middle of no-where, which means that you need to be self sufficient for shuttles if you are going on your own. We took our handy ATV as our shuttle vehicle and it worked great – we can just fit the three of us plus three boats, paddles etc. on it!

wheaton valleyWith the levels as low as they were, the paddle was fairly uneventful. Lots of time spent practicing eddying out in small spaces, managing sweepers and catching TINY surf waves. Great to get this under Hunter’s belt and we are ever hopeful that the water may come up higher, but we sure aren’t holding our breath for it!

Season Two is launched

do what you love

After lots of research, and then more research, we are really excited to share that our plans for the coming year are coming together… and we are really excited! The theme continues to be active adventure and sunshine.

SUMMER 2014:

Based out of our home base here in Whitehorse, we will spend the majority of our time out Mountain Biking, on our world class trails, and whitewater kayaking on the local rivers (fingers crossed that the water levels come up).

While it is looking like our anticipated day trips and overnight camping on the Wheaton may not come together in June, we are planning for 2-3 trips up to the Ross River area to camp and paddle the Lapie River during late June and July.

Hunter and I will also head east to Ontario to do the “cottage thing” with family  in August – nothing like endless days of swimming, waterskiing, boating and heading into town for ice cream with your cousins. This year we will be celebrating my grandma’s 100th birthday, which is certainly extra special. We will also tack on some time in Ottawa to do some exploring and  canadian history work.

FALL 2014:

Heading back to my happy place with a quick trip out to Tofino on Vancouver Island. A week of surfing and hanging out on the beach and at Hunter’s favourite skateboard park. Our visits to Tofino keep getting better and better so I’m looking forward to what new things this trip will bring.

Mexico – we’re coming back!!! After having so much fun in February, we are happy to be able to head back down to Texas to join up with our new friends Ben, Kelly, Phil & Nejla to go paddling in North Eastern Mexico for a week over American Thanksgiving. The only part I’m not looking forward to is the 14 hour drive (down and back). It will be fun to paddle at Rio Vista again as well, maybe even under the lights!

WINTER 2014:

We will be rushing out the door shortly after Santa lands at our house for a 2 week adventure in Ecuador. Nine days of whitewater kayaking with Endless Adventures International and then another 5 days exploring the countryside (still deciding between an Andes or an Amazon adventure – anyone with experiences should chime in!).

Fingers crossed that the weather mid-January to mid-February will be temperate so we can get out and enjoy snowboarding at our local hill here in town.

The beach is calling – we had so much fun down in Oceanside last year (fall and spring) that we are heading back down for just over three weeks from mid February to mid March. We are renting a beach house with Grandma Lynne and will have various other family coming to hang out. Looking forward to lots of surfing, biking and skateboarding, along with some down time in the sun.

We will make it back just in time to catch peak snowboarding at the White Pass Summit. Late March – mid April are still winter here in the Yukon but the bluebird skies and above freezing day time temps, coupled with lots of snow, make for a fabulous back country experience. We squeezed in one trip in late April this year after we got back and it reminded us how much we enjoy being out and playing in the mountains.

I’ve been driving Tim nuts with all of the research and logistics work over the past month but it is really worth it financially. I was able to get almost all of our flights on points, which I figure saved us over $8000.00. We are working within Tim’s vacation allotment this year, which is what has us taking this approach. It will be a learning experience, and another opportunity to identify what works best for us as a family. There is definitely some hesitation about travelling without our great big gear locker.

I’m excited to see what the year will bring, how we can optimize it for homeschooling (we are all going to be tackling spanish lessons this summer) and balance some work in between all the fun.

Waiting Waiting Waiting

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Northern summers can be AMAZING things OR quite frankly they can be CRAP. It was a fabulous summer last year and there are lots of comments going round that those only happen once in ten years – UGH…. Either way, we are not off to a resounding start and this is definitely having an impact on us emotionally. Looking to build adventure into every day is a bit of a challenge right now.

tim christmas tree trail

Our goal was to spend the summer mountain biking and kayaking, with some work fit in around the adventures. Although the weather is not fabulous, we are getting out biking 2-4 times a week thanks to Hunter being in the Team Boreale Kids program. We are also fitting in some road biking as we train to participate in the Haines 2 Haines bike race (officially known as the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay) in a few weeks. We did this last year with some other families and had so much fun that we had to do it again.

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The paddling side of things are not so great, which is an understatement… Rivers here are fed by glacier & snowpack melt and usually run for a brief window of time. It’s a bit of river hopping that you hope will work out with respect to when one river runs it’s cycle vs another. A “normal” season has the Wheaton run from late May to late June, the Tutshi from early June to mid July and then the Lapie from late June to the end of July. Our minimum level for the Wheaton is 15 (discharge), which means you are not having to walk your boat around gravel bars to make your way down the river but you are still leaving some paint in some places… Flood is around 60 and happy is in the 30’s. The last 2 weeks paddlers across the Yukon have been glued to the gauge readings and not thrilled. It looks like this is going to be a year of no flood and little Wheaton paddling 🙁

hunter tim paddle board

We did get out in the rain last weekend to test out some paddle boards on a local lake as we are thinking of buying 2 inflatable ones to be able to travel with.

bears

caribou

There have been lots of wildlife sightings, which remind you about the beauty of the north, even when it is constantly on your mind when you are out on the trails…

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.19.17 AMThe weather prognosticators at the Weather Network think that this is going to be an “above normal” summer season here in the Yukon – at this point, I’m wondering if we have the same definition of summer…

Either way, we continue to search for ways to have fun and be active every day, to continue our efforts to purge and simplify and focus on what is important to us as a family. We’re also busy learning spanish for our winter adventures – more details to come!