Columbia and Western Trail – Trans Canada Trail

With the weather starting to warm up in the Kootenays we have been starting to play hookey from the grind of work and school to fit in some kayaking and dirt biking. While the boys have been tackling lots of local single track and steep, rocky terrain I’ve decided that it just doesn’t make dirt biking fun for me. The great news is that we have found the perfect trail for me – the Columbia and Western Trail, which is a component of the Trans Canada Trail and runs 162 km from Castlegar to Grand Forks.

On the Castlegar end the trail starts at the base of the Arrow Lakes alongside all the log booms for the Mills. It is a safe place to park and leave a vehicle with lots of room for trailers as well.

As a rail trail, the trail is very level with no more than a 2.2% grade at the steepest point. It made for very easy riding and we were pretty much alone the entire time, thanks to it being a weekday afternoon. It is a multi-use trail so important for motorized to give way to non-motorized and especially to stop for the horse riders so you don’t spook the horses.

The trestles were impressive and very well maintained. Not quite as many or as tall as when we rode the Kettle Valley Rail Road Trail near Kelowna, but still quite beautiful and impressive engineering.

We went through three tunnels each way- two were fairly easy but the third was long enough that you really needed some extra light to see and help manage through the wet vs dry areas of the trail. They boys were fine as they have lights on their bike – my first time through I was not happy being in the dark so on our way back through Hunter generously rode behind me to shine his light and help decrease my stress level.

We made it about 20 km down the trail, so 40 km round trip. It was just right for my first ride of the season. It will be great to continue to explore various aspects of the trail and hopefully make it the entire length by the end of the fall.


US I-40 Roadtripping

In an effort to avoid snow and mountain passes as we drove from BC to Tennessee we opted for the LONG way around… after dropping almost straight down to Las Vegas on a whole lot of small highways, we ended up driving on US I-40 for 3 very long days heading eastwards. In an effort to break it up, we looked for silly stops to make. Our best three were:

Winslow, Arizona

Winslow, Arizona is actually just off I-40 where historic Route 66 was. It was made famous by a famous Eagles song called “Take it Easy” with the line “Well I’m a standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl my lord in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me…”.

There is now a small park at an intersection in Winslow and corresponding tourist shops to buy lots of souvenirs. The poor staff in those stores as the Eagles soundtrack plays over and over and over – both inside the store and out! We were definitely singing Eagles tunes for the next hour…

The Blue Hole

In Santa Rosa, New Mexico there is a sink hole that is 80 feet deep right in the middle of the small town. It is spring fed so that the water is always around 60f (15c) and so it is used by Scuba Divers year round and locals/tourists for a refreshing swim during the warmer months.

We pulled in late at night and boondocked in the parking lot. It allowed us to see some HUGE catfish and a boatload of crayfish hanging out that we didn’t see again the next morning.

Cadillac Ranch

We’ve seen photos of Cadillac Ranch from many friends over the last few years so this was a definite stop. It is a public art installation of old cadillacs that people then spray paint over and over and over. We were actually quite surprised to discover that it is in a farmers field just off the highway.

What you also don’t see in the photos is the incredible number of spray paint cans that are littered around the field from everyone that has come to visit. It was super windy while we were there (Hunter is holding a tumble weed that he chased across the field) so our stop was fairly short. It’s a good excuse to stretch your legs but I’m not sure I would drive out of my way to check it out.


Dirt biking – a great distraction for the in between season!

Late fall in Canada is a frustrating window of time – whitewater is disappearing but there is not enough snow to go snowboarding. Normally we would just drive further south in search of warm weather and more whitewater to solve that problem but this year we tried something new – sticking around and dirt biking…

After much lobbying from Hunter a set of Honda CRF 150’s made it into the toy box this year.

Although we’re not huge fans of logging for the damage that it can do, the upside is great trails into some really scenic areas!

You just have to look past all the clear-cutting debris…

It’s been fun trying something new – I’m sure there will be many more adventures to come next spring!


Making the most of the end of paddling season

** This post was originally posted at **

The BC paddling season has been an interesting one this year. It started with amazing news that the snowpack was 150% of average, after an amazing winter of lots and lots of snow, which had everyone super stoked for a long and plentiful paddling season. Spring run off was a bit delayed and showed up the 3rd week of May and created some epic high water paddling for a few weeks. Unfortunately with super hot weather, the water did a straight decline from there and we were at epically low water by early August.

Rather than packing our gear up early, we’ve adapted our mindset to keep paddling fun while we wait for some of the fall park and play to show up:

1) This is the perfect time to practice stern squirts and bow plows on eddy lines – the water is warm, the eddy lines are strong enough but not super strong and this can keep you amused for hours, coming and going into eddies up and down the rivers. To up the skill level, make sure you practice on both the left and the right sides of the river as your offside stern squirt can be just as challenging as your offside roll.

2) Flat water tricks make the river into an outdoor pool session – offside rolls, back-deck rolls, bow stalls, stern stalls and flat water loops are all things that you can practice over and over again on relatively flat sections of moving water. With the sunshine and friends around, the time flies by and you are building solid skills.

3) Macho moves – try to find any small wave sections and build on your flat water loop and turn it into a macho move by looping over the wave. Way easier to learn in slower moving water and it’s sure to impress your friends!

4) Building fundamental skills – eddy hop your way down, being sure to catch all the eddies behind the rocks that you normally cruise by. Be on the look out for small rocks you can boof and practice catching all those little catch on the fly surf waves so that you have that skill ready for higher water levels.

5) Drag friends out and teach them to paddle or help them learn flatwater skills – consider this an investment in your paddling community and it gives you more people to play with as well. This is the perfect time to help get others onto the water or upping their paddling skills. We almost have one of our creeking friends convinced that play boating can be fun now that he is learning to stern squirt and bow stall.

Don’t be too hasty on packing up your paddling gear once low water shows up – try some of the above ideas to stretch out your paddling season and learn some new skills!

The Vincent Family

Party Surfing – a fun way to develop boat control

This post was originally posted at

We have used party surfing for years as a fun way to develop and fine tune boat control. It turns learning into a game that is highly interactive and fun for everyone. It is also a fun game that can be played with both kids and adults.

Step one: Find a bunch of friends to paddle with that like to have fun
Step two: Find a wave that will fit at least 3 boats in it
Step three: Someone starts surfing and then the next person joins in, and then the next person, and so on and so on.
Step four: When you fall off, or are knocked off, paddle back to the eddy, get in line and get back out there.
This game can also be called King of the Wave (or hole), which refers to the person that stays out in the feature the longest.
We have found that you can get a bunch of people playing this and it can go on for up to 30 minutes, at which point most people are exhausted and need a rest. People are smiling and cheering and laughing the entire time and don’t realize that they are actually enhancing their paddling skills; – learning better edge control so you don’t zoom into someone, getting comfortable in areas of the wave/hole that you don’t normally go to, playing with side surfing to make room for someone else.
We were in Glenwood Colorado in May and spent an afternoon on the Glenwood wave with the Kellogg family. We had the party surfing game going for a good 30 minutes with at least 8 people cycling through. Even the Dad’s gone into the fun and showed you are never too old to party surf!
If you are a bit hesitant and just getting started, then just try party surfing with one other person, then slowly add more friends/family into the mix. You will be amazed at how much fun it is and how your skills develop without you even trying.