Adventures along the Coast

In case you missed it, I recently spent 2 weeks home in Newfoundland (Part I, Part II). After spending the long weekend in Twillingate, we returned to St. John’s for the rest of my holiday, but not without a quick stop into Dildo on the way home. That’s right – if you’re not from Newfoundland, the name might sound strange to you, but Dildo is a vibrant coastal community on the Avalon Peninsula that was recently made popular by none other than Jimmy Kimmel. My interest in visiting was to stop into Dildo Brewing. Like I mentioned in my last post, a lot of breweries have been popping up in NL, but Dildo Brewing was definitely one of the earlier breweries and boasts a gorgeous view of the ocean.

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To be honest, I didn’t enjoy Dildo Brewing as much as Split Rock in Twillingate. It was super busy in the restaurant and the poor wait staff was run ragged, making for a bit of a lengthy and chaotic experience, but I did really enjoy sitting out on the patio and watching the water at least. We couldn’t get into the restaurant, so instead we enjoyed a surprisingly good fish and chips from the local gas station!

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I spent a lot more time visiting with friends and family; eating seafood, strolling the waterfront, and searching for the best ice cream. I returned to Signal Hill to hike it properly (not in debilitating fog) on Regatta Day and then met up with friends for a swim at Sunshine Rotary Park. The St. John’s Regatta is a pretty unique event – it’s the longest continuous running sporting event in North America – celebrating more than 100 years of races on Quidi Vidi Lake. The only times it’s been cancelled was during the War and last year because of Covid. It returned this year, though spectators were discouraged and no vendors were allowed along the lakefront. But what makes the Regatta so unique is that it’s actually a civic holiday. Most provinces have the first Monday off in August as a provincial holiday, as is the case in the rest of NL, but in St. John’s, businesses take the Regatta off instead. It’s the first Wednesday in August and a weather dependent holiday. So if you wake up to wind or rain on Wednesday, you still have to go to work and wait until Thursday to get your day off (as was the case this year).

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Otherwise, I continued my hiking tour of the East Coast Trail. I did another solo hike, this time along Mickeleen’s Path, which is the section that runs from Bay Bulls to Witless Bay. I wasn’t expecting to like this section that much because I’d heard it was mostly forested, but I ended up having a really good time. There were a lot of trees at the beginning, but when you reach the end of the headland there are lots of beautiful views, which continue into Witless Bay. It was incredibly windy when I hiked the trail, but I managed to find some blueberries and see one whale hanging out in Bay Bulls. It’s a 7km trail and since I was alone, I had to hike back, but my friend gave me a head’s up that there’s an old ATV road that cuts across the headland through the woods, so I took that instead to save myself a bit of walking.

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I really wanted to do an overnight hike while I was home. A few years ago I brought all my gear home with me, only to get rained out, so I’d brought all my gear back with me again in hopes of getting out on the trail overnight. Since Emily was working during the week, we decided to try for the last weekend I was home. She’s already hiked a lot more of the East Coast Trail than me, so we decided on Cape Broyle Head Path, which is one of the few sections she hasn’t done. The only problem, it’s an 18km trail and over an hour drive away. So we convinced Mom and Dad to join us for the first section of the hike and then Mom returned again the next day to pick us up.

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Cape Broyle Head Path runs from Cape Broyle to Calvert, but the campsite is located at km 7 of 18, so we decided to hike it starting in Calvert to do the bigger distance on the first day. The first part of the hike is really scenic and looks out towards the Ferryland Lighthouse. It was super windy, but it was a nice day and we had a good time. We continued on for a few kilometers hoping to find somewhere nice for lunch, but it seemed to mostly be a forested trail, so we ended up having our lunch in the woods before saying goodbye to our parents. They hiked back to the car while we continued on.

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The trail continues on through the trees before punching through at a few viewpoints and one lone picnic table, something I’ve never seen on the ECT before! It took us awhile to wind our way along the trail before finally coming to Lance Cove. It was a beautiful looking beach, but we didn’t think we’d be able to access it from the trail and were thrilled when we found some steps descending down to the beach! We had a quick swim before continuing on to the Campsite at Freshwater River.

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We thought we’d have the campsite to ourselves, but were surprised to find someone else had set up a tent too. So we picked a tent pad up on the bluff, set up camp and had a delicious dinner of chili fettucine. It mind sound weird as it was a mix of whatever dried foods we could find around the house, but it ended up being delicious! The forecast had been a bit dicey all day and we were lucky not to have been rained on yet, so we crawled into our tent hoping it would be dry in the morning.

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Sadly it was not to be. While we tried to fall asleep we could see lightning across the bay and the rain eventually rolled into our campsite some time during the night. My tent held up well to NL’s rain and wind, but it was sadly still wet when we got up. We made a hasty tent breakfast before departing to hike out. Fortunately it stopped raining shortly after we starting hiking, but it didn’t help us at all as the trail is super narrow and the forest was extremely wet. In no time we were both soaked and blundered our way along the rest of the trail.

Fortunately Mom showed up to get us with a change of clothes and we were none the worse for wear. But sadly it also meant I’d reached the last day of my trip. I spent the rest of the day hastily trying to dry out all my gear to transport it home and we finished off the trip with one of my favourite meals and a few rounds of cards. I really wish the trip could have been longer, but fortunately my family had plans to visit less than a month later, so it was goodbye for only a short time.

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Exploring Historic Abbotsford

Usually you can find me off hiking in the mountains all summer, but this year I paired up with Modo and Tourism Abbotsford to spend a day exploring the many urban attractions Abbotsford has to offer! As an Ambassador for Modo, I love how easy it is to book a car whenever I want to go adventuring, both inside and outside of the lower mainland. Modo’s many different options allow me to tailor my vehicle to my trip needs – a large and loadable SUV for exploring the mountains, or a more compact daily drive for getting around the city.

I booked my favourite daily drive, the Toyota Corolla on Charland Avenue, and two of my friends, Karen and Sabrina, joined me for an awesome day sightseeing in Downtown Abbotsford! Despite Abbotsford being only a 30-minute drive from where I live, I haven’t spent much time exploring there. Tourism Abbotsford put a package together for us with lots of fun ideas for what to do for the day and we quickly set out to sample everything Historic Abbotsford has to offer!

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“Along the streets of Historic Downtown, you will find an abundance of quaint, unique and locally-owned shops and boutiques” (TourismAbbotsford). Our first stop was the local Farm & Country Market, where we browsed from a plethora of stalls selling local produce, treats, and handmade artisan wares. The market is held in Jubilee Park and runs every Saturday morning from 9am-noon from May 1 to October 30. We established the market as our base for the morning and continued our adventure from there.

Before we were ready to start shopping, we needed coffee, so our first stop downtown was to Oldhand Coffee to fuel up for the day. Oldhand has such a homey feel, with rustic wood walls, bench seating, and dried flowers on every tables. Everything in the bakery looked delicious, so we stocked up on cookies and scones for later and sat down to enjoy iced tea and coffees. What I really liked about Oldhand is that, in addition to your traditional coffee shop finds, they also stock some of the most whimsically bottled wine from around BC!

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We browsed the most beautiful assortment of bouquets at Confetti Floral Design – Karen took notes for her upcoming wedding while Sabrina bonded with the florists over their mutual love of Taylor Swift. Then we continued on to Hemingway’s Books and Records for what was the highlight of my day! I’m an avid reader and Hemingway’s has an excellent selection of discount books. The main floor is brimming with everything from contemporary fiction, to young adult, to mystery, to fantasy and science fiction. Meanwhile, the basement is well stocked with records and non-fiction. I picked out a book from each floor to take home with me at a great price!

By this time we were starting to get hungry again, so we crossed over to BRGR BRGR in search of lunch. We’d heard from more than one person that BRGR BRGR was an Abbotsford must-do and its fast food style ordering made it perfect for lunch. That’s where the comparison to fast food ends though because the burgers are absolutely fantastic! They have a diverse menu, offering plant based burgers and gluten free options, plus their french fries are delicious!

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The shopping continued after lunch and we visited Montrose + George General Store, which was definitely a highlight for everyone. They stock a wide range of goods, from clothing and shoes, to hats and bags, to candles and beauty products. Karen and I tried on lots of clothes while Sabrina browsed the candles and we all walked away with a different purchase. Mostly we just liked the atmosphere of the store and give them A+ for their music selection! We continued down the road to Spruce Collective, which featured a very different collection of wares, but was equally unique! It’s hard to capture everything for sale in Spruce because they had such a variety, but it was filled with many locally sourced goods and novelties. Sabrina stocked up on hot sauce, while Karen picked out a cute mug for her morning tea.

The food really does steal the show in Downtown Abbotsford. Before departing, we stopped into The Polly Fox, which is a completely gluten free bakery and cafe! Sabrina is gluten free, so she was especially thrilled at this find and stocked up on treats, while Karen and I waited until Banter to gorge ourselves. Banter is one of Abbotsford’s many ice cream parlours and is located right in Jubilee Park. You can smell the fresh made waffle cones before you even enter the store – I had the lemon curd ice cream and the combination with the homemade waffle was *chef’s kiss*!

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I know that sounds like a lot of adventuring for one day, but we weren’t done yet! We needed a break from the shops, so we returned to our Modo to relocate to Mill Lake Park for a bit of nature therapy. Mill Lake Park is a gorgeous urban park in central Abbotsford. It seems like a vibrant community has grown up around the park and it makes for a great place to kick back and relax. We did the 2.3km walk around the lake, stopping to picnic in the grass along the way and enjoy the sun.

Finally, we ended the day with a visit to Trading Post Brewing for dinner. In addition to the many shops, bakeries, and ice cream parlours, Abbotsford is located along the Fraser Valley Ale Trail and is home to several breweries and wineries. We ordered quite a feast for dinner and Sabrina and Karen sampled the drinks menu. If you eat in the restaurant, you can purchase cans from the store at discount, so I picked up some of the Raspberry Wheat Ale to sample later. It was the perfect way to conclude the day and we returned to our Modo to drive back home, though not without filling up the tank for the next driver!

Hanging Lake Backpacking Trip

Apparently Mount Assiniboine wasn’t quite enough adventure for me and I decided to go to Hanging Lake near Whistler just one week later. Honestly, it was a pre-planned trip that I probably would have preferred to skip after the drama of Assiniboine, but I had planned it with Carolyn and because of our schedules, it was the only weekend we both had available until late September (we went in mid July), so I didn’t want to miss out on that time with her.

There were a few other people going on the trip, but I was still really anxious hiking with people I didn’t know that well after my experience at Assiniboine, so Carolyn and I did most of the hike on our own. It ended up working well because I wanted to go slow after the heat wave, and Carolyn was tired from recently travelling, so it was definitely one of our slower hikes. It wasn’t anywhere near as hot as Assiniboine, but it was still high 20’s, so not a walk in the park either. We left around 8am to drive out to Whistler and parked her car overnight at the Rainbow Lake trailhead.

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Rainbow Lake is a pretty popular hike – it climbs up 800m of elevation over 8km to Rainbow Lake, which is the Whistler municipality’s watershed. Because of this, we found it to be a pretty well maintained and easy trail. There are lots of fancy new bridges and outhouses because it’s essential not to pee or poo in the watershed. Despite the substantial elevation gain, it’s a pretty gradual incline for most of the hike and just gets a bit steeper towards the end. It’s not a bad hike for a hot day because most of it is in the trees, but it is incredibly disappointing not to be able to swim in the lake at the end, so take that into consideration.

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The Metro Vancouver watershed is entirely closed to the public, so it’s pretty unique that we can still hike in the Whistler watershed and we should do everything we can to protect it when visiting. They’ve outfitted the lake with a really nice trail and lots of benches and picnic tables, so it makes for a great lunch stop, which is what we did. Carolyn and I have both been experimenting with cold soak lunches lately and used this trip to try some of them out. Cold soaking is basically choosing foods that will rehydrate just by soaking in cold water for a few hours. Lots of people soak their dehydrated meals pre-cooking, but cold soaking doesn’t involve any heat.

I have two recipes that have been working out well for me, one is instant rice with dehydrated veggies and taco seasoning and nutritional yeast (cheese flavour). The other is a dehydrated pasta salad that I cold soak and add a small bit of salad dressing and fresh cheese. Carolyn’s been experimenting with some couscous and quinoa recipes. They’ve been working out great for me and I enjoy them a lot more than eating cheese and salami on tortilla day after day after day.

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There were a fair number of people hanging out at Rainbow Lake, but it never felt particularly crowded and we didn’t see many people on the actual trail. Most people just hike up to Rainbow Lake as a day hike as there’s no camping allowed, so we had decided to continue on another 2km to Hanging Lake. The trail continues along the back of the lake and I recommend doing this part of the trail even if you’re just day hiking. The trail starts to climb up over a pass at the back of the lake and in my opinion, was where you could get the best views of Rainbow Lake! After you hit the top of the pass, you’re out of the Whistler watershed and can descend down to Hanging Lake, where camping is permitted.

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It’s a bit steep going down to Hanging Lake, but short, so not a big deal. There’s space for 10 tents at Hanging Lake and it has some really nice new facilities, including an outhouse and bear cache. Tiiu and Spencer were already at the lake when we got there and we were joined a bit later by some more of their friends. We were surprised to find the campsite almost entirely empty! Aside from our group, there was only one more tent there, otherwise it was completely empty. Based on how busy everything has been during the pandemic, I really didn’t expect that on a Saturday night. We’re not sure if the lack of people is just because the trail isn’t actually that popular, or if it’s because travel had recently re-opened and a lot of the locals had cleared out of the province (or the region) for a holiday. Either way, it was great for us!

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It was around 3pm when we arrived and we hung out at the lake for the rest of the day. Everyone went for a swim, but the water was freezing and not very deep. We later realized we were super lucky as there was a nice breeze that kept all the bugs away. The breeze dropped down while we were eating supper and the mosquitoes came out with a vengeance, sending us all to bed by 9pm.

Instead of coordinating, we decided to be totally self sufficient on this hike. Carolyn and I have been working on upgrading some of our gear to try and be more lightweight. We had both purchased non freestanding tents in the last year that weigh only 2lbs, so we opted to each bring our own tent, stove, and food. I actually really enjoyed it and couldn’t believe that my bag was only 28lbs with all my gear and 2L of water. It’s mostly due to only having to bring 1 day of food, but it was nice to have a lighter pack and still have all my own gear. I’m hoping to upgrade a bit further over the next year or so to get it even lighter.

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My new tent is a Gossamer Gear tent called The Two. It sleeps 2 people, but it doesn’t have any poles (instead you set it up with your hiking poles) and it’s only a 1 layer tent, which makes it a lot lighter. I’m still testing it and haven’t quite figured out how I feel about it. It’s super easy to set up and I love that it’s lightweight. It’s also quite large and has giant vestibules. The only thing I’m still assessing is the 1 layer set-up. It has mesh sides, but the main body of the tent is just 1 layer, which means that the top of the tent will collect condensation and there’s nothing separating you or your gear from that layer of condensation. I knew this would probably be slightly annoying, but am willing to try and deal with it in the interest of saving some weight.

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I’m not sure if it was just the weather conditions on this trip, but it did get A LOT of condensation inside the tent, like I was shocked by how much collected. So I had to be careful not to touch the walls with my bag or it would also get wet. I was a little disappointed with how wet it got on the inside (it took me a while to dry it out the next morning), but I have since tested it in the rain (and wind) as well and it held up remarkably well. It was really humid the second time I used it and the inside didn’t get any condensation and when it rained, it actually still stayed dry on the inside wall as well and kept the rain off no problem. I thought it might be dicey in the wind, but it held up well against that as well. So I’m not ready to make my verdict on the tent yet and am looking forward to trying it out more.

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Unfortunately it was still buggy the next morning, so we had a quick breakfast and packed everything up. Carolyn wanted to go for another swim before we left, so we went for a quick dip in our birthday suits before starting the climb back up to the pass. The rest of the group wanted to check out a side trail for Ninja Lakes, so we said goodbye and planned to meet up for beers in Squamish. It was a faster hike out, though hard on the knees with all the downhill. We hit up Backcountry Brewing on the way home, which is one of our favourite places to stop (honestly, the beer is just okay imo, but the pizza’s are amazing!). We had to wait forever to get in, but the pizza was worth it!

So overall, a pretty lowkey, but fun hike up to the lake. We’d tried to do this one last fall and it had been closed due to a bear, so it was nice to return and cross it off my bucket list!

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