Roadtrip to Vancouver Island: Final Day in Short

05/06/2018

  • Nanaimo –> Black Creek
  • Woke up super early to leave our homely parking lot outside Cassidy.
  • Drove to Tim Hortons where Moa continued to sleep in the car and I (Matilda) had breakfast.
  • Made our way further north and our first stop was Rathtrevor Beach. The tide was low so we were able to walk on the sea floor and see lots of cool plants, rocks and crabs.
  • VERY WINDY DAY. The Rocky Mountains don’t have much wind so we had forgotten about coastal weather a little bit.
  • Had lunch in Qualicum Beach which is the most British town we’ve encountered so far in Canada.
  • Made plans to camp out in Kitty Coleman Provincial Park before arriving at our Workaway the next day.
  • Texted Workaway and they said we could come early so we didn’t have to sleep in the car again. Yay!
  • Stopped in Courtenay to look for thrift stores. They have a MASSIVE one called Value Village. Moa was in heaven and found a rain jacket.
  • Drove to Black Creek where we settled in at our new Workaway.
  • Got to sleep in nice and soft beds and shower. Heaven!
  • This was the last day of our roadtrip so the next update will summarise our Workaway experience in Black Creek/Saratoga Beach after we leave.

In pictures:

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Roadtrip to Vancouver Island: Day Five in Short

04/06/2018

  • Squamish –> Vancouver –> Nanaimo
  • Moa started the day with some climbing in Murrin Provinical Park.
  • We drove to Vancouver!
  • We accidentally drove into the city centre of Vancouver.
  • Hung out in beautiful Stanley Park.
  • Visited the Capilano Suspension Bridge.
  • Treetop Adventure was better than the bridge!
  • Left Capilano at around 7 and made the ferry to Nanaimo that left at 7:40.
  • Looked for Spruston Staging Area to camp overnight but road was closed so we had to find a random parking lot to sleep in. Oh well.

In pictures:

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Roadtrip to Vancouver Island: Day Three in Short

02/06/2018

  • Pemberton –> Squamish
  • Made our first stop in Whistler where a half marathon was happening. The weather wasn’t great so we soon continued on towards Squamish.
  • Quick stop at Alice Lake to meet some baby geese.
  • Made it to Squamish!!!
  • Short hike up to Shannon Falls which is an awesome spot.
  • Walked around downtown Squamish.
  • Moa wanted to take a look at Stawamus Chief climbing and ended up bouldering with a couple of dudes she met in the parking lot.
  • Matilda went swimming in Browning Lake.
  • Moa also wanted to swim so we both went back to the lake after her bouldering session.
  • Found our overnight home on a patch of gravel next to the highway.

 

In pictures:

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Day Trip to Banff

[Matilda]

Last week we decided to take a little day trip with our favourite German workawayers – Panini and Chippy (aka Annika and Lea). The plan was initially to go to Calgary so that I could pop into the Apple store and get my Macbook battery replaced. As it turns out, Apple doesn’t service this model anymore, so bye bye 3 hour drive to Apple and hello local computer techs who are happy to help!

Our new choice of destination was Banff as we’ve all wanted to go there since we arrived in Canada. The day started bright and early at 7:30 AM and we made a first stop at Lake Louise which is on the way. The lake is still frozen but it’s a beautiful place nonetheless.

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We probably spent around an hour at the lake before continuing our journey. The first thing you see when you come off the exit to Banff is a massive sign and tourists taking pictures with it. Were we going to do things differently? Nope! Cue the tourist pics!

 

The Banff National Park is known for its amazing nature so we had already decided to dedicate the day to hiking. We chose a pretty easy hike that goes all the way up to the summit of Tunnel Mountain. It’s a relatively small mountain but with an amazing view! We did have a little trouble finding the start of the trail and ended up starting our hike a little higher up. I was absolutely fine with missing 500 metres of incline as I hadn’t been feeling well the day before. And it also meant we already had a pretty nice view from the get-go. The hike from start to finish takes a couple of hours and I’ll let the pictures do the talking!

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While at the summit, we were greeted by this cute little chipmunk! It also earned Lea, who is a tiny person, the nickname ‘Chippy’.

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Chippy with chipmunk

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After our hike we checked out downtown Banff and we all agreed that it’s a strange place! While beautiful, Banff is very touristy, and Moa described it very well; “Banff is designed to be what tourists think Canada should look like”. Spot on! My impression of the city centre was that it felt like a Canada theme park. We looked through the local thrift store, and a few souvenir shops, before sitting down to eat some hard earned pizza. After dinner we made our way towards the Bow Falls trail. Trying to find our way there by car had us moving towards a location that on the map was called ‘Surprise Corner’. We though this must be something fantastic. Guess what? The surprise was that it’s just a corner! The road takes a turn! Whaaat! Anyways. We were now on the wrong side of the river so we ended up parking in a residential area and walked across a pedestrian bridge to the trail. It was a nice little walk to the falls and below them is a golf course where we met a herd of elk. Cue pics!

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We spent over an hour down by the falls before finally heading back to the car. We got to drive back with the sun setting over the mountains in front of us which is always breathtaking. I highly recommend it! We didn’t arrive back in Golden until around 10:30 but it was a day well spent! I think we’re all looking to go back and see other parts of the Banff National Park as the lakes melt and nature really wakes up.

Until next time!

 

Workaway #3: Building An Earthship!

[Matilda]

You may have noticed a lack of updates lately. This is because we’ve spent a significant amount of time off grid. For the past two weeks we were at our third Workaway experience where we helped a lovely family build an Earthship! This was also in Blaeberry – only a 12 minute drive from the buffalo ranch. What is an Earthship? Well, I could try to take you through it, but you’d probably be better off reading about it HERE!

This Workaway was different to our previous ones for a few different reasons:

  1. More work. Wintertime at our previous locations meant work was a little slow. Here, we worked 5 hours a day!
  2. Our hosts were a family. It was definitely a change of pace to stay with a family with kids.
  3. We were already well established in the area and therefore didn’t spend as much time “in the house” after work was done.

Our main task was to help build/insulate walls in the Earthship’s living area. We did this with cob which is a mixture of clay, water, sand and straw. It takes a day or so to really get the hang of working with cob, but once you do it’s like clockwork. We started out building walls. The ones facing the outside were decorated with bottles to allow more light in and for decoration:

Earthship bottle wall!
Moa built the lower half of this bottle wall and I the upper!

 

In our last few days, we began to cover the tyre walls. The Earthship’s outer walls are tyres packed with dirt which are then covered with different materials depending on their location. Inside they are covered with cob. This took a bit of finesse as they should be made as even as possible. After the cob, they will eventually be covered with some other materials before being completely finished.

Tyre wall in Earthship
The result of a day’s work covering tyres!

 

This type of work is very rewarding. It gets you focused and makes time pass really quickly. It gives you something to look at when the day is over and think “that’s what I made today”. And last but not least, it feels great to know that we’ve helped this wonderful family get one step closer to moving into their dream home.

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Photo by Jair

The family we stayed with was Jair and Mel and their two kids, Nova and Asher. Jair’s dad Tom also lives on the property and helps out in the Earthship. Though we were out and about quite often we really enjoyed the times we got to sit down and have a meal with the whole family. There was a great atmosphere and every person we met there was genuine and kind.

The family home, up until the completion of the Earthship, is a yurt. A yurt is essentially a big round tent. The yurt is completely solar powered so while we could happily charge our phones, we had to refrain from charging larger devices such as laptops. The water comes from a nearby creek! The family had a great name for going on a water collection mission: AQUA FORCE! We got to go with Tom, Nova and Asher on an Aqua Force mission when the family had a big bonfire.

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Left to right: Asher, me, Nova and Moa! Photographed by Tom.

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Our last day was yesterday and the family sent us off on our way with a big waffle breakfast. It was absolutely delicious. With our tour having two dates confirmed in Golden, I’m sure we’ll see them again soon! And if not, we’ll want to come back to see how work on the Earthship progresses. We definitely recommend you guys to follow these guys on Facebook! Check out Simply Not Square HERE.

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Sunset at “Inshallah”

A Hike to Wapta Falls

[Matilda]

I know what you’re thinking right now. ANOTHER blog post? You probably figured you’d have to wait at least a few weeks for the next one! Even though I did tell you there’d be one this week. I mean, sure, I did say it would be Moa posting… She still might. People have walked the moon!

I had a great little travel experience yesterday which I want to share with you. Moa may be off in Skaha but I might have exaggerated a little when I said I was left to my own devices. There ARE other people on the ranch. The other week, two German girls by the name of Annika and Lea arrived. As there is now a car on the property (OUR car! SMELLY but OURS!) we decided we should go on a little field trip (not to be confused with a Field trip). Our destination would be Wapta Falls in Yoho National Park. The snow has really been melting away here in Blaeberry so we figured it would be a nice little hike. Once you leave the highway there is a 2 km drive to the trail and then a 2.4 km hike to the falls.

We set off at around 12:30 once our chores were done at the ranch. The drive to the trailhead is not too long – only about 40 minutes. As we drove into the national park we were informed by signs that visitors now require a park pass which needs to be purchased on the park border. We completely missed the exit and had to find a place to turn around to go back and get a pass. Aren’t we the most upstanding citizens? Anyway, once we got back to the little hut were park passes are distributed, it turned out it was closed and no pass was required. A few minutes later we arrived at the road to Wapta Falls. Which was also closed. Yep, the dirt road going down to the trail was still covered in snow and our hike was now twice as long. Did we let that get us down? Not right away!

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The walk to the trailhead was pretty boring so it was nice when we finally got there. The trail started going steadily upwards around halfway in. With fallen trees all over the place we had to practise some parkour to get by. (We were very graceful and I think Michael Scott would have been proud.) As the trail wasn’t really open for the season yet, I’m sure it’ll be cleaned up and made more accessible eventually.

We were very excited when we heard the roar of the falls which meant we were nearing the end of our 4.4 km hike (which I seriously believe was longer). The first stop is a viewing area high above the falls and the view is absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a picture that fully conveys this. If you ever go there (or if you’ve already been), you’ll know what I mean! We stopped there to drink some water and enjoy the scenery before following the trail downwards.

It was kind of tricky this time of year as the trail is covered in snow, ice and mud. Snow was definitely the preferable foundation. I would say that probably 70% of the trail down was ice which meant that we spent a lot of time sliding, grabbing trees and trying to find alternative routes in the snow just next to the trail. Every now and then we’d get to some bare ground where non-slippery moss was available. I frickin’ loved that moss… Before you get all the way down beneath the falls, there is another viewing area. It looked like people had been taking shortcuts and made their way down via the very steep bank underneath it. We chose the slightly safer ice trail.

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Getting down took a LOT of effort but we made it! And it was worth it. It was such a cool experience to stand in front of the falls and feel that gentle spray of water. We were also lucky enough to have sunshine most of the time which meant we even got to see a rainbow! A picture says more than a thousand words so let’s have some photos, shall we?

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I don’t know how long we spent down there but as we started hiking back, my shoes were absolutely soaked! They’re not really hiking shoes… The hardest part was definitely the last 2 km back to the car as at that point we were all very hungry and extremely tired of walking on icy snow. But we made it back and pulled into Golden for an A&W meal just before 18:00.

I’d love to go back to Wapta Falls again when it’s warmer and dryer. Someone told me it’s even possible to go swimming underneath them, which would be amazing! So don’t be surprised if you get another blog post about this place before the year is over.

For now, here are some very happy hikers!

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Lea (left) and Annika (right)