Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Three adventures in one

My husband Joel and I moved to Vancouver Island for the endless outdoor adventures one can enjoy all year round.  We were excited to explore oceans, rivers, mountains, and rain forests with our two young children.  Nearly every weekend we would drag Ben and Liv (who were 2 yrs and 4 months old at the time) out hiking, kayaking, camping, and mountain biking no matter the weather.  5 years later we are still adventuring nearly every weekend but with a few modifications.  Camping is now backpacking, hiking distances less than 5 km are walks, and pretty sure I'm the slowest mountain biker in the family. During the 5 years we also have accumulated a ton of gear.  Seriously, our garage looks like a MEC warehouse.  So perhaps it is no accident we ended up packing climbing, caving, and backpacking gear for an extended weekend of adventure.

This blog post is about our climbing and caving adventure near Gold River, BC.  Our backpacking trip in Strathcona Park on the Elk River Trail to Landslide Lake will be written as a guest blog on one of my favourite outdoor blogs, PureOutside.  So excited to write for a different audience and will post a link as soon as it’s up.


I had wanted to explore around Gold River for a few years now and was excited it was becoming reality. Our first adventure was climbing.  I will admit that climbing is not high on my adventure list.  I appreciate the sport and perhaps once I become more confident with belaying my opinion will change.  Until then I tag along and humour the family because I have been known to talk them into some crazy adventures.  Plus, the kids love it and I can see Joel has a passion for it.  Located between Campbell River and Gold River is Crest Creek Crags, an outdoor climbing area that has been developed and maintained by some passionate climbers.  One could easily spend an entire weekend here and still not climb every route.

Crest Creek Crag climbing area
Since we are new to climbing we picked an easy section to climb.  I believe it was actually called the kids corner.  This area allowed us to access the top of the route via trail and set up top rope climbing.  A style of climbing in which a rope, used for the climber's safety, runs from a belayer at the foot of a route through one or more carabiners connected to an anchor system at the top of the route and back down to the climber, usually attaching to the climber by means of a harness. (thx Wikipedia). Once Joel had everything set up we gathered for a quick safety talk.  It is important to prepare and educate Ben and Liv on climbing.  Hell, me too!  No one distracts the belayer, do not walk under the climber, learn the knots, and speak the sport.  On belay? Belay on! Or is it climb on?  I will double check with the kids.

I am not sure I can describe what it was like watching Liv select her route and climb with no fear.  Or Ben use his strength, both physical and mental, to pull himself over and up a challenging section.  I was proud of what they accomplished as were they, evident in their smiles.  My dude and adventure girl shined on this day! We celebrated a successful day of adventure camping at Muchalat Lake, an amazing end to an amazing day.

Muchalat Lake, BC


Upana Caves Recreation Area

It is no surprise that Vancouver Island, with over 1000 caves, is well known to cavers.  When I first heard of Upana Caves, my curiosity was aroused.  There are 15 entrances to the Upana Caves which offer both easily accessible caves for beginners and challenging caves for experts.  We happened to be there during a caving search and rescue training session.  It happens at Upana every 2 yrs for BC and AB search and rescue.  (Two years ago it was filmed for a television series called Callout Search and Rescue, which we watched).  It was pretty cool watching the professionals in action.  One of the instructors even took the time to talk with Ben and Liv about all the gear he had and that we were doing all the right things with extra flashlights, helmets, gloves, and warm clothing.

For 3 hours, we explored the caves.  Joel and I came close to having to drag ourselves through a few sections but not quite.  Main cave was our favourite but Resurgence cave was pretty cool as well.  The best part of the experience was crawling through Main cave from room to room with only our lights to guide us. We emerged out of the cave to a lush green forest with a waterfall.

Main Cave tunnel emerging into a lush forest and waterfall

Tunnel back into Main Cave

Upana Creek trickled into Main cave disappearing where it reappears again in the Resurgence cave.  Ben really enjoyed the caves, not at all scared of the unknown and led the way. Ask Liv what she thought of caving and she will proudly tell you she was the only one who did not have to crawl!

Inside Resurgence Cave

View looking out of Resurgence Cave

We celebrated another successful day of adventure camping along the Conuma River where we watched a herd of Roosevelt Elk approach the river directly across from us. Fitting seeing as we were on the eve of hiking along the Elk River Trail.  That story (day 3, 4 & 5) will have to wait for now.

Conuma River

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