Saturday, October 31, 2009


Today was October 31st - HALLOWEEN! Where those who are inclined get dressed up in their favourite costume and Trick or Treat or attend parties! We had a few party options but chose to stay home tonight. We had been in Calgary Wed - Friday where I was speaking at a Public Health Conference. Unfortunately I came down with H1N1 earlier in the week with thankfully fairly mild symptoms of a cough, tiredness, and shivers. I missed one day of work but really wanted to make my speaking engagement. Neil came along as he has clients in the Calgary area. It was cold in Calgary but we did get out for a run Thursday evening on a bike trail along the freeway. The prairie provinces are always interesting to visit - usually the weather dominates the interest! We arrived in Vancouver last night to a horrendous rain storm to drive home in. Overnight the skies cleared and we had a beautiful run on a local trail for a couple of hours, the Maple Trees are looking bountiful in colour and the trails are covered in the fallen leaves. Another highlight this week was the lighting of the Olympic Torch with the Vancouver Officials in Greece and the torch was flown to Victoria for the start of the Torch Relay which will travel throughout communities across Canada. Olympic Fever is here! (or is it H1N1?) Today Neil and I submitted our entries to the West Highland Way Race...WOW!Exciting! A great goal for 2010! A new procedure is in place so we will wait and see the outcome! HAPPY HALLOWEEN! And a bonus extra hour of sleep for us tonight as we "Fall" back our clocks!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Baggers Banquet!

Ken Legg the Winner of the Bagger Challenge! David Presenting the "Squashed" Quaich to Ean for 2nd Place! Neil having a Sip from the Quaich! Wendy and I tied...But I did a few "extra" Peaks! A Toast to "The Baguettes"
The Cake with the Map and Rescue Helicopters.

Friday night after work we headed off for the Baggers Banquet. Neil had arranged a hotel for us to stay in as it was over an hour drive back home and we were anticipating the potential for a late night. The party was hosted by David and Julia who live in North Vancouver the creators of the Bagger Challenge. We were no sooner onto the Freeway when the traffic came to a halt. The traffic was blocked all the way to North Vancouver. We were an hour and a half late but did arrive just in time to eat! Excellent food and sharing of Bagger outings. Great to catch up with fellow Baggers who had accomplished some great challenges. David did the ceremonial prize giving of the Quaich to the overall winner Ken Legg. Good work Ken...41 out of 44 Peaks! There was another Quaich to give away - the original one that arrived in the post from Scotland - the base squashed - the lop sided Quaich! David managed to get another one delivered (in a box this time) for presentation to Ken. The winner of the squashed Quaich was Ean Jackson who placed second and showed great spirit of competition throughout the challenge. Ean and David were also presented with a few gifts that resembled "Rescue Helicopters" to remind them of their early morning lift to work! The lady Baggers the "Baguettes" were celebrated with a toast in the Quaich. The cake was brilliant - a map of all the Peaks in the competition with a "helicopter" strategically placed! Eric (Ean and Sibylle's son) won the "bag" that Neil donated as a prize. A great night...and a great Bagger Challenge! Wow did I sleep well for a solid 8 hours! Neil and I went to the LSCR which was very close to the hotel and did a 2 hour road run which felt so good! No maps, no route finding, no rock faces to scramble over...just me and my iPOD working the road!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The South Needle - the Last of the Bagger Challenge!

Where the trail head starts.

Heading Up!

Climbing Over!

Making our own trail down!

The Top!

Today Neil and I met up with Wendy Montgomery at the Gazebo (the location of the former Gazebo - it was demolished in the snow this winter!) in LSCR with our bikes to ride 5km to Hydraulic Creek where the trail head is located for the climb up the South Needle (1163m). It was a misty day but no heavy rain like yesterday. We found the trail head and then stashed our bikes in the bush. The climb went straight up. It was very dense forest with "needles" covering the trail. There were many fallen decaying trees along the trail that we managed to maneuver over. It was a steady steep climb for aprox 1hr:45minutes. I needed my hands to pull myself up several times. Wendy and I bush whacked a few times to avoid the wet exposed slippery rocks. Those little blueberry bushes are quite strong - they must have deep roots as I choked many of them today on the way up and down! There were some sections today that had a very steep drop off. Ean described it as a kilometer drop without a bounce! Today the fog disguised the steep drops which really helped Wendy and I. I'm sure if we could have seen what was below us we would not have been happy climbers! Coming down was not as slippery as I had anticipated when we were going up. I kept thinking this is going to be terrible going down but the thick "needles" really helped prevent severe slipping. When in doubt Wendy and I just go down on our butts and slide! This is a technique we have used on a few descents now! Round trip back to the Gazebo approximately 4 hours. A great way to end the Bagger Challenge for us. The weather forecast is for a few good days this week but Neil and I have a full slate at work and can't get away - unlike a few other Baggers we know! Bagger Challenge wrap up party and prize giving is Friday night!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Today Neil and I participated in a 30km run in Chilliwack around Cultus Lake. When the alarm went it was pouring in rain...we were tempted to not get up and go but we did get our butts up and going! It was just the 2 of us in the car - Andy had commitments with his family today. We arrived at Cultus Lake and it was still pouring in rain. Checked in - nice sweatshirt! The temperature was quite warm @ 14 degrees C so I decided to run with a short sleeve shirt and just arm warmers to start. The start was delayed by about 20 minutes - people were still checking in. During this delay a runner comes up to Neil and says "hi you remember me?" It was a guy who was in a Physics class Neil was in when doing his Pre-Veterinary requirements. Wow that was a few years back and oh so cool they remembered each other! Despite the start delay the race was very well organized with plenty of volunteers and 4 aid stations. We were warned of the mud out there on the there was mud! I found myself running high in the bush to avoid the trails - I was slow in this stuff but I was having fun! I could hear a group of females behind me who were doing the relay screaming and laughing throughout this section! (you could do the 30km as a team!) The puddles were really deep - up to our shins. I'm not that good when the conditions get slippery but I pushed through and did not wipe out despite seeing others with mud wounds! I forgot how the second half is up-up-up! On this section we came upon a runner with his iPOD cranked absolutely singing at the top of his lungs and very poorly! We were climbing some hills and he was behind me...I couldn't stand it any longer and stopped and asked him to not sing out loud! He was annoyed with me and charged by me...I caught him later! :) He was still singing way too loud! (a bit disrespectful to those around him!) Thankfully the temperature was mild or else we could have faced really cold feet and hypothermia with being so very soaked! The skies have cleared and the plan is to bag our final Peak in the Bagger Challenge tomorrow in Lynn Valley - the South Needle.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Day Full of Bagging!

The Lions from the start of the Howe Sound Crest Trail The view from St. Marks Mountain - Bowen Island below - our friends Marilyn and Ron are on the ferry to the island (to climb Mt. Gardner) - the white dot is the ferry. The top of Little Goat - Pacific Ocean below. Crown Mountain and Camel Mountain The Needles with the Seymour Range in the background. Neil on our way to Goat Mountain Almost down, the Capilano Reservoir below.

Today we set off early to Cypress to venture along the Howe Sound Crest Trail to bag a couple of Peaks. It was a cold morning the temperature was at zero as we set off. We had never been on this portion of the Howe Sound Crest Trail - we really enjoyed it and the occasional views of Howe Sound and the islands below. We came upon St. Marks Peak sooner than we thought. Incredible views from here at 4,450 feet. Since we had made such good time we decided to carry on to Unnecessary Peak. The trail steeply descended - it was in the shade and covered with ice. Yikes! After some of the scary moments yesterday I felt really frightened about going down this icy section. I convince Neil that I am turning around but being the stubborn Scot that he is he carried on to Unnecessary. The plan was that I will head back on the Howe Sound Crest Trail with a group we had just met up with that were only going as far as St. Marks. I was worried for Neil but he is much better on the ice and snow than I. The jingle "know your limits, stay within it" was running through my head. I think it is an advertisement for alcohol consumption but it seemed suitable to support my decision to not carry on to Unnecessary. I set off with the group of strangers back to return to Cypress. They were walkers and the pace was a bit slow so I carried on down the trail by myself. Lots of hikers out this Thanksgiving weekend but I didn't see any other Baggers! I was back at the car, had a coffee in the lodge and I see Neil approaching down the slope. Great timing - let's go to Grouse to bag a few in there. He said I wouldn't have liked the trail to Unnecessary especially since it was icy! We arrive at Grouse Mtn which is buzzing with people. Up the Skyride we go and head out to climb Dam, Little Goat and Goat Mountain. They were all so close together. Unfortunately it was getting later in the day and many spots were covered in ice. These lower temperatures add an entire new dimension to the climbing! At one point we lost the trail at the top of Little Goat as it was snow covered. Spectacular views and fantastic to see all the peaks we have climbed recently. A great day out bagging - a great weekend of bagging! We should really stay home tomorrow - chores and school work are calling...hmmm...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

2 More Bags - Mount Seymour and Mount Elsay!

This is the view of our local Mt Range - the Golden Ears on our way home today!

Today was an absolutely beautiful Fall Day on our Thanksgiving weekend here in the Vancouver area. Neil and I headed out to bag a few peaks. We were going into territory unknown to us but oh so familiar to others. The plan was to do Mount Elsay, Mount Seymour and Runners Peak. Late last night Ean sent an email cautioning about Runners Peak being very exposed. I heard him! The temperatures were a bit cool early on but once we started to climb we warmed up. I was surprised that the trail up Seymour was so rough (it is quite popular!) I guess I often equate popular with "easy". We took the Elsay Lake trail to Elsay Peak where there were times that I felt completely out of my depth. Today was full of boulder fields and steep trails on rocky slopes where I felt I could slip and be gone! Even traversing the wet snow patches between Pump 2 and Pump 3 on Seymour were treacherous today. We were also quite high today 4755 feet which can give you a bit of vertigo when you look straight down. There were a few times today when I said to myself "don't look down"!
Neil pointed out many Peaks that the front baggers of this competition have done from our various view points. They make it sound in their reports like they are just skipping over the Peaks - believe me it is not that simple!
We do hope to get out again this weekend as the weather is forecast to turn and it looks like we are into rain and yes SNOW from Tues-Sat. It seems like we were just surviving the heat of summer!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lynn Peak

Today Neil and I both took the day off work to make it an extra long weekend. Monday is a holiday - Canadian Thanksgiving which in our Canadian family is celebrated with a family gathering where we feast on Turkey and all the trimmings ending with the famous Pumpkin Pie (Neil still has not adapted to the custom of Pumpkin Pie!)We set out at a decent time but were soon stuck in traffic due to several accidents this AM. The plans were for some shopping and a side trip to bag a peak - Lynn Peak! The shopping trip included a stop at "Everything Wine" where we stocked up with a few cases (some of Neil's family members are coming for Christmas -oh what a good excuse!)We also made a quick trip to Whole Foods for some Thanksgiving treats. The climb up Lynn Peak was very quiet until we arrived at the view point to a very aggressive Raven who was determined to take me down for my sandwich. The actual peak of Lynn is in the trees with no view. You only know you are at the Peak due to the pink ribbon around the tree that said "Lynn Peak Summit." We had the option to carry on to another Peak but decided it had to be a day of "balance" to fit in the other chores required. On the descent we noticed the cold wind picking up - they were calling for Artic Outflow winds today perhaps this was the cold air coming in. We could hear a helicopter overhead and my first thought was I sure hope that is not for someone participating in the "Bagger Challenge". It was flying back and forth and we could tell it must be looking for someone or something. As we ran towards our car in the parking lot we were stopped by an RCMP Officer asking us where we had been and did we see anyone along the route. We described a couple we had just passed with dogs but overall a quiet journey. Apparently they were tracking a few people who had just done a break/enter/burglary at the College close by. They had tracking dogs and the helicopter overhead had an infra red camera on the bottom of it. Neil and I had a chuckle thinking they probably thought we were their "catch" and were tracking us in the woods. We did notice the helicopter was close overhead. Planning to head up Mount Seymour and perhaps another Peak close by tomorrow called Runner Peak. Weather forecast is clear - should be another great day of "bagging"!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bagger Challenge - Hats off to HAT!

A beautiful view of Howe Sound from the top! Heading up in the snow! At the top of HAT in our HATS! Making our way down in the dark! Friday night it was a bit of a scramble to figure out what peak (peaks) we were going to try for this weekend. Neil had been away in Alberta for the week so it was a bit of a last minute plan. We departed Maple Ridge with the intent of climbing Brunswick, Harvey and Hat. We had a quick stop at Starbucks for a coffee to go and headed for Lions Bay. The directions in the 103 Hikes book to the trail head were unfortunately before the construction on the highway to Whistler (for the upcoming Olympics!) Good thing they have put a few U-turn routes in so we could double back to find the exit. We were just parking the car at the trail head when Ean Jackson called and said...come join us, we are a few minutes up the road at Porteau Cove heading in the same direction but just a different route. We decided to join them and caught up with them shortly after we set off. Ean, Sybille and their children Eric and Johanna and Wendy Montgomery were going to stay the night at the shelter at the end of Brunswick Lake. Ah...this would be a great place for climbing some peaks Saturday and Sunday. They were all packing heavy packs so the climb to the shelter was at an easy pace for Neil and I (we were travelling light). After some considerable climbing we found ourselves in a bit of snow. We had heard some local mountains received snow this past week but Neil had checked with the CBC and hmm...we thought we would be OK. Once we made it to the shelter where the others were planning to stay the night it was obvious that we would not be doing too many peaks today. I felt a bit chilled and my feet and hands were cold from getting wet over a few creek crossings. Out came my jacket but that's all I have for extra warmth. Ean and family arrive at the shelter and Ean, Eric, Neil, Wendy and myself make the decision to carry on up to climb HAT. Within a few minutes we were in snow shin deep. Should have worn the full leg tights! My feet and hands were frozen as we climbed - comments from the others indicated we were all feeling the same numbness. My mind starts to think very practical at this moment. It is after 3pm as we start climbing. Neil and I have no over night gear, limited food and water and no head lamps to get us back to our car in the dark. The snow is getting deeper as we reach a peak. We see a cairn and make a wise decision to not carry on to the higher peak due to very cold temps and the snow. Interesting moment...Ean was at this exact spot 1 week ago and he could not find the trail in the snow. Common sense prevailed and we took the HAT photos and retraced our foot prints out. Some went down quite quickly but Wendy and I found ourselves slipping and sliding and personally I just went down on my butt for several steep down hill sections. It was lethal up there...I was so pleased to reach the shelter and we were greeted with chicken noodle soup that Sybille had cooked up on the camp stove. It was just what we needed to warm us up and provide us with a bit of salt. Neil and I were now starting to feel a bit nervous about our return trip to the car. Would we get out by dark? We had no lights and no warm clothing. Wendy was the hero of the day and gave us spare lights she had packed and a very tasty turkey sandwich! Once we headed off from the shelter at 4:50pm we were able to run for a great deal of the trail. It started to get really dark in the woods when we came across quite a rough downhill section on the Howe Sound Crest Trail. I was a bit slow through this section but picked it up once we hit the gravel road a few km's from the finish. Back to the car just after 7PM. I call Marilyn and Ron who we are meeting for dinner in Port Moody to apologize for our tardiness (I said we would be down before dark!)They were starting to become concerned about not hearing from us and were wondering about next steps. Many lessons learned today!! 1. Always carry a headlamp 2.Carry some warm clothes when going so high. 3. Tell someone of your route! (although we changed the plan at the last minute!) - Just be prepared! A big thank-you to Ean for making the decision to turn around! Thank-you to Sybille for the chicken noodle soup and to Wendy for the headlamps and the turkey sandwich! Thanks to Marilyn and Ron for being so patient with us for arriving late for our dinner plans. We showered up at Marilyn and Ron's and went our for dinner at a new restaurant in Newport village - great food = great company - home in bed by 1pm! Oh this Bagger Challenge...lots of stories to tell!