Down the Cassiar, Westy troubles and Whistler Canada Cup

 
Boya Lake Provincial Park.

Boya Lake Provincial Park.

Boya Lake Provincial Park, Northern BC.

Boya Lake Provincial Park, Northern BC.

Full moon rising over the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.

Full moon rising over the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.

Aïsha keeping us entertained on long drives with her ukulele songs.

Aïsha keeping us entertained on long drives with her ukulele songs.

Leaving Burns Lake pulling our broken Westy on a U-Haul platform, still unsure where we will be able to get it fixed and even less when…

Leaving Burns Lake pulling our broken Westy on a U-Haul platform, still unsure where we will be able to get it fixed and even less when…

Mathilde showing great form on a steep line during the Whistler Canada Cup.

Mathilde showing great form on a steep line during the Whistler Canada Cup.

Mathilde, proud to finish that tough race!

Mathilde, proud to finish that tough race!

Aïsha at the beginning of the race.

Aïsha at the beginning of the race.

Mara feeling tired.

Mara feeling tired.

Mara on the left and Aïsha on the right.

Mara on the left and Aïsha on the right.

Mara

Mara

Mara dug deep to finish that race.

Mara dug deep to finish that race.

Teammate Zachary Brunelle taking one of the technical A line on the course.

Teammate Zachary Brunelle taking one of the technical A line on the course.

Mathilde in 3rd place!

Mathilde in 3rd place!

The Whistler Canada Cup course was the most technical race the girls had ever done. On top of that, there was 240 m of climbing PER lap. Some sections of the course were only a few days old and very loose. The whole course was incredibly dusty. Aïsha crashed during the preride; she was in pain during the race and had lost her confidence, so she decided to opt out after one lap to avoid another crash and save herself for next weekend Canada Cup in Canmore. Mathilde coughed all night (and kept everybody awake) and was feeling miserable on the morning of the race (we all brought back a nasty virus from Whitehorse). She freaked out a bit after the first big climb when she stopped and felt like she was choking, but thankfully, coach Dan Sams @terraridersyukon was right there and talked her through it and she kept on going. She finished her race and grabbed the 3rd place. She was super proud to have finished such a tough course in her physical condition. After a sleepless night, too much preriding the day before and still healing from her nasty crash at Baie St-Paul, Mara was able to hang on to 4th place. Quite a feat in her condition! The field of Expert Women U17 was very strong with a few BC riders who are super strong technically. It was a good experience and the girls know what they need to work on for next year!

We were super proud of the girls’ Yukon teammates from U Kon Echelon who came all the way down here to race, not expecting such a tough course, but did it nonetheless! Way to go, friends!

And the girls now have Instagram accounts: @aisha.roldan, @mara.roldan.mtb @mathilde.roldan
Go give them a follow if you want!



 

Morchuea Lake Recreation site on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway

Beautiful Mount Edziza in the distance.

Beautiful Mount Edziza in the distance.

Picking fireweed to make a tea mix.

Picking fireweed to make a tea mix.

Picking mossberries for syrup. These berries are very juicy, but not very tasty on their own, but once cooked with a bit of sugar, they turn into a delicious syrup. A great addition to Gin & Tonic.

Picking mossberries for syrup. These berries are very juicy, but not very tasty on their own, but once cooked with a bit of sugar, they turn into a delicious syrup. A great addition to Gin & Tonic.

Clouberries are also called salmon berries or baked-apple berries. It's hard to get lots because every plant only has one berry. Again, this pretty berry's taste is pretty disappointing raw, but once cooked with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, they do taste just like baked apple!

Clouberries are also called salmon berries or baked-apple berries. It's hard to get lots because every plant only has one berry. Again, this pretty berry's taste is pretty disappointing raw, but once cooked with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, they do taste just like baked apple!

The Stewart-Cassiar  1 ½ oz  P ort Chilkoot Distillery Gin  ¾ oz Lillet Blanc ½ oz lemon juice ½ oz real maple syrup ½ oz rosemary syrup 3 dashes of homemade lemongrass-cardamom bitters 1 egg white   Dry shake, then add ice and shake again. Add a rosemary twig for garnish.

The Stewart-Cassiar
1 ½ oz Port Chilkoot Distillery Gin
¾ oz Lillet Blanc
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz real maple syrup
½ oz rosemary syrup
3 dashes of homemade lemongrass-cardamom bitters
1 egg white

Dry shake, then add ice and shake again. Add a rosemary twig for garnish.

We found lots of gentian! I use the root to make bitters.

We found lots of gentian! I use the root to make bitters.

Mathilde's Boreal tea mix: Labrador tea leaves, raspberry leaves, pineapple weed, fireweed flowers  and red clover flowers.

Mathilde's Boreal tea mix: Labrador tea leaves, raspberry leaves, pineapple weed, fireweed flowers  and red clover flowers.

Our friends were traveling up the Cassiar and we met at Morchuea Lake for a night. Here, the girls were doing the dishes together.

Our friends were traveling up the Cassiar and we met at Morchuea Lake for a night. Here, the girls were doing the dishes together.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love a good free campsite. With the bus, we don't need the services that a campground offers, but we long for the quiet of the wild, so recreation sites are the perfect solution for us in BC where campsites are pretty pricey (and busy!). Morchuea Lake is located just North of Iskut on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway and has 8 campsites (2 that are closer to the lake). There were quite a bit of bugs (black flies, deer flies, mosquitoes...), but the gorgeous lake with Mount Edziza as a backdrop (and a kitchen tent!) made it worth a 2 night stop. 

Mount Edziza is an icon of BC culture and Canada's second largest young volcano. It is surrounded by lots of cinder cones. It is not accessible by road and the best way to get to Mount Edziza Provincial Park is by plane from Telegraph Creek. There is some spectaclular hiking to do around it and it's an area we'd love to explore more one day.

Boya Lake Provincial Park, BC, the Bora Bora of the North!

I mean, look how clear this water is!!

I mean, look how clear this water is!!

Picking Saskatoon berries on the trail to the beaver dam.

Picking Saskatoon berries on the trail to the beaver dam.

Isn't that place spectacular or what? OK, there are some leeches in the lake and lots of deer flies, but hey, Bora Bora has dengue mosquitoes and sting rays, so we're even. 

For more info on that campground, read my review on Campendium. Make sure your fridge is full of groceries and your tank full of water, because this is quite far off in the boonies. 

And South we go...

Our last few weeks in the Yukon were a series of awesome dinners and shared moments with friends.

These friendships that survive the distance mean so much to all of us.

A last evening at our dear friend Josée's.

Coloring at night in the bus.

Last sunset on the Alaska Highway.

Following a Westy from Argentina.

We stopped at Boya Lake on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway for a little hike.

And pick berries, of course!

It was the first time our California friends saw a beaver dam! 

We stopped for 4 days in Burns Lake to ride at Boer Mountain. It rained the whole time, so that's pretty much the only biking picture I took... You might remember our epic adventures here last year! Day 1 is here, then Day 2 (the shit hits the fan), Day 3, Day 4 and there are more posts on that beautiful place (just click Newer at the bottom of the posts)!

Medicine making with arnica, yarrow, fireweed and rosehips and dutch oven apple crips with freshly picked thimbleberries and blueberries.

Prosciutto and sage leaves wrapped chicken and potatoes over the fire.

Lots and lots of dirty laundry. We rode in the mud for 3 days!

Diedra found out that the thrift store was doing a 5$/bag of clothes week. The kids were creating a play, so it was perfect! They are so creative!

The sun came out for 30 minutes and we could litterally see the earth exhale.

Kager Lake, right by the campsites at Boer Mountain. There are tent campsites all around the lake accessible through a fun bike trail. During our time there, they were doing controlled burns all around the lake and it was pretty surreal to come across these big campfires every 200 meters as we picked berries in the rain! They kept us warm!

Transitions. Every parenting book I read when the girls were little had a chapter on that. Every parent knows all too well the meltdowns that followed the announcement that we had to move on to something different, be it jumping in the car to go visit grandma or wash hands before dinner... In the Waldorf world, we had little transition songs for each of these moments, imaginative stories of foxes chasing little mice in the bedroom for storytime... It’s not easy to leave behind something that felt good and comfortable, something you were engrossed in and could keep on doing. That’s how it felt to leave the Yukon. We weren’t sad per se, but we could have stayed a little longer (in a warm house, not in the bus!). Most places we leave feel like that after a while, Tucson, Moab, Virgin... Our life is a series of transitions, of hellos and goodbyes and see-you-laters. An interesting choice for a girl that had lots of separation anxiety as a child... But, hey, I’ve always been the kind to grab the bull by the horns!

Or rather, I’ve always had that pull to explore, to get out of my comfort zone. Leaving for a year in Italy at 17, attempting to hike the GR20 in Corsica at 21, a little underprepared... Hitting the road in an old bus we had just bought! It’s not an adventure if there’s not a bit (or a lot!) of unknown in it, right?

Heading South: Down the Cassiar in two buses

JF had an... ahem... interesting technique to teach Java to swim...

Java was NOT impressed...

We munched on high bush cranberries and perfectly riped rosehips on our hike

There were lots of puppy breaks...

A part of our tow system broke and JF had to unhook the Westy that I now had to drive...

LOTS of puppy stops...

My famous voodoo sandwiches!

When I pulled out the Alaska, Yukon and Northern BC map, I smiled when I saw the notes the girls had written on it on their way up while I was in Quebec (Fort St John's: ate dinner, Pink Mountain: made beds, Fort Nelson: sleep, Teslin: gas, Whitehorse: we made it!).

We stopped at Boya Lake Provincial Park to hike a bit and eat dinner by this gem of a lake. A little before Dease Lake, a part of our tow system broke and JF unhooked the Westy that I now had to drive. I followed the bus for hours. As the sun slowly set on the mountains, I could see the silhouette of one of the girls' head through the bus window. It felt strange to peek inside the bus from the outside, as if I was lookoing at my life from afar. I smiled at the sight. 

A slanky bear crossed in front of us, further down, a few cubs scampered off into the woods. The day started to turn into night and we kept driving under the stars. I lost myself in thoughts and felt the road swallowing me in her dark belly. 

Down the Cassiar

We arrived at Meziadin Provincial Park after 30 hours straight in the bus. We had slept in a rest area in the rain and only JF had stepped out to fill up at the Cassiar Junction. The girls and I remained bundled up, cold and sick, our bodies responding to the grey weather outside.

We had great memories of that Provincial Park and hoped to find plenty of thimbleberries like we did 2 years ago at the same time.

The sweet smelling air brought a smile to our faces as we ate dinner outside by the lake.

We were too late for the thimbleberries, but there was a perfect sunset walk on the shore, an eagle feather found, rocks made into knives and a bear cub passing through the campground. Morning brought crepes eaten with homemade cranberry sauce (from the highbush cranberries we picked in Alaska), dinosaurs swimming in the lake and more shore exploration.

Just what I needed to be reminded of the reasons we have chosen this life on the road.