Backpacking: Foggy Mountain Bridges

In the summer of 2017 we travelled in a group of four adults and two tweens just across the Alberta-British Columbia border to the Mount Robson to climb the Berg Lake trail.

for whatever one photo is worth:

After four nights atop the mountain, camping rough and day-hiking the area we were wet, tired and running low on supplies. The kids had been champion backpackers, helping out around camp, tolerating the rehydrated meals and composting toilets, entertaining us on the day we spent hunkered in the smallish cabin with fifty other people during a torrential downpour trying to dry our clothing, and carrying their share of the weight up and down the mountain.

Kids being kids, they made up funny games to pass the long hours of hiking. They sang familiar and made-up songs to “scare off the bears.” And for most of the trek back down the mountain, a one-day descent of about eighteen kilometers of mixed terrain, they not only kept pace but led the whole group by a consistent distance.

Readers who are familiar with the hike may recognize the bridge in this photo.

From the bottom, the first third of the hike is a long, gradual climb to (and then along) a lake.

After the lake, a rolling traversal near or on a riverbed brings hikers to a second gradual ascent to the top of a waterfall.

Those who know the route usually break here because the next part of the hike is a steep, rocky climb with warning signage near the bottom. A switchback trail leads up through the rocks and trees with the sound of a waterfall in the distance. As a sign that one is nearing the top, this small bridge appears ahead marking that one is about to begin the final stretch towards the upper falls and the nearby campsite.

As the tweens forged ahead on our descent, I came upon a clearing overlooking this bridge along a switchback on the trail. The pair who had been forging ahead with vigor were just standing there waiting… restingcontemplating… who can say?

Comics: Camping with Kids

When my daughter was younger I wrote, illustrated and shared an online web comic about fatherhood. It documented some of the quirky things we did and used some of the funny things she said as the heartbeat of the humour.

Whatever humour I managed to inject into these little stories usually came from a blend of “kids say funny stuff” mashed against those parental expecations falling short. I usually salted in a generous helping of dad jokes, to flavour.

I dabbled in a lot of formats (single panel, four-panel full colour, black and white, and other various dimensions) and a diverse range of topics. One of my very early black and white three-panel series was brought to life from a camping trip we had then recently taken.

So, for example the first strip blossomed from my frustration at being the one who always needed to spend half my first afternoon setting up camp (tho let’s be honest… I love that part too!) while the Kid ran off to play with her friends. When she was that age, setting up to her was about getting her treats out of the car, never mind eventually needing a place to sleep. I guess that’s what dads are for.

A second memory was locked in as she remarked at all the effort it took to cook while we roughed it in our campsite. To be fair, when I was a teenager camping out alone with my friends we scarfed bags of chips and ate hot dogs for three meals a day. You’d think I would have learned something in scouts for twelve years and made us all a nice bit of tuck. There’s something to be said about simplicity, I guess, and when you’re young who actually has time for meal prep, anyways… not to mention the cleanup?

The final strip reflected this odd mix of hesitancy and urgency of the Kid exerting her own independence. She always wanted to do everything herself but with dad standing by as a safety net. Out camping is a good place to dabble in this because away from the routine of home there are lots of new experiences to be had, particularly around things as simple as sticking your food into a fire. Obviously, accepting the consequences for your independence is a whole other lesson and dads tend to eat a lot of burnt marshmallows.

Side Note: I’m thinking of digging some of these characters out of retirement and putting together some new strips for this blog. There won’t be any regularity to those posts, but let me know if you’re interested in that. Encouragement and interest are like kindling for creative fire you know.

These original comics and a couple hundred more are still (mostly) online at www.piday.ca.