We’ve been huge fans of the hydration systems by SOURCE for years now. Their water bladders last forever and are super handy companions on every hiking trip. In fact, we also use them in everyday life when we go running or biking. Now, the company asked us to write a little something about what “sustainable travel” means for us. In return, they gifted us a new hydration system about which we will write a product review soon. Best part though, they published our article on their blog, sweeeeeet
Thanks a bunch for this reSOURCEful collaboration!
Photocredit of first pic: Shantina Rae Photography, Quadra Island. Thanks again, you crazy talented person!!
So here we were: Heartbroken from our recent realisation that we could not provide a suitable home for a dog like Freya, a rescue who needed a calm environment and patient re-socialization more than anything. Despite all our efforts, all our love, we couldn’t provide what she needed and had to return her to the shelter. We miss her every day and are happy to report that she was re-adopted last month.
Despite our heavy hearts, we were excited about our friend Felix’ visit who came all the way from Munich to travel with us for 3 weeks and who did an excellent job at comforting us and cheering us up with his dark and oftentimes incredibly blunt humour. Initially, we had planned to travel the Chilcotin area and the famous Banff and Jasper Nationalpark with him, yet, we had to change our travel plans drastically…
Wildfires were roaring all over BC at that point.
After our first trip to Strathcona Park, we were hooked. It’s a truely beautiful stretch of land and offers a lot of remote backcountry trails although it’s right in the middle of Vancouver Island. So, we decided to come back and tackle another mountain: Mount Myra towers at a height of 5938 ft / 1810 m above the park although it’s – by far – not the highest peak in Strathcona. Nontheless, you should take 2-3 days to climb it (return) and be prepared for snow on top during all seasons. We hiked it over the course of three days because we wanted to give Freya enough breaks.
One thing you can say upfront about Mt. Myra: It’s a bloody knee cruncher (!) of a hike. The first few kilometers lead you up an old bobcat trail and are just loose rocks. So steep! We honestly couldn’t decide if we hated the strenuous up or the slippery down more…
Gesa had to carry the big pack because Sebastian had injured his back the week before… Oh, how she sweared on the way up!
Last obstacle before the hike would become more enjoyable…
The only thing that kept us going was the hope that there would be less moskitoes up top because the little pests were all over us as soon as we had shouldered our backpacks. Far from it though:
The bastards kept following us. All. the. way. up.
Although it’s been a while since we had “a whale of a time” on Cortes Island, it took us forever to edit and upload out video about this trip. But good luck finding fast wifi in the middle of nowhere! By now, we’re full-time travelling with our campervan ‘Billy’ through the Yukon and Alaska and it’s definitely getting more remote up here… So this time, we even have a legid excuse for our delay 😉
Anyways, here’s the video! Enjoy 🙂
As much as we love Quadra Island, we feel that one thing is missing here: “proper” mountains. We started to craaaaaave some higher peaks again and decided to explore BC’s oldest and Vanisland’s biggest provincial park: Strathcona. The first Europeans didn’t get here before the 1860s but way before that, the area was already the traditional territory of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation.
The region was declared as a Provincial Park in 1911 but that did not prevent the government to allow logging and even mining in some areas! This explains why you come across an active (!) mine deep inside the park. Trust us, the sight of that disturbed us more than the fact that we had to pass through a security checkpoint to reach the trailhead to Mt. Myra… Luckily, further governmental plans to remove more parts from the park for industrial use were stopped by activists so today, Strathcona remains a huge nature conservation area. In fact, they have just recently added parts on to it. Yes!
Except the mine and some remnants of logging, Strathcona looks like the most pristine paradise for outdoor lovers: Year-round glaciers, roaring waterfalls, alpine mountaineering, crystall-clear lakes…
“Vibrant Community. Wild Landscape. And a little magic.”
Just like Tofino, our neighbouring island Cortes promises a lot on their tourist information website. Nontheless, it took us months (!) to actually jump on the ferry one morning to check it out. Cortes is even more off-the-beaten-path than Quadra Island. It has only about 1,000 year-round residents. The island was home to the Klahoose way before the first Europeans arrived and this first nation band continues to live on it today. Only in 1866, a permanent homestead by a white settler was built and it took another 100 years until electricity came to the island! Today, Cortes is home to a plentiful abundance of talented artists, yoga teachers, self-sufficient farmers and all sorts of free spirits. Some people affectionately call it BC’s “hippie island” and sure enough, we encountered more than one colourful batik t-shirt and Buddhist prayer flag flapping merrily in the breeze…
One information beforehand: Gesa is NOT pregnant. But we did add another team member and are now an adventure trio: Gesa, Sebastian and … *drumroll* … Freya. Freya is a little furbaby aka an 8month old Shepherd-Mix. She’s a rescue dog from a shelter in Vancouver and we fell in love with her cute little eyebrows and almond-shaped eyes instantly.
Nope, it wasn’t a spontaneous decision – we had wanted a dog for a long time and kept postponing that plan year after year because we were not ready for the commitment. We lived with dogs in the past and are well aware of how much time and energy they require. Furthermore, we knew that travelling would become a whole lot different. But here in Canada, we felt like we finally had the flexibility and time to make that step.
“Deep inlets with timeless views, on the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations. Sandy beaches that seem to go on forever while waves crash into rocky headlands. Surfers sitting up on their boards, waiting for the swell. A celebrated food culture that reaches beyond the size of our village. Then, there are the distinctly West Coast restaurants, cabins and galleries dotting our salt-bathed streets. It’s out there, and it’s a place you’ll never forget. When you come here, expect Tofino – because there’s nothing like it.” That’s what the official Tofino tourism site promises the visitors.
We sure set off with high expectations!
How HelpX changed our lives
Back in December, we were not really sure about where to go next. Which might sound weird enough for some of you considering the fact how much Canada, this huge chunk of land, has to offer. Right now, however, huge parts of it could be compared to a frozen Oreo cookie: a solid layer of ice wedged in between rocks. Winters here can be harsh and the season does not really invite for big hitchhiking adventures. After our demotivating experience in Whistler, we renounced the temptation to work in the ski industry and settled for some voluntary work on Vancouver Island. Afterwards, we made this other reasonable plan to stay in Victoria over winter; thinking that we could surely find work there. We even started handing out our CVs and had a homestay lined-up. Et cetera, et cetera. All seemed to go into the right direction. And then, one random afternoon, we received a call.
It was a guy from Quadra Island. “I just saw your HelpX profile online and well, since I need a bit of help here: why don’t you guys come up?” Q-U-A-D-R-A. Jeez, sounded like a weird place. Where was that even? After doing a bit of research about the island, it didn’t take us long to decide… YES. Yes, please.
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him you have a plan.”
Coffee Tasting with Helene
Quadra Island does not only offer beautiful scenery but also a very inspiring and welcoming community. Helene, a beautiful French-Canadian woman, is part of it. She’s also the owner of the Aroma Roastery. Helene has invited us to a couple of super interesting (and delicious) coffee tastings by now where she taught us so much more than the difference between ‘fragrance’ and ‘aroma’ (fragrance is the smell of the freshly ground beans and the aroma is what you sniff when you hold your nose over a mug of ready-to-drink coffee). My brother, the modest Pro-Barista, was honestly jealous when we sent him pictures of the elaborate event and we can’t wait for the next one!
Setup for the tasting
These beans got roasted just a day ago!
3 different filters were used
Smelling the ‘fragrance’ of the grounds
2 different unbleached paper filters vs. steel cone vs. french press
The more froth you get, the fresher the roast!
Our favorite method? The steel cone brew!
Pastries, fruits, nuts, … the snacks make the tasting experience perfect!
In Helene’s roastery, she processes organic, Fairtrade beans from a cooperation that supports only female growers. And it was her who inspired us to write this post and made us more conscious about our choice of beans.
Why exactly? Let’s see…