KVR Day 5 – Midway to Grand Forks

Morning river swim at our A+ camp spot, hot and sandy climb out of Midway. The Bakery @ Greenwood was closed but the Deadwood Junction served us very well instead. Long and beautiful descent into GF. GF had good eats and resupply before a late ride out of town to camp.

More 🚲!: I insisted on a morning dip in the river (this was a clutch move on my part, it turned out, as it was the only swim of the day). We rode a very short way into Midway, stopped briefly to admire/acknowledge Mile 0 of the KVR and a KVR museum, ducking into the market to pick up blueberries for Axel and water then started climbing out of Midway on the Columbia and Western Rail Trail. Little shade and sandy trail made for a hot morning. We’d been told that the bakery in Greenwood (14km and 200m elev gain away) was THE STOP of the BC Trail. As we were climbing, Ryley said the going was pretty tough and I donned my positive possum hat and said “ah it’s a beautiful day, we’re riding our bikes, and we’re heading to the bakery, we just have to roll with it! And heck, we might get to the bakery and they’ll randomly be closed on a Wednesday or something, and we’ll roll with that, too!” (he said, “who are you and where were you on the AT….”, LOL). We roll into Greenwood and the bakery is INDEED CLOSED ON TUESDAYS AND WEDNESDAYS. GAH. We rode over to the Deadwood Cafe and had great coffee, treats, picnic area, shade – thankful Greenwood had a great back up 🙂 Axel downed a muffin and milk and had a hoot running around and, you guessed it, watching cars go by on the highway. (Note: we made SURE to stop at the Copper Eagle Bakery on our drive home, and they were out of all their renowned butter tarts, so I don’t even know if I’d recommend this place!).

We climbed out of Greenwood and had a very short but steep and rocky descent and ascent (we pushed our bikes) to cross the highway then headed onwards towards Grand Forks. We came across a mowed section of trail with wild raspberries lining the sides (picked them! ate them!), and had a hard hot climb to a summit before starting our descent into Grand Forks – it started with a very fast gravel road section followed by a beautiful rail grade trail overlooking the Granby River valley. Sections of the rail trail that had been blasted had very rocky sections, alternating with smooth sailing. We’d get going quite fast then come up on a rock section, and even though our bike tires rode well in the wheel tracks, the trailer wheels straddled it and bumped all over in the rocks in the middle and side of the road. I’d stopped to wait for Ryley and he was annoyed because the trailer flag had slipped through the mesh and caught in the wheel, and he’d had to stop to re-stash it. I checked to see if it needed adjusting and noticed we were missing the other half of the flag. I headed back up the trail (Ryley was not on board with this plan) to find it; I went 1.5km back and found: the other half of the flag, and Axel’s hat and sunglasses. I went a bit further wondering what else we might have lost but hoped that was it. Phewph!

It was smoking hot when we rolled into Grand Forks and we found out when we got there that the bike shop they used to have was closed (hmmm). Ryley had asked if we wanted to have a town night – hotel, shower, laundry and I said nah, let’s spend the $ on good dinner and then wild camp. So we had an excellent dinner (craft beer, braised short ribs with scallion pancakes and hoisin sauce, sweet and spicy deep fried cauliflower bites, beet goat cheese salad). We did our resupply (more complicated than hiking because you don’t want to leave your bikes unattended! In this case a woman who was bike packing as well offered to keep an eye on our bikes so we could both shop) then hit the trail pretty late to try to find a spot to camp. We sang to Axel on the way out of town trying to keep him awake as he was seriously nodding off. We had to get out of the farming/agricultural outskirts before we could plop down – beautiful spot even if quite near the highway. Axel now has the routine down pat and LOVES setting up the tent, blowing up thermarests and his pop tent and then rolling around inside the tent. Tonight’s dinner/bedtime routine was quite quick and Axel fell asleep promptly.

Distance: 71.68m, Elevation Gain: 453m, Moving Time: 6h 59m

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KVR Day 4 – Beaverdell to Midway

Highlight today – the Rock Creek Trading Post – a hit all around for adults and toddlers. Coffee milkshakes are worth traveling for! Following the Kettle Valley River valley was beautiful.

More 🚲!: a cooler, overcast day to start was a nice change. Today was the day of many gates! We went through a lot of private properties, many farms, so there were gates to navigate to get through – not the easiest with fully loaded bikes. I was mostly the gate mule since Ryley’s rig with Axel is too long and awkward to turn around. Pretty flat and downhill and we hit a nice section of paved side road. We stopped at a neat cyclist rest and WWII epitaph – covered picnic table area, a caboose, and many things for Axel to climb on. We rode through Westbridge and a huge burn area from 2015; the colours and contrast of the new growth, irrigated farmland and burned hillsides and old trees were beautiful if eerie. We biked along the Kettle Valley River and through a really beautiful (and popular) rec site on to Rock Creek where we briefly stopped in too early at “Rock Creek Station” – a weird kitsy crafty and snack shop – before heading onwards to our actual destination of Rock Creek Trading Post, which boasts micro-roasted coffee, treats, milkshakes, shady seating with a view of the highway traffic driving by and a small running fountain rock garden – which Axel was thrilled with. This was a top stop on the whole trail based on the amount of fun Axel had, and, the espresso milkshake!

We left Rock Creek and I had a stomach/diaphragm cramp (my guess is too much food before biking, not enough digestion time) and after 30-45min of very uncomfortable biking we stopped so I could lay in the shade and digest/recover – Axel decided I made the perfect seat and he’d drink my water while sitting on my stomach – perfect! Our ride the rest of the day was along the Kettle River and was beautiful. We stopped to check out a spot to swim, found a good one which even had a picnic table, and decided it was tucked away just before Midway – a perfect spot to pitch our tent and call it for the night!

Distance: 68.73 km, Elevation Gain: 79 m, Moving Time: 6h 7m

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KVR Day 3 – Hydraulic Lake to Beaverdell (+)

Highlight = Arlington Lake. Beaverdell had good roadside snacks, Axel loved watching trucks.

More 🚲!: Today was mostly downhill, hurray! We came across a lost straw hat mid-trail which fit Ryley and seriously upped his cool factor (and was a much better sun hat than his cycling cap). Smooth and forested trail down to Arlington Lakes where we found a boat launch and picnic table for a great swim, lunch and also a chat with a family heading the other direction (2 teen boys and their parents). We kept riding down until we hit Beaverdell, a little highway stop with a gas station, store, and food truck. Ryley and I enjoyed cold drinks, food and ice cream and Axel was VERY into all the traffic driving by on the highway, especially motorcycles and any kind of big truck. We stocked up on junk food and oranges (for Axel) and headed back to the trail to find a camp spot for the night. We followed the West Kettle River but didn’t find a good camp spot (our “good” definition has expanded, and now doesn’t just include water access and a flat tent spot but also takes safety for a toddler into consideration!), so we settled on a flat spot near a small creek which meant a bird bath as opposed to a swim but ALSO meant no steep drops to a river Axel could fall into; instead we defended him from picking and eating red shrub buds that looked kind of like berries, and mosquitos. Axel is getting into the groove of camping and starting to anticipate the routine – it’s very fun to watch. He is also pulling us out of our low-energy end-of-day fatigue. He’s ready to party at night so we often take turns exploring the surroundings with him while the other preps/cooks/sets up camp. Favourite activities are rock throwing, looking at flowers, walking over big rocks, and finding the perfect spots to sit or perch. He wants to eat out of the big pot even though it’s always too hot and is really into everyone taking turns getting a bite of food. Tonight he’s not keen to go to sleep, the sit pad is his mattress so we want him to fall asleep so we can call it a night and lie down in the most comfortable spot (the tent) and call it a night, too!

Distance: 68.10 km, Elevation Gain: 24 m, Moving Time: 5h 21m

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KVR Day 2 – Chute Lake to Hydraulic Lake

Bumpy and dusty. Myra Canyon and the trestle bridges were 👌. Axel thinks chipmunks are hilarious until they’re on his level trying to steal his snacks.

More 🚲!: Bike packing mornings with Axel are a little different than hiking with no kiddos – our average time from waking up to hiking on the AT was around 15-20min, breakfast was bars while walking. Mornings with Axel start with him waking us up when he feels like it, breastfeed, diaper change and day clothes on while Ryley makes coffee and oatmeal. Breakfast time is not short with so many exciting distractions around! Axel “helps” pack up sleeping bags, thermarests and tents (which he’s very into), but then is less excited about how long it takes to get all that stuff packed onto our bikes. While we’re still strapping things down he is demanding his first round of snacks, put on his helmet and to “riiiide” and get put in his bike chariot. We hit the road about 2h after waking up.

The trail leaving Chute Lake is also the road in and is well used – i.e. bumpy and dusty. Luckily I’m behind Ryley to scoop up Axel’s hat and sunglasses that bounced unnoticed out of the trailer. We hit the Myra Canyon section around noon and biked through the 12km and 18 trestles with a stop in a shelter to seek shade for lunch and get chased by chipmunks who had clearly been fed many snacks – Axel was not impressed unless he was in someone’s arms looking down on them. A hot afternoon ride was helped by some nice shady sections of trail – obviously less well used as there were many small downed trees across the trail, which we mostly had to walk over. We had a few more casualties of things flying off our bikes which we managed to find and scoop up. We stopped at Hydraulic Lake rec site for the night where we found a shady campspot, got some beta for later in the trip from a dad who’d bike the trail with his kid in a chariot trailer, and went for a much needed swim. We spent most of our time hiding from the hot sun at camp, though.

Distance: 52.44 km, Elevation Gain: 123 m, Moving Time: 4h 57m

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KVR Day 1 – Penticton to Chute Lake

Axel goes bikepacking! Ryley cramped, it was hot, Axel got properly filthy, and the swim at the end of the day was excellent.

More 🚲! (i.e. the detailed version): We left Jaimie’s at 9:30am under an extreme heat warning and forecasted high of 36C. The trail was groovy to start with, with plenty of (mostly e-)bike day traffic. We stopped for a break in the cool shade of Little Tunnel above the Naramata bench; the bike traffic thinned significantly after that. The rail trail used very few (3 total) switchbacks to climb up the 825m elevation to maintain the 2% grade needed but to minimize the braking needed to descend – neat history we learned about the original trail survey planned to be much windier. We went through Rock Ovens Park and stopped for breaks and to check out a few of the rock ovens – leftover from rail workers used to cook fresh bread when they were working on the railway. The breaks were needed for all of us – besides the afternoon heat, it turns out that extremely consistent 2% grade climbing is a recipe for very sore seat bones as there aren’t any changes in position to relieve the pressure points. It’s also quite hard to get into “climbing” position to give your butt a break when you’re in your lowest gear pulling a lot of weight up a hill. We were also both finding that the weight through our hands on our handlebars was making our wrists and forearms go to sleep. I found this more than Ryley and spent a lot of time and effort changing my hand grip and position and weight every 5 seconds or so, and trying to shake out my arms to get the blood flowing down to my fingers.

Higher up, the trail got sandier – which was kind of horrible to bike through. The effort to bike through the sand pulling Axel combined with the heat resulted in Ryley’s quads super cramping. I helped him off his bike and he lay in a patch of shade while Axel happily played in the dirt and ate snacks. We tried to switch the bike chariot to my bike but we couldn’t get the axle undone, so we walked the bikes – Ryley walked mine, I walked his + Axel – through the next stretch and deep sand. Fun! Type 2, some would say! We were passed by a group of e-bikers heading to Chute Lake; we passed 2 of them and the rest of their group returned with a recharged spare battery and a tow line because their bikes had run out of juice and they couln’t make it to the lake – says something about how hard it was! We made many more stops in the shade and at last made it to Chute Lake Lodge, where we had a burger and salad before heading to the rec site to camp, swim, rest and recovery (and make second dinner). Axel was VERY into the geese at the lake even though they kept hissing at him.

Distance: 43.42km, Elevation Gain: 825m, Moving Time: 5h

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Triple Crown Gear Hall of Fame


I wanted to highlight the gear I used on all 3 trails. That’s over 7000 miles of hiking, and I think anything that lasts through all that deserves some special attention!

Leki Makalu Mountain Tour Poles

Leki Makalu Mountain Tour Poles
They just worked. I tried the lighter carbon fibre poles and after breaking 3 of them, I went back to the burly Lekis, and I’m so glad I did. I’ve worn them down quite a bit, the paint is flaking, the handles are worn, but they keep on trucking.

Western Mountaineering Megalite Down Sleeping Bag
I can’t say enough about Western Mountaineering. Even when I switched out my sleeping bag for a warmer one, I still went with the same company. Great stuff, durable enough to last 3 thru hikes, but still warm and light.  We even used it as a quilt when it was too hot for both of us to have warm sleeping bags!

OR Sunhat 
My hat for all 3 trips, although it did finally die halfway through the AT…

A little worse for wear

A little worse for wear

Ursack S29
This bag was an amazing peace of mind item throughout my Triple Crown. So many times, especially on the AT, I went to get it in the morning and found evidence that rodents had been trying to get in. Our hiking friends had to replace their food bags multiple times.

Other things that made it through all 3 trips but aren’t as interesting:

  • MSR Spork
  • Swiss Army Classic Knife
  • Photon Micro Light
  • Parts of my First Aid Kit
  • OR Headnet
  • Suunto MCA Compass

Honorable Mentions
This is some stuff that I used on 2 of the 3 trips that I loved:

  • Tarptent Contrail – My home on my two solo thru hikes. Stood up strong the whole way.
  • Neoair Short – For the CDT and AT, this was so much more comfortable than old self-inflating sleeping mats.
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Day 120 – DONE!!!


We were glad we didn’t set up our tent last night since it rained all night again. We didn’t set an alarm, knowing we only had 17 miles today. It was nice to have a late morning and head out around 8:30 – it wasn’t really raining anymore even though it sounded loud under the shelter roof, but it was still very wet out. We are a big crew of 6, and today is THE LAST DAY! We hiked on in good spirits knowing we were almost done! We did get to a river crossing where the water was too high from the rain to rock-hop – very reminiscent of Maine! Brown just ploughed through – he is so excited to be so close to home and he just couldn’t care less if his shoes got soaked. The rest of us found a fallen tree downstream and navigated across.


Ryley and I stopped in for an early lunch, knowing we weren’t in a rush. We ducked in to a shelter shared with 2 hikers out for their first ever backpack trip. They were wet but in good spirits.

We carried on, crossing paths with lots of sections hikers – apparently everyone is out to enjoy the nice weather! A few of them told us the Highwaymen and Brown are waiting, not patiently, for us to summit and finish the trail with. So I guess they didn’t stop for lunch…


We hit the last mile of the trail, uphill to Springer Mountain, rock- and root-hopping through very wet trail, then we got to the “top”, and the end of the trail! 2,189 miles from mile 0 on top of Mt Katadyn in Maine. Springer has a plaque and the first white blaze – but not much of a view, although there was nothing to see today, anyways. We took quite a few group photos, exchanged high-5’s, had a Coke (and some fireball went around, too). Then, I performed a quick ceremony to celebrate Ryley’s completion of his TRIPLE CROWN!! Complete with crown, sceptre and wand. And rain, of course.

We didn’t hang out too long before getting cold, so we hiked down 1.5 miles of the “Approach Trail” to Black gap shelter. We got here early – 4pm! The plan is to meet Brown’s family at the parking lot at 11am tomorrow morning, which we have 7 miles to hike to.

We nommed all our leftover snacks, and fancy Mountain House dinners and apple crisp for dessert, too! Got into warm, dry clothes and watched the rain for the evening.

DONE! Crazy.

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Day 119


It rained much of the night but we woke to clouds and fog. We hit the trail early and missed quite a few views due to the fog. It actually didn’t rain at all the whole day, so we are pretty thankful. We found some nice views on Cowrock Mountain, then crossed into Neels Gap. There is a gear store right in the gap, and the trail actually goes through the building. For Northbounders, it is famous for helping them fix whatever gear issues they have, usually lightening their packs considerably. We didn’t need anything but we did have some sodas and grab some snacks for the end. We also got a free I’ve cream bar for being SoBos.


We went outside to eat lunch and Brown and the Highwaymen were walking up the road. They had spent the night in town and gotten a late start. We ate our snacks and lunch quickly, then got hiking with them, catching up on what each other had been up to. We hiked 16 more miles with them, over Blood Mountain, in the clouds. We’d heard about it forever as a really hard climb… But we crushed it because we are in great shape!


One more day.

We are all in the shelter talking about finishing the trail.

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Day 118

It was clouded in and grey when we got up but not raining as we headed next door for breakfast. Breakfast at the Top of Georgia comes with a printed sheet of the “local weather  forecast for the Appalachian Trail”. Today, the forecast was: 100% chance of scattered thunderstorms. We put on our wet shoes then Thomas from the hostel gave us a lift the 1/2 mile to the trail and we were hiking by 8am.


The first thing we did was hike up and out of dick’s gap and (drumroll, please!) above the clouds!!! We checked out a Vista side trail and had a nice view to the east overlooking the valley. We hiked the “toughest 16 miles of Georgia” – dick’s gap to Unicoi gap – before 3pm. This included the whoop-de-whoops. Apparently, once you’ve hiked 2100 miles, three back to back 1000ft climbs only made my radar as “whoop-de-whoops”. So, I guess we’re in hiking shape then??


After Unicoi gap we hiked another 14 miles to finish our day at Low Gap, 43 miles from the end! From around 4pm the 6pm we were listening to some pretty ominous thunder, and we were walking pretty quickly to try to beat the rain. Luckily, the last 4-5 miles of our day was really easy road grade trail. We missed the rain, though – we got to the shelter and the storm just kind of passed us by. We’re sharing a shelter with a flip-flopper named No Hurry, and 2 section hikers from New Hampshire.

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Day 117

In honour of the continued crappy weather, here are some videos. First, two from our wet walk into Damascus: https://youtu.be/DApVfu0ItA0 and https://youtu.be/TX_DIiEBIfs

Then, how we hope our hike will end, with a beautiful day like we had at Beauty Spot Gap: https://youtu.be/scFlgkAvpFw

Today we were up at dawn in the rain, hiking two hours to Hiawassee, GA for our final resupply. Apparently we missed Brown and the Highwaymen by an hour, but we are staying the night here, so really we are still a day behind…  We are charging our devices, drying out wet things and preparing for the final push to the end!

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