Archive for August, 2010

Brew Hut with Max – August 21/22

Looking for something to do this weekend, Max and I decided to head up to Brew for the first time. Max has done plenty of hiking in England, so I figured this would be a good first hike in BC. After reading about people being ticketed in the Brandwine parking lot, I decided to get the anual parking pass for $25. Maybe not necessary, but I figured it would reduce the worry of being ticketted/towed.

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Left the car at 10am and it took us a couple minutes to realize that there were some winds in the railroad that the map left out. The trail to the logging road went smoothly. But at the logging road came our next confused moment. We didn’t know which way along the road the trail went. After a few minutes, we saw the big, obvious trail marker just on the other side of the road. Duh! We could have lost a lot of time trying to hike one way or the other along the road.

The trail after the logging road became somewhat harder to find at parts. Our next mistake was to somehow lose the trail, get turned around,find it and head the wrong direction along it. We had a feeling we were going the wrong direction – this was confirmed when we once again arrived at the logging road – woops! This called for lunch.

Carrying on, we snacked on blueberries, huckleberries, and thimbleberries. We wondered if the bears would come after us for stealing their food. Soon came our big mistake. The trail came to a rock field. Seeing some cairns, we somehow got the idea that the trail started going up the rock field (while it actually just skirted around and continued through the forest). It took us some time to realize that we were quite a ways off trail. We looked at the route map and saw that it went straight through a steep section to the lake. Not wanting to turn back, we decided to make our own way to the lake – bad idea! We navigated our way through a series of cliff bands, going through sections of vertical and sections of steep rock littered with bush. What’s more, Max has never climbed before, so the vertical sections were especially tricky. After going through many exposed sections, scraping up our legs from bushes, and getting bitten by hoards of mosquitos, we finally came within sight of Brew Lake – thirsty and realieved. Seeing our bearings, we came upon the lake from the east, as opposed to the south. Looking at the map, we saw that we had made quite the detour.

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We figured that the lake to the hut would be easy. But no, we both managed to mix up North with East. We headed east from the lake, thinking it was north up a ridge. After following it for a bit, we decided to do the smart thing and check our bearings. Low and behold, we realized we had been going completely the wrong way. We came down off the ridge and corrected our course.

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Soon after, not long before dark, we caught a glimpse of the hut. Man were we happy to not be stuck outside as we hadn’t brought a tent. Upon checking the logbook, we saw that the last entry was August 2nd. I’m starting to get the idea that Brew is more of a winter trip than summer.

We had been lucky with the weather, it was great all day Saturday, but once we were in the hut it rained most of the night. Luckily, the rain died down by morning. We decided to try climbing up Brew. Upon realizing that it would be an ugly, trail-less hike to a not very spectacular looking mountain, we headed back to the hut, packed up our things, and set out on our return.

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Despite the fact that it wasn’t raining, we got completely drenched going down. The trail was completely evergrown going down from the lake and the plants were still covered in water. Thought the trail itself didn’t have anything growing on it, plants from either side of the trail bent over top. There were also quite a number of a fallen trees that looked like they had been laying over the trail for quite some time (a good workhike maybe?)

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We arrived back at the railway much faster than it had taken going the opposite direction. 4 hours coming down vs 8 hours going up. We saw a decent sized lake beside the railway and decided to go for a swim. Upon swimming to the other side, we realized that we couldn’t remember where on the shore we had left our bags. And our bags and clothes had completely blended in with the bushes. After a rather humerous, somewhat painful bushwack back to the packs, we headed back to the cars. No ticket – success!

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Day 26-29: From Kingman, AZ to Vancouver, BC

We first thought we’d try to make it back to Vancouver from Kingman, but replace the oil every 50 miles or so. We drove the 60 miles to Needles, CA and then got cold feet and decided to call it quits. We went to a McDonalds, got some ice cream, used the free wifi, and decided that we’d head back to Kingman and take the Greyhound from there. Though we made sure to check out a liquor store and attempt to buy a bottle of wine for the night. We feigned ignorance (Canadians) when they noted that we weren’t 21.

We slept the night outside the mechanics shop again. Our last night in the car! We also found a dramatically better way of setting up the bed in the car. It gave us another 2 feet or so of legroom. We had a wonderful sleep indeed!

Woke up, had our last breakfast with the car. We had the camp table and chairs set up in the shade offered by a U-haul truck (I don’t quite know why, but I don’t think they believe in public shade in this city. Someone should really get on that.) We had our last coffee with the Bialetti and discarded the rest. (It would have been a pain if we tried to take the tin back and have coffee spill all through our bags.) We embarked on the very difficult challenge of fitting all of our belongings including fragile souvenirs in the 4 bag limit. With very efficient packing, we managed to fit everything except 6 canisters of stove fuel, the mattress, and the 2 camping chairs. Quite the feat!

We were going to sell the car for $50 to the mechanic. But we decided to spend our spare hours looking for a higher bid. We were offered $100 by the man at the scrapyard. Though just before making the sale, one of the scrapyard’s patrons offered us $125. Sold! We drove over to the Greyhound stop, handed him the insurance and registration papers and he handed us $125.

4 busses later and nearly 2000 miles later brought us from Kingman, AZ to Las Vegas, NV; Las Vegas to Salt Lake City, UT; Salt Lake City to Butte, MO; Butte to Seattle, WA; Seattle to Vancouver, BC. Home at last! Nothing broken but two scraped knees.

Day 25: Grand Canyon – The Return

We had planned to get up at 4am, giving us enough time to hike down to the Colorado river and back up to the campsite before 10am. Unfortunately Katie’s phone died during the night, so we didn’t wake up till 5:15am. Our stomachs weren’t feeling so well because of all the peanut butter, so we decided to call it good enough and skip the descent to the Colorado river (it was pretty ugly and brown anyways). We breakfasted on some peanut butter, packed up tent, and started the return back. It was beautiful hiking before the sunset, and as we were hiking we saw the sky lighten as the sun rose. We were lucky that for the majority of the hike up we were in the shade. But as we hiked higher, the sun penetrated lower.


These are a few more shots from our viewpoint yesterday. What a beautiful place!

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We saw our first mule train heading down before sunrise. I’d hazard a guess that the mules wouldn’t be particularly fond of the Grand Canyon midday heat. Katie was counting how many mule trains we saw, but I lost count. I think we heard 1 and saw 3. Though I could be wrong.


We had our last snack stop at the 1.5 mile mark from the rim. There were some very friendly squirrels who were harassing Katie. I wouldn’t have it, so I distracted them with sunflower seeds.


Not much of note for the rest of the day. We got back to the rim – huffing, puffing, and sweating. I figured it would be fun to step it up a notch for the last 1.5 miles and we made amazing time. We ascended in about the same time we descended. We started driving back, our car broke down, the usual. After some hassle, some stress, some gas station attendents, some oil, a tow-truck driver, and some more stress, we ended up sleeping in the car outside a mechanic’s shop in Kingman, Arizona. With bellies full and 15 quarts of oil from the Walmart, we were ready to crash.

Day 24: Grand Canyon – The Descent

Woke up in the campground today and were reminded to pay the $10 camping fee. Dam! Had we left before 7am, it would have been free (though morally wrong). We were now able to drive to the rim of the Canyon thanks to our brand new national parks pass. We talked to some tourist offices, and found out that we’d be able to hike to the campground halfway down and make a reservation. We were overjoyed as we had the impression that all the campgrounds would be booked out many days in advance.

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We strolled around the rim, waiting for the intensely hot hours from 10am-4pm to pass. Around 3pm or so we began our hike down. Though hot, the hike was beautiful. We passed tourists by the busload through our decent. There’s a reason they call Arizona the Grand Canyon State (because half the populatin of Arizona is at the Grand Canyon at any one time).

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As I was really against paying rediculous prices for food at the tourist shops on the rim and because we didn’t have any supply of food in the car, we decided to get the best energy per dollar food we could find. This turned out to be a jar of peanut butter – $2.50 for something like 4000 calories. Perfect! We decided to get some sunflower seeds as well because who wants to eat peanut butter alone?

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We reached the campsite tired and ready for dinner. We had a few spoons of peanut butter each, a handful of sunflower seeds, and then departed to the viewpoint over the Colorado river. This was a 40 minute hike from the campsite. Though we were both feeling the effects of the heat and I was convinced Katie had flees, we eventually made it to the viewpoint. And boy was it worth it! We got some amazing views and saw the sun descend away from the canyon.



Day 23: Drive to Grand Canyon

Woke up today to the pattering footsteps of a bird pacing up and down the roof of the car. It was starting to get hot, even at 7:30am, so we got up and washed up in the Best Western. We also managed to sneak some continental breakfast: 2 apples, 3 small boxes Mini Wheats cereal, 2 egg and cheese omelettes, 3 slices ham, 2 small cartons milk, and a coffee. Not bad for $0.


With our bellies full and spirits high we departed for the Grand Canyon, arriving at 5pm. After some hard decision making on how to allocate money, we bought the one year parks pass for $80. We headed back away from the park as it was getting late and set up camp in a self-pay campground called Ten-X. We had a trip christening of the frying pan by making scrambled eggs with cheese – delicious!

This was followed by a round of oatmeal with piloncillo (the sugar/molasses solid from Mexico the day before).

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And finally a round of Mexican Tequilla in our brand new shot glasses


Day 22: Farewell to Mexico

We planned to go kayaking for $10 as our last adventure in Mexico. We had talked to the store man and agreed to meet him at 7:30am. It wasn’t until 8:15am that someone showed up and then their key didn’t work in the door. We decided that fate was obviously not with us and we began to drive home instead.

We made a split second decision as we approached Rosa’s Cantina (where we had gone to breakfast the day before and decided to have a nice relaxing breakast there. We both got Spanish Omelettes and they were quite good. We rolled them up in tortillas. The restaurant man was very pleased that we were from Vancouver and offered us some free Rosa’s Cantina regalos (“gifts”).

We went for a swim, packed up camp, and began the 450km back to Nogales. Though we made sure first to stop off at Ley (a big Mexico supermarket chain) to pick up some pastries and piloncillo (a sugar/molases type solid) which Katie was dying to bring back to Vancouver.

Stopped for lunch while driving through Hermosillo for some fish tacos. Then stopped just as we were about half an hour from the border for some last hurrah, farewell to Mexico quesedillas. I made sure to haggle 2 quesedillas and a pop down from 36 to 30 pesos ($2.40 US).

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The border crossing went way better than expected. The wait was around 1.5 hours, but once we got to the border, the man let us right on through without checking the car at all. We were pretty relieved they didn’t spend a long time doing a full car search.

Drove to the Best Western where we had stayed in the parking lot before, and hunkered down for the night.

Day 21: Last Day in San Carlos

Had an early morning today, waking up from the sun. We had coffee from the Bialetti and headed into town in search of breakfast. We walked about 10 minutes to Rosa’s Cantina and had a delicious totally non-Mexican breakfast. Katie had pancakes (“hot cakes”) and eggs while I had French toast and eggs, while we shared a freshly squeezed delicious grapefruit juice. On getting back to the campsite we saw 2 boys sitting in a tree, thrashing around. It wasn’t long till we realised that it was a mango tree and that the father was standing below, attempting to catch the mangos as they fell. He gave us three and told us that if we wrap them in newspaper for 2 days, they should be ready to eat. Too bad the US is so strict on fruit importation.


We searched around for the kayak rental store, but to no avail. As today was our last full day in Mexico, we decided to go into town to do some souvenir shopping. It took a thorough scouring of Guaymas until we found pretty much every souvenir store clustered under one roof in the market. We spent a while there looking at everything and nick-nack here and there. I saw a really cool antique scale set and got the Mexican vendor to pose for me, “puedes pesa un aguacate otravez porque quiero sacar foto”. See – learning Spanish has it’s uses!


Headed back to San Carlos for a refreshing dip in the ocean. It’s very nice to be able to cool off after being in the car. We had another bialetti coffee and ran a bunch of errands. We did laundry, refilled our depleted stock of water – 20L for 10 pesos ($0.80 US), and checked out a kayak place. We’re thinking of going tomorrow to an island seen from the mainland. Since we didn’t have laundry detergent and it wasn’t for sale by the machines, I asked a couple girls if we could use theirs. That is… I tried to ask. I asked if I could borrow their “sopa de ropa”. It wasn’t until talking with Katie later that I realized I had asked for “clothes soup” instead of “clothes soap”. I confused the words sopa and jabon – rookie mistake!


We finished the day by going to our favourite restaurant by the ocean. We were planning on mojitos, but they didn’t have them, so we did pina coladas again instead. I had their house special filet while katie had a dish of delicious octopus – “pulpo”.


Planning on driving back tomorrow around noon or so and sleep just across the border in the Best Western again. The following day we’ll head to the Gran Canyon and hopefully be allowed to hike down and camp in the canyon. Though the permit may be hard to come by without advance notice.

Day 20: Return to San Carlos

We woke up very early this morning for a 6:30am departure from Mazatlan. Took a photo just before sunrise as our last memory of Mazatlan.


We drove a total of nearly 750km from Mazatlan to San Carlos. We arrived around 4:00pm. With about an hour of breaks that totaled about 8.5 hours. Not bad for such a big distance. The best break was the one I’d been looking forward to all day. We decided that if we made it to the almeja (clam) vendors before it got too late, we’d get an almeja cocktail (an assortment of clams, clamato juice, tomatos, onions, lime). It was delicious!


We got to San Carlos, showered, and hydrated. We had become pretty dehydrated from the car ride even though we’d been drinking litres of water. On our way out to dinner, a man came up to us in the RV park and said remember me? (neither of us remembered him). He said he was our waiter last time who served us the pescado frito and the margaritas last time we were here. After a bit of talking he offered us some 10% off coupons for the kayak rental store after I had expressed interest.

We went to dinner and started with pina coladas. They were fantastic. Much better than the margaritas we had last time. A mixture of coconut and pineapple – we will definitely do them again before leaving. I had a crab dish with a cream based sauce and Katie had the shrimp fetuccini alfredo. We enjoyed the food, and watched the pelicans fly by and the sun go down.

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Now back at camp, getting ready for bed

Day 19: Mazatlan Day 4

Started the day off by searching for the pasteleria we had gone to a couple days ago. It seems like Mexican’s don’t understand how someone parallel parks. Every time I’ve tried to parallel park so far in Mexico, I put my indicator on while approaching the spot, I pass it, and then try to reverse into it. But whenever there’s traffic the car behind me stays right on my butt and doesn’t let me park. I now try to do the somewhat more messy front-in approach. We parked and a few stores away was a good looking restaurant for breakfast.

It looked like someone’s kitchen that oppened up to the street with a few tables. There was a stove, a table with cutting board, and food ingredients in boxes. As we were looking in, the owner waved us in. After a “cuanto cuesta desayuno” he replied – so cheap, it’s like it’s free – 25 pesos ($2 US) (he said this in English – we’ve found Mazatlanians to be far better English speakers than other cities, even in the non-tourist districts). I had huevos mexicana (scrambled eggs with peppers and chilis) while Katie had huevos revueltos con jamon (scrambled eggs with ham). Along with a 6 peso 600mL soft drink the bill was an amazing 56 pesos. We decided to pay 60 pesos ($4.80 US)

We found the pastry shop and I got a vanilla filled donut while Katie got a sweet bread. Again, an amazing price of 7 pesos for mine and 5 pesos for Katie’s. We bagged them, walked the few blocks to the ocean, and ate them on some stairs by the ocean. We were trying to figure out the word for pig, so I asked some nearby Mexicans “en espanol que es la palabra para puerco que viva” (in spanish, what’s the name for pork that lives) and after a bit of silence I said “oink oink”. They told us “cochito”.


We went souvenir shopping for a while and after being in the same store for a while, Katie was a feeling dehydrated and was sitting on the curb outside the store. After Katie responded to the store-lady asking her what was up, the store lady left her store, crossed the street, bought a bottle of water, and brought it back to Katie. We thought this was really nice. We also passed a stand that had something I hadn’t seen before – mango on a stick. I figured it was picture worthy.


Went home, siesta’d for a few hours, then left the hotel and drove/walked 15 blocks or so in search of a restaurant. We found one selling dinner for 35 pesos ($2.80 US). I had bistec (beef) while Katie had chili revuelto (stuffed chili – an actual stuffed chili pepper). Along with a 500mL fanta it came to 80 pesos ($6.40 US). Now back at the hotel about to leave to grab a cerveza and watch the sunset from the beach.

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Planning to drive Mazatlan – San Carlos tomorrow (a very long distance. We spent 2 days doing this before.) We’ll stay a day in San Carlos, then drive back to the States and do some camping and hiking around some of the California/Arizona/Oregon national parks. Yosemete, Redwood, and the Grand Canyon are all possibilities.

Day 18: Mazatlan Day 3

Woke up early as the tour was scheduled to pick us up at 9:25am. Breakfasted at the same place as yesterday – huevos diverciados for me (“divorced eggs” – there was a red salsa one on one side of the plate and a green salsa one on the other side, with a layer of beans through the middle) and huevos con chorizo for Katie. Both plates were good.

We were ready in the lobby at 9:25am. By 9:30am the truck still hadn’t come and we talked about how long we should wait until calling it quits. Just as we were talking, the truck came – around 9:35am. We were so excited! It carried about 10 ppl max – full with other Mexican non-English speakers. It took us to a jetti where a boat was waiting to load us.


We boarded the boat along with many other truckloads worth of people. It was probably around 100 people or so total. A bartender came around with non-alcoholic beverages. It turns out, out of the 100 people on the boat, Katie and I were the only non-Spanish speakers. Luckily the tourguide did a complete translation of all his commentary over the hour and a half tour.

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After the tour of the bay in Mazatlan, the boat dropped us off at Stone Island – home to thousands of palm trees – harvested for coconuts. Once on land a tractor pulled us to a big palapa-style restaurant (thatch roofed with no walls). We were given the choice of banana-boating, boogie boarding, horseback riding or kayaking. We ate lunch first – chicken with rice and vegetables for me and quesedillas with rice and vegetables for Katie. It was plenty of food. Along with an open bar, our time was fabulous. We started off drinking a “sex on la playa” (sex on the beach) and followed with many beers and a mai tai.

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We chose to go kayaking around the bay and by the end Katie wasn’t so worried about deep watered oceans. While kayaking back towards shore I spotted a buoy floating in the water. As we got closer Katie realized that it wasn’t a buoy at all – it was a massive dead pufferfish floating by. It was pretty cool to see. Coming back into the beach we were picked up with a wave and we hit it perfectly – surfing it all the way into the beach. That’s the first time I’ve caught a wave kayaking before.

The boat brought us back to the mainland after I requested one more cerveza “por la calle” (for the road). The 10-person little red truck drove us right back to our hotel and we siesta’d for a while.

We suppered at the same place we’ve been having breakfast – 2 stores down from the hotel – 4x 3 tacos for 20 pesos a plate (80 pesos total = $6.40 US) which was plenty of food. We preferred the machaca and the birria tacos to the chicharon.

We had to make it back to the hotel lobby by 6pm. We managed to have a hair braider from Stone Island come back to the mainland of Mazitlan to braid Katie’s hair with trenzas. They came right up to the hotel lobby and everything. It turns out that the hair-braider was the wife of the friend of our tour guide, so while Katie was having her hair braided our tour guide and his friend and I went for drinks at a beer hall a couple doors down. 3L of Pacifico beer and an hour passed and Katie’s hair was done.

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Now back at the hotel planning our next few days. Thinking about heading up to Dorango but maybe not because of the sketchy roads.