Shortly after Canada Day, Mum, Dad, Strýček Petr (my uncle from Czech Republic) and Adelka (his granddaughter) flew to Rossland, British Columbia where my brother Tony lives with his wife Alana and daughter Hannah. I joined them a few days later. It was boiling hot when I stepped off the plane, so our first stop was the beach in Trail, a town right below Rossland. The location was magnificent, but the water was absolutely freezing! When you wade in up to your waist, you eventually lose all feeling in your legs. You can’t really swim properly. The best you can do is dunk yourself, once you’ve worked up the courage.
One of the most scenic hiking trails in the Rossland area leads to the top of Old Glory. The whole gang (including Hannah) got up early one morning to tackle the trail. A friend of Tony’s also joined us, and he brought his dog. It’s a very good idea to take a dog along on these hikes to chase away any bears that should happen to cross your path.
The trail leading up through the woods is quite steep, and it can be very taxing if you’re not in good shape. Once you reach the ridge, you can either continue on to the summit of Old Glory, or head back down another path to the parking lot.
Dad, Tony, Hannah and I broke off from the rest of the group and soldiered on to the summit. Tony was enthusiastic about bagging the peak with Hannah, who will be too heavy/active to carry at this time next year. Hannah was the perfect baby, all the way to the top. She spent her time either napping, or contentedly taking everything in.
Hannah started getting fussy only in the last hour or so of the hike. Tony and I entertained her by singing any song that came to our minds, and she settled right down. She basically listened to our entire repertoire from our Bell High School music days. Hannah is currently the only person who stops crying when I start singing, so I happen to think she’s the bee’s knees!
When I was searching for things to do around Rossland, the Kokanee Mountain Zipline popped up in Google. Although I tried to rally the troops and get everyone on board for some zippy fun, the only takers ended up being my immediate family. We had such a blast flying through the trees. The company offers a completely “hands-free” tour. You don’t need to hold on to anything, and the tour leaders control the braking system. It’s the perfect place for people who want to try ziplining, but feel nervous about having to do their own braking. On two of the lines, they even let you do tricks like hanging upside down. I tried my hardest, but I didn’t manage to completely invert myself. I’ll do better next time 🙂
Tony and I both had fun experimenting with our GoPros. We managed to cobble together a neat little video for Instagram, and I’ve also uploaded it here. In case you’re wondering about the title, it’s not a typo. He actually calls me “Heylenka”!
The next adventure on the menu was horseback riding. I must say, I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about this outing. First, let me be clear. I have nothing against horses. They’re beautiful creatures. I just don’t see any particular need for me to be on one, ever. I have one primary objection. Every single time I go on a trail ride, the tour leader assures me that I have the “gentle horse” who “never misbehaves.” And every single time, my so-called “gentle horse” will suddenly start trotting for no rhyme or reason. Now, an experienced equestrian can easily handle this sort of horseplay (teehee). But for me, the newbie, it’s like driving a car that abruptly decides to do whatever it jolly well pleases! I don’t care for it one bit.
Luckily, our tour company had the perfect solution for nervous Nellies like me: tethered riding! My horse was attached at all times to the guide’s horse, so I never had to worry about losing control. Of course, we were told that all the horses were more or less perfect angels for guests. And of course, about midway through the trail ride, Dad’s horse startled, which set off Mum’s horse, which sent Adelka’s horse a-prancing. Go figure! It all turned out fine in the end. It took only about a minute for everyone to recover and start laughing about the whole thing. And I was perfectly content, because my tethered horse didn’t (couldn’t!) react to all the tomfoolery displayed by his cohorts.
Rossland is a famous mountain biking destination, and my brother is constantly raving about his cycling trips. I do enjoy pedaling around Ottawa on my trusty hybrid, so I thought that now would be the time to take things up a notch. Tony kindly lent me his bike, and Alana offered to show me the trails.
I got off to a rather inauspicious start. Tony’s bike has fancy disc brakes, which I’m not used to at all. I accidentally pressed the left handbrake without simultaneously pressing the right one, which caused me to fly off my seat and land on my crotch on the crossbar. Owwwwwww. I hadn’t even left the driveway!
Once I figured out how to work the bike, Alana and I huffed and puffed our way up to the hills overlooking Rossland. We started with the green trails, which were supposed to be easy. Well maybe the locals consider them easy, but this neophyte was scared out of her mind!
If I had taken a GoPro video, I would have needed to turn off the sound or add music before posting it online. Otherwise, you would have heard something like this: OH NO OH NO #$@&%*! ALANA I’M GONNA #$@&%* DIE! I’M GONNA HIT THE TREE! #$@&%*! #$@&%*! I CAN’T DO THIS! EVERYONE WHO DOES THIS HAS A DEATH WISH! #$@&%*! #$@&%*! WAHHHHHHHHH! I’M CRYING LIKE HANNAH! I simply could not work out how to navigate down a narrow path with roots and rocks sticking up, and a sheer drop on one side. At one point, I actually did crash, but I managed to ditch the bike before it fell down the hill. I scored a nice new bruise on my ankle in the process. After that, I kept chickening out and walking my bike along the trail. Alana was incredibly patient with me!
I’m occasionally called a daredevil, because of my tendency to gravitate towards activities like bungee jumping, riverboarding, or sleeping in a pod on the side of a cliff. I find this description quite flattering, but somewhat inaccurate. I’m not a true risk-taker. Most of my thrill-seeking is done in highly controlled environments that require no special talents whatsoever. Mountain bikers are the real daredevils. Their sport involves actual skills! For that, they deserve my eternal admiration.
The best part of my week in BC was all the quality time I got to spend with my family, and especially with Hannah. She can now crawl around, pull herself up, babble, feed herself tiny chunks of food and react to her name. In my view, she’s a little baby genius. Tony thinks I’m totally biased. I think I’m totally realistic. What do brothers know anyway!