Still catching up…Sunday Aug 14. A colleague of mine had told me about a hike he did up to Watersprite Lake. That’s not a hike in any of our hiking books but I found it easy enough on the Club Tread website. Since it was supposed to be a sunny, warm day I figured having a lake at the end of our hike would make sense. But first we had to find the starting point. We missed the turn-off onto Mamquam Main the first time but once we got onto it following the description on the Club Tread website was easy. The drive is about 30-40min up into the Mountains gaining quite a bit of elevation. The road was in pretty good shape although I would not have taken those cars up there we saw. I expected there to be a few cars but when we got to the decent size parking area it was packed. At least 20 trucks/cars. Guess this is not a secret hike, just I had never heard of it before. The view from the starting point was promising. The first part of the hike follows an old logging road and apparently the place the trail leaves it is hard to find. We did find it no problem but it took over an hour of no views, mostly exposed to sun, boring logging road walking with a couple hundred meters elevation gain. Once the trail leaves the road and leads down into the meadows it does get really pretty. A couple scrambles up some rocky and muddy sections and another wasp nest later (which we avoided since people told us about it) you get to the lake. A very pretty lake – turquoise coloured water, sprinkled with tiny islands and surrounded by rock slides and interesting peaks. Stunning. The only negative, besides the long walk up a road was the amount of squealing people. Many had camped over night – which would be nice to do if not for the crowds. Jeff and I walked around the lake a bit to find a place away from the noisy people. It wasn’t warm either despite a mostly sunny day. The wind was darn cold.So no swim for us. Just a snack and a search for pikas in the rocks. Didn’t see any. We hiked around the lake across the large boulder fields. Not difficult but slow as you had to pick your route and go up and down to find the best next rock. Definitely top score on the “Scenic Scale”! But apparently I am easy to please. Jeff didn’t like the hike at all. Usually he makes up with my slow pace back down. Not that day🙂. We have done quite a few hikes this summer and it is hard to top it up every weekend. But we both agreed that the beer and food at the Shady Tree watching more Olympics afterwards was worth it🙂.
August 30, 2016
August 21, 2016
Aug 13. I wanted to paddle somewhere different this weekend since we got bounced around in motorboat wash the previous Saturday in Deep Cove. So I suggested to take the surfskis to Harrison Lake since I had never been on it before. It’s a big lake and it can get windy as well but the forecast was for calm and sunshine and hot. The only problem, it’s about a 90min drive east of us. I had slept in for too long and when we finally got going it seemed like all of Vancouver was heading east at the same time. Mass exodus and traffic was crawling all the way into Chilliwack. I got an earful of complaints on the drive. When we finally arrived at Harrison Hot Springs, the small town on the south end of the lake, it was packed with people and cars (not really a surprise) and no parking was to be found. Luckily a colleague of mine had told me about Sasquatch Provincial Park, a few kilometers up the east side of the lake, and there we found plenty of parking and easy access to the water. Score! From here on the trip turned from mild disaster into quite a bit of fun. We paddled up the lake in very calm conditions. Few boat wakes to deal with but nothing too bad. Since we didn’t know the lake very well we ended up paddling into a big bay rather than up the lake. And that’s when the wind came up from the south and kicked up some waves. So we had to paddle back into a headwind. The waves were nothing huge but normally they would have been big enough to bother me in my Legend but I felt good. Even when the waves came a bit more from the side. The only time I got a bit worried was when this big dinner cruise ship went by as we paddled along some steep cliff. That made for some very chaotic and huge rebounding waves. Jeff accelerated to catch the waves. I tried but wasn’t quick enough and got jostled around big time. But I stay up and kept paddling. I actually started to enjoy this. So when we got back to the launch point we decided to continue past it for a bit to take advantage of riding some of those waves back. And was that ever fun. Once you got up on a wave it was easy to link them together and I hardly had to paddle at all. Great fun. Save fun since we were never far from shore. Maybe I need to practice here a bit more. Next time we will paddle south though🙂
The drive back home wasn’t nearly as bad as the drive out. And we stopped at the Gilnetter Pub for $10 ribs and beers. Yeah!
Aug 9. We should have hiked Saturday but that’s my day to sleep in. The Sunday was pretty cloudy although it was mostly dry and relatively warm still. We drove up towards Whistler hoping the clouds would magically disappear as we drive away from the coast. It actually did clear up a little bit but our destination – Brandywine Mountain was hidden in clouds. But we did not really know that when we started the hike. This time we took the truck to get to the original trail head to avoid the 3-4km long walk up a boring logging road (see older post here). There were lots of cars/trucks parked at the lot. And this was only one of two access points. The other trail head is even more driving on a really rough road covering most of the elevation gain to the meadows. From where we started we still had to work our way up through the forest into the open meadows. There was one other nasty surprise on that early part of the trail. I stepped on a root that had a wasp nest underneath and those guys went into attack mode right away. Poor Jeff, who was behind me got stuck twice, once into each knee. I almost made it away free but one of the wasps still found me and hit me just above my ankle. I totally forgot how much those stings hurt. Well not enough to stop hiking. When we got to the meadows we could see that our destination was yet again un-achievable, the clouds were even lower than last time. We couldn’t even see the glacier. Lots more flowers around though than last time. We worked our way up the slope as much as we could but eventually visibility got too bad. The trail isn’t marked well enough to find it in dense fog. And so we turned around again. It never cleared up. But we managed to avoid the wasps on the way down.
Stopped in Squamish at our favourite pub, The Shady Tree, to watch the highlights of the Olympics, such as the men’s 100m race and women’s gymnastics individual finals, on a big screen TV.
August 18, 2016
Aug 6. We only did an easy paddle in Deep Cove that Saturday so Jeff was still restless in the late afternoon and decided to roller ski up Seymour. I tagged along as the shuttle car taking the opportunity for a quick 90min early evening hike up to Brockton Point. Not as many people around as during the day and more importantly less black flies. Still enough to make for a fast walking pace. It was somewhat overcast so no sunset pictures but the lighting was just about right. Unfortunately the pictures don’t really do it justice but I am still sharing them.
BC Day Monday, Aug 1. I got to sleep in so we started our outdoors adventure fairly late. We wanted to make it up Coliseum Mountain coming in from the Mt Seymour Demonstration Forest side. The regular trail from Lynn Valley is VERY long. The Mt Seymour trail is much shorter but you have to get onto your bike to get to the start of it. If you park at the start of the Mt Seymour Demonstration Forest trail it’s an easy 10km bike ride on a wide surfaced road – no cars allowed. But of course since we were late getting started we parked at least another 3km away and it seems below it as well. We took our mountain bikes and for someone who only commutes 5km every day on the flat this was like climbing a mountain🙂. Took about 45min to get to the trail head turnoff and we rode up an old logging road for a couple hundred meters before giving up on the bikes – too steep for me. The trail only stays on that old road for a little bit longer before it turns into a real hiking trail. We only saw 4 other bikes. The trail works its way steeply up the mountain side through forest with not much of a view for ~3-4km until you get to a big open area at Paton’s Lookout with excellent views over Lake Seymour below and Coliseum Mountain to the south. We only ran into 2 groups of 2 people coming down as we worked our way up. Pretty quiet trail for a sunny, hot and beautiful BC Day holiday in Metro Vancouver. We could have pushed on to Coliseum but both of us felt tired and we decided to make this lookout our destination for the day. Have to come back though some day and finish it.
August 16, 2016
BC Day Long Weekend Jul 30-Aug 1. Despite the traffic disaster last year (see here) we went on a road trip again but only for two of the three days. We packed up the new tent Saturday morning and headed into the interior to do our first ever whitewater canoe trip on the Sunday. On the way we stopped at the Coquihalla summit along Hwy #5 for our first ever hike in that beautiful area. For many, many years we wanted to do Yak Peak but after reading up on the hikes in the area we decided on Needle Peak instead. We were not the only ones. I was surprised about the amount of cars parked at the trail head. The stats for this hike aren’t nearly as daunting as Outram and it seems more people like to show themselves hiking along here. We passed a few groups going up through the forest. It was reasonably steep. Once in the open on the ridge the crowd thinned out a bit and it’s an easy ridge walk with great views over Yak and the surrounding mountains until you reach the start of the scramble. Here people started to bunch up again. We saw people in sandals up there for crying out loud. It might only be a 880m elevation gain but by the time you reach the top your are at just above 2o00M elevation! We saw a plane flying BELOW us from the top. And there definitely is some scrambling involved in 2 sections getting to the top. It was fun though. We got lucky at the top with a big group just leaving when we got there. So it was relatively quiet. Only got bothered by a type of squirrel – a ground squirrel size chipmunk. The little critter already had its cheeks full of stuff but had to still take a bite out of my camera as well. And it was windy on the top – all the way up actually – and almost cold despite endless sunshine and blue skies. We huddled in behind a rock as much out of the wind as we could with our feet dangling over the drop-off to have our snack and to enjoy the great views. I was worried that the way down would be trickier than up but it was fine. Only the wind got even stronger and it really felt like it was trying to blow us of the mountain in sections. Hands were used a lot – I should have brought work cloves to protect them from the sharp rocks. We made it back to the ridge safe and sound. Since it had taken us only less than 2hrs to the top we decided to do a little detour to an alpine lake on the other side of the ridge. What a neat little lake – great for camping if you want to lug your gear up here. That detour added about 45min to the trip and we were back at the car 5hrs later.
Next up – finding a campsite on BC Day Long Weekend. Actually first we dropped into Merritt for an early dinner at the Pub. We, make that Jeff, had two options scouted out for the night. Either a small provincial park in Savona, the place where we were to meet the people that were going to take us whitewater canoeing. Or Leigthon Lake, one of our back in the days spring fly fishing destinations before they made it into a provincial park. We definitely were looking for provincial park to avoid any noisy crowds. We decided on Leighton, thinking it would be higher in elevation and therefore cooler at night. Well, we did not have to worry about being too hot that night. As we left Merritt heading north towards Logan Lake we could see big dark black clouds ahead of us. As we got to near Logan Lake their was lightning as well and the first rain drops started falling. It rained when we arrived at Leighton and it was cold. Lucky for us the rain stopped long enough to set up camp and for me to go for a short walk. But most of the evening we spent sitting in our camping chairs in our nice big vestibule reading – tent fulfilled its purpose🙂. We were in bed by 9PM I think. But our tent did well in its first ever BC drizzle.
Sunday – Canoe Day! We were going to canoe the Thompson River from Savona to Ashcroft. The Thompson is a big river. We had done organized whitewater rafting trips in big inflatable rafts in the lower Thompson before and those rapids are massive (Class 3+ and 4). It was a blast but I could not see myself going through those in anything less than a big inflatable raft. Definitely not in an open canoe! Apparently our stretch had only up to class 2+ rapids. Classified on Wikipedia as “Novice” = “Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium-sized waves are easily avoided by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed. Rapids that are at the upper end of this difficulty range are designated Class II+”. But off course I did not look that up till after we got back. They were classified by Darryl, our experienced leader of the day as “Open canoes may take on water and we will likely have to rescue a boat”. I was a bit nervous not being the most comfortable around waves and was prepared, somewhat, to go swimming.
Lucky for us, it had stopped raining when we got up. But the sky was still grey and everything got packed up wet. As we dropped down into Savona the sun broke through the clouds and we had breakfast at the spot where we thought we would meet the other – Steelhead Provincial Park – overlooking Kamloops Lake. The lake looked calm and beautiful and I was thinking this is going to be easy. It almost felt warm in the sun. The time to meet the others came and went. We were wondering if they maybe canceled last minute and we didn’t hear about it since we had been on the road. But a quick call to the organizer’s wife confirm that the trip was still on. So where are they or where were we supposed to be if not where we were sitting? As those thoughts crossed our minds Darryl drove into the parking lot, spun around right away telling us to follow. Of course the launch spot was nowhere near the actual provincial park but on the other side of the highway. Here the lake turned into a river again and I was much less feeling like this is going to be easy. Darryl quickly helped us to set up our canoe – mostly filled with flotation bags and just enough room for us and the bailing buckets. Yep, I was now SURE we would go swimming. We meet the other 3 paddlers. Darryl’s paddling buddy Christina – who had brought a bike helmet, why did I not think of that. And Scott and his young son Jonas. The guys left us girls behind to watch the boats while they were doing the car shuttle to Ashcroft. As we waited and chatted dark clouds started to move in and a pretty steady wind was blowing out of the west up the river. It was not warm. About 45min into the wait is started raining. And not just a little drizzle but a nice heavy downpour with strong winds. Of course I had left my rain coat in the car. It’s supposed to be 25-30C and sunny in the interior this time of the year, not 10-15C and rainy! Within minutes Christina and I were soak to the bone and cold. We huddled in behind some bushes to at least get out of the wind. No trees around to stay out of the rain. Anyways, the rain only lasted 15min or so and as it stopped so did the wind. Much better. The guys drove in shortly after. Time to finally do some canoeing!!! But first I changed into a dry shirt and put my rain coat since I could see more black clouds where we were heading.
I was in the front, Jeff in the back. He at least knows how to steer a canoe. First off we practiced some eddy turns in calm water. The front person has to post their paddle and lean right into it … or the current could push the canoe over. Worked like a charm. Canoe also felt more stable than I thought and was gliding easily over the moving water to wherever we wanted it to go. We were ready! Off we go down the mighty Thompson River in an open canoe. It didn’t take long to the first rapid. We got out and walked up the steep bank to scout it out. There were a few lines through, some easier, some harder. To me they all looked hard – breaking waves and fast moving water. Do I really want to do this? Oh well, sure didn’t want to walk to Ashcroft so back into the canoe we went. Darryl and Christina were going for the bigger water while Scott and Jonas went for the saver water. Guess whom we followed…yep, right into the big stuff. And we actually made it through without tipping. It was actually fun and the canoe handled the rapid very nicely. We took on a little bit of water but not much. Oh yeah, we can do this. Let’s do some eddy turns in actually moving water. We were a bit off on the timing but made it. Next 1 or 2 rapids, no problem. We missed an eddy turn and almost got stuck in some really shallow water. But we stayed up. Then there was the big one: Train Bridge Rapid. We pulled out again to look at it. This one looked MUCH bigger, water stacking up high against the bridge pillars. Darryl and Christina went for the biggest water. This time I voted against following them and go for the somewhat less scary looking side. To get there though we had to ferry across the river. It looked like we would have plenty of room to make it across but the bridge came flying towards us. I paddled as hard as I could but we never made it all the way to the safe side. Last minute we pulled the canoe around to not crash sideways into one of the pillars and just went heads first for this big wave between two pillars just off the centre. A bit dicey for a second but we made it. I looked ahead for Darryl and Christina but could not see them right away – they had capsized! Scott and Jonas flew by us on our left to go for the rescue. We just hung back as we were told and watched it. In no time they had the canoe back up and were paddling again. I was watching so intently I forgot to take pictures of the rescue. I think this was for sure the biggest rapid. A couple more smaller rapids and we stopped for lunch at Juniper Beach. Till then we had some strong winds and some light rain showers on and off but during our lunch the sun came out and it calmed right down. Nice to warm up in the sun, especially for the two most adventurous canoeists that got wet.
Lunch was at about the half way point – couple of hrs of canoeing. The second half saw more rapids, none as scary big as Train Bridge but some pretty big standing waves to get through nonetheless. We also tried more eddy turns in bigger water – we sucked. Almost tipped the canoe twice. One time I could have sworn we would go in. I tried to post my paddle but I think I was to early and there was no back pressure on my paddle, so I sat back up when all sudden the current pushed the canoe around. Jeff said we almost took on water we were leaning so far over to the WRONG side. No idea how we stayed up. The tireder I got the worst our eddy turns. I think that’s were it would have been better to have a more experience person in the boat who can read water and call the moves. We seem to never start the turns at the right time. It got so bad that we got stuck in one eddy and the only saving grace was to go ahead into the following rapids. Until then we always followed Darryl or Scott to make sure we took the correct line. This time, they were still behind us, in the eddy to check the rapid out before going down it. Oh well, there was no checking it out on our part, we just went for it. Right in between two huge waves. We took on quite a bit of water but we stayed up. Yeah!! Then one of the last rapids… “don’t tip here since a rescue would be difficult in this spot”… I did not need to hear that. We took the easier line but again flunked the eddy turn after it and ended up spinning around a couple times and going downriver backwards. Experienced canoers do that all the time, no sweat. But to me that was one of the scariest moments. I hate going backwards! Again, we managed somehow, not very gracefully but we made it. And shortly after we were at the pull out in Ashcroft. A small beach area and not to be missed since after this the canyon would start and the difficulty rating goes up quite a notch. We did not miss the turnout🙂. Never mentioned it yet but stunning scenery all the way! It took about 5hrs. I am amazed we did not capsize! Thanks to Darryl for getting us into a canoe and taking newbies on a trip like this! Jeff is already scouting the canoe races we could do next year …🙂
We loaded the canoes and drove back to Savona to pick up our car. Now the long drive home. But traffic was light since it was only Sunday and Monday would still be off.
August 7, 2016
Falling behind again with my blog – this post is from the last weekend in July, July 23-24. Summer in Vancouver is just awesome. Not too hot this year either. Saturday was supposed to be the better wind day and we went for our third downwind paddle in a row. The wind never picked up huge but it was decent and definitely better conditions than the CSC the weekend before. Too bad it was only us and John G out there. Good fun!
On Sunday we did an epic hike. With just over 2400m Mount Outram is one of the highest peaks in the area just outside of Manning Park – the hike actually starts right at the west entrance to the park. The weather was spectacular with blue skies and just over 20C ideal for hiking. The stats for this hike are a bit daunting with 1800m elevation gain over 9kms. That’s an average gain of almost 20% and the steepest part is near the end. Mind you it is a constant up the whole way. Switchbacks through the forest for the first ~2hrs until you reach the open meadows full of flowers and providing excellent views over the mountains. Despite one gaining near 1500m elevation by now the trail is easy, providing even and excellent footing. One could just stop in the meadows at a small pond but we pushed it all the way to the peak. It’s a bit of a scramble over loose rock to the top which you can’t actually see until you get almost to it. It was hard going for the last bit and if Jeff would not have charged ahead I might have quick. And we made it and it was so worth it. Stunning views from the peak! The way down is long though. Still near the top we saw a family of Ptarmigan. The lower part of the trail was full of huckleberry bushes as well as some wild raspberries – very refreshing! Nevertheless, I was exhausted when we reached the car again 7hrs later.
We saw very few people on this hike! A group of 4 and then 2 people on their bikes. No way I would take my bike up there – or down for that matter! Below a few pictures to enjoy the hike from your sofa🙂.
July 23, 2016
This past weekend was the Canadian Surfski Championship. 3rd time it was held and about 120 boats raced from Porteau Cove to Squamish. Paddlers from all over the world show up to this event hoping for the afternoon thermals to kick up big waves. World class paddlers such as the Rice brother, Sean and Kenny, and Mocke brothers, Dawid and Jasper, from South Africa, paddlers from Australia, Tahiti, Spain, Switzerland, etc. One of our Australian buddies from when we went to the World Masters Games in 2009, John and his wive Wendy, also showed up. Very cool to see them again! Jeff and I didn’t race – again, but we volunteered – again. As the last 2 previous years we helped out at the boat staging area. You meet all the paddlers but don’t have the stress of having to race. It’s great. It wasn’t as hot and sunny as last year but no rain or thundershowers as predicted. Wind was rather low that day too although there were some waves to be found. As always, we watch the start of the race sitting in our double at the hot spot buoy to see Sean Rice get there first. We waited till all the paddlers but one went by taking pictures and then followed the racers down the course. We caught up to about half the field finding some bumps to ride even in the double. And as volunteers we were also invited to the post race event to watch the awards and have some beers and great food. A fun day with great people!
The Sunday we went for a hike. Originally we had planned to camp in Squamish to hike up in the Squamish-Whistler area but they had the Pemberton Music Festival going on the same weekend and we predicted traffic will be a mess getting home Sunday early evening. So we decided to do a local hike instead which also allowed me to sleep in yeah!! It was an overcast but 20C warm day. We hiked up Grouse Mountain to visit the grizzly bears, Coola and Grinder, and continued on to Goat Mountain. The first part of the hike was pretty busy, despite not taking The Grind up but the parallel BCMC trail. I was sweating buckets on the way up even though we hiked through the clouds for most of it. It is a pretty steep hike. The second part, once you are past the top of Grouse with all its tourist attractions that can be reached by Gondola as well as hiking, the crowds thin out pretty quickly. And the sun came out as well while the valleys below were still in clouds! We were both tired and only had energy enough to make it up Goat Mtn rather than the even steeper and longer Crown Mtn hike. Turned out to be a great idea as we had the top of the mountain all to ourselves – other than sharing it with a raven. Great views from up there. And as we were sitting there the clouds started to disappear all around out until we could finally see Vancouver and English Bay way below us. We also saw a lake below us I never noticed or even heard of before. On the way back we tried to find a trail down to it, even extending the hike to go along Thunderbird Ridge, but no such luck. Turns out the lake is called Kennedy Lake and part of the watershed for Grouse – no public access. We were on our feet for almost 7hrs, hiking down Grouse all the way rather than taking the Gondola like most. Pretty tired legs by the end but pretty nice for a local hike. The Guinness and food at the Two Lions Pub was more than welcome.
July 21, 2016
Compared to the rainy Saturday, the Sunday, July 10 was predicted to be sunny. Originally they had called for strong winds and we had planned to meet up with a few paddling friends and do a downwind surfski paddle in Howe Sound. But the evening before the wind prediction didn’t look all that great any longer and we came up with an alternate plan to do a hike. When we got up in the morning there was still not much wind but there were also still clouds in the mountains even though it was sunny over the water. We were humming and hawing all morning long what we should do – paddle downwind with little wind or hike in the mountains with no views. Both sounded equally good. At the end we were running out of time to do the hike we had looked at. The other people were still going for the paddle and we decided to join them. And was that ever worth it. Porteau Cove was flat when we got there – Jeff and I were early and just hung out in the sun and read our books while waiting for the gang to show up. By the time more people arrived the wind had picked up nicely and kicked up some white caps in the Sound. Took another hour or so for everyone to arrive – 16 of us at the end – and to get the car shuttle organized since this was a one way paddle downwind into Squamish, 17km away from Porteau Cove. By the time we finally hit the water the wind had calmed a bit and some clouds had moved in but conditions were still good. Jeff and I were in our double. I am too scared to go out there in my single. We had a LOT of fun, caught some good rides but had to work for it. The group spread out pretty far and we were the first to arrive at Watts Point, about 2/3 along the way. Here we waited for the rest of the group to make sure everyone was save. All was good. The last bit was a bit more tricky with steep waves across beam near the river delta in Squamish due to an outgoing tide and wind out of the southeast rather than the more typical southwest. But I felt totally stable – haven’t felt like that in a long time. It was awesome! Sure the stable double helped but usually I would still be uncomfortable in those conditions. Some of the singles did have trouble and beached some place differently t o get out of the waves. Jeff and I and Ian paddled back out into the chop to make sure they all at least got to shore somewhere. But once we knew they were in save water we paddled back to our final take out – to were the cars were – thinking the rest would just walk back or we would pick them up. It took a while to account for everyone at the end. The other group found a different way back that I ever knew off. But at least we all made it save and sound. Off to the pub! What a fun day! Best downwind experience for me.
There was no time taking pictures riding the waves. Hence there are a lot more people pictures than scenery shots. The rest I leave up to your imagination.
July 19, 2016
Trying to catch up on my blogging. Saturday July 9th was a somewhat wet day – a normal summer day in the temperate rainforest region of coastal BC🙂. We didn’t really have any plans for the weekend so Jeff decided to roller ski up Cypress. I went with him to drive the car up and meet him at the top.
While waiting I hiked up Black Mountain. This was the day of the Knee Nacker Race – a 50km cross country running race up and down the North Shore mountains along the Baden Powell trail. Something I would never consider doing but I know a few people that did. Some of them have done it 10 times! Hats up to all the people who can do this! By the time I made it up to Cypress Bowl all the runners had gone past it already. It was a misty day. Not really raining, until the very end. I love our local forests when it is wet. No words needed…
I actually did jog most of the way down – was a bit late and didn’t want Jeff to have to wait too long. And it really started raining near the end.
But it wasn’t all wet that day. We did a nice evening paddle on the river by our house later on.