K2inCanada's Blog

October 21, 2017

What’s the chance…

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Home — K2 in Canada @ 7:54 PM

…to run into not just one but two skunks on my ride home from work last week. And I am came out of both encounters without smelling any worse than before we met.

It was a rainy, dark night. Between 7 and 8PM. I was riding on the bike path along no longer existing East Kent, now a construction site, when I spotted something ahead of me running along the fence in the same direction I was going – a skunk. Now the path is about 1.5m wide and I figured blasting by that guy and scaring him may not work so well. There was a tailwind. So I tried my usual trick, slowed down and talked to the guy staying a couple meters behind the animal. First he sped up a bit, than the tail went straight up in the air. Oh oh, I thought but nothing happened. Tail came down again. The skunk crossed to the other side of the path, still running the same direction I was going. Tail come up again. I slowed down further but again, lucky me, it came down right away without any bad smells starting to hit me. And then the skunk ran of the trail by another meter, stopped and looked at me. I took that as a sign to slowly bike by him and say thanks. It worked.

I get home 5 or so minutes later. Jeff had already turned on the outside light. As I approach the door I see something scoot away into the bushes to my right. A cat I thought and started looking. And there he was, another skunk was looking for stuff below the truck. he didn’t even acknowledge me being there :-).

So cool!!! Too bad it was too dark for pictures. I know these guys are in the area – usually we can smell them late at night when something scarred them below our open bedroom window – but I don’t get to see them very often at all.

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October 13, 2017

Hunting Season

Filed under: Animals, Canada — K2 in Canada @ 6:51 AM

Lucky for this guy, I only hunt with my camera. Three days of bush walking this past Thanksgiving weekend and I got this super lucky to spot a moose despite gun shots going off all around me. Honestly I was more afraid of getting shot at than stumbling into wildlife that weekend. But again, all ended well :-). I hope that moose will make it through unscathed as well. Mind you, moose is tasty meat and I do not fault people that hunt for food. Each his/her own. More on the trip to come soon.

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Bear encounters

Filed under: Animals, Bears, Canada — K2 in Canada @ 6:41 AM

This story takes place a couple weekends ago. Naturally, after seeing a bear up at Cypress on my birthday I had to go back the next weekend. A beautiful sunny day. I didn’t really expect to see the bear. Near the top I hung out with 3 grouse that tried to “hide” in the fall colours right off the trail. Pretty cool.

 

And when I got down to the meadows where birthday bear was last weekend, I counted myself very lucky to actually see him again. At least I think it was the same bear in pretty much the same spot as the birthday bear! This time I had a bit better view of him too. He was munching away on berries probably not even noticing me standing 100m away watching him. Unfortunately, it did not take long until more hikers were coming down the trail behind me, talking. The bear did not care. I pointed the bear out to the group of 3 guys but instead of peacefully continue on their way, they started to make a lot of noise while passing me. Clapping their hands, talking even louder. Yeah, I know, folklore says you should make noise in bear country. Personally I hate bear bells. I rather keep my eyes and ears open. And this bear was far off the trail, not paying too much attention to his surrounding other than the blueberries in front of him, putting on fat for the winter. The loud noise though got his attention pretty quick and he bolted into the bush. Idiots, I thought. Idiot, they probably thought for me watching the bear silently. Off they disappear down the trail ahead of me. Shortly after I hear the guys yelling “watch out, there is another bear right here” and they made even more noise and, stupid, started running. I carefully continued down the trail expecting that that other bear would have left because of the noise as well. But not so. I came face to face with a quite agitated looking mama bear and her young cub not wanting to surrender their nice blueberry patch whatsoever. And that patch was right along the trail – 20m distance between us. I stopped to analyze the situation in plain view. The cub was up the tree when I first saw them and mama was looking back and forth between me and the 3 noisy guys I could no longer see. Great I thought. Not only did they scare away the friendly bear, no they left me with a quite pissed off mama bear. The cub climbed down the tree while I tried to figure out what to do. I expected them to walk off into the bush. But then mama bear took a charge back at the tree, huffing, in the direction off where the 3 guys disappeared. The little guy didn’t know what to do other than staying close to mom and go up that tree again. It was a bit scary for a moment but neither bear showed aggression towards me. I calmly talked to them. Mama bear was watching me and obviously listening to me telling her no good would come out of her chasing a hiker up here. She finally relaxed and after a few more seconds relented the area and walked off into the bush. Her cub close behind. It took a couple minute for my heart rate to come down again.

 

I do see black bears on my hikes and walks quite frequently but this was definitely the closest encounter I have had to date. Most other times the bears take off as soon as they hear, see or smell me. This was different. My read on this, the bear became agitated because of the extensive noise and the running of those 3 guys ahead of me. If they would have just walked by her, she probably would have stayed calm and continued eating. If I wouldn’t have alerted them to the first bear, they might have walked right by the 2nd without noticing it. But that’s all speculation off course. Female bears with cubs can be quite protective and I usually do not hang around to watch them this close. I guess I could have backed off rather than stand my ground but my gut feel told me to stay put. I am glad this turned out the way it did. I neither want to endanger myself or the bears!

You can judge me all you want but I will continue sharing nature with all the wildlife there is. I will stick to my philosophy to watch my surrounding, observe but not threaten any animals I see. I get just as excited about seeing deer or grouse or chipmunks as I do about seeing a bear or bobcat. I was back doing the same hike again the next weekend. Mostly sunny after a rainy Saturday and even busier with people but I again got to see a bear. I felt extremely lucky. This time I think it was a different bear, higher up at the top of the mountain. He saw me coming from a long way off and meandered slowly into the trees, stopping here and there to nibble on a few more blueberries along the way. None of us felt threatened – both of us continued on with what we love. Me enjoying a beautiful fall hike – the colours are just short of amazing and no pictures do them justice. Him eating to prepare for winter.

Most bear encounters end like mine. You just very rarely hear about those – not sensational enough I guess. Here is another story that ended well for all: https://blog.thedyrt.com/adventure/survive-a-grizzly-bear/

January 9, 2017

5th Annual BC Ski Trip

Filed under: Animals, BC Ski Trip 2016, Canada, Ski, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 9:30 PM

Despite having all this snow in town this December Jeff and I were gong-ho to ski Alberta on our 5th annual BC ski trip. Peter Lougheed, Kananaskis, is one of our favourite places to ski and there have been lots of moose sightings in the park recently. Reports of moose licking the salt of the side of cars. A big male moose! I was stoked!! But then Jeff happened to check the grooming reports on Christmas Eve and it turned out that the eastern Rockies had very little snow and conditions for cross-country skiing at Canmore and Kananaskis were poor. Didn’t quite make sense to drive an extra couple hundred kilometers to do some rock skiing while we have one of the better snow years in BC. Even if there was a chance to see THE moose. Hence we changed our plans last minute and added Manning and China Ridge back in on the drive out east instead of doing a first long day of driving to get into the Kootenays. Actually, we started skiing on Christmas Day already going up to Cypress before heading out to Jeff’s parents for dinner. I kinda call that day 1 of skiing. It has been a while since we ski Cypress in the day time.

Below is the trip map (Ski/Sleep).

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We left town quite late on Boxing Day and the ski in Manning wasn’t that long, about 1hr45min. It was lightly snowing the whole time but conditions were MUCH better than during the last ski at Manning (first ski of the season) and I got one loop around South and North Gibsons and Campground Loop in starting from Strawberry Flats. We spent the first night in Princeton eating at the Irish Pub, staying in the usual place.

It was sunny in Princeton on day 3 and we headed up to ski China Ridge. I was disappointed since we did not see any deer on the drive up but was quickly appeased when Jeff spotted a small herd of 4 elk when we arrived at the China Ridge cabin. We were the 2nd car in the lot. The elk weren’t close but ran across the open ridge in plain view. Sure beat seeing deer :-). And the ski also was awesome. They had plenty of snow, the grooming was fresh, there were more animal tracks than ski pole tracks along the trails. The -7C didn’t feel too bad under the blue sky and bright sun. Great start to the trip so far. We skied for almost 3hrs. Jeff rescued me from going down the big hill only to have to come it back up near the end which would have added at least another 30min. Mind you it was nice enough but we also had the long drive to Grand Forks ahead of us. The drive is pretty enough although it started to cloud over as we got past Keremeos. And in Midway I finally got to see my deer. They were crossing the highway right in front of our car. I think they did the same thing last year! We got to stay in the same place we stayed at the very first BC ski trip although the cost has gone up since. Still worth it. Cozy and quiet and in walking distance of “downtown” Grand Forks. We had dinner at Clydes Pub – which was good – and then spotted the movie theater featuring “The Arrival”. Jeff had heard that this would be a good movie. So instead of going for a walk in the cold to digest the food we sat in an old fashion small movie theater. Movie was good but also left more questions than answers. As I was watching the movie I started sneezing. By the time we got back to the motel a couple hrs later my head was stuffed up and I felt like crap. Didn’t sleep at all that night, tossing back and forth with tissues stuck up my nose to prevent the constant leaking.

And that’s how day 4 started for me – heavy head, sore body, no sleep, running nose. Yep, I got the cold that had been hovering around the office for month. Jeff had it, his parent had it and I guess now was my turn. Not the best of timing but what the hell. Today was Paulson day – another one of our favourite places to classic ski. It was cloudy in Grant Forks but by the time we got up to Paulson Pass we were above the clouds. They just had gotten a whole bunch of fresh snow and only a few trails had been re-groomed. So we weren’t able to do our usual big loop. Probably a blessing for me because despite the nice sunshine and great conditions I felt like crap. I could breathe BUT had absolute no energy. Jeff, the trooper, stuck with me the whole time. Took an hour and a half to do the small loop that was groomed – barely 10km in distance – and I was done. Actually I was done after half the distance. I figured Jeff would go for a 2nd loop to work out the kinks going so slow on lap 1 but he didn’t. Said he would do a hard workout the next day at Kimberley and that we should just hit the road to make our way to Cranbrook in the daylight and maybe spot some more wildlife. We did get to see more elk but I had my eyes closed for most of the drive :-). Despite leaving early it was long dark by the time we got to Cranbrook. The roads were quite icy along the way and there was an accident just before Moyie Lake. As per “DriveBC” only one lane was closed and they were letting alternating traffic through but we sat there for 2hrs hardly ever moving while opposite traffic seemed to be able to get through in batches. When we finally started moving around 8PM it still took a long time till we got to the lace of the accident and when we passed it, there was ONE car waiting in line to go the other way. I guess, alternating could mean one way only as well. They never said alternating both ways. We stayed in the usual place but the restaurant we planned to go to was no longer in operation. So we drove downtown to find some pub food, sliding along the icy roads in town. I had no appetite at all. We ended up at dewey’s and I ordered Quesadilla and a salad but hardly took a bite of either. Rats!!! I never lose my appetite no matter how sick I am. Another restless night curled up in my fleece blanket underneath the regular covers.

Day 5 and it was overcast and snowing lightly. We, meaning I, was slow to get up. Barely managed to eat some oatmeal that morning. When leaving town we hit the same spot of black icy as the previous night and almost slid into the pickup ahead of us. Good thing there was nobody in the lane beside him as Jeff was able to redirect our slide into that lane somehow. It was a  close call but the only one on the trip despite pretty tricky road conditions everywhere. It was still lightly snowing in Kimberley and temperature was around -6C. I was starting to feel a bit better than the day before and decided to put on my skates. Skating to me always feels much harder but the 6km loop at Kimberley is an easy one with only a few gentle, short climbs. The first lap felt hard, the 2nd one not too bad but by the third lap I felt like I was ready to collapse. The last “hill” took a lot of stopping to get over it. But overall I felt satisfied with the first skate ski in a while and being still weak from little food and lack of sleep. And I felt ready for tonight’s food – pizza at Peppe’s Italian Fuel in Invermere. Something I could not miss out on and didn’t. Well, we skipped the salad this time to leave more room for the pizza – who needs greens in the winter? I managed to almost eat all of my share. Just left 1 slice for the next day. But we were stuffed and went for a short night walk down to the lake. For the first time we saw the skate and ski tracks on Windermere Lake. We had read about the tracking they do around the lake when conditions are right – Windermere Lake Whiteway put in by the Toby Creek Nordics – but never really seen it. Some day we have to try it.

Day 6, was spent skiing Nipika. Located just outside of Yoho National Park along the Kootenay River, it is for sure one of the more scenic places to ski. Their trail system is extensive and a good mix of flat and hills, some of them quite steep. They got a big dump of snow at Christmas and the trails were in excellent conditions. An almost perfect day at -5C and with a mix of sun and clouds. I was out there for over 2.5hrs, my cold almost forgotten, stopping lots to take pictures or wipe my runny nose dry. The latter was a lost cause, really. Originally we had planned to stay the night in Canmore but there were no cheap places to stay to be found and so we backtracked a bit and drove up the Columbia Valley to stay in Golden for 2 nights. Always a nice scenic drive with more deer and elk sightings along the way. It was dark when we reached Golden but we had pre-booked Mary’s motel right in downtown Golden, not the cheapest but great for location. We walked to the Island Restaurant for dinner, less than 10mins away. I almost finished another meal! Instead of our usual evening walk we headed straight across the road to the movie theater. They were showing “Star Wars – Rogue One”, in 3D and the show was just about to start as we left the restaurant. Great timing,eh!?  The movie was really good entertainment, although the screen could have been bigger :-).

We kicked off New Years Eve, Day 7 , with a great breakfast at the “Big Bend Cafe” in Golden, a 3min walk from the motel. It was cold in town (-10C) and overcast. For today’s ski we drove back into the Rockies, our only ski in Alberta at Lake Louise. It’s only an hour drive through scenic mountains – mind you, it was pretty cloudy on the drive this year. Cross-Country skiing at Lake Louise is free. Grooming is excellent but no shelters anywhere I know off to warm up or to meet at. Moraine Lake Rd is our favourite, not that we have done many of the others yet. It is only tacked till km 9, pretty much the high point, and from there a single track, skier made, usually leads down to the lake. I like taking the single track while Jeff likes going up and down the groomed road a couple of time. I have never made it to the actual lake since I never knew how long it is. This year I met someone at the top who just came back up and he said it is about 45min one way. Darn, like every year, I did not have enough time left to make it before Jeff would be looking for me. Next time. I still went down for about 20min and back up as this is the part where the greatest views are. The sun tried to poke through the clouds but never fully succeeded but it was still nice. Another great time out in the snow. Back in Golden we had dinner reservations at the Island restaurant again. They had a nice “New Year’s Eve” 3 course special which Jeff had. I didn’t trust myself yet with too much food. Afterwards we went for a “short” walk along the Kicking Horse River which turned into a 2hr walk in the cold and dark since the trail we started on didn’t go where we expected it to and then just dead ended. Oh well, Jeff wasn’t very pleased with me since his legs had been tired from racing up and down Moraine Lake Rd twice earlier. Needless to say, we never made it to midnight that night but fell asleep around 10:30PM :-).

New Year’s Day, started out overcast in Golden and still cold. We headed up the local mountains to ski at Dawn Mountain at -11C. It felt cold. The trails system was in great conditions and skiing was good but I also felt getting tired early. Every hill felt like a mountain. It was our 8th day of skiing in a row. I managed to get another 2+hrs in but it felt more like a chore than enjoyable skiing. So when we left Dawn Mountain we had to make a decision to stop in Sicamous or Kamloops for one more night and ski Overlander the last day or just head straight home – at least an 8hr drive from Golden as long as there are no issues along the way. The weather had cleared up quite a bit when we left the mountain and “DriveBC” said all is clear (well that could mean anything now could it). We decided to listen to our tired bodies and just go home. It was a beautiful drive and roads were pretty good till Kamloops where we made a quick stop at Subway for our New Year dinner around 5:45PM. They were just about closing and selection was limited, oh well. After Kamloops there roads were more snow-covered and it was lightly snowing on and off. Jeff the trooper drove the whole way and we made it home in almost exactly 8hrs. Not bad. There was fresh snow everywhere when we arrived back home and the side streets were a mess – worst than anywhere along the trip!

It was nice to be home a day early before we had to go back to work on Jan 3. We did NOTHING that day other than went for an hour long slippery walk along the river in the cold bright sunshine (also see post from Jan 2).

January 2, 2017

Welcome 2017!

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Home, Hummer — K2 in Canada @ 12:56 PM

Well, another year has come and gone. Most of it I blogged about already – except some of our spring fishing, bear watching, horseback riding adventures (maybe I will still get to them some day).

As every year we slept through the New Year – too tired from skiing. But that’s a story for another post. We got back late last night from our trip and 2017 in Vancouver on Jan 2nd greeted us with a beautiful sunny day. We just missed out on another big snow dump a couple of days ago. Our Christmas tree which I put out before our trip is covered in snow – very pretty! p1120967_rot-medium

Chatter also survived our 7 day absence. Our bird-loving neighbour changed out the sugar solution once while we were gone.  The heating system worked quite nicely although Chatter doesn’t seem to like the light all that much. This morning I found him on the small feeder that isn’t heated trying to get his sugar fix from a block of frozen sugar water. Or maybe he just likes ice cream once in a while.

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Not all the hummers seem to be as fussy as Chatter. Although they may just not have a choice. The day we left for our ski trip I saw one of the little girls sitting underneath the lamp while it just started to snow again. She seemed quite content. One of the few moments where Chatter is not viciously guarding the feeder and chase her away.

December 18, 2016

Even More Snow

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Home, Hummer, Ski — K2 in Canada @ 8:21 PM

They did say it would snow today but I did not expect that much snow. We woke up to almost 5cm and it still snowed heavily. Everything outside was white but the temperature had come up to about 0C. And apparently it will get warm tomorrow, +9C, and back to rain. We had planned to go to Manning today but weren’t really up to braving the snowy drive – the ratio of driving vs skiing would have been all wrong. So we watched Chatter this morning hunkering down on the snowy branches. Poor guy. Wonder if this is his first snowy winter experience. We also had a visit from a woodpecker, a flicker and lots of tiny birds today.

We walked up to the store to get some fresh air. On the walk back we ran into this guy telling us about cross-country skiers he had seen up at the golf course. What a great idea – why drive 45min to go skiing if you can do it right from home! We put our skies on right at river level but had to take them off for the walk up the hill – why do people clean up the sidewalks?! Once we hit the golf course though it was deep powder and awesome terrain for the next 90min till it got too dark. We now not only have a beach in walking distance but also a ski hill. COOL!!! Could have gone for a paddle as well :-). Below are a lot of pictures of a snowy day at home as well as a video staring Chatter and then us.

 

 

Deep Freeze

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Home, Hummer, Ski — K2 in Canada @ 8:20 PM

Wow, it was cold this past week starting last Sunday, Dec 11. Nice and sunny but below zero even during the day. Arctic Outflow apparently. Well I should qualify cold. I don’t think it got below -10C in Vancouver but that’s cold for us, while the rest of the country was below -20C or -30C.

Instead of playing outdoors last Sunday Jeff and I had to build a heater for our hummingbird feeder. Now that we got Chatter hooked on it we can’t just not feed him only because it was getting cold out and the sugar solution was freezing even during the day. A trip to Home Depot and Winners got us started – an outdoor rated halogen light fixture, an outdoor rated timer, a power cord and a plastic salad bowl. A hole in the bottom of the bowl, glued in the light fixture with bathroom silicone caulk and the chain from a small pendant we got for coming in 3rd mixed double this year at the Tour de Indian Arm produce a nice heater by Monday night. The timer was set for 30min on 30min off over night and it worked great – no ice in the morning. So we did the same cycles during the day while we just bring it inside during the night. I am not sure Chatter likes the bright light all that much but he sure likes to still be able to eat. Jeff got him Friday afternoon.

We were able to ride our bikes all week long. My route actually was nice and clear except for a few icy patches. The construction firm had cleared my bike path along  Kent beautifully. Jeff used the river trail which was a bit more of an exciting commute with uneven ice or flooded trails. But apparently he only crashed ones.

But since the days are so short I hardly got to see the sun and blue sky all week until FINALLY Saturday came and we went back to Callaghan. Same deal as last week – sleeping in and getting to WOP for the afternoon. It was -10C and sunny. I bundled up good. It was great skiing – good grip on blue grip wax and I made it up “How it Goes” for some nice views.

Travel Theme: Shimmer

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Home, Hummer, Travel Theme — K2 in Canada @ 10:42 AM

It has been some time since I contributed to this theme. Not for lack of awesome themes but lack of time to decide which picture(s) to use. This morning though, I took a picture of Chatter this morning in the snow which I thought just fits this weeks theme “Shimmer” perfectly. The picture has not been taken while traveling but I was sure the little hummer was thinking “Why did I not travel south with the others?” Dreaming about traveling is almost as good as traveling 🙂

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Check out Aisla’s awesome collection here: https://wheresmybackpack.com/2016/12/17/travel-theme-shimmer/

December 1, 2016

Singing in the rain

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Home, Hummer — K2 in Canada @ 10:45 PM

Well not us but Chatter – last weekend I got him singing.

November 19, 2016

Meet Chatter

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Home, Hummer — K2 in Canada @ 10:52 PM

FINALLY!!! We have seen hummingbirds along the river a lot but never near our house. After I got a hummingbird feeder for Christmas last year I tried this summer to attract them but no such luck. Getting tired of refreshing the sugar solution every few days I had taken it back down again. About a week and a bit ago Jeff saw one checking out the last flower left on our hanging basket. And last weekend we saw a couple chase each other through our now leave-less tree. Right away I put out the feeder. Nothing Monday but on Tuesday morning, at first light, there he was. An Anna’s hummingbird was at the feeder. Yeah!!! But I had to go to work. Around mid day I got an email from Jeff confirming he saw the hummingbird as well. He was sitting in our tree and chirping away – hence the name Chatter, short for Chatter Box. He now does this every day. Comes at first light and disappears around four in the afternoon. Not sure why I adore these little creatures so much but I do. And they are so much fun to observe, I think. On Wednesday morning, I got in trouble when I changed out the sugar solution. There was a lot of buzzing around the now empty string where the feeder lives. As soon as the feeder was back, the hummer was at it. When I left the house that same day he came right up to me to say “Thank you” – or at least that’s how I interpret it :-). And he is not alone. There is a smaller female around as well but we only see her at the feeder for brief moments. She never hangs around. And Chatter doesn’t always let her use the feeder either. Oh well, all couples fight once in a while :-). Below are the first pictures – most were taken by Jeff since he is home during the day. This AM I took a little video to capture him chattering away in the tree but he did not make a sound after waking us up with his chirping at 7:15AM. I am sure I’ll get him one of these days. Anyhow, I posted the video below – it’s a bit long but as I said, I love watching these guys. How they puff themselves up to stay warm, how they can never sit still, how the colour changes as they move their heads….

Watch Chatter do his thing – quietly

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