K2inCanada's Blog

August 17, 2018

Tricked

Filed under: Animals, Bears, Bike, Canada — K2 in Canada @ 11:15 PM

Jeff tricked me two weeks ago. On Friday afternoon, Aug 3, he asked me about a hike we did a few years ago: “How steep do you think Mt Outram was to below the peak?”. If I had know what would be coming I would have said very steep but I remembered the first 2/3rds as a relatively easy grade, even though it was long and probably 1200m elevation gain (1700m to the top) so I said: “Wasn’t that steep” thinking that would be a nice hike to do on the BC Day long weekend beginning. “Good” came the response “I want to buy a new mountain bike like yours and need a reason for it – riding up Mt Outram is the right reason”. I was stunned! We did see mountain bikes below the peak when we hiked it a few years ago. I only use my mountain bike for winter commuting and to get around on logging roads during spring fishing. I never “mountain-biked” ever. I was even more stunned when I heard myself say “That sounds cool”.

Luckily I did a bit more research on the Saturday after our training paddle in Indian Arm (10′ Wup, 20′ @ 70%, 5R, 12 x 3′ on 2′,5R, 20′ @ 70%). I found some other more¬†mountain bike designated trail options around the lodge in Manning. And buddy John always talked about Poland Lake as a great bike trail up a fire access road rather than a narrow hiking trail. So we did the sensible thing and picked Poland Lake as our very first mountain bike adventure.

It was a hot sunny day. The trail started out level for a kilometer or so through trees starting from Strawberry Flats. But soon enough it started climbing and I started sweating, huffing and swearing but Jeff was too far ahead to hear me. Lucky for him he spotted a bear when we reached the first opening with a great view over the valley bottom already way below us. That made me forget about all the pain getting here and I had renewed energy to continue on. Well, it only got steeper from there and I had to walk quite a few sections. But once we made it up to the top of the chair lift (I should have known it would be a steep ride) the trail level out for the last 4km to Poland Lake and we were in the shade on and off. At Poland Lake, we hiked around the lake leaving the bikes behind – no bikes allowed around Poland. Nice spot. It is a designated wilderness campsite and people were camping up there. Tons of wild flowers in the meadows around the lake too. The way down started going up again for a bit. My legs were complaining but once we got past the ski lift it was a nice fast down, not too scary either. I was tired though after the trip which took us about 3hrs. We cooled our legs off in lightning lake, watching the ground squirrels and then had a big plate of nachos and beer at the lodge watching the humming birds. A great day and a first for me! I climbed a “mountain” on my bike!

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July 16, 2018

Last Training Weekend and some Mountain Fun

Filed under: Animals, Bears, Canada, Kayak — K2 in Canada @ 10:23 PM

Last weekend was our last chance to train for the Downwind Champs. But the wind gods were not with us and the forecast for Howe Sound wasn’t great. So we ended up doing two paddles in Indian Arm. The weather was overcast, few sprinkles Saturday and rather cool for July.

Sat: Speed workout in the Double Surfski. 30min at 70%, 11 x 3′ on 2′ workout in calm conditions.

Sun: Singles Day with John. I was in my V10 Sport. The water was actually quite bumpy and it was quite breezy in the Cove (more so than Howe Sound :-)). It was good practice for me to get my comfort level in waves up even more and we put in another 2hr paddle. Good enough I hope ūüôā

On Saturday afternoon we took Jeff’s parents up Grouse Mountain. Even though they pretty much spent their whole adult life in North Delta, they have never been up Grouse. Jeff’s mom has only seen the Grizzlies online via webcam. So this past Christmas, we gave them a gift certificate for a visit to Grouse Mountain including dinner at the 5* restaurant up there. We took the Gondola up. The weather wasn’t that great although the clouds did break up quite a bit in the afternoon and we did get a bit of a view. It was rather cold though! That did not stop the activities on the top. We got to see the bears Coola and Grinder, most of the lumberjack show and the end of the bird show (which I had never seen before). Having an owl swoop right over your head to land next to you on a stump was pretty cool! And seeing the bears growl at each other was a new one for me. They usually get along quite well but there might have been some food involved :-). Below just a couple pictures.

The dinner was quite spectacular and we had a table with a view over English Bay. They had a business casual dress code and Jeff had carried up a 2nd set of clothes to minimize the time dressing up :-). I never had sturgeon before – it is a nice firm white fish and a good eat. But the best were the gnocchi soaked in butter. You knew every bite reduced your lifespan by at least day but it was so good :-). We did go for another look at the bears to “offset” some of the butter afterwards but they were in hiding again. Instead we saw a couple deer and a deer fight.

After taking the gondola back down, we drove up to the Cypress Lookout. Another first for Jeff’s parents. A two new mountains day for them.

July 2, 2018

June Fishing

Filed under: Animals, Bears, Canada, Fishing — K2 in Canada @ 9:27 AM

After a spectacular month of May, everything cooled down a bit for June. The weather, the amount of animal encounters and the fishing.

June 8-10: We wanted to leave a bit earlier on the Friday since the drive to our lake of choice was expected to be 4+hrs. So I was planning to take a half day off since Jeff finishes at 3:45PM. What we did not properly communicate was the fact that Jeff also took a half day off which ended at 11:45AM, while I had meetings till 2:30PM (and I was so happy to get home before Jeff with my plan). OOPS. So we didn’t really get off to a good start. Because of the time we left, Jeff’s was the better plan after all, we sat in traffic forever getting out of town. A couple accidents and the usual Friday afternoon commuter traffic all added to the mess on Hwy 1. It took 5+hrs to get to the lake but we still arrived with some daylight left to set up camp AND we had the whole lake to ourselves. Awesome! Not so awesome, it was a bit breezy and cold but we had brought our fleece inserts for the sleeping bags. We sure needed them.

P1000551 (Medium)

Made it with a bit of daylight left

Jeff got up really early to go fishing the next morning to enjoy a bit of calm before the wind kicks up. I tried to get some more sleep. But something stomping around the tent and sniffing at it woke me up again. Nope, not what you think …. cows were walking by the tent and getting a bit upset about this weird thing making weird flapping noises in the wind. I felt like yelling at them all the same to prevent them from stomping onto my tent – cows are not that smart but they scare easily and I had the stampede going off in no time. Luckily away from the tent :-). I was awake now and got up. It was actually a nice enough day with a mix of sun and clouds but it was cold. Maybe around 10C would be my guess. It was too cold and windy for me to fish and I went for a long extended walk first bushwhacking along the lake than up on some old gravel roads in the footsteps of mining. This area has been dug up for centuries – copper mostly – and even though we weren’t on actual mining property one can still see remnants of the past that mining was very much present in this whole area. I found some old wooden shacks full of drill samples near the top as well as an old mine shaft. If I had flashlight, I could have explored it more. Mind you, the entrance was being held open by some sketchy looking wooden beams and the ground was very muddy. Probably for the best that I did not have a flashlight on me. Not much in regards on animals, other than cows and the marmot that seemed to like hanging out in old mine site :-). Oh and there were a couple of deer right in camp but they ran off right away when they saw me. The wind calmed down for the afternoon and the sun was out more often – nice enough to take my float tube out for a couple hours. I didn’t catch anything but I did get to see the bear poke its head through the bushes for a couple seconds – just enough time to get a quick picture. The evening was cold but dry and we huddled around the fire. We even had a visitor. A rabbit which seemed to be quite okay with us sitting there. I am sure someone feed him/her before. There were quite a few of them around. Eventually a light drizzle started and we crawled into the tent.

It rained or drizzled most of the night well into the morning hours. Jeff waited for a lull to get up – not quite as early as the day before. And all I hear is “Wow, you got to see this”. He did not want to tell me what he saw and I expected a bear or even better moose and was up and out in no time (I am sure Jeff will remember that trick…). There wasn’t much to see though, every thing was gray and wet and … the top of the hill was WHITE. Less than 100m above us was fresh snow on the ground. In June – a first for me! Jeff had started a fire for breakfast and I sat in camp till all the wood was gone. Jeff off course went out in the cold to fish. It rained a bit and what looked like hail for a bit. There was no way I’d be out in my float tube. To stay warm after the fire was out I went for a walk. That’s when the rain/hail turned into – yep – snow. Big flakes at times and it lasted for about an hour on and off. Lucky for me my fishing bag ALWAYS has a toque and gloves in it. Nothing stuck to the ground though but everything was wet – which can make for some great picture taking.¬† In lieu of animals, I photographed a lot of flowers :-). I am not sure how Jeff could stay out in his boat for the whole day in that weather – it was pretty darn cold!

Jun 15-16: We decided to stay closer to Merritt again, leaving Saturday morning, and to try a new lake in the Chattaway Lake area. We used to fish in this area a lot 10 years ago but since then, the area has seen very extensive logging and it had changed quite a bit. But there are lots of lakes to pick from and the one we picked was Dot. Took a bit of searching to find the lake but we eventually did. We did not have the lake to ourselves this time but still got a decent, although a bit sloped spot right on the lake. It was a beautiful sunny, warm weekend, although not too hot on the Saturday. I brought my mountain bike along this time to cycle to all those other lakes in the area – well not all of them, I am too slow for that. It was nice riding but no wildlife encounters. I found Antler Lake (I think) and Billy Lake (confirmed) and some other unnamed puddles and had some great views climbing up some of the logging roads. The benefit of clear cuts – you can see a LONG way. When I got back into camp our neighbours had a fricking generator running which was very annoying to say the least. They didn’t care since they weren’t in camp. It ran for hours and when they finally got off the lake, they still left it running. It was past 8PM and Jeff ask them, somewhat nicely, to turn it off. The answer was, they had to charge batteries. Give me a break. But after another 20min I think even they got annoyed listening to it and turned it off. Finally some peace and quiet. Jeff wasn’t impressed with our American neighbours. Fishing hadn’t been that great either and we decided to pack up in the morning and go to Gypsum Lake, an old favourite of mine.

Again it took us a while to find Gypsum Lake. But that turned out to be a good thing, for us, not for the mama deer and her two fawns we encounter driving on a logging road after a wrong turn. So cute though. They were ahead off us on the road and refused to get off. So we stopped every so often so they can rest. The little fawns were tiny! No great opportunity for pictures but nice to just observe. Eventually the doe found a spot where she decided to leave the road and we finally were able to get past them and leave them in peace.

Shortly after we found Gypsum and Jeff was on the water in minutes while I went for the hike up Gypsum Mountain. It’s an actually marked trail of which there aren’t many in the area but it had been difficult last time I tried it due to a lot of wind fall. There weren’t very many trees left right at the lake. Pine beetles had taken their toll on this area and most of it was likely logged. The trail was in nice enough shape, with only a few scrambles over or below some fallen trees. From the top – there actually are two tops – one has a great view. There were quite a few wild flowers and I was chasing butterflies for a while. It was quite hot but a breeze kept it manageable and it kept the mosquitoes in check. They had been bad in the protected shady areas. A beautiful day for the hike. But the animals were hiding, nothing but fresh moose and even fresher bear tracks. Many years ago, when walking the trail around the lake we almost ran into a bear but he took off when he heard me cursing at a stick almost ripping a hole into my neoprene waiters – only his scat was left right in the middle of the trail, still steaming, to tell the tale. Back in camp, well camp was my camping chair, I chatted with a couple other campers, outdoor lovers like me. Then sat in the sun reading a bit. Then took my bike for another spin. A great relaxing day in the beautiful outdoors despite not seeing any wildlife. Next time :-).

May 20, 2018

May Month – Fishing Month

Filed under: Animals, Bears, Canada, Fishing, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 11:15 PM

2018 was a more normal year and the lakes did not ice if till the first weekend of May. Hence we only got two weekends of fishing/camping in so far and we are spending the long weekend at home but that’s for a different post.

May 5/6 weekend we went to our usual spot at Little Pete. The lake was already busy but our spot was still open. The weather was really nice with lots of sunshine, a bit of a breeze and not too cold at all. In fact, I spent my time walking in T-shirt! But the area was still pretty wet. All the ponds and meadows I usually hike to were still under water and it took a lot more bushwhacking than usual. But I did get rewarded with a bear sighting at the far away point, near the lookout. A beautiful and big cinnamon bear was eating grass in the open and I was able to observe him without scaring him for about 20mins until he peacefully wandered off into the forest. Pretty awesome. We did see each other again when I continue on the trail and he came around a hill but he took off right away. Not a good time to be a bear, it is hunting season after all.  When I got back to camp I jumped into my float tube and joined Jeff on the lake. While I walked the tube to the water, I saw 3 deer up the hill which Is still consider part of camp :-). It was already late in the day but I caught a couple fish nonetheless Рall small though Рbut it was nice as the wind finally had calmed down.

The next morning we woke up to water running underneath our tent. It had been dry when we set it up. Luckily we stayed dry inside the tent. During breakfast we got to watch a Red-Tail Hawk hunt in “our” campsite and saw him actually catch a mouse. Very cool. I went for another walk that day but didn’t really get to see anything but birds until I got back to camp. The deer were back up on the hill – 4 of them. I love it when the wildlife around you just behaves as if you were just part of the scenery. Great trip! The highlight though was seeing a Great Grey Owl on our drive out via Douglas Ranch Road.

May¬† 12/13 weekend we ended up at Blue Lake. Although we started out trying to find Gordon Lake up near Chattaway Lake resort. Our “broken” Topo map all sudden worked again and so we headed out into the unknown trying to find the lake. I think we got close but never saw the lake. And luckily didn’t get stuck either despite trying many little dirt tracks to find in. at the end of one of those we turned the truck of and went for a short walk to see if we could see the lake. We did see another road that may lead to it but could not be reached from where we were. Okay – turn around an try again. At that point though our Topo map failed us again and without it we hardly made it out of the bush. So after wasting 2 hrs trying to find this lake we finally gave in and just headed to Blue Lake, another hr of driving…. Jeff was not happy spending half of Sat in the truck. On top of that, when we finally reached Blue our usual camp spot was busy – like really busy. But lucky for us the opposite end was still open. Jeff was on the water in 10min while I set up camp and went for a walk first. It was incredibly hot and I went for quite a long walk but did not get to see any wildlife that day. Discovered a few new water ponds though around the Little Blue area and there were lots of tracks from deer to moose to bear! Worth exploring again – maybe on a less hot and bright sunny day :-). But the worst part of this day – my beloved super zoom camera died that afternoon. Zoom got stuck and with AF stopped as well. RATS.

 

The next day I mostly spent fishing and it was great. Nice 18inch trout quite frequently. Jeff found the secret spot and we fished next to each other for over 2hrs. Off course he out-fished me 5 to 1 but that’s okay :-). Just went for a short walk before we headed back home (so I could get ready for my trip to Belgium the next day) and saw fresh bear poop and prints in a snow patch. Never got to see the bear and I was running out off time.

April 23, 2018

Share the trails – Earth Day Hike

Filed under: Bears, Canada, Hike — K2 in Canada @ 9:27 PM

Sunday afternoon “hike” in Minnekhada Regional Park in Port Coquitlam. A great way to spent a sunny, 16C day when the body is too tired to go for a paddle. It’s by no means a challenging hike, more a stroll through the woods but this park is known for its bear sightings. Last time we were here, we scared a mom and her cub off the trail. So this time I was hoping but not really expecting to see a bear. It’s a busy little park and there are quite a few people around. But we did see a bear – two actually. Mama bear and her year old cub. They were coming down the trail we were walking up. So we stepped aside to let them pass, talking to them so they knew we were there. They did not seem to care much about us. While mama bear gave us a bit of space when passing us and got about 5m off the trail, the cub, a skinny tall guy, was coming right at us. He was so close, I could have petted his head. Mama bear was not too impressed about juniors behaviour and huffed at him and us since were so close together. The cub knew the huff and bolted up a tree as if he was getting shot at. We were standing less than a few meters away from mom who could have reached us in a single leap, talking to her calmly. Mama bear just looked as us like saying “Kids these days”. We didn’t want to stick around for the family drama to unfold and walked slowly away from the bears. No more huffing from mom. Junior came down the tree and, to our utter surprise, started following us rather than going into the direction they were on before our encounter. Mama bear was shaking her head but followed him. Our guess, someone must have fed the little guy before and he was hoping for something. He showed no aggression at all. We just continued on our way at normal pace, ignoring the cub. As we rounded a corner and lost sight of them behind us, Junior must have lost interest as well. We did not see him again. Weird behaviour for a bear but overall a peaceful encounter. We hiked for another couple hours, up some knoll with a great view over the valley. Really a fun little park. We never got to see the cougar, as the signage had promised though :-).

We rewarded ourselves with BBQ Baby Back Ribs and Copper Ale at the Gillnetter Pub, watching the Fraser flow by. It felt like the perfect weekend!

December 12, 2017

Stunningly Beautiful!

Filed under: Bears, Canada — K2 in Canada @ 9:53 PM

I know, I am way behind with my posts but I had to share this. Stunningly beautiful images of bears – black or white both amazing. I just love bears!

October 13, 2017

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/

October 8, 2016

September Hiking = Bear Watching

Filed under: Animals, Bears, Canada, Hike — K2 in Canada @ 10:40 PM

As the days are getting shorter so do my hikes and I stay in the local mountains. I hike the top while Jeff roller skis up the road. But that does not mean I am on my own. There are quite a few more people around obviously but I was also lucky to see bears on 2 out of my 3 hikes on Cypress last month. They come out of the bush to fatten up on the nice grass growing on the ski slopes.

First encounter was on Sep 12. A beautiful sunny day and I hiked up Mount Strachan, a much less busy trail compared to the Howe Sound Crest Trail, coming down the ski run to Eagle Chair lift. Two girls coming up warned me about the 2 bears they saw hiking up. One just around the corner. So I slowly continued on hoping it was still there. And I was lucky. A young bear judging by the size.¬†Not sure why he had picked that spot. There seemed to be more rock than grass on that slope but he was happily munching away. I watched him till he reach the other side of the slope when he finally saw me. Didn’t seem to scared as he slowly wandered off into the bush. Unfortunately I did not see bear number 2 when I continued hiking down even though I payed extra attention. By the way, the views from Mt Strachan are really nice and it’s only an hour up, if that.

Second encounter happened on Sep 18 which was even more special to me. I hardly got the hike started, walking up the ski run this time when I spotted the bear right at the bottom of the bunny hill. Close to¬†where all the people walk by – not many spotting the bear. This bear was bigger and I think a female. She looked very healthy. Ready for a winter of sleeping and giving birth to another generation of Cypress bears. I was wondering if she could have been the mom of the two cubs I saw on Cypress last year. Anyhow, she did not seem concern about the people and I was happy to see that everyone who spotted her stayed on the trail rather than trying to get closer. She was just beautiful. I almost did not do my hike but eventually I decided to leave her alone and get a bit of exercise. Only had time for a”quick” up and down the ski run as Jeff would be up meeting me at the car in an hour. Well I did take a detour going up towards Hollyburn for a bit. On the way down I ran into paddling buddy Sean and his wife and we walked down together. I didn’t expect the bear to still be there but she was. Sean and his wife were a bit more anxious about it and stayed behind me while watching ¬†for a bit. Sean knows I ran slower than him :-). Now the sun was out in full force as well and I could not take my eyes off her. Needless to say Jeff had been waiting for a while. But when I told him there was a bear right at the bottom, we both went back and watch her for some more time. A very special day!!!

The last hike in September, Sep 24, we didn’t see a bear. Maybe because Jeff was actually hiking with me. We took the Baden Powell trail east until it joined the Hollyburn Mtn trail and followed it to the top. It was a overcast cloudy day and no views from the top. We crossed the top and were lucky to find the trail that connected with Mount Strachan and the ski runs. It was pretty steep down but in pretty good conditions. Bushy in sections which meant we were soak from wet bushes rubbing against our pants. Could be a nice round trip on a sunny day. Coming down the ski run being wet and no bear sightings made it a bit less fun :-).

And if you still don’t have enough of looking at bear pictures, here is a video of the two encounters above as well as one I took in the spring of Blondie (one of many posts I still have to do on our spring fishing adventures this year):

 

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