Gold Creek Coincidence

While I wait for the BC election results, here are some pics from a beautiful hike along Gold Creek in Golden Ears Provincial Park on Sunday.

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Cool story: After we saw the waterfall, the Artist and I ate lunch on a stretch of beach below the main trail and stayed there for a while so he could fly fish and I could read. Out of the bushes, bounding towards us from the main trail was a dog that looked an awful lot like Scarlett, my brother and sister-in-law’s Nova Scotia Duck Toller. She was the very definition of a happy dog with her wagging tail and allowed me to pet her for a second before bounding right back up the path to her owner(s). I was pretty sure it was Scarlett though the Artist highly doubted the probability of it. We went on with our fishing and reading. But later that afternoon, back at the parking lot, we saw my brother and sister-in-law and turns out it was Scarlett! Since we had been completely invisible from the path, she must have sniffed us out with that impressive nose of hers. Needless to say, that canine encounter made my day!

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Roughing it in the Bush

My last post was from a book I read right before going on a camping trip and, seeing that I have very little experience camping myself, it tickled my funny bone.

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Fortunately my experience camping 5 nights in Jasper National Park was much, much better than Elfrieda’s in All My Puny Sorrows. This massive park in Alberta offers breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies, along with countless glacier-fed rivers and lakes. Every bend in the road offers yet another magnificent photo op, making even a mediocre photographer’s work look golden.

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One of my favourite lakes – Medicine Lake

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Our group camped in Wabasso campground which had proper washrooms but no showers, so I had to shower in rivers and lakes for the first time. Seeing that they’re glacier-fed, these were the coldest showers I’d ever had but luckily we had great weather so the dip wasn’t as shocking as it could have been.

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Maligne Lake is popular for canoe and kayak rentals. I swam instead.

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View from my spot in Maligne Lake

My biggest fear was encountering bears. I soon had to get over that because literally less than five minutes into arriving in the park, we see a bear on the side of the road and then when we get to our campsite, the person signing us in says, “Just to warn you, there are a lot of bears here.” I almost had a panic attack but thank God the only ones we saw were from the side of the road, and they didn’t visit me in nightmares either (which did happen the other time I went camping).

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Anyone know what kind of bear this is?

The gigantic river that runs through a large part of the park is the Athabasca River. Our campsite backed onto it and it became the evening lullaby that replaced the sirens and traffic I am used to in Vancouver.

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morning mist on the Athabasca

Given the Artist likes to fly fish, we found a few rivers for him to cast a line while I sat on the side and read. (He didn’t catch much, but any day where he’s in a river is a good day for him).

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Maligne River between Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake

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Fiddle River near the entrance/exit of the park on the Alberta side

We did a lot of driving in our little Toyota Yaris that clocked the longest trip of its life. In particular, we wanted to drive the Icefields Parkway that leads to the stunning Athabasca Glacier and Columbia Icefields and continues on to Banff National Park. The route is renowned for being one of the most scenic drives in the world. I’d have to agree.

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The Endless Chain ridge

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One of the glaciers on the approach to Athabasca Glacier

Stunning waterfalls are also part of the route:

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The mist coming off the powerful Athabasca Falls creates this low-hanging rainbow

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Sunwapta Falls

The Athabasca Glacier used to extend much closer to the highway but has receded dramatically over the past 125 years. This is the “toe of the glacier”, the furthest point you can walk to if you’re not on a guided tour that actually takes you on the ice.

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Athabasca Glacier

We also climbed a bit of Mount Edith Cavell, a very recognizable peak with its stripes of snow, named after an English nurse who was executed by the Germans during WWI.

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A view of Angel Glacier and its pond at Edith Cavell

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Looking back along the Edith Cavell hike

Some other wildlife we saw:

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By the end of our stay, I was saturated with campfire smell that took at least three real showers to remove, but I felt rather proud of myself for roughing it in the bush for multiple days and for enjoying it, too! I may have been deprived of camping as a child but who’s to say I can’t learn to like it as an adult?

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Snow on Seymour

Unlike this weekend, last weekend was crisp and clear and beautiful. The Artist and I went to Mount Seymour to get our first glimpse of the fluffy white stuff.

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It was my first winter hike and I’m glad I had on a pair of good hiking boots for it!

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These little grey jays, or whiskey jacks as they are often called, were a common sight along the trail. Not shy at all. (Nevertheless, I was still pretty thrilled one landed on my hand).

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We climbed about halfway to the first peak so we could get this view of Vancouver rising through the fog.

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The sun was out and it felt great to be enjoying the outdoors on the last weekend of November.

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On the way down, we stumbled upon these folks with their makeshift toboggan run. The Artist gave it a go while I carried our backpacks down.

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A few slips and tumbles later, we made it back to the car and warmed up with hot drinks and an oh-my-gosh-I-cannot-believe-how-good-this-book-is book at Andrews on Eighth that I will blog about next week, so stay tuned!

 

A Half-Hearted Pilgrim

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“When Cheryl Strayed reaches Ashland, Oregon, she meets a woman who admires her for traveling ‘the pilgrim way.’ That’s when it dawned on me that Wild is a modern-day pilgrim story, but with a twist.”

To know more about this crazy twist (I exaggerate slightly), I’m going to send you to The Curator to read my full response to Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild.

The Mountain and the Valley: Pemberton Weekend

No, this isn’t a post about the Canadian novel of the same name by Ernest Buckler, one of my all-time favourites.

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I borrowed the title to show pics of a weekend spent in Pemberton this month, hiking the rainy heights of Joffre Lakes and biking the flat streets of Pemberton Valley for their annual Slow Food Cycle.

Joffre Lakes

This hike rewards you with 3 beautiful lakes along the way—Lower, Middle, and Upper lakes, fed by glacier runoff. You see the Lower one right away, which is always nice to have a view for motivation early in the hike.

Lower Joffre Lake.

Lower Joffre Lake

Walking into the mystic vale

Walking into the mystic vale

As you can tell from these pictures, we chose one of the rainiest days this summer to do the hike. But the mist added its own beauty to it. I was thankful the fog started clearing by the time we arrived at the Middle Lake so we could get this mysterious view.

The Middle Joffre Lake ghosting into view

The Middle Joffre Lake ghosting into view

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The longest stretch of the hike is from the Middle Lake to the Upper one, but even then, I was surprised at how quick it was. The hike took us about 3.5 hours in total. Much easier of a climb than Garibaldi. We didn’t stay too long at the top because we were cold and wet, but we could see the outline of the glacier behind, and it made me eager to return here on a brighter day to see it in all its alpine glory.

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Upper Joffre Lake with glacier

Slow Food Cycle

I was thankful the hike wasn’t more strenuous because the next day, we did a 20K bike ride along Pemberton Meadows Road, stopping at various farms to enjoy local food as part of Pemberton’s 11th annual Slow Food Cycle.

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One of the stops

Stopping for lunch at one of the farms

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Here’s a video that explains more about it:

What a fun way to spend a Sunday, biking in the lap of majestic mountains and enjoying produce fresh off a farm. Such a different experience than I’ve ever had biking in the city! I think I’ll be back to do this again one summer.

St. Mark’s Summit

Last Saturday, a couple friends and I climbed St. Mark’s Summit, probably one of my last hikes of the summer, sad to say. It’s number 3 on this list, which, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m slowly working my way through.

St. Mark’s Summit is accessed from the northernmost parking lot of Cypress Mountain, following Howe Crest Sound Trail East that starts near the Lions Express chairlift. I think this might have been the first time I’ve been on Cypress Mountain.

Olympic rings on Cypress Mountain

Olympic rings on Cypress Mountain

The trail was gorgeous, offering glimpses of Howe Sound and the Binkert Lions along the way. I always love hikes that give you pay-off as you climb, not just at the top (which is my biggest beef with the Grouse Grind).

Wildflowers along the trail.

Wildflowers along the trail

Glimpse of Howe Sound along the trail

Glimpse of Howe Sound

A shot of the Lions from Howe Sound Crest Trail

A shot of the Lions from Howe Sound Crest Trail

We got to the top in just over 2 hours. The beginning and end sections are fairly easy, but the middle section contains a series of switchbacks over some very uneven ground/root systems. I didn’t have hiking boots on and I managed fine, although you do have to pay more attention with where and how you’re placing your feet on the way down (I tend to find the way down harder for this reason—maybe my knees are getting old already).

A wooden bridge crossing

A wooden bridge crossing

Climbing over a rock near the top

One of the steeper sections

Reflection pool

Reflection pool

Considering it was a Saturday, I was surprised the hike wasn’t as busy as it could have been, at least not along the way. There were quite a few people at the summit though, which isn’t a very large platform to begin with. People took turns shifting out of the prime location spots to take photographs.

From St. Mark's Summit, you can see Bowen Island (the large one on the left) and the smaller Anvil Island (centre)

From St. Mark’s Summit, you can see Bowen Island (the large one on the left) and the closer and smaller Anvil Island

You can see other hikers enjoying the view from the next bluff

Other hikers enjoy the view from the next bluff

The view was incredible, not quite as amazing as the Chief, but still pretty close. It also wasn’t as hard of a hike though. I would classify it somewhere between Dog Mountain and the Chief.

St. Mark's Summit. Random person got in my photo

St. Mark’s Summit. Random person and dog got in my photo

If you walk a little further, there is another bluff you can sit on and enjoy the view. My friends and I stayed up here a while to enjoy lunch, and then headed back down in about 1 1/2 hours.

View of Unnecessary Mountain (left) and the Lions, poking up like ears

View of Unnecessary Mountain and the Lions, poking up like ears

A long way down from the ledge we ate lunch at

A long way down from the ledge we ate lunch at. You can spot a ferry in the distance leaving Horseshoe Bay

It was a great day hike I would definitely recommend!