The lack of snow got people out biking early this year, and we were no different. By May we already had 2 camping missions out to Della Creek near Lillooet. What more needs to be said.. huge crews, huge laps, huge amounts of food and booze, and huge smiles all around. Logging 4 laps of an 800m descent on your bike in one day is a hell of a good time, and add in a dozen of your good friends rolling with you, and you're laughing!
After a 2 month hiatus from snowboarding due to 2 broken ribs (the longest I've ever had in 17 years of snowboarding), I was itching to get back on the snow. My friends and I made plans to get out to an unnamed cabin in the Whistler backcountry for my 30th birthday. Expecting dismal snow, but just looking forward to a good outing, we were surprised to find some good turns at the upper elevations. After snagging a nice couloir, we retreated to the cabin for dinner, drinks, and dance parties. Everyone sleeping in the cabin complained that it was much too hot, and they had restless sleeps. I, however, had opted to break in my new tent I had recently purchased, and I was cozy and comfortable all night. The next day we woke up, and headed out to some hot springs, where more friends joined us and we had another great night of camping. I couldn't have wished for a better birthday, and a great welcome back to snowboarding.
Most overnight camping missions I go on tend to be just me, Sara, and the dog. So it was a fun treat to go re-visit Joffre Lakes with a crew of friends. Joffre Lakes is always a beautiful hike to check out, and I have been numerous times, but I had heard they recently put a new variation on the trail that visited a nice waterfall, so I was very excited to get a chance to see it.
With friends in from Ontario and also up from Vancouver, we started hiking up on a beautiful Sunday morning. On our way up, we counted 45 campers hiking down that had stayed there overnight (there are not that many campsites available)! Luckily, our Sunday-Monday choice was a good one - we only encountered 2 other camping groups up alongside us.
Another unique part to this trip that had me excited compared to years' past was a new toy I had recently acquired, a 10-stop ND filter, which allows you to take long exposures during broad daylight. Once we reached the third lake and set up camp, I took off with the dog and explored the neighbouring glacial streams. Hoping for a clear starry night, I was bummed to see the clouds roll in, but it made for a great sunset.
If you live in or near the Sea-to-Sky corridor, Joffre Lakes is a must-do for the area, probably the most bang for your exercise buck in terms of a beautiful hike.
Meager Creek Hot Springs is a beautiful hot spring pool that lays towards the north end of the Pemberton Valley. A very well-developed site, it is (was) easily accessible by car, and purportedly used to see up to 30,000 visitors per year. On August 6, 2010, at 3:30am, initial failures began, with the secondary peak of Mount Meager collapsing 45 seconds later, releasing ~48.5million cubic meters of rock. The rock travelled at an estimated 240km/h down Capricorn Creek. This was one of the largest landslides to occur worldwide and one of the three largest landslides in Canadian history. This landslide took out the bridge that people would use to access the Meager Creek hot springs, and they rarely see any traffic these days due to limited access.
In the last few years, the Varsity Outdoor Club (VOC) has established a hiking trail that accesses the Harrison backcountry hut. An awesome side note: it also gives hiking access to the hot springs without having to cross the river. Sara and I had planned to do this hike for about a year, and we were excited to finally get a chance to do it in such great weather - sunny weekday, with a full moon to boot.
With very little net elevation gain (actually a loss once you descend into the valley to reach the springs), we expected the hike would be a breeze. That idea was soon thrown out the window though, as we found the trail had some aggressive side-hilling with lots of ups and downs. After a 4 hour jaunt, we found ourselves at the springs, with not a soul in sight, and our sore muscles found great relief in the soothing tubs.
Thinking about this trip beforehand, I had a vision of a nighttime portrait of Sara and I in the springs, with stars in the sky. Given that we had the full moon, I had to slightly change my original idea. I ended up getting a shot of us I will treasure for years to come, and it proved to be worth hauling my damn tripod and flashes in on the 10km hike!
I had to take a couple steps back to come up with the start to the story of this particular photo objective. It started with a video I saw about moonbows at Yellowstone National Park, a rainbow-like phenomenon that occurs with the mist from a waterfall under a full moon. In the spring of 2013, I had recently heard about this phenomenon, just as a full moon was coming out over Whistler. I had also heard from a friend about a secret path you could take to reach the bottom of Brandywine Falls, and enjoy the view from the bottom. Equipped with a vague description of how to find the trail, my friends and I headed out with our cameras, a couple beers, and high hopes. As soon as we reached the lookout for the falls, we saw there was no moonbow to be seen. However, that didn't stop our curiosity of what the falls would look like from the bottom. Finding this secret trail proved difficult, especially in the dark, but after an hour we finally reached the bottom of the falls. Still no moonbow, but the falls were illuminated by the moon and awesome; as in, awe-inspiring. Although some hazy clouds had rolled in, I could tell the north star was just above the falls, meaning this viewpoint had potential for a great star trail. That night I snapped the first shot from this story.
After we made it home, I made it a personal ambition to capture a star trail from this place, combining the rotational star trails around Polaris and the beauty of Brandywine Falls. About a month later, we caught a patch of very nice, warm, clear days and nights. This time I opted to make a solo mission down to the falls, which proved to be extremely scary and unnerving, as bears were starting to wake up and search for food. This time I didn't account for the fact that the heat had sped up the alpine melt, and the falls were gushing. I couldn't get nearly as close as I wanted, so I compromised on my angle and thought I would experiment with a single frame star trail (the second image in this story). My lens also got coated in mist from the waterfall, so the image came out with a mysterious fog to it.
I came home from the second mission a little defeated, and vowed to come back in the fall when the river would be running much slower and I could get closer to the falls. Finally the conditions aligned and I ventured down with my friend and amazing photographer Reuben Krabbe. We got down, set up, and I ran my camera for an hour while he experimented with various angles and techniques. When I got home and finally compiled the star trail image I was quite pleased with the result. A couple lofty ideas, juvenile ambition, and 4 months later, I finally got the image I was looking for.
With my girlfriend recovering from a broken foot, we couldn't go for any extravagant hikes, so we decided to travel by paddle instead. We cruised up the Callaghan Valley to Callaghan Lake for an overnight camping mission. Arriving at the lake, we found that the campsites were right on the side of the dirt road, with minimal tree coverage - not quite as serene a setting as we were hoping for. We soon learned, however, that there was a camping spot across the lake that was quite nice. So, we packed all our gear and loaded it into the canoe, and a rubber dingy which we tied to the canoe, and set off for our new destination. Callaghan Lake is pretty large, and makes for quite an enjoyable paddle. We eventually made it to our new home for the evening; an extremely small patch of beach at the trailhead to Cirque Lake (a hike which I will soon return for). After setting up camp, we went for another paddle on the lake, and then took a mellow stroll on the hiking trail, checking out the beautiful streams that flow from Cirque Lake into the Callaghan. We were about 4 nights post-full moon, so after dinner and a short nap we headed out onto the lake again for a moonlit paddle. Waking up well-rested and feeling like we escaped the "bubble" (if only temporarily), we headed back across the lake and back to real life.
My 4-week trip to South America would conclude with 4 days in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Known for its European architecture and rich culture, there's a world of exploration to be had here. I was staying at a hostel right on Avenida 9 de Julio, the widest street in the world, which was a good place to start from. After many small towns and adventures, and 2 weeks of straight snowboarding, I was very excited to stroll around a huge city in flip flops and a t-shirt, and bask in relaxation, food and drink, and of course the good company of other travellers. If you find yourself with a few days to kill in Buenos Aires, be sure to observe some of the following: 1) Bike tour - Heading on a bike tour is definitely a nice way to see Buenos Aires if you don't have much time. You'll cover lots of ground, and the tour guides are really knowledgeable.
2) The Obelisk of Buenos Aires - built in 1936, standing 67.5m high, this is a pretty awesome landmark to see, and it lies right on Avenida 9 de Julio, which is a sight in itself.
3) La Recoleta Cemetery - this is a massive above-ground cemetery for the rich and famous in the Recoleta district of Buenos Aires. The graves are for many rich and famous Argentines, and are very elaborate. Afterwards, head to the Palermo district, and eat at one of the many awesome restaurants there.
The above-mentioned activities were all staples for my trip that I had heard about before I arrived. But what I hadn't anticipated was some of the awesome nightlife I would find in town. An Irish friend I met in my hostel brought me to La Bomba de Tiempo, an awesome live drumming show held only on Monday nights. It's a 2 hour ordeal with about 10-12 drummers all in a line and a conductor orchestrating a wild, improvised concert. Definitely the highlight of my time in Buenos Aires. After 4 wild days and nights, I was ready to catch my long flight back to life and reality in Whistler. Writing these posts about my trip has got me itching to plan my next excursion south already!
Before I get into the conclusion of my trip, please do me a favor, visit the following link and give me a vote! With your help, I could win a hiking excursion to the Arctic! Voting is daily so every vote helps, thanks so much! http://promoshq.wildfireapp.com/website/6/contests/324364/voteable_entries/68689974
I had just arrived in Bariloche, and was excited to get my feet wet snowboarding. Luckily, my first day there I met a crew of people who would soon become my good friends and riding buddies. Staying at Hostel 41 Below, we would make our daily bus ride to the mountain and shred hard everyday. The riding was great, my friends Ryan, Trevor and I even went in a big air contest one day, and Ryan and I ended up on the podium. Every day's riding would end with a Quilmes beer and a Super Poncho (a 12 inch hot dog, wrapped in ham, with melted cheese and crushed Frito-Lay chips on top) before heading back into town and consuming mucho steak and wine, and cheese. It was truly 2 weeks in paradise.
I took my camera up with me one day on the mountain, and we had a bit of fun exploring. Other than that, it was purely a soul shred, packing in as many turns as I could for a South American adventure. After 2 weeks, I was headed onwards to the last chapter of trip - 4 days of boozing and sightseeing in Buenos Aires. Check the next post for the conclusion! Thanks again for the votes!
Before the third chapter of my South American trip, please, if you don't mind, take a quick visit to the link below, and vote for my entry in a photography contest with MEC... it could win me a hiking trip to the Arctic!
We finally reached Argentina, in a small town called San Martin de los Andes. Here I went for an awesome day snowboarding at a resort called Chapelco, inbetween a couple late nights enjoying beverages, live music, and new friends. This town reminds me of the Whistler area... skiing in the winter, fly fishing, biking and other activities in the summer, expensive market areas for rich tourists. Beautiful place. After 2 days in this town, we got to take a trip on the 7 Lakes Road. In BC, the Sea-to-Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler is known as quite the scenic drive, but it pales in comparison to the variety of landscapes you get to see on this road. What would make it all the more interesting is I was travelling this road 2 months after the eruption of the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano that left many areas of Chile and Argentina coated in ash. I was told that these beautiful lakes I was seeing, were actually coated in a meter of ash shortly after the eruption. Much of the land was still covered, like I was in a desert.
The 7 Lakes Road finally brought us to Bariloche. Here, I would split from my travel group, and stay on my own for 2 weeks of snowboarding. After my group left, I found a new hostel (Hostel 41 Below... if you ever go to Bariloche for skiing or snowboarding, I recommend it. The owner shreds, and most people staying there are there to ride as well), and quickly found a family of new friends from all kinds of places. Bariloche would be my new home for the next 2 weeks, which would be filled with steak, wine, and snowboarding. More to come...
Another quick reminder to help me out with a daily vote on this MEC contest! If you could simply click on the link below, and vote for my photography entry about hiking, you could help me win a hiking trip to the Arctic! Thanks for helping!! http://promoshq.wildfireapp.com/website/6/contests/324364/voteable_entries/68689974
Now on to the interesting stuff. I met up with my travel group in Santiago (check out GAP Adventures, they're a bit pricy, but if you don't speak the language well it helps a lot), and we headed south via an overnight bus ride to the town of Pucon, Chile. In my group were me, 3 girls (Lupita, Noora, and Janet), and our tour guide. The town of Pucon showed some rainy weather, so we could not climb the nearby volcano, Villaricca. Instead, we went for a soaking wet hike through a national park to a waterfall, which was pretty fun, given the circumstances. I probably wouldn't have done a similar hike in BC in those conditions, but you need to take what you get when travelling.
The next day we went for some whitewater rafting, followed by a visit to some badass hot springs, 2 activities that are extremely enjoyable in the rain. Afterwards, the guides brought us to their house for a BBQ feast; carne asada and wine in vast amounts. The hospitality down there was absolutely amazing. After 2 days in Pucon, we took off east, crossing the border into Argentina, first visiting a town called San Martin de los Andes. To be continued...
So I posted the other day that I entered a photo contest with MEC, and could use your help with daily votes! Since the voting is daily, I thought I would post up some pictures of my travels to South America every day, to give some incentive to take a look and vote for me! Here's the link again, and if you could toss me a vote to help me win a hiking trip to the Arctic, I would greatly appreciate it! http://promoshq.wildfireapp.com/website/6/contests/324364/voteable_entries/68689974
In the summer of 2011 I took a trip to Chile and Argentina. I flew in to Santiago, Chile to start it off, and hung around there for 4 days, exploring the sights. As I arrived, I noticed tanks, tear gas and protesters in the streets. Google the Chilean education protests, they were crazy! I got to witness a peaceful protest the next day too, which was really cool to see. I got a good day of snowboarding in at Valle Nevado (no pictures), and also an awesome winery tour of the Concha y Toro winery. I definitely recommend visiting it if you ever go to Santiago. After 4 days, I met up with a travel group and we headed down south to some smaller towns. That leg of the journey tomorrow!
Thanks for checking out my website! I recently entered a photography contest with MEC about Exploring Outside. The grand prize is a hiking adventure for 4 to the Arctic next summer! I entered a collection of 4 photos that have all been explained in detail on this site, from previous hikes. If you could take a look at my contest entry, and cast me a vote, I would greatly appreciate it! You can vote daily too, so the more votes the merrier. Votin goes from July 10-24. Thanks!
Here is the link to the contest:
So usually my posts are regarding hiking in the Sea to Sky Corridor, but this year we took a different type of adventure to start off the summer. Sara and I hopped in the truck, and cruised through the USA, first down the Oregon coast for a nice surf session. We then cruised through Nevada to our next destination of Moab, where we biked everyday. Coming from Whistler, the biking in Moab is a whole other world; the rocks are so grippy you can climb just about anything. After camping on the Colorado river for 4 days and biking new trails everyday, we ventured off to Telluride, Colorado, to visit a good friend and unwind for a couple of days. Telluride is another amazing place, with this old Western-style town situated in an awe-inspiring valley with incredibly steep mountains all around. After a couple days of rest there, we started the 2 day journey back to Whistler, where summer was finally just starting. 12 days and 6000km later, we found ourselves back home, ready for more adventures.
An oldie but a goodie, I had to look back to some earlier photos for this story. I hiked Wedge the first summer I moved to Whistler, and although I haven't been back since, I plan to get there again soon. Wedgemount is a gruelling hike. It has the intensity of the Grouse Grind without the brevity. Over 12km, you climb 1220 metres (do the math, it's a steep grade!), climbing through thick forest, sub-alpine meadows, and finally to reach Wedgemount Lake, nestled amongst Mt Moe, Mt Weart, Rethel Mtn, Parkhurst Mtn, Wedge Mtn, and Lesser Wedge. The lake is fed by the Wedgemount Glacier, and as such is freezing cold. Once the lake has been reached, hikers can camp either on provided campsites or stay in the cabin which is also right on the lake. From there, there are multiple mountain peaks to summit (mentioned above), as well as the beautiful glacier to explore. You will find markings showing the glacier's recession over the years.
As mentioned above, the hike is a very steep one. If the climb isn't for the weak of heart, then the descent isn't for the weak-kneed. Take your time going down to avoid over-stressing your knees!
For a brief summer venture out of the Sea-to-Sky Corridor, we took off to Christina Lake for a friend's wedding. On the drive back, we stopped in Manning Park for an overnight excursion on the Lightning Lakes Chain trail. The trail is a nice, relatively flat 10km stroll that crosses 4 lakes along its path, each one bearing a more dramatic name. First is Thunder Lake, followed by Strike Lake (which holds the campsite we stayed at), then Flash Lake, and finally Lightning Lake. Some really nice meadows were found after Strike Lake, which bore many beautiful flowers. Lightning Lake proved to be very beautiful, and not very successful for fishing, but our dog Tiva honed her lake jumping skills. Back to Strike Lake campsite for some nice camping in a misty rain, and then to an early rise the next morning to drive back up to Whistler, the jaunt proved to be a very worthwhile interruption to our road trip. [gallery link="file"]
Rainbow Lake is a great Whistler hike, with the more common trailhead lying on Alta Lake Road. From there, you travel between Mt Sproatt and Rainbow Mountain, ascending via Twentyone Mile Creek, passing Rainbow Falls along the way to reach the beautiful Rainbow Lake. This particular day, however, my friend Taylor and I decided to achieve the same destination via a road less travelled, the Madeley Trail. This route begins in the Callaghan Valley, right beside Madeley Lake. The trail is not very well maintained, and involves a little bit of bushwhacking and route finding, bringing you up to Hanging Lake and then Rainbow Lake. A great way to execute this journey (and our original intention) would be as a one-way venture from Madeley back to Alta Lake Road, but it requires 2 vehicles with good clearance and 4 wheel drive, as we soon found out. Realizing that Taylor's car wouldn't have been able to get back to my truck, we were forced to return the way we came, which was still quite enjoyable.[gallery link="file"]
Ring Lake was on my radar the whole summer. I had read about it and really wanted to experience one of the less-traveled overnight hikes in the corridor. Nestled in the Callaghan Valley, Conflict Lake and Ring Lake lie in a completely different environment than many of the surrounding trails.Starting from Callaghan Lake, we started our excursion around 1pm. A brisk 5km in, we came across the Callaghan Lodge, which perked my interest as a possible winter splitboarding destination. Shortly after, we rolled into a beautiful meadow with winding creeks, which soon led to a very steep ascent. Once we broke through the treeline, we were greeted with a Lord of the Rings -esque scene, passing a short rocky field before finding Ring Lake, nestled between Ring Mountain and Callaghan Mountain. Finding ourselves in complete solitude, we settled in for a beautiful evening.[gallery link="file"]
Joffre Lakes is a classic, I tend to go there every year. This was my third venture up (a couple of keepers from previous trips are shown in this gallery as well), and this time, we brought our friends Ryan and Becky for their first overnight hike. Starting from the Duffy, the hike begins at a decent elevation, and along the way you pass 3 different glacial lakes, each one seemingly more blue than the previous. The second lake has some great fishing as well, and everyone was able to snag a pretty rainbow. Taking our good friends out into the backcountry for their first time, we didn't want to disappoint, so dinner consisted of orzo cooked with fresh basil and parmesan along with hot italian sausages and red wine, followed by chocolate for dessert. At night, Ryan and I did some light painting photography, and I snapped a star trail (can be seen on my gallery page). The next day we walked up to a nice rock for breakfast before making the mellow stroll down, finishing with a delicious burger and beer at the Pony in Pemberton before getting back to Whistler. [gallery link="file"]
The Black Tusk in Garibaldi Park is an iconic trail for any avid hiker in BC, as it can be seen from many places along the sea-to-sky corridor. It offers many options, from a simple day-hike to multi-day adventures with many campsites in the surrounding area. We decided to enjoy the scenery, and started off in Cheakamus on a 3-day excursion. Our first night we camped at the Helm Creek campground, where we met some other hikers for a good game of frisbee. The next day saw beautiful meadows as well the great views from the top of Panorama Ridge. After the Ridge, we started climbing towards the Tusk, and although we had originally hoped to camp right on top of it, our doubts overcame and we settled for camping at the base. This led to a beautiful sunrise and an early climb of the Tusk at 6am. Our third day was a leisurely one, strolling a mere 5km from the Tusk to Garibaldi Lake, where we enjoyed a much-deserved swim and a starry night. Overall, an epic 4-day hike.