Saturday, June 22, 2013


Wondering why you haven't seen any new posts in a while? Our new website is up and running and we've moved the blog into the main site. Come and visit

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sprockids Mountain Bike Park - April 26, 2013

It has been a gorgeous week for getting outside. Wednesday, Sprockids Mountain Bike Park was home to the North Shore League Mountain Bike Series. Some friends were helping to organize the race, so I stopped by to give a hand (and enjoy the sunshine).
Entrance to Sprockids Park
Over 100 students were on the Coast to test themselves. I have to say that it was a pretty cool event to watch.  Like cross country running, you really can't watch the entire race.  The course was set up on some of the easier trails near the bottom of the park, but older students had to ride additional laps of the course. Some students were very series and focused...immediately wanting to know where they placed. Some students fist-pumped as they finished, proud of their ride. For others, just finishing the course was an achievement and even though they were exhausted for a few minutes, the pride of conquering the course was clear on their faces.
High School Students preparing to ride
Today with all the students gone, I decided to hike much of the race course.  The first leg went down Ankle Biter and over to Stinger on the south edge of the park.  I must have never gone all the way along this trail, because look what I found. Isn't this the cutest picnic spot?
Picnic area with a live tree in the center
 The birds were singing on such a nice spring day.  This picture is along Stinger.
Love the "faces" in the trees
It was nice to hike along trails I haven't done in a while: Rock n Root, Skoolz Out, Technical Ecstacy.  It was also fun to see all the new signs throughout the trails that were installed last month. They don't all have their "you are here" dots installed, but it really helps when navigating this extensive trail network. Can't wait to find the new trail being created right now by the Capilano University Mountain Bike Program students. They've been working hard this month and if previous projects are any indication, this new trail will be great.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sprockids Mountain Bike Park - March 24, 2013

Today was a day to celebrate community volunteers. Sprockids Mountain Bike Park is a place I've written about a lot. Last year it celebrated its 20th anniversary sharing our amazing forests with kids through the love of mountain biking. Teaching kids to ride safely with family and friends in a sanctioned park with educational components. This system is now used across Canada.  Here it is 2km from my front door and I place where I love to hike.
Sprockids Mountain Bike Park - shovels ready
Capilano University's Mountain Bike Operations students organized the day to install over 30 signs throughout the park. Students, families and some diehard trail fairies spent the morning digging and carrying signs. Never get lost again! I've often been hesitant to direct guests to this park because of limited signage and maps in a complex system of trails making it an easy place to become disoriented. This is a great addition and will be very helpful to hikers and bikers alike.

I decided to try it out with a short hike in an area I haven't been to for a while. These pictures are all from Skoolz Out which is just above the Skills Park. The question isn't "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound?"...the question is "If a tree falls in the forest, what can we make with it?"
I would love to see someone bank on this.

Some very fun bridges
Yes, that long "bridge" is one tall tree...rootball still in tact at the end

That boulder at the end of the jump is taller than me!
 As I hiked, I could here some bikers above me. I decided to wait and see what is was like to jump off this. I expected someone to just launch over it and fly down the trail. Turns out, all these jumps and bridges are great teachers and confidence builders. Three young teenagers rode down and all came to a stop either beside or on top of this jump. They studied it...rode past it to check the landing...and discussed. Three different times one of them would ride up to jump it and stop at the last minute...not ready for the leap...talking to themselves that it was about being there mentally.  Finally one of them did it, and they all celebrated for a minute. A brief pause before taking off together to find the next challenge.

I finished my hike just in time for the skills demonstration. After a morning of digging holes to install signs, the kids were treated to a free lunch from the Lions Club burger trailer. Then they hit the skills park for some serious jumps from Coastal Crew and friends. They were flying...25 feet off the ground. Sorry, no good pictures, but they were impressive. The really fun part was after one of the older kids would jump, an eager 4-8 year old would ride from the same starting point and off to the next small run with a couple of junior size berms. The little guys were just as thrilled to show off in front of the audience and just as proud to ride successfully. The older guys cheered them on as much as they did for their friends making the huge jumps. What a great day.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hidden Groves - March 20, 2013

Hello Spring!  To celebrate, I managed to take time for my first hike in the forest in a month.  Boy did it feel good!  Holiday, March rains, and a cold have kept me off the trails.  I made time to explore Hidden Groves on Sechelt Inlet. I've only hiked here a couple of times and it seemed like a good day to explore.
Massive old growth tree...500+ years old

The volunteers who have developed this park have done an enormous amount of work to create not only trails, but informational maps and signage.  No worries about getting lost here...maps can be found throughout the trail system. They've even marked and named the largest, oldest trees to be sure you don't miss them. 

Too bad I didn't have a friend along so that you could see just how big this Lonely Giant is. The young trees are as skinny as a man's arm.  Lonely Giant towers over the others and would take a group with arms outstretched to reach around it.

Lonely Giant
 I covered most of the southern half of the park in about an hour.  These are easy trails with no serious climbing.  The ground can be uneven in places, but the terrain is mostly flat with only gradual elevation changes.  I look forward to my next trip where I'll explore the north side where there the maps show some steep climbs up to an amazing view of Vancouver Island.
You can't get lost here
The trail builders have been busy. The official grand opening of the second wheelchair accessible trail is Sunday April 7.  It is a special celebration for dogs and people of all capabilities.
Monty's Way

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Snowshoe Adventure - February 1, 2013

You know how sometimes you just want to be out on your own with time to think?  Today was one of those days.  With the promise of sun, I grabbed my snowshoes and caught the Alpha Adventures shuttle to Dakota Ridge Winter Recreation Area.
Eagle Lookout Trail
Even though I arrived at Dakota Ridge with 15 other people in the shuttle and there were quite a few skiers near the parking lot and the warming hut, I had the trails to myself.  All the trails are now signed and have been well marked, so after of couple of times of hiking with other people I have no problem venturing out on my own.  I take care, one could easily get lost in the white snowy forest if you left the trails, to ensure I stay on the marked trails...letting the alone time be adventure in itself.  I hiked the almost 2km Eagle Lookout trail without seeing another soul.
just me and the forest
 Dakota Ridge had a ton of snow in December. The base was up to almost 3 meters. When we were there on Boxing Day, all the trees looked like white Dr Seuss candy canes.  Today the trees were green as we've had warmer temperatures lately that have melted some of the snow.  The snowshoe trails are obvious with hard tracks to follow.  Fresh snow in this week's forecast should cover that up with fresh powder.
Map along the trail
After a short snack break outside the warming hut, I headed out on the Balsam Loop. This is another green trail just over 2km long that starts and ends at the warming hut.  The first half of the trail meanders through the forest, but there is a point where you come over a hill and into a clearing where on a sunny day there are just amazing views. Today the sun was playing peekaboo most of the day. There were touches of blue sky and warm sun, but clouds kept hanging in. The view is still pretty awesome.  Check out my December post if you want to see the clear sky pictures.
Eastern side of Balsam Loop
It wasn't until the very last leg of the trail that I passed 2 groups that I had ridden up with in the shuttle.  Almost 4km of snowshoeing completely alone with my thoughts...great exercise and productive brainstorming.  When I finished, I had a nice break in the sun at the warming hut.  I was able to visit with someone who was waiting for the rest of his party.  Dakota was well used today.  A dad/daughter learning how to cross country ski, a large group of co-workers on a team building day, a husband/wife team on their first snowshoe adventure, screams of joy from the tobogganing area, and just as we were leaving a boy scout troop on a winter camping adventure.  I am sure I won't let another month go by before my next snowshoe.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ferry Trail - January 30, 2013

A break in the rain today, so I headed for the forest.  There is a trailhead right at the end of the street which I have written about before, but it has been a while since I hiked here. Every sunny day possible...a treat in January...I've chosen to walk at the beach. Today was more of a warm and foggy winter day, so I headed to the forest.

To my surprise, the amazing trail fairies have been very busy. I often avoid this trail in the rainy season as part of it becomes a stream. Someone has been adding gravel improving some of the muddier parts in a big way. I was very surprised to see signage and trail markings to greet hot pink. The trail was really in good shape, thanks to some unknown but special volunteers.
once mighty giant
 I know it's hard to tell without a frame of reference, but this was once a huge forest giant.  See the skinny trees on the right edge of the photo?  This moss covered stump is easily 3 people's outstretched arms around.
 Most of the lower part of this area are young alders, but this stately giant stretches wide and proud.
This trail connects Sprockids Mountain Bike Park to the Langdale Ferry Terminal and is the final stretch of day 5 of BC Bike Race. All downhill and a great finish for 500 lucky riders.  For me...its just the trail closest to home.
busy precious trail fairies
 You just don't see many hot pink trail markers......
This is the sign under the hydro lines clearly showing both the way down to Langdale or the way over to the Elphinstone Trails and Sprockids Park.  This is also the break between mostly young alder psuedo forest and the firs and cedars of the real forest further up the mountain. I love how green it is even in the middle of winter.  Ferns are huge and everything is moist and full of life. I won't wait so long for my next visit to the Ferry Trail just beyond my doorstep.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Polar Bear Swim - January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!  I've come to enjoy a New Year's tradition...sleeping in (one of my favourite pastimes) and making our way to a Polar Bear Swim.  I haven't felt the need to actually be the person in the water, but I love to cheer on the brave souls who start the year with a splash.   This year, we cheered on the polar bears at Armour's Beach in Gibsons.

It was a beautiful crisp, clear morning and temperatures just above freezing.  Plenty of sunshine and a fresh dusting of snow on the mountains...just low enough to touch the highest point on Bowen Island.  A large group that included all ages plunged into the water.  I love to watch the kids...they are very excited about the prospect of swimming.  Then there is this point once they are in the water when they realize, "Hey, this is really cold!"

After the plunge of excitement we took a nice stroll along the beach in Gibsons Landing.  It's a good start to the year when you can take a refreshing walk along the ocean.  Thank you to those who organize the Polar Bear Swim...a festive and energetic way to start the year.