Friday, February 25, 2011

Langdale Falls - Feb 25, 2011

How could anyone get tired of this view? It is my favourite part of Arcturus Retreat B&B...just gazing out the window at Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains with Gambier Island on the left and Bowen Island on the right.

You just have to love a completely clear blue sky on a winter day. Anyone who lives through a rainy grey Vancouver area November & December knows just how good a day of winter sunshine makes you feel. Today was abnormally cold here in lotusland. We rarely dip below freezing here and just barely. Today's highs were below zero, but with this much sunshine...who cares? You just have to be outside.

Back to the forest trails on Mount Elphinstone for an afternoon hike. The trees here are majestic, and I am learning my way around the trails. While I usually take a one hour hike focused on a bit of cardio, you could hike here for hours and never cross where you've already been. It really is an amazing network of hiking and mountain bike trails.

Today we headed for Langdale Falls. With the cold temperatures, we were very curious what the condition of the falls would be.

What a treat! Some water was still flowing, but the ice formations were amazing. If you look at the very bottom of the picture, you can see the greenish/brownish colour where the ice must be many inches thick.

As I said, this is a sight not seen often as it just isn't cold enough, even in the heart of winter. This is after about 24 hours of sub-freezing temperatures. Don't let the cold weather keep you inside. Afterall, most Canadians would tell you that it's not really cold until you get to -30 or -40. Just bundle up and get your heart going with a good hike.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Selma Park Road - Feb 20, 2011

Another sunny Sunday afternoon. A friend invited me to come along for a hike in an area I've never been, so I jumped at the opportunity. Selma Park Road is just outside of Sechelt near Davis Bay. We went to the very end of the road at the top of the hill and headed into the forest.

A few minutes of easy hiking and we could soon hear rushing water. Chapman Creek is one of the most important watersheds on the Sunshine Coast. It provides drinking water to about half of the population. It is also the site of the Chapman Creek Hatchery which releases millions of salmon and trout each year.

This trail spends most of its time in very young forest only meeting up with the creek in a few places. Soon we could really hear the water and came upon a wonderful opening with huge boulders and a waterfall. Apparently this is the site where steelhead salmon come to spawn.

Looking straight across from here, we could see the back of the Sechlet Airport. What a wonderful area to walk to navigate around Davis Bay...all the way from the edge of Sechelt to Wilson Creek. This stretch is one of our most dangerous sections of highway for walkers and bikers. There just isn't much space on the shoulder. This trail could be a great connection...if only there was a bridge to cross Chapman Creek.

Maybe someday.....

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Snow Day - Dakota Ridge, Feb 12, 2011

Today is the 1 year anniversary of the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in nearby Vancouver. I decided it was a day to find some snow. As you can see from my previous posts, we've had a very mild winter. Plenty of days to hike and enjoy the sun. I was ready for my snow and ski fix.

Boy did I find snow! At sea level, it was 8C, gray and raining all day. At 1,200 meters it was just below 0 and snowing like crazy! 13cm of fresh snow by this morning and it snowed all day long with huge wet snowflakes. Dakota Ridge Winter Recreation Area is our easily accessible snowpark at this end of the Sunshine Coast. Less than an hour from the house 13km of groomed cross country trails and 8km of marked snowshoe trails await.

Today my good friends at Alpha Adventures held their annual Demo Day where you can try out all the newest equipment for free. After a quick ride up to Dakota Ridge in their 4x4 van, I checked into some cross country skis and had a 30 minute introductory lesson. 30 minutes of cardio...let me tell you. It was fun...I was gliding (a little)...but its a workout. I then got to go and explore a trail for a bit to try out my new skills.

Time for a little lunch and drying off in the warming hut. Picnic tables, changing rooms and a cozy wood burning stove make this a great place for hanging out and a short rest. I always meet the most interesting people.

Now it was time to try out the snowshoes. I headed out into the forest with my 2 new friends, Annie & Jenny. I am so sorry not to have pictures, but it was REALLY snowing. I just didn't want to get the camera wet. If you haven't tried snowshoes, I highly recommend. It is just like going for a hike in the forest. Anyone who can walk can snowshoe.
It is so quiet when you get into the forest. So many stately huge trees and today they were all covered with a white blanket of snow. We were walking through areas with multiple feet of snow, but we usually only sank in about 3 inches. The trail is very well marked. I was in the lead and had no trouble following the trail...even though the fresh snow was filling in the footsteps of whoever had been through last. You cross over a few alpine streams, and you realize just how much snow is on the mountains. Annie was telling us about her favourite viewpoints. On a clear sunny day you can see the North Shore Mountains, Mount Baker in Washington, and Vancouver Island. I'll definitely be back this season to try it out.
How to treat yourself after a great day of playing in the snow? On our return to Wilson Creek (access point to Dakota Ridge), I stopped in at Strait Coffee for a delicious cup of ginger carrot soup with homemade bread and a big cup of hot chocolate. Yum! When I got home, I jumped in the Arcturus Retreat B&B hot tub to relax those well excercised muscles.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mt Elphinstone - Feb 9, 2011

Another gorgeous warm winter day! I have been hiking these trails on Mt Elphinstone about twice a week for the last few weeks. I am starting to know my way around, but there is so much more to explore. It is a fabulous way to spend an afternoon with the sun streaming in.

It is hard to convey just how green the forest is. Moss, ferns, groundcover and so many trees. It is just green and full of life. How can you feel anything but hopeful and inspired in this landscape?

When my friend emailed this morning to suggest the hike, I looked outside at the sunny day and said "How can I not go?" It was just the two of us today (three counting Kono, her dog). We had been climbing a decently steep section for a while, when my friend said "look how far you've come! You've been talking the whole time!" Now those of you that know me aren't suprised at all that I can talk a lot. What is special is that I could talk while climbing this terrain and not be completely out of breath. That is truly the accomplishment. This is infinitely better than any treadmill or road running workout you can ever have.

This wooden bridge on Sidewinder Trail is an example of a mountain bike feature in the trails. It makes the sharp corner much more fun.

This waterfall doesn't look very big in the photo. However it is probably about 15 feet high and is in a series of falls that is quite loud. I am standing on the bridge that crosses Gibsons Creek. It is a nice turnaround point for a 1 hour hike.

Can't wait for the next opportunity to explore more of these trails.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Langdale Trail - Feb 1, 2011

Welcome to February and welcome to more sunshine! I watched my first sunrise in a while just before 8am. Not a cloud in the sky and a warm orange glow building above the Coast Mountains. I quickly decided a hike was in order today.

I decided to try the trail above Langdale...our street ends and the trail heads off into the forest. This tree is amazing. It has to be hundreds of years old. For comparison, the tree on the left is 2-3 feet in diameter. The dark patch in the center is like a small cave that I can completely sit inside. I just can't imagine what this area looked like just 125 years ago before European settlers started logging.

I haven't hiked this trail for a few months. With all the rain we've had lately, the upper part of the trail has become a stream. Nevertheless, I was inspired by the great weather so I hiked all the way to the powerlines. This was a first for me. Roundtrip was 2 hours and a good workout. Not steep, but enough to get the heart pumping. It was fun to see how the water works its way around all the rocks, branches and leaves...constantly flowing...constantly searching for the ocean.

I'll be back, but maybe later this spring when the trail is dry.