Friday, May 20, 2011

Soames Hill - May 20, 2011

Spring has truly arrived...just in time for Victoria Day weekend. Three weeks since my last real hike and I can feel it...mentally and physically. Why do I let time slip by without getting outside? I couldn't pass up the sunny and warm afternoon, so I headed for one of my favourite spots: Soames Hill.

A big THANK YOU to the SCRD parks staff for the installation of the new trail signs. Made of wood, they look completely natural along the trail and are a great resource for hikers. There is no getting lost in this park.

Since today was a bright sunny day, I headed directly for the green trail...the 250m summit. Since I haven't been hiking regularly of late, I was feeling the cardio workout. My quads gave a cheery "Hello!" at about step 150..(there are 206 stairs). But this hike is completely worth the effort. The view from the top is simply amazing.

I could sit up there for hours. It is a great place to think, to relax, and soak in the sun. The rockface at the summit shows the power of the mountains and the ocean is such a deep blue. It was low tide can see the sandy beach ringing the land. This is Gibsons Harbour...a few more boats popping up as summer approaches. Vancouver Island is in the distance with a few snowcapped mountains still in view. My photo skills don't do it justice. It's an amazing 240 degree view.

This is the view to the southeast. Keats Island is in front with the Paisley Islands in the back. We can't see these from town...only up this high can we see over Keats. Look at all the boats who have already arrived in Plumper's Cove for the holiday weekend. It was just a little hazy. On a crystal clear day, you can see to Richmond and YVR.

Paradise....just 5 minutes from home. One of the best places in the world to simply escape for a while.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Skookumchuck Narrows - May 2, 2011

Monday was an adventure day. We are entertaining guests from the U.S. so we took the day to explore the Sunshine Coast. The highlight was an evening cruise with Bryce of Sunshine Coast Tours to explore Skookumchuck Narrows in Egmont BC. Bryce is an excellent tour guide who freely shares stories and information about the area. Monday was an extra large current day and we happened to find some avid kayakers taking advantage of the rapids. Even though it had been a rainy day, the skies cleared for our afternoon cruise and we had a wonderful time on the water.

I highly recommend this tour. The hike in through the forest is an easy trail through the provincial strollers are often seen...and is 45min each direction. Huge ferns and endless Douglass firs, hemlocks & pine trees line the route past Brown Lake on your way to 2 viewing points for the Sechelt Rapids. The boat trip into Skookumchuck Narrows is a special treat, especially if some in your party aren't ready for the hike. From land, it is hard to feel the full power of the rapids. From the boat, you can hear how hard the motor runs just to keep still against the fast current.

The Sechelt Rapids are a natural phenomenon that occur at least twice each day. Tide changes move millions of liters of water from the Pacific Ocean into a narrow spot at the top of Sechelt Inlet and then back again. A shallow section of the inlet bordered by narrow granite cliffs creates either fast moving salt water rapids or amazing whirlpools depending on the direction of the current. Skookumchuck Narrows is home to the fastest tidal currents in the world.

This was an experienced group of kayakers and we enjoyed the show. Surfers are sometimes seen here, too. In between tides, this is also a wonderful place to dive. Underwater reefs and bountiful sealife make for an exciting underwater experience.

Wildlife is plentiful. We saw many types of ducks and various migrating birds on their spring travels north. Bald eagles nest high in the trees and we were happy to see one looking for its dinner.

Altogether a great day experience.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spring - May 1, 2011

Well it took a while, but spring has fully arrived on BC's Sunshine Coast. April went by so fast with a bit too much rain and cool temps. But here we are with gorgeous sunshine.

I can't believe 2 full weeks went by without a good hike. You can tell I'm out of practice...I forgot the camera! I managed to get out Friday with some good friendly encouragement and took to the trails on Mt Elphinstone. We came across some significant trail development. A whole new trail appeared in the last 2 weeks since I've been on the mountain! We decided to follow it down...serious work was done! So many cutbacks and some serious built up curves for the mountain bikes. This new trail (still unnamed) will be a great ride, but it's not a trail for a leisurely hike. Lots of up and down for jumps and some serious curves.

When we reached the bottom, we ran into a student and his dad headed up for a ride. We mentioned the new trail, and the student had been involved in building it. Turns out it was the final project for the Capilano University Mountain Bike Program students. They built the entire trail in the last couple of weeks. A rock feature, a water crossing, wooden jumps, and serious reinforced turns belonged to each group of students. Great to see students gaining practical skills and leaving a great gift to our trail system.

There is also a new sign at the entrance to the park announcing "Sprockids Bike Park". So much to explore....grab you bike (or your hiking boots) and get outside! It won't be so long till I get back on the trails.