Mama bear and baby bear hike Garibaldi’s Panorama Ridge via Helm Creek

Mama Bear and her Baby Bear on Panorama Ridge

I’ve hiked in British Columbia’s Garibaldi Provincial Park many times, but this trip was extra special: I did it with my son Alex. My body is still recovering from trying to keep up with his blistering 23-year-old pace, but I’m thrilled that we got to share this short backpacking trip. Garibaldi Park, located only a couple of hours north of Vancouver, contains a treasure trove of hiking trails that provide access to high peaks, glaciers, and alpine lakes and meadows. Panorama Ridge has some of the most stunning views I’ve ever seen, and the peaceful route via Helm Creek is my favourite approach.

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Categories: British Columbia, Canada, Hiking | Tags: , , , | 12 Comments

Paddling in the time of COVID-19: Discovery Islands, British Columbia

Dinnertime in the Discovery Islands

It’s the end of another glorious day on the water in British Columbia’s Discovery Islands. I’m first in line for dinner. “Did you wash your hands?” There’s a smile in his eyes but his voice is serious. Our mask-covered, rubber-gloved kayaking guide has caught me dirty-handed. I slink back to the wilderness hand-washing station feeling like a naughty kid, but grateful for the precautions. Back in January, my friend Trish and I had booked a summer 2020 kayaking trip with Spirit of the West Adventures, before COVID-19 was on our radar. Miraculously, the trip went ahead, albeit a very different one from what we had signed up for.

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Categories: British Columbia, Canada, Kayaking | Tags: , , , | 30 Comments

Backpacking in South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park, British Columbia

South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park

It was epic! For seven days, our group backpacked through the untrammelled wilderness of British Columbia’s South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park. This park has an incredible diversity of landscapes—snowy peaks, glacial lakes and flower-filled meadows all connected by over 200 km of wilderness trails. No need to worry about social distancing. We met only two other hiking groups during our week’s stay. It was rough going at times, but the scenic rewards and sense of accomplishment far outweighed the discomforts.

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Categories: Activities, British Columbia, Canada, Hiking | Tags: , , , , | 48 Comments

White black bear encounter in the Canadian Rockies

White-phase black bear in Kananaskis, Alberta

Something large, white and moving catches my eye high up on a rocky ridge on a hiking trail near Canmore, Alberta. My first thought is that it’s a mountain goat, but it’s not the right shape and doesn’t have a goat-like gait. We’re about 100 m (330 ft) away but our telephoto lens confirms that it’s a bear—a creamy white one. It turns out to be a rare, white-phase black bear. We’ve just witnessed something that is only spotted about once a year in the Alberta Rockies. I’m over the moon.

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Categories: Alberta, British Columbia, Hiking | Tags: , , , , , | 31 Comments

Beauty amid the smoke and soot in Rouen, France

Black smoke from chemical explosion in Rouen

Some of you may remember a major European news story from September 26, 2019. An explosion at a chemical plant in Rouen, France spewed massive quantities of smoke and soot over the capital city of Normandy and beyond. We just happened to be there at the time. Our short visit to Rouen— the last stop on our Brittany and Normandy cycle trip—was made even shorter by this catastrophe. This post is a collection of photos taken over a couple of hours before we came to our senses and hightailed it to the train bound for Paris.

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Categories: Biking, France | Tags: , , , , , | 44 Comments

Honfleur and Étretat: Gems between a nasty cycle

The cliffs of Étretat

The towns of Honfleur and Étretat are highlights on our cycling trip along France’s Normandy coast. Honfleur is charming old port town and Étretat is small resort town bounded by dramatic white cliffs. They’re only about 50 km (31 mi) apart, but our bike ride between the two was a stressful mess of crappy signage, big trucks, an enormous bridge and poor planning. I guess that only one “off” day in nearly three weeks of cycling is pretty good, and we can say that we conquered one of the world’s largest cable-stayed bridges on bike.

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Categories: Biking, France | Tags: , , , , | 40 Comments

Travels along the beaches on this 76th anniversary of D-Day

Memorial above Gold Beach in Arromanches, Normandy

Our visit to Normandy’s D-Day Beaches was emotional, fascinating, overwhelming and a little complicated on bicycle. At times, I was stressed—by the magnitude of what happened there, by the size of the area, by how much there was to see, by how much I didn’t know. At other times, I was delighted by the peaceful coastline, pretty towns and fun festivals that we happened upon. Today, June 6, is the 76th anniversary of the Allied Invasion of Normandy, the largest seaborne invasion in history. Let me take you to the famous beaches of then and now.

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Categories: Biking, France | Tags: , , , , | 41 Comments

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