Canada

Deciduous conifers of Frosty Mountain: Manning Park, British Columbia

No, it’s not an oxymoron. While hiking the Frosty Mountain trail in E.C. Manning Provincial Park, I was introduced to the alpine larch, a deciduous conifer that sheds its needles every fall and grows them back in spring. For a few weeks, in late September/early October, the Frosty Mountain larches become a blaze of golden colour. My hiking buddy Eva and I timed our October 2 hike perfectly for this stunning fall display and learned some cool things about British Columbia’s toughest and oldest tree.

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Categories: British Columbia, Hiking | Tags: , , , , | 51 Comments

Wells Gray Park, British Columbia: 40+ waterfalls and more

Wells Gray Provincial Park was another awesome discovery during our 2020 stay-in-British Columbia- summer. The park, located in east-central B.C., is a massive wilderness area with only its southern portion easily accessible to visitors. Known as the waterfall park, it has 40 named falls and many more tucked away in the wilds. It has great hiking and an extensive network of rivers and lakes for rafting, canoeing, kayaking and fishing. We only scratched the surface during our four day visit. Here’s what we fit in.

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Categories: British Columbia | Tags: , , , | 36 Comments

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: , , , | 50 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: , , , | 32 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: , , , , | 50 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: , , , , , | 35 Comments

A fresh look at my “same old” parks in West Vancouver

Social distancing sign at Capilano River Regional Park

I wasn’t going to write about parks in my West Vancouver neighbourhood as it seemed so “same old,” but two things changed my mind. One was a chat I had with a woman originally from Spain who is a participant in my Zoom English Conversation Club. She was gushing about our local parks. Her enthusiasm was infectious and it reminded me that these parks may be “same old” to me, but they’re also incredibly beautiful. The other was the creative social distancing signage at a favourite park. The bald eagle image showing the 2 metre/6 feet wingspan made me smile.

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Categories: Activities, British Columbia, Hiking | Tags: , , , , | 51 Comments

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