Stawamus Chief

For those living in the Lower Mainland of BC one of the most popular hikes around is the Stawamus Chief which hovers over the town of Squamish at just over 700 metres. It is part of the Pacific Mountain Range and is large piece of Granite Rock famous among Rock Climbers for its climbing routes. Often times you can see climbers on the Chief from the highway.

The Chief is located inside Stawamus Chief Provincial Park  which is also home to the amazing Shannon Falls. Access to the chief is simple as it is right off if the Sea to Sky highway. I have hiked this trail a few times over the years since moving to British Columbia and strongly advise that it is best to do it while it is dry as it can be a technical hike. There are three peaks.. 2 of which require the use of ropes in order to get to the top. 2nd Peak will have you climbing up a ladder located near between two very narrow rock faces. 3rd peak is the easiest one to hike as you will be going over roots and such. Access to third peak is also easily done from 2nd Peak. Once you are at the top of the peaks you are treated to relatively flat surfaces and there is a lot of room to move around.. just be careful you don’t go to close to the edge or you could fall off.

The Chief can be extremely busy during the summer months so it is best to go early in order to avoid the crowds. The hike is an intermediate level hike but I would still recommend having fairly decent cardio as the 300 or so steps at the start of the trail will kick your butt. After hiking up the trail for about 40 + minutes you will come to a junction that will take you to other hiking

trails  or you can continue going up towards the three peaks. From first peak you get stellar views of Howe Sound and the town of Squamish whereas 2nd Peak offers great views of 1st Peak as well as the town below. From third peak you can see more of Squamish. On a clear day you are also treated to some pretty amazing views of Mount Garibaldi in Garibaldi Provincial Park.

Camping is allowed in the park but you need to check with BC Parks for reservations it does have winter camping for those hardcore outdoor enthusiasts. The Chief is an excellent hike if you are looking for something closer to home or you are passing through Squamish and you are looking for a day hike that does not take all day. After hiking the Chief I highly recommend checking out the town of Squamish especially Howe Sound Brewery located on Cleveland St. for some excellent food and beer.


Watersprite Lake

Wow! What a spectacular place. It was my first time doing this hike and did it as an overnight where there were seven in my group.

I had only found out about this area recently through seeing photographs on Facebook and wanted to find out more about it. Watersprite Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park is surrounded by peaks namely Martin and Watersprite Peaks. It is not a difficult hike if you are doing it as a day hike but carrying heavy backpacks certainly slows a person down.

The first part of the hike is flat before we started doing a gradual incline of a series of wide open switchbacks where we were treated to amazing views of the surrounding mountains in Garibaldi Provincial Park. The trail is becoming increasingly popular thanks to the British Columbia Mountaineering Club building a new trail up to the Lake that is less muddy than the original.

The weather on Saturday was perfect for hike and we crossed at least 10+ creeks which fortunately were narrow. We crossed a short but not too difficult boulder field before we entered into a forest that had some steep and slippery sections. The final push to the top was difficult for me because my pack was too heavy and by the time we had reached the final boulder field  my energy had left and I was not sure if I could make it.  I kept hearing from other hikers that we were close and somehow got the second wind to continue.

Finally, we reached the top and at first.. I was a bit disappointed as I was expecting something a bit more spectacular. The top is basically a boulder field with the Lake in the middle and the mountains surrounding it. After a bit I warmed up to the place and thought to myself… it really is a special place. Martin Peaks (named after Martin Guitars) sits prominently over the lake  It took us awhile to find a place to set up camp as there are very few flat spots but we each found our spots. The plan was to explore for a bit but we were so cold that we just set up our tents and stayed inside.

There was a fair amount of snow up there and it was quite cold and windy. We all spent a sleepness night listening to the wind howling heavily through the trees and huddled in our sleeping bags. We left after 9 the next morning as it had been snowing all night and  it was raining moderately the entire way down the trail. We finished the trail wet but happy campers and headed back to Vancouver.

Watersprite is a great hike but I don’t think I will be winter camping for a very long time.. but I look forward to camping there next summer. If you love Landscape Photography it is spectacular place to photograph.

watersprite2-1-of-1watersprite3-1-of-1watersprite5-1-of-1The BCMC is in the process of building a cabin at the Lake where people can rent sleeping spaces in addition to camping outside. More information on the hike can be found on their website and soon we should be able to book camping spots through them. There is a chance in the future that BC Parks will take it over.

Flatiron, No It`s Not What You Are Thinking

There are some really interesting names of mountains in British Columbia. Unnecessary Mountain, Dog Mountain, Ambition Mountain but the one I`m writing about today is called Flatiron named for its wide and flat top. Located in the Coquihalla Range of British Columbia just north of Hope and East of Chilliwack BC.

Last week, I led a group of eager hikers up to this Peak and the lake located at its base. The trail starts just off of the Coquihalla Highway off of exit 217 (which is very hard to find, I might add as it is on the opposite side of the road from the direction we were travelling in)

The trail is the same one which leads up to Needle Peak  a steeper and much harder climb and scramble. The first section of the hike is the toughest as one starts to climb steeply rather quickly for about 45 minutes to the first lookout point which offers stellar views of the mountains on the other side of the highway. At this time of the year the Wild Blue Berries are plentiful but try not to be tempted to pick them as the bears need them.

We continued along the trail which flattened out quite a bit and  we were treated with more amazing views of the surrounding mountains and the valley below. My group stopped a few times to take pictures but we did not stay long in each spot because the weather was cool and we could feel the wind start to pick up as we got closer to Flatiron.

We encountered several backpackers and day hikers on our way up which showed us how popular the trail was. Finally we reached our first destination which was the lake where we had lunch and I had time to set up my tripod and take photos. We found a large rock at the side of the lake to rest  and had just sat down only to watch a tent fly into the middle of the lake. The owner had to strip down to his shorts and jump into the cold lake to swim after it. One hiker from my group helped him pull it out. After our lunch we decided to head to the top of Flatiron which only took about 20 minutes or so of careful climbing up the boulders to the top.   We would have loved to spent a lot of time on top of the mountain but it was so  windy that we only had time to take a few quick pictures and walk around for a bit until we decided to try and a make a quick descent down the mountain.

Flatiron is an exceptional mountain to hike especially in good weather. This was my second time doing it and it won`t be my last. It is an intermediate hike but one still should be fit enough to climb it because the first part will kick your butt.

Distance: 11 km return and about 5 hours return. Some sites list it as difficult but it is not. This is one mountain that I would love to do as an overnight.Flatironvalley (1 of 1)Flatironmountain (1 of 1)Yakpeak (1 of 1)Flatironlakeview (1 of 1)Needlepeaktrail (1 of 1)





Walking Through the Wildflowers

I normally write on hikes done in British Columbia however I have decided that once in awhile I will mention hikes that are outside the province that I think are extraordinary. Yellow Aster Butte is one such hike. Located in the Mount Baker range in Washington DC it is a relatively short and easy drive from Vancouver. The longest part is getting through the border depending on whether or not you get a nice border crossing agent.

I led a hike of a group of fifteen there last Saturday August 12th and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The hike is about four – five hours return depending on how long you stay on the Peak enjoying the surrounding views. It is not a hard trail but you will gain at least 2550 feet. Some of my hikers had a difficult time because of the elevation change. These mountains are much higher than Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains.

The first part of the trail you will be walking amongst trees loaded with Blackflies so be prepared with extra bug repellent, better yet a bug net of some sort. Once you get above the treeline the trail loops around to the north side where you get amazing views of Mount Baker and the surrounding mountains around Yellow Aster Butte. You also get views of the backside of Tomyhoi. We passed a neat little creek where I was able to stop and take a photo of a mountain off in the distance.

We took a few more breaks than usual as a couple of hikers were having problems with the difference in elevation. Our group became separated because of issues at the border but we met up with each other on the Peak. When I arrived, many of the hikers had been up there for over an hour or so basking in the sunshine. Prior to reaching the summit, I stopped and set up my tripod in order to capture the backside of Tomyhoi and the valley below. The sun was high in the sky (not ideal for photography) but there were some nice shadows which created a nice effect in the photos.

I then proceeded to the top of Yellow Aster and met up with the rest of the group and was treated to some stunning views of the mountains all around. Oh, I forgot to mention the wildflowers that we saw on our way up. They were in full bloom, stunning colors of purple and yellow. My plan is to try and do an overnight trip their next month as I heard that in mid to late September the trail is a sea of Red. This is one of the most beautiful hikes that I have ever done but I recommend a 4 x 4 if you have it, make sure you get your medical insurance and be extra safe on the trail. Search and Rescue will make you pay if they need to get you out.

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Alice Lake Provincial Park

It has been too long since my last post but during that time I have done so many great hikes. Marriott Basin, Mackay Trail Grouse Mountain and this past Saturday I took a group of people to Alice Lake Provincial Park for the first time. This was more like a walk in the park (no pun intended) as it is fairly compared to what I usually do.

Alice Lake is situated just outside of Squamish BC and is a picturesque campground which has four lakes that one can walk/hike too. The main trail through the park is called you guessed it.. The Four Lakes Trail. There were twelve of us in my group and we met at the main parking lot and quickly found the trail which goes around Alice Lake. We walked through lush green forest and had a bit of an uphill climb of about 100 metres or so before we came to a relatively flat section which took us to Edith Lake where we stopped to take a few photos of wildflowers and watched people fishing.

Next we followed the trail to Fawn Lake where we had a longer break in order to grab a snack and take photos. All of the lakes in the provincial are relatively small but are perfect if you want to get away from the crowds in the campground. Before reaching our final lake we came across this amazing creek where when you looked to South East we had an amazing view of Mount Garibaldi overlooking the park. I managed to take a few photos of the mountain and some of my fellow hikers.

We  finished off our walk in Alice hanging out at the Beach while a few of us went in for a quick dip before we headed over to Murrin Provincial Park for another short hike. (More on this one in another blog)

Alice Lake is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon and it also looks like a great place to go camping if you are looking for a public campground. It is very close to Squamish so that if you wanted to go into town for a meal you could. I highly recommend visiting this Lake.mushroom1 (1 of 1)FawnLake (1 of 1)Alicelak2 (1 of 1)Alicelak1 (1 of 1)

The View Is Better From Up Here

Well, it has been a long time since I have written a post. Life gets in the way with working 9 hour days, friends, events and trying to maintain some semblance of sanity at home with two cats.

I have organized a few hikes recently with  the VanHikers a great meetup group in the Vancouver area. On Sunday, I sat back and let another organizer do all of the work. We traveled to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park near Pemberton which is a stunning area with three Glacier Lakes. We were a group of twelve eager hikers and the trail was quite busy as it usually is.

It is a not a long hike but you will get a good workout  between 1st and 2nd Lake. It is over 400 metres elevation gain. The hike is normally 3 – 4 hours return depending on how long you spend at each lake. The lakes are on three different levels with the third lake being at the top at the base of the majestic Glacier. Even though the drive is three hours from Vancouver one way, it is well worth it not to mention the driver through Pemberton is great with Mount Currie overlooking the town.

Usually when I have been to Joffre Lakes we would stop just as we arrived at the third lake to admire the view but this time we hiked all of the way over to the other side at the base of the Glacier and continued on up a small ridge line. Many of my group continued further on to where there was a view of all three Lakes while some chose not to continue. I chose to hike part way up the small rock ridge and set my tripod up to take some photos. The view was absolutely amazing looking down onto the third lake and the mountains were slightly covered in cloud as the sun peaked out in places creating an amazing reflection on the lake.

Joffre Lakes is also  great to do as a snowshoe but it will take longer and be careful to watch the avalanche conditions. There are some serious slide areas between 1st and 2nd Lakes.

It was an absolutely amazing day and a hike I highly recommend to anyone looking for a great escape.

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Dog Mountain, Vancouver`s hidden treasure

One of the huge draws of Vancouver are the towering North Shore Mountains that overlook the city from North and West Vancouver. The three well known mountains are Grouse, Seymour and the mountains that make up the Cypress Mountain Ski Resort area with their snowcapped peaks and exceptional hiking trails. One little known mountain that is almost overlooked unless you are a local, is Dog Mountain one of peaks on Mount Seymour.

A few weeks back I took a group of hikers to the top of Dog Mountain to watch the sunset. When we started the hike, it was was quite cloudy and foggy but we could see the sun starting to peak through the clouds. At first, I was a bit worried that we would not see the sunset but when we arrived at our destination at the top of the mountain the clouds began to part a bit and we were treated to this nice glow of color above the clouds.

It was also the night of the full moon which brought out a number of other photographers, people camping over night and day hikers. This is what we were treated to.Sunsetdogmount20163 (1 of 1)Sunsetdogmountain2016 (1 of 1)Sunsetdogmountain20162 (1 of 1)