Lynn Peak

Nice day to hike up to Lynn Peak. Busier than expected, trail is still as awful as ever, but the forest flowers are beginning to bloom and looked great in the sunshine.

Lynn Peak was Plan B: we wanted a hike with some elevation gain, but didn’t feel like driving very far or getting sunburn in the snow. Our original idea was to hike up to Norvan Falls but that felt like it would take too much time (being about 15 km in length). However, Lynn Peak is always longer than I remember so in the end I think we took a very similar amount of time…!

  1. The view from the Lynn Peak lookout isn’t the best on the North Shore, but it’s nice enough on a sunny day. Downtown Vancouver is mostly hidden so it’s a good thing that Mt Baker was shining brightly to the south-east to give us something pretty to admire. The cliff bands break up the monotonous green on the long flanks of Mt Seymour to lend some interest to an otherwise dull foreground.
  2. The trail up to Lynn Peak is mostly like this: rubble. It’s not fun hiking, which is why I’m so surprised we saw as many people as we did. Thinking about how most people find out about their hikes these days, I should be less surprised as I doubt many of the people we met had read a trail description or hiked it before… Still, I know the trail well enough these days that I can tune out the worst of it and enjoy the sections through the remaining delightful old-growth forest.
  3. Horned tree stump. In a previous photo I called this a “viking tree” but I’ve since learned that vikings didn’t have horned helmets. I’ve renamed it the metal tree \m/. RIP Ronnie James.
  4. Even on crummy trails there’s usually something of interest along the way. This patch of mushrooms caught my eye as we walked back down, nestled in the hollow of a decaying tree. It was great to see them looking so fresh as we’d seen a different patch earlier that were more dried out.
  5. I drove Maria nuts taking photos of coralroot last year so I had to let her continue hiking while I stopped to try and capture them today 🙂 They’re definitely tricky to photograph, though I was pleased to capture this one in the sunshine moments before the sun moved round to the next patch. I expect they’ll start flowering proper this week.
  6. I just couldn’t resist another bunchberry photo, especially as the florets were just starting to develop. It’s been fun watching the various dogwoods flower this year.
  7. The trickster on the search for handouts at the lookout. I waited for the raven to tilt its head before I took the photo to try and catch the sunlight glinting in its eye and I was delighted to capture it at the right time as it tilted its head again a second later. Someone was feeding it bits of a Nanaimo bar, and I can do no more than just shake my head. Of all the foods to offer wildlife, highly processed sugary food is the very worst. I’d disapprove if they were handing out nuts; to feed it a sweet dessert is just asinine. Alas, in a crowd of indifferent onlookers it’s difficult to speak up. I think I did make a partial point though as they left when the feeder was congratulating himself on making a “connection” with the raven. I joked that if he had food then he had a connection. He laughed it off but I think it made the point. Will they do different next time? I doubt it.
  8. Just as we reached the trailhead again I spotted the tall green stems of rein orchids among the giant leaves of skunk cabbage in a marshy area. To my surprise the camera on the phone focused beautifully on the flowers of the orchid, and I’m really pleased with this photo. It was a delight to see these flowers again, and to be able to photograph them without being set upon my countless mosquitoes…!

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon of hiking.

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Phone Friday VI

It’s Friday, and this week my phone Friday is also a floral Friday with a selection of blooms seen over the past week. We have Japanese dogwood, salal, cottonwood leaf and seed pods, thimbleberry, false Solomon’s seal, western starflower, and a lovely lemon-yellow coralroot.

I picked only 8 photos this week though I could have posted many more!

  1. I’ve been fascinated by the Japanese dogwood ever since I saw the flowers sticking up a few weeks ago (and were featured in last week’s Phone Friday). Just today I noticed that one bloom had turned white and had the same red tips as last week’s bunchberry, and I felt compelled to capture it! I’m enjoying seeing the different dogwoods bloom – the Pacific dogwood is mostly done (though we saw one in bloom near Squamish last weekend) while the bunchberry (dwarf dogwood) is reaching its peak.
  2. A few steps further down the block from the Japanese dogwood, I found a nice patch of salal flowers lit up by the late afternoon sun. I like the way the flowers line a stalk and how there’s a progression in opening along that line. That, and they look so cute and fuzzy!
  3. It’s cottonwood season, and their scent is filling the air. I really love the shape of the leaves, as well as the colour when they first emerge, being tinged a yellowy-green with hints of copper. In the autumn these leaves turn a lovely yellow, especially in the mountains near Whistler, illuminating the paths of rivers, creeks, and logging roads.
  4. Not only their scent but their downy cotton seeds are also filling the air, collecting in great drifts along the edges of paths. I’ve seen the seed pods after they’ve already opened, looking like furry sticks, but this is the first time I’ve seen the pods closed up. Thinking they’d be ready to pop and release their seeds, I gently squeezed a couple. But they didn’t yield at all, and I left them to it.
  5. Thimbleberry is in full bloom at the roadside right now, all the way up the Sea to Sky highway to Squamish and beyond. This patch was at the start of our hike to Crooked Falls (shown in Wednesday’s post) and is but a tiny fraction of the extent of flowering bushes right now. In a few weeks, they’ll start turning into lovely red berries: one of the tastiest berries I’ve ever eaten was a thimbleberry, but, alas, that may have been a one-off as I’ve never been able to find any since that tasted so good. Still, they’re nice flowers.
  6. A collection of miniature starbursts, false Solomon’s seal is a common woodland flower at this time of year. It’s not my favourite, but that doesn’t mean I won’t take its picture! It has an even starrier-looking cousin called star-flowered Solomon’s seal, though that’s not so common.
  7. Speaking of stars, the trail between Shannon Falls and the Sea-to-Sky gondola has some impressive patches of starflower in bloom right now. I couldn’t decide between a close-up or a wider view to show just how many flowers there were, but in the end I felt that the close-up shot would work better for Instagram. I really like these little flowers; they’re just so delicate and it’s hard to believe they can survive attached to such tiny, slender stems.
  8. I’ve saved my favourite for last. On our way up to Sea to Summit trail last weekend I was stopped in my tracks by a small patch of pure yellow coralroot. I’ve seen some flowers that are yellow and pink, but never one that was 100 per cent yellow. It’s always difficult to get coralroot in focus (as I mentioned last year) and I always take a number of photos in the hope that at least one is sharp. This is the best of the bunch from the weekend, but it’s still not as good as it could be and isn’t that sharp when viewed at 100%. However, it fits the criteria of “good enough for Instagram!” which is why it’s included. I would love to go back and photograph it again this weekend but I suspect we’ll be off somewhere different.

That’s all for this week but I’m sure I’ll have plenty to share again next Friday 🙂

Waterfall Season

Waterfall season is well and truly here! Hiked up the Sea to Summit trail on Saturday and to Crooked Falls the next day to enjoy the cool refreshing spray of these spectacular waterfalls. We could feel the thundering water with our feet… Crooked Falls has certainly become a very popular place!

We hadn’t planned on doing two waterfall hikes back-to-back, but as we headed up the beginning of the trail to both the Chief and Sea to Summit trail, we soon realized that the vast majority of people had the Chief as their destination. The decision to opt for the quieter Sea to Summit trail was a no-brainer, and it turned out to be an inspired choice. Not only was the trail peaceful and quiet, but the water in Shannon Creek was roaring over the many sets of falls, cascades, and rapids. Even before we reached the falls, we could sense the deep rumbling of the water, and felt invigorated by the cool oxygenated air. Coupled with the first signs of a multitude of forest flowers, it was the perfect hike for an overcast day, and made our summit beer all the more enjoyable despite the briefest of views of the Sky Pilot peaks.

Sunday’s plan was always Crooked Falls though we almost changed our minds. In the end we were very glad we stuck with our original idea and enjoyed another lovely forest walk, again dotted with a variety of flowers and dominated by a thundering, soaking waterfall in full flow. The biggest surprise was the number of people: it seems that the Instagram effect has reached Sigurd Creek, and I was even moved to ask a few groups how they’d found out about the hike. Remarkably, only one mentioned Instagram.

Anyway, onto the photos.

  1. The first is a general view of what we believe to be Upper Shannon Falls. It’s hard to say exactly which one is the upper falls as there are several along a short stretch of the creek. At first I was disappointed that I couldn’t get a clear shot, but the green of the forest is so beautiful and the zig-zag of the creek still clearly visible that I actually ended up really liking this photo. As usual, the full effect is lacking on account of the square crop but the essence is there.
  2. These falls might be the true upper falls, and are the ones most easily visible from the trail, being blessed with two good vantage points. I took so long taking photos and video that a queue of photographers had formed behind me (of course I couldn’t hear anything as the water was too loud). Apparently one even made a joke about pushing me in to get me out of the way…
  3. Shannon Falls looking as magnificent as ever. While I’ve seen greater flow, I must admit this was still impressive today and I had to take advantage of the lack of crowds to get a clear photo of the falls.
  4. A face-on view of Crooked Falls, I endured a complete drenching to get this photo. Thank goodness for quick-dry clothing! It was definitely a good test of the water-resistance of my Pixel 2, as well as a good test of the non-water-resistance of our RX100II. Both survived, and I could barely see through my glasses by the time I was done. Needless to say, there weren’t many people lining up behind me to get such a clear view of the falls today…
  5. I believe Crooked Falls is named for the way it zigs and zags. Despite the intimidating view, it feels quite safe to get this view looking downstream over the cliff. On my previous visit, I had an ultrawide lens on our SLR and was able to capture this view and most of the falls in a single photo. On that particular day (back in 2014), I don’t think we saw more than half-a-dozen hikers in total.
  6. There’s a third vantage point of Crooked Falls, and I can’t decide whether it feels safe or not. Getting down into the “crook” (if you will) of the falls here requires descending a steep, slippery path, and I’m always aware that a mis-step could propel me over the edge into the waterfall. But many people make it here quite safely, and it is worth it for this unique angle. This photo shows off the capability of the Pixel 2 camera to simultaneously capture deep shadows and bright highlights: the sky is blue and the clouds have structure! I have to admit, I’m still enjoying using the camera on this phone.

Phone Friday V

Some views, some flowers, but all things I’ve seen in the past week. Wednesday’s trip to Bowen Island was lovely and is the source of several photos, mostly of the mountain range near Brunswick and Harvey but the crescent moon made an appearance as we sailed home. Throw in the usual array of flowers – including one final look at the camas – a campus view, and a rare sighting of one of my favourite animals, the snail.

How am I at week 5 of Phone Friday already?

  1. The view off the back of the ferry to Bowen – how can I resist another photo of that magnificent line of peaks?
  2. We went for a wander from Doc Morgan’s to give our ears a rest from the music session and found this beautiful reflection of those same mountains in the calm water in Snug Cove. Instant photo-op!
  3. As we left I wondered aloud about whether we’d see the crescent moon. I was skeptical given that the New Moon was only a day or so earlier, but I walked out on deck and sure enough the moon was right there, hanging low over Bowen. I lamented the fact I didn’t have a “proper” camera with me, but tried the shot anyway. Needless to say I was blown away by the fact that it turned out so well! Obviously, this is cropped heavily but it’s Instagram so a 12-Mpx image has a lot of scope for that. I’m absolutely delighted with this photo. The original had Venus near the top, but I had to make the difficult decision to omit it from this framing to show off the slender moon in the evening sky.
  4. Buoyed by the success of the photo above, I turned to face the opposite direction and attempted a low light show of Brunswick and Harvey. To my surprise, the camera not only focused but produced a respectable photo. Score two for the Pixel 2! The sea was so calm that night…
  5. I noticed recently that the pine trees were growing their pollen cones again, so here’s a close-up view of an Austrian pine, of which there are quite a few outside our office window. After overnight rain, I saw drifts of yellow at the edges of some former puddles, which meant that the cones were releasing their pollen. I couldn’t resist investigating more closely and tapped the end of the branch to see how much pollen drifted out. Turns out, a lot (depending on how hard you tap the branch)! Multiply that by the number of branches and the number of trees and it becomes obvious why allergy season can be so miserable for some. I looked for a pollen corona around the Sun later in the day but didn’t see one. I’ll keep looking.
  6. I really like geometric shapes, which means I’ve been looking for an excuse to photograph these bus shelters at UBC. I’d tried one shot before, just of the roof with blue sky above it, but wasn’t particularly enthralled with the result. But this day I noticed the shadow on the ground complementing the roof, and I felt that seeing the two in the same image was a much more effective photo. It loses a little in the square crop, but I still like it.
  7. Snail! We don’t see many snails in Vancouver so I was happy to find this one on the steps of a friend’s house. Actually there was about a dozen snails on the steps, but this was the only one I could get the camera to focus on. Fun fact: there was a time when I had a website dedicated to snails, and for a very brief time it was even the top result on Google.
  8. This is the flower of the Japanese dogwood, which we’d noticed a few days earlier and wondered what it was. Thankfully, there’s a specimen (with a label!) right outside the entrance to my building at work. The flowers stand out (literally) as they are on the end of a thin stem that protrudes up away from the branch, almost looking like a fake tree. I can’t believe I’ve never noticed this before…
  9. With a photo of the Japanese dogwood lined up for this week, I had to slip in an old favourite to go with it. The lovely red-tipped bracts on this particular bunchberry plant caught my eye. It’s not quite in focus (I probably got a little too close, or perhaps the focus picked up a different part of the plant) but it’s good enough for this collection, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen one with such lovely coloured tips.
  10. The camas flowers are nearly done – the postage stamp of a meadow has only a couple of flowers still in bloom, so I just had to take one last picture especially as the yellow pollen contrasts so well against the purple flower. It’s been about a month since the first buds showed up, and I’ve really enjoyed keeping track of their growth. Now they’re done for the year, I’ll have to switch my attention to other plants. I think the tulip poplars are due to flower… 🙂

Howe Sound Peaks

Panoramic view of some of my favourite peaks as seen from the ferry last night.

As we approached Horseshoe Bay on Sunday evening, the light on the Howe Sound peaks was a beautiful soft warm glow. Of course, my phone camera can’t zoom so I’m left with cropping the full frame to manually “zoom” into the part I’m most interested in showing. However, I couldn’t decide which part of the scene I liked best so I thought I’d try a panoramic crop and then split it into two separate, square(ish) photos which, together, captured what most caught my eye.

Just don’t look too closely: I haven’t found a reliable method of splitting a photo into a panorama on my phone yet, so I did the best edit I could. But there’s still a clear overlap problem, and it looks like I processed each frame differently too! Oops. Not my best work for sure… If in doubt, just look at the first one as it’s the most interesting!

Patterns in the water

Loving the abstract patterns in the water at low tide!

It’s that time of year again when we spend a couple of days by the beach in Parksville on Vancouver Island. Did I say by the beach? I meant on the beach! As soon as the tide begins to recede we’re out there following it out and looking for any signs of life that hasn’t yet burrowed into the sand such as sand dollars.

After a day exposed to the warm late spring sunshine, the sand was warm and it heated up the incoming water as the tide rose which made paddling in the shallows like splashing through bath water. Even better were the patterns made by the ripples as the sun shone through them to the sand below, an endless series of ever-changing abstracts that were irresistible to photograph.

I loved the way it made for an interesting foreground in the first photo, even making a natural dividing line as the viewing angle into the water became too shallow. Then there’s simply the patterns themselves, of which I couldn’t resist recording a short video clip as the waves rolled by (although the heavy compression for Instagram means it doesn’t look as good as the original).

Hopefully we can return again next year – it’s really a lovely way to spend a few days. We really got lucky with the weather this time round, especially as we were almost a month earlier in the year than previously, but it’s BC so you never know what you’re going to get…!

Phone Friday IV

Another mix of photos from the past week for phone Friday, mostly flowers of course but a bit of nice scenery for good measure. I love springtime.

I’m getting behind on my blog posts! It’s a little bit cumbersome to write about each photo but I hope you bear with me.

  1. I simply couldn’t resist another photo of camas, but this time in the wild! We stopped at Neck Point Park just outside Nanaimo on a whim and were greeted by a gorgeous pocket of coastal Garry oak woodland and meadows dotted with camas, chickweed, and other wildflowers. We even saw a chocolate lily and one solitary remnant fawn lily with the last withered petals still attached. The wind put paid to most of attempts at flower photos but a couple did turn out.
  2. Broad-leaved stonecrop – possibly the first time we’ve identified this flower, it was widespread along the rocks in the park. I didn’t expect to see the familiar yellow stonecrop flowers though, so that was definitely a bonus!
  3. The view from the ferry as we sail for Nanaimo, looking back to the familiar peaks of the Howe Sound Crest Trail. I’ve photographed this view a few times and distant mountains against open ocean and sky tend to look pretty boring, so I was pleased to notice the curve of the ferry railing, which led my eye into the frame more or less straight to the base of the snowiest summits. A beautiful day for a ferry ride!
  4. Something different: the view from the third floor of the student Nest at UBC, looking straight down. The architecture of this (relatively new) building invites the discovery of interesting shapes and angles, but I wasn’t keen to try during term time when it’s full of students. But this night was perfect: we’d just finished our group get-together for drinks and were walking down the stairs. We stopped to peer over the glass partition and swoon at the long drop to the floor, and I instantly saw this composition with its abstract yet patterned feel.
  5. Sometimes you wonder why a plant is so-named. And then you look a little closer and it becomes obvious. Fringecup is now one of my favourite flowers to watch for in the spring and it’s well worth stopping to get a really close look at the flowers with their delicate little fringed petals lining the cup-like flowers. I should get myself a macro lens for these closeups though.
  6. The classic unfurling fiddlehead of the deer fern, I’ve had little luck getting a good photo of them at this stage. Low light and having to crouch or kneel to get the right angle often make for blurry photos so I’m quite happy with this one.
  7. Back to Neck Point Park, this is the neck from which the park takes its name. We couldn’t resist walking out onto the shingle, graded from small to large as we moved away from the shore, to explore the rocks at the end. Alas it was far too windy to hang around to admire the view for long!
  8. Sunset Beach in Neck Point Park, this looks like the perfect spot to watch a mid-summer sunset. The curve of the beach makes for a pleasing view in itself too.
  9. Sand dollar party! To my surprise we saw more live sand dollars on this trip than previously, despite the low tide not being as low as last year. I think we just caught them as the tide was receding and before they’d had time to burrow into the sand. I spent a few moments just watching them, and although I couldn’t see them at the time (I couldn’t get that close), it’s a treat to see all the dozens of tiny feeder tendrils.
  10. And with that I bid you good night. A colourful sunset reflected in a tidal pool on the beach near Rathrevor provincial park. A lovely way to end a glorious day!