A seal a-swimming

Harbour seal swimming alongside the ferry in Active Pass

There are times when it’s hard to believe we live next to an ocean because the sea is so calm.

Sometimes the waters on Active Pass are glassy smooth, disturbed only by whispering eddies.

A seal pops up its head and starts swimming through the flat green water, leaving its own trail of ripples behind it.


West Lion

A different view of the West Lion – taken from the trail up to Black Mountain at the end of March 2010

The Baden-Powell trail up to Black Mountain from Cypress Bowl used to be a leisurely ascent via an old logging road before entering old growth on the summit plateau. It was an especially pleasant approach in the winter meandering past (or over) frozen ponds and gradually climbing up to the south peak. As part of the preparation for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Cypress Mountain ski resort expanded its ski runs on the east face of Black Mountain, wiping out the old trail in the process, which was re-routed up the north side of one of the ski runs turning it into a boring miniature “grind”.

Boring, yes. But the saving grace of this more direct route is that it makes getting up to the summit of Black Mountain easy on those lighter spring evenings, taking barely 45 minutes. And so after work one day I headed across to the North Shore and headed up to the top to catch the sunset. Alas I was too late to catch the sunset itself, but I did capture this gorgeous soft light on the west Lion, all newly bedecked in the metres of fresh snow that fell immediately after the Olympics…

One other thing I noticed that evening was that I was alone – no one else was venturing up on snowshoes, and I had the entire hike to myself. It was so still and quiet, especially after the ski lifts shut down, that I could hardly believe I was so close to the city. Really, quite a magical moment and well worth doing, even if I did take a wrong turn on the descent and ended up coming down on one of the ski runs…

I put up a set of photos on Flickr if you want to see what else I took that night.

The Lions

Obligatory shot of the Lions from the summit of Hollyburn.

Mt Seymour is a more interesting hike, but Hollyburn has its appeal. It’s shorter, with a little less elevation gain, and today it was even quieter. It really feels like most people are leaving the winter sports behind and thinking ahead to the summer, which suited us fine. The nice thing about the view from the top of Hollyburn is this in-your-face view of the Lions, and it was nice to look over and think back to our hike over to them that we did last year. Now that’s got me looking forward to the summer myself!

A good day

A good day to cycle around the Stanley Park seawall

A sunny day to end the week, and another city bike ride. Today I couldn’t resist sticking close to the water, riding around False Creek and then through downtown to Stanley Park. Lots of good things to see along the way – a couple of bald eagles, noisy flickers, hummingbirds, snowy mountains, blue sky, perfect reflections, the Olympic Village beaver (finally, although it did its best to avoid being photographed!), magenta magnolias, and a bushtit nest. I wasn’t really paying attention to the distance so it was a pleasant surprise to see I’d covered 28 km this morning.


How could I pass up this classic photo-op? Another TBT contribution from my Once Around The Sun project of 5 years ago.

Looking back at the blog post I wrote for this photo, I’m glad I typed up my thoughts and observations along with the photos. So often in Vancouver, the western horizon can be bright even when the city is under grey clouds, and a number of the photos in my photo-a-day project have this kind of feature. Sometimes it’s the weather clearing at the end of the day and sometimes it’s just that the better weather hangs out to the west of the Lower Mainland. But in my case, it usually just reflects the fact that it took me most of the day to get round to going to look for a photo to take…!

Of course I didn’t remember all that when I chose this photo for TBT. Instead, I liked the simple and classic composition: a straight line neatly dividing the frame into a 1/3-2/3 colour and texture split. The end-on ship is a nice touch too, which is something I remember noticing at the time. Still, I cropped it and spruced it up a little for Instagram (which still doesn’t handle portrait 3:2 photos).


Palmate coltsfoot, one of the first spring time wildflowers

I was out for a pre-migraine bike ride (though I didn’t know it at the time…) and, knowing it was Wildflower Wednesday, headed out towards Spanish Banks where I suspected that there would be a flower or two for me to photograph. Salmonberry blooms early, as I mentioned in last Saturday’s post but it’s a shrub and not a flower. Coltsfoot, on the other hand, is one of the earliest wildflowers to bloom. It’s not a particularly pretty flower, though it does make for a striking photo with its head of blooms radiating out in all directions.

It was also one of the favourites of a late friend of ours, who was also a huge fan of wildflowers and would head to the southern Gulf Islands every spring to catch the bloom there. Sadly we never got the chance to accompany her on any of these trips, so we try to remember her every year by noting when the coltsfoot blooms.

I’ve also seen it recently on the access road up to Mt Seymour, where we passed a couple of sizeable flower patches. Basically, anywhere there’s a damp ditch is a good candidate though it’s not actually that common. Maybe it’s outcompeted by the mare’s tails and skunk cabbage?

Just another Vancouver sunset

Just another Vancouver sunset…

Just another #Vancouver #sunset…

A post shared by Andy Gibb (@_andy_gibb_) on

After a lovely early-evening walk on the beach we were treated to this fantastic colourful sunset. We were making dinner at the time, so all I had to do was pick up the camera, step out onto the balcony, and decided how much of the pink and blue sky to photograph.

I was in a bit of a hurry to put this up on Instagram, and so it’s not quite as colourful as it seemed at the time. The version that will make its way onto Flickr will be processed a little more carefully.