Black in white

Black Tusk decked out in white, as seen from Brandywine Meadows on this day in 2013. Probably looks very similar today after yesterday’s snow. 🌨

Black Tusk is an obvious landmark up and down the Sea to Sky corridor, and we’ve taken many a photo of it. I always like seeing a familiar peak from different angles, and this is one of my favourite aspects on Black Tusk, especially late on a sunny afternoon in early winter where the low angle of the Sun highlights the texture in the landscape. This view is almost exactly opposite the view I posted a few weeks ago, though is much further away so I had to resort to the 55-200 mm lens to get in close. Ah those were the days when that lens would still focus on things at infinity…

And so, right on cue, winter begins again – yesterday we even had some snow in Vancouver, though it didn’t settle.

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Lunar pilots

The first-quarter moon hangs between Sky Pilot and Copilot at the end of a balmy autumn day.

Well who can resist such a sight? The moon floating in the sky between two of the most photogenic mountain peaks in the area. The biggest challenge was holding the camera steady, since I was down at 1/30 sec thanks to the polarizer (which helped enhance the colours). But the railing on the patio up at the Sea to Sky gondola makes a pretty good makeshift tripod.

Alas we were too late to have a post-hike celebratory beer, so we had to be content with taking the gondola back down and finding beer elsewhere.

Iceberg Lake

Gorgeous Iceberg Lake at last, surprisingly difficult to photograph with a standard wide-angle lens. But the view in the opposite direction makes up for that. A big thank-you to ACC-Whistler for a wonderful trail.

As mentioned in my previous post, we hiked up to Iceberg Lake near Whistler last weekend. In its own way the lake is like a miniature version of Wedgemount Lake (or at least the meltwater tarn at the toe of the Wedge glacier), the peaks surrounding which can be seen in the opposite direction. There’s a small permanent snowfield or even remnant glacier that calves into a lake coloured teal-green by rock flour.

The trail is superb, passing through old-growth forest for much of the ascent, and hugging Nineteen Mile Creek (see link above) with its picturesque waterfalls for the upper section before exiting the trees into beautiful subalpine meadows for an awe-inspiring view of the headwall of Rainbow Mountain. The view of the Rainbow glacier is fore-shortened as you get closer to Iceberg Lake (as at upper Joffre Lake), so the best view is from the meadows.

Photographic notes. This place needs an ultra-wide angle lens, at least for views looking towards Rainbow Mountain; the standard 28-mm equivalent simply does not go wide enough to capture the scale. Here, I was glad to be able to make use of a couple of hikers for scale, otherwise there’s simply no way to make it look impressive. Also, since the headwall faces more-or-less due east, morning light is essential. This is less of an issue in the summer when the sun is higher in the sky, though the shadows might be even darker than today (I had to play with the processing to bring up the deep shadows in the original version of this image).

Still, despite photographic challenges, it is definitely a beautiful spot to visit, and deservedly popular. Plus there are two more hikes in this area for next year’s list…

Best seat in the house

Looking back 5 years ago today to a balmy Thanksgiving weekend in Garibaldi Provincial Park. This is one of my all-time favourite views, and possibly the best in the park. Black Tusk looks amazing from all angles but especially this one.

I love this view. Actually I love the entire view from this spot on Panorama Ridge. To the south is Garibaldi Lake and Mt Garibaldi itself, to the east lies the heavily-glaciated Castle Towers, while to the west is the Tantalus Range. For a hike that requires only relatively modest effort (at least when camping nearby), it offers the greatest value in terms of views. Plus the hike itself is quite enjoyable, passing through vast flower meadows or across volcanic cinder flats, depending on your approach.

I haven’t yet summited Black Tusk itself, and while I don’t doubt that the view from up there is superb, I still expect that it won’t be better than this view. After all, Panorama Ridge overlooks Garibaldi Lake directly, and of course you get to admire the stunning Black Tusk: Panorama Ridge is a much less visually impressive summit!

And I think that it looks best in the autumn too as the meadows on its flanks turn that lovely burnished golden colour as the flowers die back. Having said that, it looks pretty good in any season…

A snowy lunch spot

Snowy lunch spot at Blowdown Lake at the weekend.

The forecast said a mix of sun and cloud, which is exactly what it looks like in this photo. We walked along the lower road until we found a clear view of the lake and a rock big enough for us both to sit on. Our little Therm-a-rest seats worked well enough for scraping the inch or two of snow off the rock, and we enjoyed a scenic, if chilly, lunch. We made the pre-winter season mistake of not bringing a flask with a hot drink – the cold water we had was not appealing!

By the time we’d finished our lunch the blue sky had vanished, the wind had picked up, and it began to snow, just lightly, with a few perfectly symmetric snowflakes landing on my jacket. At first I thought it was snow blown off the trees but as I watched more closely I realized it was coming from the thickening clouds overhead. We packed up and returned to the car at a speedy pace to warm up again. That was the first time I’d actually hiked while wearing a down jacket – I think I only really needed it for the first 15 minutes or so, but then couldn’t be bother to take it off after that. We were back at the car within an hour.

The changing of the seasons

The changing of the seasons – it’s autumn in the valley, but winter is beginning to make its presence felt on the mountaintops.

With a better-than-expected forecast for Sunday, we loaded up the car and headed for Whistler, spending Saturday night at Nairn Falls campground on its last night of the year. The next morning wasn’t as sunny as originally forecast, and when we were turned back from our original hike due to active logging, we weren’t sure what to do.

Getter lazier by the minute, we opted for Blowdown Pass, a hike we’ve done several times before but one that we knew was pretty easy and accessible. We pulled off the Duffey Lake road onto the Blowdown FSR and began nosing our way through the (30) water bars. Thanks to the recent logging, we had a superb view of the valley as we gained a little height, and had to pull over in order to capture the view in the photo above. With the curve of the road, the colour lining the avalanche path (and what an obvious and impressive path!), and the dusting of snow on the mountain tops, this was a stunning view and an instant photo-op. Possibly one of my favourite photos from the day. All that was missing was a bit of sunshine.

Another Skyline

Superb in-your-face views of the Copilot and Sky Pilot along the Skyline Ridge trail, some of the nicest subalpine rambling I’ve done in ages, especially now with the berry bushes changing colour.

As I mentioned in a recent post, Skyline Ridge was a wonderful hike. The highlight was definitely getting great views of Sky Pilot and Copilot. The lighting wasn’t the best for photography, having flattened as some high cloud moved in, but it was good enough to lend some warmth to this view of the mountains. I took many versions of this view as the hike progressed, and it was hard to pick a favourite, but I went with this one as I think it works better on Instagram where it might be viewed on a small screen. Such photos need simple lines or colour to stand out as you scroll – anything that’s too busy or too complex just won’t catch anyone’s eye. Oops – looks like I admitted that I’m just in it for the likes 🙂