The path ahead

Still some snow along the ridge towards Mount Harvey. Saturday was a beautiful day to be up high, and the snow was a welcome cooler! Full trip report on LiveTrails.

The last (and only other) time I reached the summit of Mt Harvey, the only view we had was straight up through the clouds to blue sky above. All around us was heavy cloud that refused to lift or burn off. I therefore wanted to wait for a clear day to repeat the long, steep climb, and Saturday was perfect. (Well, nearly: it was probably a bit too hot for hiking, though we were in shade for most of the ascent and there was a nice breeze at the top.) And it was worth the wait: the view is incredible, and I think I prefer it to that from Mt Harvey’s taller neighbour, Brunswick Mountain.

Of course, it was never far from our minds that this was the place where five snowshoers died back in April, and we met a Korean hiking group at the summit who were there to remember their friends. This part of the ridge shows the remnants of some of the cornices that form during the winter, and even though they are a shadow of their former selves, we were careful to ensure we kept well back from their edges.

A week of glacier lilies

A departure from the usual posting style. Since I saw so many glacier lilies at the weekend, I figured it would be best to combine all those photographs into a single, all-encompassing glacier lily entry. Let the floral overload begin!

We spent the weekend in Manning Park, and found – to my delight – that the glacier lilies were out in force. Here’s one of many in bud we saw last Sunday near Blackwall Peak, beautifully decorated with raindrops. I was surprised to see them blooming even by the roadside on the way up to Blackwall Peak, and we were further surprised by two yearling bear cubs darting across the road ahead of us!

It's that time of year again! The glacier lilies are out in force in Manning Park and should be good for another couple of weeks. Here's one of many in bud we saw yesterday near Blackwall Peak, beautifully decorated with raindrops (as was our tent!). After all the hard work we put in on Saturday to find some (which paid off handsomely I should add), I was surprised to see them blooming at the roadside on the way up to Blackwall Peak. Then we were surprised again by two yearling bear cubs darting across the road ahead of us 🐻 🐻 🙂 Hike reports are on LiveTrails. What a weekend! #glacierlily #erythroniumgrandiflorum #ManningPark #manningparkresort #ecmanningprovincialpark #bcparks #paintbrushnaturetrail #explorebc #wildflowers #beautifulbc #beautifulbritishcolumbia #ifttt #hikebc #bchiking

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On Saturday we hiked the Skyline I loop, a 21-km hike with 900+ m of elevation gain. We’d been happily enjoying the wealth of blooms along the trail, but then we entered the last big meadow before turning back towards the car. This might be the most spectacular glacier lily meadow I’ve seen so far! Wow!

A trail runs through it – the path through the vast meadow in the previous photo is barely a boot wide, the glacier lilies and spring beauty doing their best to recolonize it. I looked back at photos I took of this section of the trail in August 2007 and there is no sign of glacier lilies anywhere.

And yet more glacier lilies along the Skyline I trail. There was still a bit of snow in places along the ridge but it’ll soon be gone. I find it amazing how so many can grow and yet all signs of their existence disappear once the main summer bloom gets underway. I’m convinced that most hikers never even see a glacier lily over the summer.

Finally, it’s Flashback-Friday, and I thought I’d finish this week of glacier lily photos with the flower that started it all – my very first glacier lily photo from way back in 2006!

That last shot has a lot to answer for…

Long blues

Long exposure at the blue hour.

I’ve always loved long exposure photographs. The first time I really remember being aware of the concept was when I saw a documentary about a photographer who used pinhole cameras to take hours-long exposures of popular city locations to reveal scenes devoid of people. I thought it was amazing. Since then I’ve seen other similar examples (plus I’ve seen how to mimic this in post-processing), but the most common subject for long-exposure photography is water; the ocean, a lake, a river, or waterfall. I don’t habitually carry a tripod around with me, which means I’m usually limited in my exposures to what I can take hand-held, and I’ve got quite good at holding a camera steady for up to 1/4 second.

But to get those glassy ocean shots needs much longer exposures and, therefore, a tripod (plus a neutral density filter – which I lack). My GorillaPod is proving to be too wobbly for the kinds of photos I’m after, so I made use of a number of logs on the beach to experiment with exposures of up to about 8 seconds. It took a few shots (owing to the fact that none of the logs were level), but I finally got one I liked. And somehow I felt it looked better when I kept the blue tint rather than using a more realistic colour balance. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough.

Disappearing act

First visit to Englishman River Falls – having seen many photos on Instagram, it was nice to see them in person. Lots of starflower and salal in bloom, some wild strawberry and vanilla leaf too. Also found some pink wintergreen and my first ever Vancouver groundcone, aka poque.

I knew that capturing this waterfall was going to be difficult. Like many waterfalls, the scale is hard to represent effectively in photographs so I decided to just go with the flow (ha ha – geddit?) and be content with the same shot as everyone else. Now I know the scale, I’m quite happy with it. It would be tricky to get a nice long exposure of these falls because the bridge wobbles when walked on. I’d have to get here early in the morning to have the place to myself to avoid that. That’s for some other time. We were lucky enough with our timing as the sun emerged from behind the clouds a few minutes later.

The short loop trail connecting the falls was well worth doing, passing through some pleasant forest (with signs of fawn lilies in a few places to pique my interest). The water level had dropped since the first rush of spring snowmelt so the lower falls weren’t really evident. I was surprised and impressed with the deep, ruler-straight canyon connecting the falls – it’s quite a spectacular feature. The warning signs have it right!

Tetrahedron light

Last light on the peaks of Tetrahedron provincial park: Mt Steele, Tetrahedron, and Panther Peak (L to R).

After my miserable failure at attempting to catch the glorious full moonrise on Friday night, thanks to our 55-200 mm lens deciding that it wasn’t going to focus properly, I borrowed our friends’ 70-300 mm lens for sunset the following night. (I also used a log for a rest rather than the GorillaPod which was too wobbly with the heavier lens on the camera.) I was pleasantly surprised (maybe even a little disappointed) to find that there was nothing wrong with the camera, and the lens focused near perfectly.

I had a good idea about which mountains we were seeing across the water, but it was only zooming in that I could make out the familiar pyramidal shape of Tetrahedron’s namesake peak. Knowing that, it was easy to identify the neighbouring peaks, and marvel at the fact we’ve stood atop one of them (Mt Steele). The light was a lovely warm glow, even lighting up the texture in the forested slopes below, making for an irresistible shot.

Sand dollars galore

Chasing sand dollars on a morning run along the beach – nice to find a few live ones. I found the tiniest of sand dollar shells, barely the size of my little finger nail, but it crumbled the moment I picked it up. Running barefoot on a sandy beach feels good too! 🙂 🏃👣

Quite by chance, our return to Parksville for a long weekend on the beach coincided with a full moon, revealing literally miles of beach to explore at low tide. While the others were at the pool, I decided to head out for a run on the exposed – and ripply – sand (which, by the way, is nowhere near as soft on your bare feet as might be expected). The tide was still receding, and I chased it out almost to the water’s edge, discovering tidal pools with stranded, living sand dollars. I snapped a few photos (such as the one above) and continued on my way.

Returning later with Maria, we discovered dozens and dozens more living sand dollars. Many were stranded upside-down on the sand, which we carefully righted them so they could burrow away to safety. It was such a fun experience finding so many, and I even had the chance to take a video clip of one pushing its way under the sand. Very cool! I don’t know how we can beat that for a sand dollar experience! 🙂

A bear walks into a bar…

Waiting for service… Flashback Friday to May 2007 and a road trip to Port Renfrew, where we rounded a bend and spotted this bear wandering along the shoulder. He (?) stopped to check us out, placed his paws on the barrier as if waiting for a drink, before getting up onto the barrier and walking along it for a moment until startled back into the forest by the next car.

We’d just bought our shiny new compact superzoom Canon S3IS and I was more than happy to make use of the long zoom to get this photo. Sadly, once I got home and looked at the photos on our computer monitor, this photo also alerted me to how bad the colour fringing was on high-contrast edges (look at the edge of the road for an example – and that’s after a bit of processing). A lot of it can be taken out with “purple fringing” corrections, but it’s hard to get rid of all of it. Sure, I’d read the reviews that mentioned this aberration, and figured I could live with it. Looking back, that was really the time we should have gone straight to buying an SLR, instead of making-do with the inferior compact camera image quality.

But, having said all that, I still really like this and the other photos I took at the time. It’s quite the memory, and possibly our most fun bear encounter.