Frigid falls

This seems like an appropriate waterfall photo for today’s waterfall Wednesday – standing at the base of Alexander Falls a few winters ago. I remember being disappointed that the sun was not on the falls but in retrospect it clearly makes for a better picture. It didn’t matter that the snowshoeing wasn’t particularly exciting as it was still a fun and peaceful afternoon. Maybe it’s time we used those expired half-price day tickets to revisit the falls…

Why is this appropriate? Well, yesterday we got our first city snow of the year in Vancouver and today it’s all frozen solid. Tomorrow has rain in the forecast though that could easily be snow again. For a few short hours, the UBC campus was a winter wonderland, until the reality of getting the bus up the hill sunk in. Thankfully the roads were clear enough by the evening for me to have no issues getting home.

Back to the photo. A similar cloudless day back in January 2011, and I set off on snowshoes with a friend to wander the trails at the Whistler Olympic Park, finishing up at the base of Alexander Falls. We needed a little deft snowshoe-clad footwork to get down the slope, but it was well worth it. Since it’s now been nearly 7 years since I visited I think it’s about time I returned, and now we have winter tyres to get up the Sea to Sky highway, it might even be something we do over the Christmas holiday.

However, on my next visit I’m going to try a couple more angles and go for a longer exposure too. We were running out of time back in 2011 (and my friend’s kid was getting very cold) so I just had time to snap a few photos before we retraced our steps back to the lodge where we tackled some well-deserved hot chocolate.

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Cinnamon

Cinnamon black bear munching on grass at the roadside, the third of four bears we saw on a mini road trip back in June

I love seeing bears in the wild, and despite the years of hiking and backpacking in North America (totalling close to 500 hikes), we’ve seen way more bears from the car than on foot. I can think of maybe 10 occasions that we saw a bear on the trail, and maybe only about half of those could be classified as encounters, the others being merely sightings at a distance.

The challenges of taking a good bear photo from the car include being able to shoot through an open window (without getting someone’s head or part of the door mirror in the frame), holding the camera steady enough in a car whose engine is still running (tip: don’t lean on the car!), and other passengers shifting around in the car! If you can deal with that, then you can be sure the camera will decide to focus on the grass instead of the bear… Thankfully in this case, the depth of field was just enough to keep the bear in focus too.

No ordinary bunny

Not saying it’s cold in Canada but I just saw the Easter bunny…. Well OK I admit it – this photo was actually taken one February a few years ago 🙂

Every winter we see the evidence of their existence – quartets of paw prints in the snow – but only rarely have we seen them. Our best encounter was this one while cross-country skiing at the Whistler Olympic Park back in 2009. I guess it hadn’t really worked out that it had a dark background behind it as it just sat there was as long as we wanted to take photos, presumably thinking it was well-camouflaged against the surrounding snow. I don’t think it moved a muscle until we skied off. Very cute!

Peek-a-boo!

Munch, went the bear. This was going to be a Leave-No-Trace Tuesday post about not feeding wildlife after reading about that guy feeding a bear on the road to Tofino, but then midnight came and went and it morphed into a Wildlife Wednesday post instead 🙂

My parents are visiting for a week, and with a nice sunny day forecast I couldn’t resist taking them on a tour of the Sea-to-Sky highway up to Whistler. We drove up the Callaghan Valley road, ostensibly to visit Alexander Falls, but I had bear sightings at the back of my mind. I’ve driven up this road perhaps half-a-dozen times or more and only seen bears once before. Today we got lucky, and had the road to ourselves while we stopped to watch this bear munch away on the grass. That was good enough for us – and then we saw a second bear on the drive back down the road!