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 – 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.
Panoramic view of the Downton Creek basin, taken on our first visit 5 years ago today.
It’s a funny thing looking back at trips from 5 or more years ago. So many of them felt like they’d been on our to-do list for many years, and yet when I think about it, they were on that list for less time than has since elapsed. Time is a strange thing. Downton Creek was one of those areas that had been talked up on Club Tread as an exceptional destination, and in Sep 2012 we spent a weekend there exploring some of the area.
We had a fantastic couple of days, but I remember coming home and feeling a little disappointed with the photos – it didn’t seem to me that they’d captured the feel of the area. I’ve had this reaction on multiple occasions before and the only solution is time – leave them alone and go back to the photos some time later. This has the disadvantage of delaying putting any photos online; I’ve read many trip reports that were composed within a day of getting home, but I don’t seem to be able to do that. I like to savour the feeling of the weekend in my own mind before jumping in to the photos.
For me, one of the biggest problems with photos is that, once you’re away from the place, they define your memories of it. That’s another reason that taking a bit a time to get back to the photos works for me. Then I’m in a position where I’m having to rely on the photos to relive the experience.
And so it was several years after I took this panorama that I revisited it, reprocessed the 18 or so photos, and recreated the panorama with Hugin. And now when I look at it, I can sit back and enjoy the view and remind myself of what it was like to be there. I like the soft light, the autumn colours, and the mountains seem more impressive than I remembered. Here’s the full panorama (as linked from Flickr):
Good day for a road trip! Warm and sunny in Lillooet, if a tad breezy. Good wildlife day too – two bears, a marmot, eagles, ospreys, an otter, and as close a deer encounter as I ever want on a highway.
About 9 years ago, we did a one-day road trip with my sister, driving north to Whistler, then on to Pemberton, Lillooet, and back home via the Fraser Canyon and Highway 1. That was a long day, and a lot of time sitting on our bums, so I decided to make it into a 2-day road trip and tried it out last year with a friend of ours (on which I took this photo and this photo).
I couldn’t resist repeating it with my brother and his fiancée to show them a bit of our scenic backyard. This time we did it in reverse, heading east and then north, following the Fraser River to its confluence with the Thompson in Lytton. The conditions were perfect as we pulled into the viewpoint overlooking a lovely green Seton Lake, complete with picturesque cloud shadows.
After checking out the Instagram-famous view of the hairpin bend on the Duffey Lake road, we continued on to Pemberton, pausing for a couple of roadside bear encounters, and a stop at lower Joffre Lake to admire the scenery. The day was finished off perfectly with dinner at Mile One 🙂
The deer encounter was a little scary. I spotted the deer at the roadside, and naturally slowed down a little, at which point it got spooked and darted across the road in front of us. I braked as hard as I could, and thankfully we all got away unscathed, if a little shaken. Perhaps the most shaken was the driver behind us who’d been tailgating a bit too close for my liking for the past few kilometres. Needless to say, they backed off a bit after that…
In the winter, it’s the mountains that take centre stage at Joffre Lakes. Slalok looks mighty impressive here, as did the enormous pile of avalanche debris that had travelled part way across the lake.
So peaceful, so still. That was how we felt when we broke through the trees onto the snow-covered Upper Joffre Lake. We found a spot to sit and enjoyed lunch with this view before wandering across the lake towards the campground. I love how the snow smooths out all the terrain features, covering all the boulders and rocks. I’ve viewed many photos of such scenes from backcountry skiers but I have to admit it was something else to see it with my own eyes, and that had me contemplating ways to get out in the winter backcountry some more. It all looked so inviting, especially the route up towards Tszil and Taylor. Deceptively benign-looking on a warm spring day, though the massive chunks of avalanche debris told a different story.
Now I must digress onto a rant. Please, please, please, PLEASE stop feeding the whisky jacks (or any other cute critter that comes looking for food). They have become a real nuisance and will take food from your hand whether you want them to or not. Within seconds of us getting out our lunch yesterday, we were dive-bombed by two birds that snatched a portion of what we were holding from our grasp. Birds carry some really unpleasant diseases (bird flu anyone?), so I really don’t want to eat anything that they’ve touched. Any food they did come into contact with, goes into my garbage so it’s a lose-lose and both of us go hungry.
It’s a tough life at 2000 m – yellowing needles on a tiny lodgepole pine on the way to Vantage Peak.
Picking our way back down through the rocks and shrubs after summiting Vantage Peak, I was struck by this little pine tree eking out its existence between some rocks. I particularly liked how it made a nice little counterpoint to the enormous glaciated mountain in the background. Normally these trees have deep green needles but I’m guessing that up here at 2000 m, the soil has less water and fewer nutrients to keep those needles green. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate just how tough these plants have to be to survive in these high mountain environments, and that we as hikers/scramblers/mountaineers can only ever be transient guests.
Ooh, pretty… The Joffre Group reflected in a flat calm Duffey Lake. This the same view I posted a few weeks ago, but now on a gorgeous sunny morning instead of a dull cloudy one 🙂
We were on our way up to Downton Creek for the weekend, but when we stopped here to admire the reflection we felt we could have spent the weekend here instead, just lounging around by the lake. But if ever there was a spot for a cheesy stand-up paddleboard shot, it’s here. I hope no one reads this…