A quick trudge up the BCMC trail

Nothing exciting this week – just a quick trudge up the BCMC trail as a training hike for our upcoming backpacking trip(s). Not much to look at either except trail markers, rocks and roots, and other hikers’ miserable faces (seriously, most of the people we encountered looked like they’d far rather be somewhere else). Nothing puts me more into cheery greetings mode than fed-up-looking hikers 🙂 More seriously, some were struggling with the heat, while others had problems with the grade (which seemed to be exacerbated by poor footwear). The only people who looked like they were enjoying the day had good footwear… Coincidence?

Nothing exciting this week – just a quick trudge up the BCMC trail as a training hike for our upcoming backpacking trip(s). Not much to look at either except trail markers, rocks and roots, and other hikers' miserable faces (seriously, most of the people we encountered looked like they'd far rather be somewhere else). Nothing puts me more into cheery greetings mode than fed-up-looking hikers 🙂 More seriously, some were struggling with the heat, while others had problems with the grade (which seemed to be exacerbated by poor footwear). The only people who looked like they were enjoying the day had good footwear… Coincidence? #bcmctrail #grousemountain #grousemountainregionalpark #hiking #bchiking #hikebc #northvancouver #northshoremountains #explorebc

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This is kind of a photo-journal of the BCMC trail, all taken with my phone (I didn’t touch the “real” camera once).

  1. The trail peels away from the Grouse Grind almost immediately soon and begins fairly innocuously, at least by North Shore standards. It’s following the Baden-Powell trail, and is wide with nice steps where needed.
  2. A clearly-marked junction points us up the slope for the BCMC trail, which soon turns to a sea of rubble. Seriously, without careful attention it’s almost impossible to detect a trail here. The saving grace for this trail is the suite of well-placed trail markers, orange diamonds nailed to the trees. You can’t go wrong if you follow these.
  3. Higher up it gets worse, deteriorating into a mess of roots and indistinct steps. In many areas, bypass trails have been formed by people either avoiding the roots or simply not appreciating that’s where the trail actually goes!
  4. Like historical artefacts, there are occasional signs that there was once a proper trail here. This nice little section of almost-buried steps still visible.
  5. Up to now, the forest has been largely barren, desolate second-growth. Thankfully the forest gradually begins to change with elevation and signs of pleasant greenery and younger growth start to show, especially on a nice sunny day.
  6. Higher still, we reach areas that were perhaps only gently logged and as such still have some original understory, such as these Queen’s cup flowers in a patch of sunlight.
  7. Here and there fallen trees have been cleared by chainsaw-wielding crews who seem to have a liking for carving faces in the the cut sections. (The best example of this was the Brothers Creek trail back in 2016.)
  8. Nearly there: the trail joins the line of a trio of pipelines, presumably carrying waste water down the slope to be treated. This is about the first section of trail that feels flat!
  9. First stop at the top is to buy download passes (now a pricey $15 per person). Second is the washroom; third is the cafe for refreshment. Then it’s time to join the line of tourists to enjoy the 10-minute descent back to the parking lot.

It’s not a great hike by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a good enough workout to make it worth squeezing in to a day where you don’t have the time to go further. Mind you, we reached the top and still felt fresh enough to continue. I think it’s about time we revisited Goat and/or Crown Mountain!


Phone Friday VII

Another selection of photos for phone Friday or forest Friday or fungus Friday or even frosty Friday (since many of these were taken on our Canada Day hike to Frosty Mountain). Check out the tree you can ride like a fairground carousel pony! I was surprised to see the coral fungus growing already… I couldn’t resist photographing the garbage gobbler at the Hunter Creek rest area 🙂 The last photo is the pall of smoke from the Topanga Cafe fire 😦 a 116-year old building gone.

And that was my week in photos!

Another selection of photos for #phonefriday or #forestfriday or #fungusfriday or even #frostyfriday (since many of these were taken on our Canada Day hike to Frosty Mountain). Check out the tree you can ride like a fairground carousel pony! I was surprised to see the coral fungus growing already… I couldn't resist photographing the garbage gobbler at the Hunter Creek rest area 🙂 The last photo is the pall of smoke from the Topanga Cafe fire 😦 a 116-year old building gone. And that was my week in photos! #frostymountain #manningpark #ecmanningprovincialpark #camping #hiking #bchiking #hikebc #beautifulbritishcolumbia #beautifulbc #explorebc #yourbcparks #garbagegobbler #coralfungus #teampixel #pixel2 #happycanadaday #staircaseofdoom

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  1. Happy Canada Day from the summit of Frosty Mountain! Notice how the flag is totally horizontal? Yeah, it was blowing a frigid gale up there! Thankfully, there’s a low stone wall to shelter behind so we were able to enjoy our lunch in comfort.
  2. Fresh larch needles – I still remember the first time I touched larch needles and how surprised I was that they weren’t like needles at all but were soft and pliant, almost rubbery. I often run a hand over the branches, leaves, or bark of trees but none are like the larch. Even in the autumn as they turn yellow and fall from the tree, they remain so much softer than typical conifer needles.
  3. Sit-upon tree – it just invites being sat on, doesn’t it? And we have 🙂
  4. The tree-clearing crews had recently finished their work and we could smell fresh sawdust as we passed every place fallen trees had been cut. This winter seemed to bring down a lot of trees, but this one caught my eye with its striking asymmetry. Often trees like this are the result of two trunks that have merged, but I’m having a hard time see that in this case. I wonder what caused it to grow in this way? Was it really so much sunnier on the one side?
  5. On the climb up towards Frosty the first view is of the valley containing the Lightning Lakes chain, with Mt Hozameen at the far end. Today the north summit was in the clouds so all that could be seen was the snow field on below. The Skyline I trail (that we hiked last June) is the ridgeline just out of the frame on the right-hand side of the photo. It’s not a spectacular photo but it’s a nice view, and it feels like a just reward for the last hour of forest views.
  6. Car camping – our little backpacking tent sits in the middle of a large gravel pitch at the Mule Deer campground in Manning Park. Such a contrast with many of the setups that occupy so many sites which are often festooned with tarps, or shelters covering the picnic table. Sometimes the space is taken by a large RV, caravan, or trailer, but I prefer our tidier, more compact arrangement. If it rains, we sit in the car to eat 🙂
  7. Staircase of doom – this doesn’t look so doom-like as you descend but after a long uphill slog from Buckhorn Camp on the Heather Trail, this staircase is a bit demoralizing. I saw it nicknamed the “staircase of doom” by some hikers a few years back and the name has stuck with me. In any case its curving path makes for a lovely photo.
  8. Coral fungus – I normally associate these fungi with autumn hiking so I was really surprised to see them pushing up through the soil already. The photo doesn’t really do them justice: it was neat to see how they’d emerged from the ground, and like the larch needles, they looked so fresh. I don’t know if they’re edible but I’m happy to leave them where they grow.
  9. Garbage gobbler – a bear-proof bin painted with a hungry mouth. This is the modern incarnation of the painted bins from the 1950s or 1960s that the BC Ministry of Transportation installed at rest stops and pullouts across the province. I saw an Instagram post from the Ministry that mentioned them again, so I was pleased to find this one at this rest stop. OK it’s not really much of a photo, just one of those interesting things we find on our travels.
  10. Where there’s smoke… Last Friday morning we awoke to the sound of a helicopter buzzing overhead and the smell of smoke in the apartment. We looked outside and saw the pall of smoke from this fire on 4th Avenue. A quick search of Twitter revealed that the building housing the Topanga cafe was on fire. It took most of the day to put it out, after which the building had to be destroyed. I’m sad to see yet another historical building disappear from Vancouver streets. No doubt it’ll be replaced by something faceless in a year or two. Naturally, with it being a restaurant on fire, the first thought is that it started in the kitchen somehow. Sadly, the CBC reported today that it may have been started by something as simple as a discarded cigarette butt. I wish that smokers were more careful in their disposal of cigarette ends but I’ve seen far too many just flick it away, a total failure of imagination and misplaced belief that nothing will come of their actions.

Flower season

If you don’t like wildflowers, keep scrolling! It’s wildflower Wednesday and the alpine flowers are beginning to bloom. Glacier lilies, spring beauty, western anemone, paintbrush, sulphur buckwheat, Sitka valerian, Columbia lilies, and white bog orchids can all be found in Manning Park right now along with many others I neglected to photograph!

I maxed out my allocation for this multi-photo post – I would have included more if Instagram allowed….

  1. A glacier lily backlit by afternoon sunshine – the perfect glacier lily photo! This photo was taken on our descent from Frosty Mountain and we arrived at this pocket meadow in the forest at just the right time for the sun to find a gap in the trees and light up the flowers. Beautiful!
  2. Of course, one is never enough but I like this one because it shows the under-appreciated (and hard to photograph) spring beauty, a gorgeous diminutive little flower that blooms alongside the glacier lily and anemone.
  3. Spring beauty in full bloom – see how pretty it is? It’s well named! We first encountered spring beauty when we lived in Maryland, though it was common in low-lying woodland rather than in the alpine (of which there wasn’t any really!).
  4. The glacier lilies may be my favourite, but the stars of the show up at Blackwall Peak were the western anemones which were blooming everywhere, and often right along the edge of the trail. That made getting photos very convenient!
  5. I couldn’t decide whether I liked the shot from the side or from above, so I posted both.
  6. I can never resist a photo of paintbrush either, especially when it’s still in bud like this. I’m pleasantly surprised by how much detail my phone camera captured, down to all the fine hairs on the reddening bracts.
  7. This was a nice surprise: sulphur buckwheat in bud. I like how the flower head is divided up into sub-flowers, each with their own collection of florets.
  8. Sitka valerian – the name conjures up the smell of autumn in the mountains as they have quite a pungent scent when they begin to fade. It was the shape of this one that caught my eye, and it was only later I realized I’d caught just a single flower blooming.
  9. This Columbia lily was blooming right next to our camp site, and taking its picture was the first thing I did when I got out of the car 🙂 We saw many at the roadside as we drove into and through Manning Park; I’d love to have stopped and taken a few photos but that’s just not a particularly safe thing to do on such a busy highway.
  10. Lastly, a tall white bog orchid. As with the Columbia lilies, we saw some really good displays of these by the side of Highway 3. But I was happy with this one at the edge of the marsh by the beaver pond. I love the contrast of the green and white on these flowers.

As I alluded to in the caption above, there were many flowers that I either didn’t photograph or couldn’t feature in this little collection, although a good many of those were taken with our “real” cameras which aren’t as easy to post to Instagram. This is definitely my favourite time of the year now, where I’m torn between seeking mountain summits and spending hours photographing flower meadows…


A beautifully peaceful hike to Petgill Lake today, with views of the Chief, Garibaldi, and Black Tusk with a nice selection of flowers to keep us company including Columbia lily, Queen’s Cup, coralroot, and pinesap. Petgill Lake itself isn’t much to look at but it is surrounded by gorgeous old-growth forest with a rich understory of berry bushes and young trees.

  1. A cloudy view of the Chief, Howe Sound, Mt Garibaldi, and more. Black Tusk is faintly visible near the upper left. I should have taken this photo on the way up when it was still sunny, but I like the feel of this one as it suits the calm mood of the day.
  2. A massively-multi-headed Columbia lily! We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw this; many of the lilies had multiple flowers but this one was the most impressive. I suppose the one good thing about the new logging road is the disturbed ground for new growth to find a foothold. In this case, the Columbia lilies are doing quite well.
  3. A few Queen’s cup were in bloom at the edge of a clearcut. It was hard to get a good clear view of them on account of all the debris but I was fortunate to find this little group.
  4. Pink and blue: a pair of nearly-ripe blueberries. We saw a few berries on the bushes near these two and I’m looking forward to them ripening! I like the colour contrast between the two berries and the arrangement: they’re lake a pair of eyes 🙂
  5. Petgill Lake. Meh. Many reports describe it as a pretty little lake, but I beg to differ. It’s alright, but it doesn’t look appealing for a swim, and there are only a couple of spots to get down by the lakeside. Do this hike for the hike, not the lake.
  6. Coralroot – how could I resist? This hike had sooooo much coralroot, but thankfully most of it was past its peak and not worth photographing which saved me a lot of time. (Also most of it was in the shade.) However, I did find some in the sunshine that made for a nice picture.
  7. Yellow coralroot, much rarer but I seem to have seen it on a few hikes already this year. I’ve brightened this photo quite a bit as it was deep in the forest and I deliberately underexposed the shot a little to keep the exposure fast. It’s not pin-sharp but it’s come out quite well for an Instagram-worthy photo.
  8. Pinesap: we saw lots of this today too, and found one area where it was blooming in abundance with more plants flowering than we’ve ever seen on any hike before. Spectacular! Again, most of it was in the shade but one little plant was in bright sunshine long enough for me to get down on my hands and knees to take its picture.

Elk Flowers

I can tell which are my favourite wildflowers by the number of photos I take! And they all seem to be lilies: chocolate lilies, Queen’s Cup (aka bead lilies), and glacier lilies with a guest appearance from a budding Columbia lily. Great to see these early flowers; the rest should be following on strong in a couple of weeks.

Not much I need to say here, so I’ll just say what each photo shows:

  1. Chocolate lilies – we saw about as many as I’ve ever seen in one place on today’s hike, though quite a few were past their peak
  2. Chocolate lily flower close-up
  3. Queen’s Cup – a nice trio of leaves on this one
  4. A pair of Queen’s Cup flowers nestled together
  5. Glacier lilies!!!!!!
  6. I could take pictures of these all day; alas I had barely 2 minutes to grab what I could before we had to turn back
  7. Columbia lily in (double) bud – we saw many of these, all still in bud; in a week or two the meadows will be full of them, nodding in the breeze

It’s kinda funny looking at my Instagram feed at the moment. It doesn’t seem that long since I was lamenting the lack of colour in my feed; now it seems like it’s nothing by flowers! 🙂

Forest flowers

Think forest hikes have nothing to see? I beg to differ, at least at this time of year! Here’s a selection of flowers seen along the trail to Norvan Falls from a couple of weeks ago: columbine, clasping twistedstalk, bunchberry, wild ginger, false lily-of-the-valley, and the bloom of the tulip poplar (which isn’t native to BC but it’s still one of my favourite trees).

Last Wednesday’s post was about Norvan Falls itself. This week, it’s about the many flowers we saw along the way – a surprising number to be honest.

  1. Plenty of western (red) columbine, also known as the rainflower – seeing so many of these was the first surprise of the hike.
  2. Clasping twistedstalk – the second surprise was finding so many of these flowers, well-hidden below their leaves. I hadn’t really looked closely at them before so it was lovely to discover the delicate little bells and to see the kinked stalk that gives the flower its name.
  3. Bunchberry – so we’ve seen plenty of this by now, but I can’t resist continuing my search for the perfect bunchberry flower to photograph!
  4. Wild ginger – this was the third surprise, finding wild ginger which I’d never seen along this trail before.
  5. False lily of the valley – lots of these in bloom, the hard part was knowing which patch to photograph. I decided on this one with a kilometre marker post as a background. We saw another photographer sizing up a big patch on our way back – I was almost tempted to wait and get the same patch as they were nicely lit, but maybe I’ll save that for another day.
  6. Tulip poplar – OK so this wasn’t seen on the hike but near the community centre a few blocks from our apartment. We fell in love with tulip poplars when we lived in Maryland. Our first autumn there we drove out to Shenandoah National Park to see the colourful foliage and were struck by the tunnels of bright yellow created by these trees. And then the following spring we saw the first of their tulip-like flowers and we were hooked. It’s a nice reminder of our time on the east coast.

Unexpectedly sunny

Yesterday’s wander around Lighthouse Park was unexpectedly sunny and cheery. It’s always nice to be reminded of just how big the trees are, and to enjoy the views from the rocks. No marine life sightings but plenty of bird life including the eagle in the third photo. Find of the day was some harvest brodiaea blooming in the dry grass at Point Atkinson. A couple of hours well spent!

  1. It took me many visits to discover this angle on the lighthouse, but now it’s one of my favourite things to do in the park. And it’s not just the lighthouse; the rocks in the foreground have great colour and shape, even looking like miniature fjords, as if we’re viewing a 3-d relief model. I suppose I have Instagram to thank for encouraging me to seek out this view as I kept seeing others’ photos in my scrolling adventures. Now I just have to spend an evening at this spot to catch the warm light of golden hour.
  2. That tree! For years I assumed this beautifully-shaped tree was a pine – after all, the Latin name for the lodgepole (aka shore) pine is Pinus contorta – but a few visits ago I looked a little closer (which is tricky on account of it being on the edge of a cliff) and found that it was a stubborn little western hemlock. I’ve taken many photos of it over our numerous visits to the park but rarely have I been happy with the result. I’m happy to say that has changed with today’s photo, and I really like this one.
  3. Eagle in a tree, perched at the very top. It was a real treat to get a clear view of it, and a good test of the replacement 55-200 mm lens for our SLRs. What a relief to get well-focused photos again! In a way having a non-functioning telephoto lens for a few months was a useful experiment as it taught me that I do in fact enjoy having access to that extra reach. Even with this lens, though, I still had to crop the photo significantly to create this image.
  4. I was recently reminded of the fact that we’d seen this flower on one of our first ever visits to Lighthouse Park back in June 2005. On that day, the camera totally failed to focus on the flowers; I must have held the camera a little too close. Having seen some photos of this flower on Instagram I was inspired to go look for it again. And yet, as we wandered the trails on the western side of the park, I’d actually forgotten what drew me to the park in the first place, and it was only when Maria pointed out these lovely purple flowers that I even remembered! I guess I was feeling relaxed… Anyway, of course I set about taking as many photos as possible, but in the end couldn’t beat the simplest view of the first flower we found.