Fancy a brew?

Backcountry huts attract a lot of attention, so much so that we rarely intend to stay in them. However, on this particular weekend in July 2015, we found ourselves the only people at the Brew Hut, run by the UBC Varsity Outdoor Club and opted to spend the night there. Just us and the mice.

Or so we thought. Not long before sunset, a couple of guys staggered into the hut proclaiming thanks at eventually finding it. Our quiet bubble well and truly burst, we ended up having a really pleasant evening chatting with them and helping them demolish the 13 cans of beer they’d brought along. Remarkably, they went to bed at the same time as us, and only stirred when we started moving in the morning. Their reason for visiting? They just liked the name and its association with beer…

1. Instagram-ready view of Garibaldi from Brew Hut.

Instagram-ready view of #Garibaldi from Brew Hut #brewhut #hiking #backpacking #explorebc

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I really liked this shot, especially at the time it was taken when Instagram was home to square photos. Indeed, one of the reasons I joined Instagram was to explore the possibilities with square crops. Now that it supports other crops (though no more than 5×4 in portrait orientation) I feel some of that creativity has been lost as I no longer feel I have to think in terms of that constraint.

Brew Hut with Garibaldi, a very nice place to spend a weekend #explorebc #brewhut #hiking #backpacking

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2. Brew Hut with Garibaldi, a very nice place to spend a weekend.

Brew Hut in all its glory – the location is stunning with great views in every direction. The tricky part is the access road which requires at least modest clearance and potentially 4-wheel drive for the final section (though there is a lower trailhead for vehicles that can’t make it up the last hill). I was happy to make it to the upper parking lot on a stifling hot day.

I remember the drive home after that trip, coming back through Squamish and being unable to see the Chief from the highway due to the thick smoke from forest fires in the neighbouring Elaho valley. We could see the red glow from those fires – very eery.

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Window seat

Home again after an all-too-short but wonderful family visit. Garibaldi Lake and the Barrier as seen from our seats in the middle of the plane. Anyone with a window seat not staring out of the window at this point should forfeit their seats! 🙂

Despite not having window seats, we were delighted to see this familiar view from the plane as we descended into Vancouver. While I would have preferred an unobstructed view, I’m pleased that I was at least able to make a feature of the aircraft window, and that I had enough of a zoom to focus on the scene outside. Initially, I kept the camera in my usual aperture-priority mode, but when I realized that it was consistently giving me about 1/125 s exposure, I just dialled that in using manual mode, which meant the camera didn’t have to spend time re-metering the scene just because I’d moved the camera away from the window.

And of course, I have to count on a little bit of luck, namely that the person in the window seat was glued to it taking loads of pictures of their own. Thankfully, they were content to just take one or two. If that had been me, I suspect no one else would have been able to get a shot in…

Eye see you…

Ever had that feeling you’re being watched…?

Hiking up to the third peak of the Chief last Saturday, we had cloudless blue skies with endless views all around. Except for Mt Garibaldi, which had two little nebulous eyes keeping watch on all us hikers below. While the light wasn’t great for the photo, I liked its whimsical nature and wasn’t surprised when, a few minutes later, I saw that the clouds had dissipated. That is, until I looked again after another short time had passed only to see two new eyes over the mountain… Spooky? Or just atmospheric physics at work? 🙂

To see a snowy frozen lake

Snow sculptures and Mt Price: throwback Thursday to 10 years ago when we snowshoed up to Garibaldi Lake and had the place to ourselves.

Re-reading my trip report from a decade ago I immediately pick up on how thrilled I was to make it to Garibaldi Lake in the winter. There’s no doubt it felt like quite the achievement, and it was our longest day of snowshoeing to date. What was most remarkable was how few people we encountered, no doubt helped by our decision to head up into Taylor Meadows rather than going straight for the lake. By the time we made it down to the lake, everyone else was on their way back down. I’ve been back once since then, on my all-time longest day of snowshoeing (11 hours) much of which was spent slogging through fresh powder. (But what a day that was – the clearest blue sky I’ve ever seen!)

I had to work quite hard to pick a good photo from this trip, though. Our camera was showing signs of its age (giving us the famous E200 lens error a few times), and there’s clearly an awful lot of muck either on the sensor or on the lens judging by all the dark patches that show up so clearly when photographing a scene that is mostly white! Alas given the weather, it was hard to capture the drama and scale of the view before us – white snow and white clouds don’t make for exciting pictures.

But I was pleased to find this one photo. I was intrigued by how bumpy the snow was, which I guessed was due to winds blowing across the lake and piling it up, and in particular by this one area where the ice of the lake was also exposed. Mt Price looked spectacular with its corniced north face and lit by soft afternoon light. It’s not a classic composition but it’s still quite a lovely scene, and – apart from the ones of us looking happy to have made it – is probably my favourite of the day.

I’ll finish by saying I can’t believe it’s 10 years since we did this. Perhaps we need to do it again this year? Hmmm…

Garibaldi Views

Garibaldi views: the Table and the north face of Mt Garibaldi from the summit of Mt Price, taken on Thanksgiving 2012

I posted this because it’s a rainy grey Saturday and I wanted to see something nice 🙂

The summer of 2012 was long and dry, and we got out on quite a few backpacking trips. The last one of the year was to Garibaldi Lake on a warm and sunny Thanksgiving weekend. It really did feel more like summer. Like many destinations, Mt Price had been on our list for a while and we were happy to get to its summit and enjoy the incredible views. I usually say that Panorama Ridge has the best views in Garibaldi, but Mt Price is a close second, albeit at the expense of a much tougher hike; it’s not one for inexperienced hikers, which means it’s lovely and quiet, and we had this view all to ourselves.

Ooh, Garibaldi

Leading lines: the sharp ridge rising from Diamond Head to Atwell Peak, seen through a gap in the trees near the Red Heather shelter

We had a long cold spring in 2011, which meant the snow lingered well into July and August. This day in early July 2011, I solo-hiked up to Elfin Lakes on snow almost the entire way. As I neared Red Heather meadows (or rather, white snowy meadows) I looked up to catch a glimpse of Garibaldi through the trees. A moment later I came to a tiny gap with the mountain framed beautifully by the tall firs. This spot is so specific that I haven’t actually been able to find it again on subsequent visits. I was even happier with this photo when I realized that it was absolutely pin-sharp, about as sharp as I could possibly get with that camera-lens combination. It’s probably my favourite photo of Garibaldi.

It was also the quietest day of hiking to Elfin Lakes I’ve ever experienced, although I did start out quite early on the trail. The funny thing was that I deliberately picked Elfin Lakes for a solo hike as I thought it would be busy…!

The Chief

Today’s tasty lunch spot

It’s been a year since we last hiked up the Chief near Squamish, so it’s about time we returned. This time we went to the First Peak, which we usually avoid due to the crowds, but today we didn’t feel up to pushing for the whole loop. It was a beautiful day, busy but not too bad thanks to our earlier-than-usual start. It was our friend Jen’s first time to the top and she (and her pup Frisco) loved it.

And yes, lunch was as tasty as the view 🙂