Peaceful

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.
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Phone Friday V

Some views, some flowers, but all things I’ve seen in the past week. Wednesday’s trip to Bowen Island was lovely and is the source of several photos, mostly of the mountain range near Brunswick and Harvey but the crescent moon made an appearance as we sailed home. Throw in the usual array of flowers – including one final look at the camas – a campus view, and a rare sighting of one of my favourite animals, the snail.

How am I at week 5 of Phone Friday already?

  1. The view off the back of the ferry to Bowen – how can I resist another photo of that magnificent line of peaks?
  2. We went for a wander from Doc Morgan’s to give our ears a rest from the music session and found this beautiful reflection of those same mountains in the calm water in Snug Cove. Instant photo-op!
  3. As we left I wondered aloud about whether we’d see the crescent moon. I was skeptical given that the New Moon was only a day or so earlier, but I walked out on deck and sure enough the moon was right there, hanging low over Bowen. I lamented the fact I didn’t have a “proper” camera with me, but tried the shot anyway. Needless to say I was blown away by the fact that it turned out so well! Obviously, this is cropped heavily but it’s Instagram so a 12-Mpx image has a lot of scope for that. I’m absolutely delighted with this photo. The original had Venus near the top, but I had to make the difficult decision to omit it from this framing to show off the slender moon in the evening sky.
  4. Buoyed by the success of the photo above, I turned to face the opposite direction and attempted a low light show of Brunswick and Harvey. To my surprise, the camera not only focused but produced a respectable photo. Score two for the Pixel 2! The sea was so calm that night…
  5. I noticed recently that the pine trees were growing their pollen cones again, so here’s a close-up view of an Austrian pine, of which there are quite a few outside our office window. After overnight rain, I saw drifts of yellow at the edges of some former puddles, which meant that the cones were releasing their pollen. I couldn’t resist investigating more closely and tapped the end of the branch to see how much pollen drifted out. Turns out, a lot (depending on how hard you tap the branch)! Multiply that by the number of branches and the number of trees and it becomes obvious why allergy season can be so miserable for some. I looked for a pollen corona around the Sun later in the day but didn’t see one. I’ll keep looking.
  6. I really like geometric shapes, which means I’ve been looking for an excuse to photograph these bus shelters at UBC. I’d tried one shot before, just of the roof with blue sky above it, but wasn’t particularly enthralled with the result. But this day I noticed the shadow on the ground complementing the roof, and I felt that seeing the two in the same image was a much more effective photo. It loses a little in the square crop, but I still like it.
  7. Snail! We don’t see many snails in Vancouver so I was happy to find this one on the steps of a friend’s house. Actually there was about a dozen snails on the steps, but this was the only one I could get the camera to focus on. Fun fact: there was a time when I had a website dedicated to snails, and for a very brief time it was even the top result on Google.
  8. This is the flower of the Japanese dogwood, which we’d noticed a few days earlier and wondered what it was. Thankfully, there’s a specimen (with a label!) right outside the entrance to my building at work. The flowers stand out (literally) as they are on the end of a thin stem that protrudes up away from the branch, almost looking like a fake tree. I can’t believe I’ve never noticed this before…
  9. With a photo of the Japanese dogwood lined up for this week, I had to slip in an old favourite to go with it. The lovely red-tipped bracts on this particular bunchberry plant caught my eye. It’s not quite in focus (I probably got a little too close, or perhaps the focus picked up a different part of the plant) but it’s good enough for this collection, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen one with such lovely coloured tips.
  10. The camas flowers are nearly done – the postage stamp of a meadow has only a couple of flowers still in bloom, so I just had to take one last picture especially as the yellow pollen contrasts so well against the purple flower. It’s been about a month since the first buds showed up, and I’ve really enjoyed keeping track of their growth. Now they’re done for the year, I’ll have to switch my attention to other plants. I think the tulip poplars are due to flower… 🙂

Howe Sound Peaks

Panoramic view of some of my favourite peaks as seen from the ferry last night.

As we approached Horseshoe Bay on Sunday evening, the light on the Howe Sound peaks was a beautiful soft warm glow. Of course, my phone camera can’t zoom so I’m left with cropping the full frame to manually “zoom” into the part I’m most interested in showing. However, I couldn’t decide which part of the scene I liked best so I thought I’d try a panoramic crop and then split it into two separate, square(ish) photos which, together, captured what most caught my eye.

Just don’t look too closely: I haven’t found a reliable method of splitting a photo into a panorama on my phone yet, so I did the best edit I could. But there’s still a clear overlap problem, and it looks like I processed each frame differently too! Oops. Not my best work for sure… If in doubt, just look at the first one as it’s the most interesting!

Phone Friday IV

Another mix of photos from the past week for phone Friday, mostly flowers of course but a bit of nice scenery for good measure. I love springtime.

I’m getting behind on my blog posts! It’s a little bit cumbersome to write about each photo but I hope you bear with me.

  1. I simply couldn’t resist another photo of camas, but this time in the wild! We stopped at Neck Point Park just outside Nanaimo on a whim and were greeted by a gorgeous pocket of coastal Garry oak woodland and meadows dotted with camas, chickweed, and other wildflowers. We even saw a chocolate lily and one solitary remnant fawn lily with the last withered petals still attached. The wind put paid to most of attempts at flower photos but a couple did turn out.
  2. Broad-leaved stonecrop – possibly the first time we’ve identified this flower, it was widespread along the rocks in the park. I didn’t expect to see the familiar yellow stonecrop flowers though, so that was definitely a bonus!
  3. The view from the ferry as we sail for Nanaimo, looking back to the familiar peaks of the Howe Sound Crest Trail. I’ve photographed this view a few times and distant mountains against open ocean and sky tend to look pretty boring, so I was pleased to notice the curve of the ferry railing, which led my eye into the frame more or less straight to the base of the snowiest summits. A beautiful day for a ferry ride!
  4. Something different: the view from the third floor of the student Nest at UBC, looking straight down. The architecture of this (relatively new) building invites the discovery of interesting shapes and angles, but I wasn’t keen to try during term time when it’s full of students. But this night was perfect: we’d just finished our group get-together for drinks and were walking down the stairs. We stopped to peer over the glass partition and swoon at the long drop to the floor, and I instantly saw this composition with its abstract yet patterned feel.
  5. Sometimes you wonder why a plant is so-named. And then you look a little closer and it becomes obvious. Fringecup is now one of my favourite flowers to watch for in the spring and it’s well worth stopping to get a really close look at the flowers with their delicate little fringed petals lining the cup-like flowers. I should get myself a macro lens for these closeups though.
  6. The classic unfurling fiddlehead of the deer fern, I’ve had little luck getting a good photo of them at this stage. Low light and having to crouch or kneel to get the right angle often make for blurry photos so I’m quite happy with this one.
  7. Back to Neck Point Park, this is the neck from which the park takes its name. We couldn’t resist walking out onto the shingle, graded from small to large as we moved away from the shore, to explore the rocks at the end. Alas it was far too windy to hang around to admire the view for long!
  8. Sunset Beach in Neck Point Park, this looks like the perfect spot to watch a mid-summer sunset. The curve of the beach makes for a pleasing view in itself too.
  9. Sand dollar party! To my surprise we saw more live sand dollars on this trip than previously, despite the low tide not being as low as last year. I think we just caught them as the tide was receding and before they’d had time to burrow into the sand. I spent a few moments just watching them, and although I couldn’t see them at the time (I couldn’t get that close), it’s a treat to see all the dozens of tiny feeder tendrils.
  10. And with that I bid you good night. A colourful sunset reflected in a tidal pool on the beach near Rathrevor provincial park. A lovely way to end a glorious day!

Island Time

For this week’s Throwback Thursday we’re heading out of town, across the water to nearby islands. One of the things I really like about living in Vancouver is being next to the sea, and having islands to visit by ferry. Not only is it just plain fun to take a ferry ride somewhere (especially through Active Pass) but each island is beautiful in its own right, and each has a different feel from the other. First stop, Galiano Island.

1. Crossing over to this little island before high tide meant sitting around enjoying the view for a couple of hours. Not exactly difficult 🙂

In September 2015 we spent a long weekend renting a small cottage at the far north end of Galiano Island, within walking distance of Dionisio Point provincial park on the tip of the island. We walked down to the park and crossed a sandbar that led out to a small island. After watching sea lions and seals swim around the point and generally enjoying lazing around in the afternoon sun, we found ourselves cut off as the tide was getting higher, and we had to time our steps very carefully between waves to get back across to dry land! We made it though 🙂

2. Nosing into Horseshoe Bay

The twenty-minute ride to and from Bowen Island is definitely one of the best treats around, especially now we’ve made friends with some local Bowegians. It’s fun taking the ferry anyway, with great views of the Howe Sound peaks and islands, and Snug Cove is a nice place to wander round, grab some good food or chocolate, maybe sit out on the patio at Doc’s with a beer. Plus there’s the hike up to Mt Gardner or a gentler wander around Killarney Lake. It’s the perfect little getaway for the day to catch a little slice of island life.

3. A view from 3 months ago – a quick jaunt to the summit of Mt Galiano before catching the ferry home

The “three months ago” was back in September 2015, the same trip as the first photo. We had a short window of opportunity before we had to catch the ferry and hoofed it up to the summit of Mt Galiano to enjoy the glorious view from up there. It’s a pretty easy walk all the way, passing the wreckage of an old plane crash along the way, before emerging onto the grassy bluffs overlooking the entrance to Active Pass. I could easily spend more time up there, watching the ferries go back and forth, plus it’s a riot of wildflowers in the spring.

From one year to the next

For this week’s Throwback Thursday instalment, we see the same view taken only hours apart separated by a year (in date, at least).

1. Farewell to 2015! Happy New Year!

2. First sight of 2016.

First sight of 2016 #britanniabeach #howesound #anvilisland #beautifulbritishcolumbia

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Anvil Island is such an interesting shape from so many angles and we’ve taken more than a few photos of its distinctive profile thanks to the prominence of Leading Peak at the north end of the island. The view from Britannia Beach is a pretty good one and has the advantage of being close to our friends’ house.

On this particular turning of the year, there was a chance – albeit slight – that the northern lights would make an appearance. We walked out under pitch black starry skies in search of that faint green glow on the northern horizon. Alas, we saw nothing other than stars, and wandered back home to warm up and toast the new year.

The long way round

There are two main approaches to the Lions. The most popular route starts in Lions Bay and climbs up 1300 vertical metres to reach the base of the West Lion. Alternatively, follow the Howe Sound Crest Trail from Cypress Bowl, over St Mark’s Summit and the well-named Unnecessary Mountain. It’s more scenic, but nearly half as long again. On this occasion back in June 2015, we decided to combine the two: hike in from Cypress Bowl, and then descend to Lions Bay where we’d left one of our cars earlier in the day.

The hike can be broken into three: Cypress Bowl to St Mark’s, St Mark’s to the Lions, then the Lions down to Lions Bay. The first section is a hike we’ve done many times, and obviously the third leg is just the descent of the route from Lions Bay. The middle part is what we were most looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint, treating us to some of most enjoyable hiking near Vancouver.

1. Howe Sound views from St Mark’s Summit.

Howe Sound views from St Mark's Summit #hsct #hiking #explorebc #howesound #stmarks

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This is the classic view of the rocky outcrop by St Mark’s, one of the most common hiking photos of the Lower Mainland on Instagram. For many years, the trail to St Mark’s was a truly awful mess of roots and rocks. Upgrades began a few years ago, but they weren’t done yet so we had to endure a little bit of old-time misery. Eventually we made it to the viewpoint and admired the sheer drop down towards Howe Sound, while trying to ignore the scampering chipmunks and swooping whisky jacks on the hunt for unattended food.

2. Vancouver from the Lions.

#Vancouver from the Lions #hsct #thelions #hiking #cypressprovincialpark

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The Lions are a distinctive landmark and visible from many parts of Vancouver. So it makes a nice change to be able to admire the reverse view, looking down the Capilano River valley towards the city and to the Fraser delta beyond.

3. The Lions from Unnecessary Mountain. Classic.

The Lions from Unnecessary Mountain. Classic. #hsct #thelions #hiking #explorebc

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OK I’ve saved the best for last. As I mentioned above, the section of the trail over Unnecessary Mountain to the base of the Lions is some of the best hiking in the area. Gorgeous open subalpine rambling through a green-and-grey landscape. This was our favourite part of the trip and had the best views, such as this one. The route ahead is clearly visible along the ridge top.

We could have sat at the top of Unnecessary Mountain and stared at this view all day.

Would we do this hike again? Not sure – it ended up being one of our longest days on the trail at nearly 11 hours. Somehow we just need to get to that magic middle section…