Behind you!

Behind you! This awesome view of the Wedge group is waiting behind your back as you admire Iceberg Lake.

Hikes to lakes rarely offer 360-degree views, but sometimes you get a good 180. Iceberg Lake is definitely one of those lakes. As you’re admiring the sheer headwall and the glacial lake at its base, all it takes to get the view above is to turn around. The meadows were a beautiful burnished gold and the distant peaks dusted with the season’s first fall of snow. I read a recent blog article from someone who climbed up Mt Cook on this same day: he’s in one of the pixels somewhere 🙂

There’s something off about this photo though: Wedge Mountain (right) is actually higher than Mt Weart (left) which appears as the highest point. I guess I didn’t hold the camera as level as I should have, always tricky when there’s no obvious horizon. Except – wait – there are actually two; there’s the treeline and the snowline. Going by the trees next to the meadow, I thought that this was about right but I can clearly see from the either that I’m still a little bit off, and that a further correction would probably restore the natural order to the world. Mind you, those trees are starting to look like they’re leaning to my eyes – the final result will be some sort of compromise between the two, a blend of reality and perspective.

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The changing of the seasons

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.

Another Skyline

Superb in-your-face views of the Copilot and Sky Pilot along the Skyline Ridge trail, some of the nicest subalpine rambling I’ve done in ages, especially now with the berry bushes changing colour.

As I mentioned in a recent post, Skyline Ridge was a wonderful hike. The highlight was definitely getting great views of Sky Pilot and Copilot. The lighting wasn’t the best for photography, having flattened as some high cloud moved in, but it was good enough to lend some warmth to this view of the mountains. I took many versions of this view as the hike progressed, and it was hard to pick a favourite, but I went with this one as I think it works better on Instagram where it might be viewed on a small screen. Such photos need simple lines or colour to stand out as you scroll – anything that’s too busy or too complex just won’t catch anyone’s eye. Oops – looks like I admitted that I’m just in it for the likes 🙂

Sunset eye candy

A sea of mountains at sunset. Mt Matier, Joffre Peak, and Mt Rohr sure make for a pretty skyline.

One of the things I love about hiking in the mountains north and east of Pemberton is the wonderful “sea of mountains” effect as ridge after ridge of peaks fades into the distance. On our second night at Twin Lakes, a cloudless day turned into a subtly golden sunset with the snow fields on Mt Matier catching the last of the light.

When I took this shot, I exposed for the brighter portions of the image to keep the shutter speed manageable for a hand-held shot in the darkening dusk (the lower half of the photo looked almost completely black). Adjusting the shadows in DxO afterwards revealed a surprising amount of colour detail had still been captured despite being underexposed by at least one stop. Not bad for a camera from 2009! Now obviously, looking closely at the image shows that it’s smeary and lacking detail (plus the blacks still look crushed flat), but for posting on Instagram and Flickr, it has turned out well enough for me to let other people see it.

It’s photos like this that justify carrying the weight and bulk of a digital SLR, and they ensure I will always have a camera of this class, though whether it’s an SLR or mirrorless remains to be seen. I wonder what Nikon has in store for us…

Blue sky, blue lake

Blue sky, blue lake. Birkenhead and Sun God Mountain form the backdrop to Tenquille Lake, a view almost good enough to take your mind off all the mosquito bites…

Well, we couldn’t resist going back to Tenquille Lake this weekend, and our little CR-V got us up to the trailhead again with not too much difficulty. Once again we were greeted by merciless mosquitoes and I picked up more bites in the first 20 minutes of the hike than in the past couple of years! I counted 35 on one side of my back…

But as ever, it was all worthwhile to spend time in such beautiful surroundings. And yes, there were glacier lilies. Along with thousands of other flowers too; it was a stunning display.

This is a lazy photo, taken from the western end of the lake near where we camped. I could have got a better view of Sun God had I walked a couple of hundred metres further east to the next camping area, but we were just about to leave and I didn’t want to hold us up any longer than necessary. So it’s not ideal, but I really liked the colour of the lake (especially in contrast against the green of the trees, though that doesn’t show in this photo), and this was my only chance to take this photo. My goal for our next visit is to get a lovely sunset shot of Sun God Mountain living up to its name. Having been reminded of how beautiful this area is, I hope that will be sooner than another 6 years in the future!

Mountain double act

Gratuitous mountain view for Mountain Monday – Brunswick and Harvey, a superb double act of Howe Sound summits. Which do you prefer?

Brunswick and Harvey, often mentioned together in conversations about the peaks of the Howe Sound Crest Trail (a backpacking trip I’ve yet to tackle), and two of several tough hikes that begin in Lions Bay. From what I’ve read, Brunswick – being the higher, slightly tougher, and more technical – seems to have the majority mindshare among hikers. I don’t disagree that it’s an impressive peak, and the summit is a fantastic area, but personally I prefer Mt Harvey because the approach is more pleasant (or less unpleasant depending on your point of view!), and I really liked the closer view of the Lions.

Both hikes are hard, involving over 1450 m of elevation gain at an average gradient exceeding 20%. Brunswick has the additional excitement of some scrambling and tricky terrain to negotiate (with some exposure too), whereas Harvey has only a few places near the top where hands are helpful. But for me, the hike up to Brunswick is just awful: over 2 hours of logging road followed by a direct line up the mountain through scrappy second-growth forest. Only once the trail hits the Howe Sound Crest Trail does it become interesting and fun. By comparison, the hike up to Harvey passes through more pleasant forest (even though a lot is second-growth), and winds its way up the steep slope in a more manageable fashion.

Maybe it’s only because I only recently saw the view from Mt Harvey for the first time, but, at least for now, I’ll take the less exciting summit with the more interesting approach!

And that was my 400th post on Instagram. It’s only taken me two years 🙂

Misty mountain top

Not much of a view atop Mt Outram yesterday, but the flowers were beyond spectacular. Check out the lovely purple silky phacelia (sky pilot) which was in full bloom throughout this alpine area.

Oh wow. This weekend’s trip up to Mt Outram was nothing short of spectacular. Beautiful forest, superb views, and some of the most extensive and abundant flower meadows I’ve ever seen. Sure, the hike up was every bit as tough as the stats suggest (especially with an overnight pack) but it was worth every step.

Our glorious sunny Saturday gave way to a cloudy and sometime snowy Sunday. We didn’t really have time to make the summit on Saturday, and we believed the weather forecast that predicted sunshine for Sunday. Well it didn’t quite turn out that way, as it rained in the night, and we woke to low cloud shrouding the summits. Not that we cared. We’d come this far, so why not head up to the summit anyway? And we’re glad we did – it was eery and atmospheric up there in the mist. And so what if we missed the panoramic views? We found other things to enjoy, such as all the flowers, and the sheer delight in being up in the mountains.

Definitely a hike to repeat.

(I should point out that the obvious, pale purple flower in the foreground is not silky phacelia – that is the darker purple flower behind – but the well-named skunky Jacob’s ladder, confusingly also known as sky pilot. I thought I caught a hint of something skunky as I was crawling around getting flower photos at the summit!)