Alpine views

I think this might be the very last of these Throwback Thursday posts. Coming up with a theme for these posts has been fun, and sometimes a little challenging. Today’s link had me scratching my head for a few moments until I realized the connection: both photos were taken in one of my favourite places, the alpine.

1. TBT to a beautiful Thursday in September 2012 on the Skyline trail in Jasper, the view south over Curator Lake from the Notch

First up is this stunning view from the Notch, the highest point along the 44-km Skyline Trail. What can’t be seen is the howling gale that greeted us as we came over the rise. We were oh-so glad of the sunshine after the previous day’s miserable cold rain, and the view was as breathtaking as the wind, but the downside to the alpine is the lack of shelter, and we were certainly feeling that as we huddled down in a group to eat our lunch.

The wind was a constant companion for the next hour or so but it was worth it for the never-ending views along the ridgeline of Amber Mountain. Definitely an awesome hike, and one I would love to repeat.

2. Some colour for a grey day – my favourite flower, a glacier lily, taken a couple of years ago on the trail to Zoa Peak.

Some colour for a grey day – my favourite flower, a glacier lily, taken a couple of years ago on the trail to Zoa Peak. For #LeaveNoTraceTuesday I'll add that getting these kinds of flower photos often means going off-trail, a practice that requires a lot of care. It's also a time when even leaving footprints is not appropriate in case in invites the less careful – I've witnessed many a hiker simply not looking where they're putting their feet. On busy trails I'll simply not bother and just be content to admire the view from afar or use a long zoom lens 🙂 #zoapeak #coquihalla #alpine #wildflowers #glacierlily #erythroniumgrandiflorum #lnt #leavenotrace #beautifulbritishcolumbia #hiking #mec #mecnation #rei1440project

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The second photo is of a subject that entices me up into the alpine as soon as the snow has melted: the humble glacier lily. Every year I like to go in search of them just as they poke up through the snow, and this year will probably be no different. The trick is to find somewhere new each time, and I’ll need to start thinking about that soon as we’re already in May!

This photo was originally posted on a “Leave No Trace Tuesday”, so I’ll include the comment I made at the time. Getting these kinds of flower photos often means going off-trail, a practice that requires a lot of care. It’s also a time when even leaving footprints is not appropriate in case in invites the less careful – I’ve witnessed many a hiker simply not looking where they’re putting their feet. On busy trails I’ll simply not bother and just be content to admire the view from afar or use a long zoom lens.

I’m always wary of stepping off the trail in popular areas in case someone sees me and interprets that as a green light to wander wherever they please. What they don’t see is the extreme care I take to step through the flowers, sticking to rocks where I can and bare dirt otherwise as much as possible. If I can’t identify a way through then I just don’t go and I’ll find an alternative flower to photograph.

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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.

Scene on the beach

Beach scenes are the theme for this week’s Throwback Thursday. Time after time I appreciate having such a long stretch of accessible shoreline in Vancouver, and if ever we need a quick fix of outdoor time, a walk on the beach will almost always be enough.

1. Public furniture | urban trees, Vancouver biennale sculpture on the beach at Spanish Banks

Vancouver beaches have an array of logs for sitting or leaning on, but it’s always nice to have something different. As part of the biennale public art project, a few well-shaped log carvings have been placed on the beach near Spanish Banks. Usually the biennale art is temporary but a few are popular enough to keep around for longer, like this installation. I’ve tried a few photos of the carvings in the past with little success – this is about the only one I think has any presence. Maybe it’s time to try another? Only if there’s no one sitting on it!

2. Christmassy Crown Mountain, with a bald eagle for company 🙂

We like to get out for a short walk on Christmas Day if the weather cooperates. The morning is spent catching up with family which gives us a couple of hours to get some fresh air before we spend the evening with friends. One year we even snowshoed on the beach! This year (2015) we were fortunate enough to have had the clouds clear for a while, allowing the mountains to be showcased in their full fresh winter flory. Then an eagle flew by. Perfect!

(Actually it’s rare to be down the beach and not see one of the local bald eagles… I saw three last weekend.)

3. Okanagan reflections

Of course, it’s not all about Vancouver’s beaches; lakes can have nice beaches too and Okanagan Lake has a few. The resort where we were staying has a pretty section of sandy beach-front and it’s a great spot to sit by the often-calm water. The sandy cliffs catch the afternoon light, and the turning leaves of the cottonwoods, birches, and aspens add extra colour. Late September or early October is a good time to visit the Okanagan as it often holds on to summer for that little bit longer than the coast. Sitting back on a mellow day with a glass or two of local wine or beer is wonderfully relaxing

The View from my Desk

The View from My Desk is the title of my GitHub-based website, which is derived from the personal website I had during my various post-docs. My last two jobs haven’t permitted personal websites; hence the move to GitHub for my static site and to WordPress for writing blog posts. The GitHub site is not updated any more but I can’t bear to part with it as it represents the current endpoint for a set of webpages I started in 1997.

I figure that while sitting at my desk I should have something nice to look at, even if I don’t have much of a view, so I like to put a few nice views on my monitors.

1. Cheery desktop wallpapers on the greyest of grey days

No one should be surprised that I plastered my three-monitor setup with photos of glacier lilies… Sometimes I wonder if it’s really worth using nice photos as a screen backdrop given that I then proceed to fill the available space with a variety of applications. But overall I think yes – it allows a bit of workspace personalization (without putting thumbtacks in the wall) and is a welcome sight for those moments when you minimize every window.

You may have noticed the mouse on the left; I’m not left-handed but I hate having to move my hand so far to reach a mouse on the right (and besides, my coffee mug is there!) so I’ve gradually taught myself to be a partial leftie. 🙂 It’s good enough for many tasks, though if I need fine control I’ll switch back to using my right hand.

2. Not a bad view from my desk this afternoon

One of the things I liked about this job was that if I needed a quick fix of mountains, I just had to stand up and look over my monitors. Provided the blinds were open, of course (programmers really do like to work in dim light), and it wasn’t raining…

Local mountains

I’m getting near the end of all my remaining unblogged Instagram photos for Throwback-Thursday and it’s getting harder to come up with themed posts. In the absence of any other connection, here’s a couple of winter-time photos of and/or from the North Shore mountains.

1. Crown Mountain in its winter coat.

Crown Mountain is always a stunning sight in the winter; it has that archetypal jagged mountain profile regardless of the angle of view. I think I’ve taken more photos of Crown Mountain than any other single peak, mostly because we can see it from our apartment. This day we were out for a walk in Stanley Park and the clouds hung low in the Capilano River valley. This worked in my favour as it reduced the amount of featureless greenery that would otherwise have made up some fraction of the photo. Instead, the photo is neatly divided into four: forest, cloud, mountain, and sky. It’s not as even a division as my eye would like but nature is rarely that accommodating.

2. Throwback-Thursday to one year ago today – a sunny hike up Mt Seymour with my friend Steve.

I have Steve to thank for founding Wanderung which more-or-less single-handedly made our settling-in period in Vancouver so much easier and enjoyable. We’ve met many of our friends through the hiking group, and have been to some incredible places in BC as a result. To my surprise, I’m now helping run the society and mailing list, and have been putting out a short newsletter every week for nearly 7 years. How time flies!

The first time I visited Mt Seymour was a snowshoeing trip (coincidentally, organized by Steve), way back in January 2005 and it’s one of my favourite winter destinations with its superb views in all directions. As an example, the mountain on the horizon in this photo is Mt Garibaldi some 50 km to the north. We didn’t need snowshoes on this day as the snow was well compacted, though hats were definitely a wise move – the summit post thought so too!

VanCity Views IV

1. Snowline. The North Shore mountains looking pretty this morning.

The morning after a chilly rainy night shows up the lovely snowline across the flanks of Crown and Grouse Mountains. I took this photo from the roof of the Mountain Equipment Coop building on Broadway. I didn’t notice it at the time, but I really like how the snowline angles upwards as it gets nearer to the water, perhaps the air stayed cooler in the Capilano valley?

2. Winter sunset

I love seeing this boundary between night and day: the sun has set on the city but the mountain tops are still bathed in lovely warm light. Such a contrast compared with the previous photo! I’d rather be up in the mountains in this light – watching the snow change colour is amazing – but I’ll settle for a view over the water and the city.

Here, along the foreshore just west of Kits Pool, is one of my favourite spots to catch the sunset in the winter with its unobstructed view across English Bay and the peaks of Crown and Grouse Mountains, Mt Fromme, and the ridgeline of Mt Seymour beyond.

3. Morning view on day 3 of my Walk To Work Week 🙂

At the time I took this photo I was working about 4.5 km from home. While it was an easy bike ride, I’m not a fan of riding in the winter, so I thought I’d try walking it. To my surprise I found myself really enjoying the walk (on dry days) and could make it door-to-door in about 45 minutes. There’s a tiny park along the way called Choklit Park – and yes, the name is associated with chocolate – with a nice view over towards the high-rises of Yaletown and the mountains beyond. Now if only I had the Photoshop skills to remove that straggly little branch in the top right corner…

4. I’m not a morning person but I love mornings – good morning from a frosty Kits Beach

I remember taking a photo of Kits Beach covered in frost way back in 2009 and wanted to repeat that shot. It took until early 2016 for that to happen! Things I like about this photo include the shape of the beach, which is close to a classic “S” curve, the strip of sand forming a pathway between the silvery-blue water and frost, and the mist behind the city high-rises. It’s a chillier-looking photo than my earlier attempt – I guess I must have sooner after sunrise than in 2009 which had some nice early-morning sunshine lighting up the frost.

So with that I think I’m caught up on my backlog of miscellaneous Vancouver shots for now. I wonder what next week’s Throwback Thursday has in store?