A little water, falling

Cascades on Kill Creek for waterfall Wednesday – I think this was the first time I remember seeing this creek flowing.

Last Saturday we took a leisurely hike up Mt Gardner on Bowen Island, a lovely little getaway destination for a day especially when topped off with a serving of local gelato. As we neared the trailhead on our descent, I looked upstream to see a gorgeous little double cascade of a waterfall. Unfortunately I couldn’t fit both in to the Instagram format so I ended up cropping around the upper drop. For such a small waterfall – barely a metre high – it has quite a bit of character thanks to the way the water is running over the broken log.

Thankfully the sun was well hidden and I was able to use a low ISO (100) coupled with a moderate aperture (f/5.0) to get a roughly half-second exposure, long enough to blur out the water nicely. I even had a well-placed tree to balance the camera against (while trying not to fall down the short but very steep slope), though it still took several tries to get a photo that was not blurry. I would have liked to have been able to avoid the spindly branches sweeping across the frame but that wasn’t possible without getting into the creek itself. The main downside to this image is that I had to crop quite heavily to just focus on this little waterfall. While it doesn’t really stand up to close viewing on a large screen, I’m happier than I expected at how it looks on a phone or small tablet. If nothing else, it’s introduced me to a previously-unknown (to me) little waterfall I can capture another day.

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Frigid falls

This seems like an appropriate waterfall photo for today’s waterfall Wednesday – standing at the base of Alexander Falls a few winters ago. I remember being disappointed that the sun was not on the falls but in retrospect it clearly makes for a better picture. It didn’t matter that the snowshoeing wasn’t particularly exciting as it was still a fun and peaceful afternoon. Maybe it’s time we used those expired half-price day tickets to revisit the falls…

Why is this appropriate? Well, yesterday we got our first city snow of the year in Vancouver and today it’s all frozen solid. Tomorrow has rain in the forecast though that could easily be snow again. For a few short hours, the UBC campus was a winter wonderland, until the reality of getting the bus up the hill sunk in. Thankfully the roads were clear enough by the evening for me to have no issues getting home.

Back to the photo. A similar cloudless day back in January 2011, and I set off on snowshoes with a friend to wander the trails at the Whistler Olympic Park, finishing up at the base of Alexander Falls. We needed a little deft snowshoe-clad footwork to get down the slope, but it was well worth it. Since it’s now been nearly 7 years since I visited I think it’s about time I returned, and now we have winter tyres to get up the Sea to Sky highway, it might even be something we do over the Christmas holiday.

However, on my next visit I’m going to try a couple more angles and go for a longer exposure too. We were running out of time back in 2011 (and my friend’s kid was getting very cold) so I just had time to snap a few photos before we retraced our steps back to the lodge where we tackled some well-deserved hot chocolate.

Nineteen miles

Pretty waterfall on Nineteen Mile Creek as we head up to Iceberg Lake.

Nineteen miles from where? Pemberton seems like a reasonable guess as it’s about 30 km away, which is – tada – nearly 19 miles. The eponymous creek drains a small lake which used to be part of the Rainbow glacier when it spilled over the massive eastern headwall into the valley below. All that remains is a couple of small permanent snowfields along with a pretty little lake.

At a couple of spots the creek has some lovely waterfalls, most of which are accessible and really photogenic with the photo above showing the largest single drop. As ever, a tripod would have been ideal, but this isn’t bad for a hand-held shot of 1/6 second.

Disappearing act

First visit to Englishman River Falls – having seen many photos on Instagram, it was nice to see them in person. Lots of starflower and salal in bloom, some wild strawberry and vanilla leaf too. Also found some pink wintergreen and my first ever Vancouver groundcone, aka poque.

I knew that capturing this waterfall was going to be difficult. Like many waterfalls, the scale is hard to represent effectively in photographs so I decided to just go with the flow (ha ha – geddit?) and be content with the same shot as everyone else. Now I know the scale, I’m quite happy with it. It would be tricky to get a nice long exposure of these falls because the bridge wobbles when walked on. I’d have to get here early in the morning to have the place to myself to avoid that. That’s for some other time. We were lucky enough with our timing as the sun emerged from behind the clouds a few minutes later.

The short loop trail connecting the falls was well worth doing, passing through some pleasant forest (with signs of fawn lilies in a few places to pique my interest). The water level had dropped since the first rush of spring snowmelt so the lower falls weren’t really evident. I was surprised and impressed with the deep, ruler-straight canyon connecting the falls – it’s quite a spectacular feature. The warning signs have it right!

Spahats Falls

Spahats Falls, a panoramic view from 2011, because it’s waterfall Wednesday.

At the time we visited Wells Gray back in 2011, we only had the standard 18-55 mm lens for our SLR (28-82 mm 35-mm equivalent). The gorge into which this waterfalls drops is immense and can’t be captured in a single shot, so I took about a dozen photos to capture the scene and stitched them together later in Hugin. And I have to say I’m pleased with the end result. There’s still little idea of the actual scale of the waterfall – it’s a 60-m/200-foot drop – but overall, I feel it captures the gorge quite effectively. It definitely helps that the spring runoff was at its peak as later in the season the waterfall was barely a trickle by comparison.

One of things I remember most about Wells Gray is not the waterfalls, but the volcanic features: the canyon walls contained enormous thick layers of columnar basalts. It must have been quite the scene to see such a huge lava flow.

Waterfall season

Shannon Falls from the side, this view is from the parking lot at the Sea to Sky gondola – waterfall season is fast approaching!

It’s been a pretty miserable winter here in Vancouver. Lots of rainy days, and sunshine has been hard to come by. But rain and snow make for good waterfalls, so there’s something to be said for enduring all the grey and damp. Shannon Falls near Squamish is usually a good bet for a good flowing waterfall, and this day was pretty good for early spring conditions. I’ve seen the falls flowing much more strongly than this, but today there was enough to get some good misty spray drifting from the upper cascades. We’d called in to the Sea to Sky gondola to buy annual passes (aka Christmas presents!) and caught this nice view of the falls as we walked from the car, a slightly different perspective than usual.

Upper Upper Falls

Upper Upper Cypress Falls for waterfall Wednesday. At least that’s what I call them as I thought I’d already found the upper falls before finding this almighty drenching cascade 🙂

I had no idea this cascade existed until stumbling upon it while out for a rainy-day hike a couple of weeks ago. Since it’s well above what I’d previously known as the upper falls on Cypress Creek, I could only think of calling these the upper, upper falls.

What can’t be seen in this image is the constant spray that soaked me and the camera. I expect a lot of my cameras, even though they’re not weather-proofed. (I’m waiting for the day that comes back to bite me.) After watching these falls for a while we retreated back to the main trail where I realized I could hardly see. The next photograph I took was of my glasses which were completely covered in spray! It was like I’d worn them in the shower, albeit a very chilly shower. The down side to artificial fabrics is that they are hopeless for cleaning water off lenses as they just spread it around. Thankfully, this time I was wearing a merino shirt and with a bit of patience, I was able to get my glasses (and the camera!) dry.