Musical hiking

The Musical Bumps is a hike near Whistler that doesn’t make it into many guide books, mostly because it starts in the ski area and requires payment of a (pretty substantial) fee to access it. However, while it is definitely best hiked from Whistler summit, it can be approached from a different angle for much less money. That route involves heading to Singing Pass and picking up the trail from there. But it makes for a long tough day, and so a popular option is to camp at Russet Lake for a night to split the journey into two parts.

We hiked up the long (but quite pleasant) trail with a group of friends, enjoyed a peaceful night of camping, and then followed the Musical Bumps trail (passing this pair of marmots along the way) to the Roundhouse on Whistler mountain, taking the gondola back down into the village. Why is it called the Musical Bumps? There’s a musical theme to the whole area with the trail crossing the gentle summits of Flute, Oboe, and Piccolo mountains, and passing through the Harmony Bowl. When started at Whistler summit, the path follows the High Note Trail, with an option to shorten the route with the Half-Note Trail.

For some reason, I posted the photos on Instagram in reverse order, in other words, most recent first. Here I’m listing them in the correct time order.

1. Approaching Russet Lake

Approaching Russet Lake #russetlake #garibaldiprovincialpark #singingpass #backpacking #hiking #myhomewaters

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After a long, long slog of 16 km and about 1500 metres of elevation gain, this is the most welcome sight in the world. Russet Lake sited in a shallow bowl beneath Fissile Peak with a superb view across the Fitzsimmons Creek valley to the mountains of the Spearhead Range. Alas, the sun went in more or less as soon as I decided to take this shot.

2. Evening light

Evening light #garibaldiprovincialpark #fissilepeak #whirlwindpeak #parksday #canadaparksday

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Russet Lake is an alpine lake which makes it a great place to camp when the weather’s good. With superb views available nearby, it’s a superb place to take in the sunset (or sunrise). At the end of the day, the warm light from the setting sun makes the rusty colours of Fissile Peak look even redder. This was the only time I used an Instagram filter on one of my photos as the effect is really quite horrible. I reverted to using the manual editing features after that. Mind you, I’m torn as to whether it made the original photo any worse…

3. Black Tusk through a split boulder

Black Tusk through a split boulder #blacktusk #whistler #musicalbumps #garibaldiprovincialpark

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As I’ve mentioned before, Black Tusk is one of the most distinctive and photogenic mountains around. The view from close to Whistler summit is perhaps the most dramatic with the peak viewed end-on, but it’s still pretty nice further along the Musical Bumps trail, especially when framed by a boulder that looks like it just fell apart. This shot is actually best captured with a phone or other compact camera; cameras with larger sensors (like dSLRs) will have a hard time keeping both the rock and Black Tusk in focus at the same time. Score one for phone cameras, even terrible ones!

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Iceberg Lake

Gorgeous Iceberg Lake at last, surprisingly difficult to photograph with a standard wide-angle lens. But the view in the opposite direction makes up for that. A big thank-you to ACC-Whistler for a wonderful trail.

As mentioned in my previous post, we hiked up to Iceberg Lake near Whistler last weekend. In its own way the lake is like a miniature version of Wedgemount Lake (or at least the meltwater tarn at the toe of the Wedge glacier), the peaks surrounding which can be seen in the opposite direction. There’s a small permanent snowfield or even remnant glacier that calves into a lake coloured teal-green by rock flour.

The trail is superb, passing through old-growth forest for much of the ascent, and hugging Nineteen Mile Creek (see link above) with its picturesque waterfalls for the upper section before exiting the trees into beautiful subalpine meadows for an awe-inspiring view of the headwall of Rainbow Mountain. The view of the Rainbow glacier is fore-shortened as you get closer to Iceberg Lake (as at upper Joffre Lake), so the best view is from the meadows.

Photographic notes. This place needs an ultra-wide angle lens, at least for views looking towards Rainbow Mountain; the standard 28-mm equivalent simply does not go wide enough to capture the scale. Here, I was glad to be able to make use of a couple of hikers for scale, otherwise there’s simply no way to make it look impressive. Also, since the headwall faces more-or-less due east, morning light is essential. This is less of an issue in the summer when the sun is higher in the sky, though the shadows might be even darker than today (I had to play with the processing to bring up the deep shadows in the original version of this image).

Still, despite photographic challenges, it is definitely a beautiful spot to visit, and deservedly popular. Plus there are two more hikes in this area for next year’s list…

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.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon black bear munching on grass at the roadside, the third of four bears we saw on a mini road trip back in June

I love seeing bears in the wild, and despite the years of hiking and backpacking in North America (totalling close to 500 hikes), we’ve seen way more bears from the car than on foot. I can think of maybe 10 occasions that we saw a bear on the trail, and maybe only about half of those could be classified as encounters, the others being merely sightings at a distance.

The challenges of taking a good bear photo from the car include being able to shoot through an open window (without getting someone’s head or part of the door mirror in the frame), holding the camera steady enough in a car whose engine is still running (tip: don’t lean on the car!), and other passengers shifting around in the car! If you can deal with that, then you can be sure the camera will decide to focus on the grass instead of the bear… Thankfully in this case, the depth of field was just enough to keep the bear in focus too.

No ordinary bunny

Not saying it’s cold in Canada but I just saw the Easter bunny…. Well OK I admit it – this photo was actually taken one February a few years ago 🙂

Every winter we see the evidence of their existence – quartets of paw prints in the snow – but only rarely have we seen them. Our best encounter was this one while cross-country skiing at the Whistler Olympic Park back in 2009. I guess it hadn’t really worked out that it had a dark background behind it as it just sat there was as long as we wanted to take photos, presumably thinking it was well-camouflaged against the surrounding snow. I don’t think it moved a muscle until we skied off. Very cute!

Peek-a-boo Black Tusk

Peek-a-boo Black Tusk from the Crater Rim trail.

I couldn’t resist posting this photo from Saturday’s hike on the Crater Rim Trail. At one point there is a gap in the trees just big enough to get this wonderful view of Black Tusk, now lovingly decorated in its winter coat.

Forest green

Mossy green.

Mossy green #craterrimtrail #loggerslake #whistler #seatosky #explorebc #beautifulbritishcolumbia

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Today we revisited yet another place from 5 years ago, the Crater Rim Trail around Logger’s Lake in Whistler. It’s a pleasant little hike (only 5 km) with enough elevation gain to make it feel like a little workout (250 m), and a handful of interesting things to see along the way. For me, one of the most fascinating things about the hike is the geology, and one edge of the rim is composed of columnar basalts. Very cool. Further on, the trail ends up in this beautiful open, mossy green forest. I could hike in this kind of forest all day, it’s just so restful on my eyes, and so much brighter than the dense, valley-bottom forest.