Category Archives: Park

Cathedral Lakes Park: Up in Smoke! Day 1

I finally got to tick off a park that has long been on my bucket list, Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park.  We had planned to go earlier in the summer and had paid and reserved our ride up but cancelled at the last minute because of all the smoke from forest fires in the area.  Instead we went to Manning Park and had a great 3 day backpack with only a bit of smoky views the first day which cleared up nicely for the rest of the trip.

As it was getting near the end of summer, and we still wanted to go to Cathedral, we decided to head up last week.  Smoke reports were pretty low and lodge staff said weather up in the park was great.  So off we went on Sunday to go up on the 4PM shuttle figuring smoke wasn’t going to be in the picture.  WRONG!

It was interesting just how the smoke behaved.  It was coming up from Washington state fires and would come in during the day.  Then the winds would die down and we would have perfectly clear skies to star gaze at night.  Early mornings would look clear blue skies and then the wind would start to pick up and the smoke would move in.

We had planned 3 nights camping and coming back mid-afternoon on day 4.  And that’s what we did, with a little “wrinkle”.  We had reserved our ride out for the 3:30 shuttle but  due to the smoke, it turned out that the park was told to evacuate everyone on that day.  So we all headed down on the 1 PM shuttle, a couple of hours early.

Still, we got in some great hiking and interesting views.  The smoky skies combined with all the dead spruce from the spruce bark beetle kill made for some very other-worldly landscapes.  We felt like we could be on another planet, definitely not in BC!

I really enjoyed looking at the stars while falling asleep on Sunday night. We left the rainfly off the tent and had a clear view through the bug netting.  Monday was our first and most strenuous day of hiking. Got up and had a leisurely camp breakfast.  Lake of the Woods looked lovely. (Many of these photos are large panoramic stitches and you’ll only get the full meal deal if you click on them to view!)

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Lake of the Woods with Pyramid and Quiniscoe Mts in the background.

Didn’t see any smoke yet.  Plan for the day was to hike to Ladyslipper Lake and then up to the Rim, entering at Stone City.  Here’s a map of the park and the core area. It was only a 250 metre climb to the Lake but we noticed that our energy was lower than usual.  Well, the park and Lake of the Woods is at 2000 metres elevation so that might have had something to do with it!

Here we are coming down into Ladyslipper Lake.

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Coming down to Ladyslipper Lake

For some reason, I got the map turned around in my head and when we got to the lake, we headed off along the North shore to the West end of the lake.  Lots of people at the lake fishing and swimming.

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Here’s the view looking back where we had been at the West end of the lake

We considered trying to make our way up to the rim through that terrain you’re looking at and decided not to.  Retraced our way back to where we turned right and should have turned left and around and up we went.  A view on the way back.

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It was a pretty hot day and we started up the trail to the rim.  We stopped to eat on the way up.

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View from our lunch spot
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closeup view of some really nice rock formations come off the rim

After eating, headed back onto the trail.  Here we are almost up on the rim.

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You can see where we have to go to get up on the rim. S and J heading up.
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Almost there!  S and J coming into Stone City

And you can see that the skies are no longer blue but the wind is now bringing the smoke up.  Notice how much darker it is on the right than the left!

Finally made it to Stone City.

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You can see the effects the smoke was having on the views which were severely cut off!
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Still, Stone City is an interesting landscape and with the smoke, really starting to look alien.

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Star Trek or other space movies would have had a great time filming up here!

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From Stone City we wandered Northwards along the rim to the Devil’s Woodpile.  Love the orange lichens and other vegetation.

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We loved this beautiful wide bench meadow.  The colours are just so understated and subtle.  And the smoke made it look so other worldly.

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S standing on top of the Devil’s Woodpile

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South side of the Devil’s Woodpile

From here we continued along the rim to the trail down to Glacier Lake

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North side of the Devil’s Woodpile looking back along the rim where we came from

The trail down to Glacier Lake.  It was much more friendly than the trail up from Ladyslipper Lake and is the way most people get up on the rim if they leave from the lodge.

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Heading down to Glacier Lake

Another view of Pyramid Mountain as we head back down.  Notice the sharp division between the smoky sky and not so smoky sky, and the colour of the sun, the white dot at the upper right in the smoke.  To our eyes, it was actually a glowing red ball.  Don’t quite know why it didn’t come out that way in the photo.  Something to do with what lenses see vs what eyes see.

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Pyramid Mountain

It was a full day of hiking.  You can see the stats from my watch, here.  Once back at camp, we relaxed, did a bit of swimming in Lake of the Woods to get the sweat off and really enjoyed eating our dinner.

Stay tuned for Day 2, coming your way in the not too distant future.

Rich 

 

Left Coast and Redwoods – Finale

After a lovely night’s rest and breakfast at our BnB in Brookings, we headed down to the Harris Beach State Park there and spent some time just walking around.  Here’s a few photos from the park.

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J’s charismatic windswept look 🙂

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Peek-a-Boo!

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Impressive Rocks!

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After getting our fill of the the wonderful ocean scenery and basically having the park to ourselves, we headed back out on the highway to our next stop, Pistol River State Scenic Viewpoint.  From the map, it looked like it might be an interesting spot and lo and behold, when we got to it we were pleasantly surprised to see that it had dunes.  Now this might not seem like a big deal to a lot of people but J had never seen dunes before and she was ecstatic!!  She’d always wanted to see dunes but somehow, had never had the good fortune to run across any on the beaches she had been to.  So, of course, we wandered in amongst the dunes for a while and spent some time on the beach just enjoying watching waves.

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Yup, them’re dunes alright.  With windswept dune grass.

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Wave Watching

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Again, we were the only ones there!  I guess there’s some benefits, especially to a landscape photographer like I am, to go off season in crappy weather.  No one around to get in the way of the scenery except my favourite model 🙂

Back in the car and up the road a piece to another pullout where I took this pic looking North.

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Our next was for lunch at the Redfish in Port Orford.

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The Redfish (J’s hair in bottom right)

Lovely lunch with some great views there too.

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Having achieved a pleasant state of satiety, we meandered back to the car and headed on up the road again to what was our penultimate stop along the way, Cape Blanco State Park. Cape Blanco is the Westernmost point in Oregon and the contingual United States, and contains the Southernmost Lighthouse in Oregon.  All fine reasons to stop there! What they don’t tell you about is the strength of the wind there!  WhoooBoy….!  J was afeared to leave the car.  I got out and took a bunch of photos; hey that’s what I do, and I jumped straight up to land about foot back of where I launched myself from.  There was a guy in a convertible with the top down and all the windows up just enjoying the views and eating a sandwich.  Said he often comes to enjoy the scenery and wind.

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From here we headed up to Bandon where we stopped at the renowned Face Rock Creamery to pick up some cheese and have a heavenly ice cream 🙂  We never actually visited the Face Rock but there’s lots of pics on the web of it.

From here, it was head up to Reedsport to pick up Rt 38 back to I-5.  Rt 38 turned out to be a lovely road along the river and through the hills.  Did I mention that we saw sheep in Oregon.  And Elk.  Lots of both!

Once we got to I-5, we headed up to Portland to stay with a friend of J’s that’s she’s known forever.  Had a pizza dinner, conversation, crashed and were on the road again the next morning.  Our last stop was a food court in the Alderwood Mall because I decided to get the pack after all!

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Yum! Indian Food!

And then back home.  Boy, were we glad to be back home in our own bed that night.  We had a great trip and loved all the crazy ups and downs and beautiful places and trees we saw but there’s nothing like coming home after a trip to your own bed!  And on that note, I’ll say amen and leave you all in peace until I decide to write about something else.

Rich 

Left Coast and Redwoods Trip – Day 4

Hi. Welcome back to day 4 of our Coast and Redwoods trip.  Hope you’ve enjoyed it so far.

Originally we thought we might stay an extra day in the forest but after our first night in our “cottage” we knew it was going to be a one-day affair.  So we packed up our gear and planned to spend the day enjoying the redwoods and then head back up into Oregon.

Alright, time to get up and start our big day sightseeing redwoods in the Humboldt Redwood State Park we had spent all this time and energy to get to.  Was it worth it?  Let’s see what you think.  But first, let’s have a little breakfast, shall we?

At this point our main guide was this map/brochure we had picked up in one of the stores we stopped at before we got to the “cottage”.  It gave us some idea of what we could expect but it was more a publicity and ads thing than a map.maps-1maps-4

For breakfast, since we were already pretty much at the Southern tip of the Avenue of the Giants in Phillipsville we decided to drive back up to Miranda to see what the Avenue Cafe was like.  Here we are waiting for our order of eggs and such.

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Avenue Cafe in Miranda where they don’t have any peanut butter. EVER!

Food was ok but when I asked for some peanut butter for my french toast they said they didn’t stock any peanut butter at the Cafe.  None. Period.  Kinda strange to not even have the little individual serving plastic containers but c’est la vie.  I’ll give it 3.5 stars out of 5. Chowed down and headed back out.  Tree time!

 

Oh, I need to tell you that it was raining.  Not just a pleasant light rain but a serious need-the-umbrella-to-get-anywhere-without-getting-soaked kinda rain.  Our plan for the day was to visit some of the groves on the map above, stop at the visitor center and then plan the rest of the day until we needed to leave.  Here’s a few pics from the first grove we wandered around; I think it was the Williams Grove.

One of the first things we noticed besides the big trees was what we first thought was clover all over the forest floor.  We later realized it was wood sorrel and I was dumbfounded that I hadn’t recognized it!  Some forestry school graduate I turned out to be!  But seriously, that was oh, 40+ years ago and the amount that I have remembered just astonishes me sometimes.

From here we headed up to the visitor’s center as planned.  Oh boy was that an eye-opener!  First of all we were able to get a map that was actually a map!  maps-2maps-3

And the ranger was so helpful.  The first thing he did was to tell us how bad our previous map was.  And then once we told him what we were interested in and didn’t mind doing some serious hiking to get there, he told us where to find the best trees and forest for our time there.  He told us to not miss the Founders Loop or the Rockefeller Loop.

And here’s why.

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Doesn’t that burl on the left look like an animal?  I see a lamb’s head nestled against the trunk
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the roots of a recently fallen giant
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The mandatory, “Look, I’m inside the base of a tree” photo 🙂

(I just want to add that the visitor’s center is worth setting aside an hour or two to spend there if you have time.  There are lots of interpretive displays and lots of history.  Interesting fact:  It was due to a picnic to which John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was invited amongst the redwoods that the park came to be. Rockefeller was so impressed that he donated a large amount of money to the Save-the-Redwoods League to help fund the park.)

 

The ranger recommended that we head up the Bull Creek Trail North as far as we had time for. Since it was early in the season and a very rainy day we’d probably not see anyone on the trail and it had some of the best trees in the park. And that was absolutely true. We saw nobody on the trail for the time we were on it.

Before I take you along that trail I thought I’d share this site which has a wealth of information about redwoods.  One of the things the ranger told us was that the burls of the tree were not cancerous growths as I thought, but actually contained dormant sprouts ready to grow out if the main tree was sufficiently damaged.  Sorta contained the tree’s version of stem cells, if you know what I’m talking about.  Way cool.  So that “lamb’s head” pic above is actually waiting for a chance to start a new tree, should it be called upon to do so.

And for how I got so many nice pics on such a rainy day, all I can say is I was lucky and had fantastic help.  We had a drill between J and I.  I carried the tripod and whenever I wanted to take a shot, she’d be my photo assistant and hold the umbrella over me while I got the camera out and everything set up.  Since I was using a remote shutter release for long exposures once I was all set, I’d take the umbrella back and then if she was going to be in the pic, she’d get where we wanted her and I could take the shot shielding the camera from the rain.  If she wasn’t in the shot, she’d just continue holding the brolly for me.  Nice!  Can’t ask for more than that from a partner.

Ok, on to the Bull Creek North trail, also known as the Big Tree Trail.  Because it was such a rainy day we didn’t spend nearly as much time on the trail as we would have liked but the time we did spend was well worth it.  There was a bit of bushwacking to get around some trees that had come down recently but that didn’t stop us.  We’re from BC where that’s entirely normal 🙂

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Ok, tell me you can’t see the beast’s head here, snuggled into its mother tree!
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J playing peek-a-boo between our 2 favourite trees of the day
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without J

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A lovely grove

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And that’s pretty much it for the Redwoods and Sequoias this year!  We were more than satiated with big trees and in answer to the “Was it worth it?” question I asked above, we both gave a resounding YES!!

In a way, this was kind of a reccy trip.  Now we knew that if we wanted to spend some time in really big trees, we could come here.  We have a map and there are trails for backpacking so maybe that will be our next foray into the redwoods.

Back to the car and our plan to head up to Oregon.  Now we need a place to sleep.  So while J was driving I got on the web and found us a BnB in Brookings, Oregon, called  The South Coast Inn Bed & Breakfast.

As we were traveling a bit late, we decided to stop for dinner at the Fisherman’s Restaurant in Crescent City.  The wind was really blowing and it was quite stormy so it was a nice relief to get out of the car and into a friendly restaurant.  I’ll give it a 4 star rating.

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Fisherman’s Restaurant in Crescent City

 

After eating we headed back up the highway to Brookings and The South Coast Inn B&B.  What a difference compared to the previous night!  Literally night and day.  The rates were affordable and the accommodations were just fantastic.  As it was so rainy, they had had several cancellations and we had our pick of rooms.  We stayed in the Sea Breeze Room.

We relaxed and rested in our room and so ended day 4 of our Left Coast Trip.  Ahhhh.

On day 5 we were planning on exploring our way up the Oregon coast and heading back East to Portland and I5 to stay with a friend before heading back home on day 6.

Stay tuned for days 5 & 6.

Happy rambles.

Rich

Left Coast and Redwoods Trip – Part 2

Day 3

We spent a wonderful morning with our friends in Roseburg – actually in the countryside between Sutherlin and Roseburg – and they gave us a whole host of suggestions of things to see and do as we travelled down to the redwoods in California and when we headed back home via another section of the Oregon coast.

We made our way back to I5 where we headed on down to Grant’s Pass.  We wanted to take a coffee break so we got off the highway and just started heading through town.  As soon as we drove by the Bluestone Cafe, I knew we had found our coffee stop!

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The Bluestone Cafe in Grant’s Pass

As the food looked really good, too, we ordered a couple of sandwiches to take on the road with us.  Good decision so we thought until we opened the bags a bit later.  Much to our surprise, although the receipt indicated we got what we ordered and paid for, what was inside was a completely different order!  And as I’m a pescavore and both sandwiches had meat, I pretty much had to make do with a bit of bread and some granola bars for lunch.  Even so, everyone makes mistakes and I’d still give top ratings for this place!! The bevvies were perfect 🙂

From Grant’s Pass, we picked up Highway 199, which is also called the Redwood Highway.  One of the places our friends had recommended we stop at was Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park.  So we did.  It comes up about 45 minutes or so after you cross into California. We spent about an hour there just walking a little loop and having our first experience amongst the big trees.  Here’s some big tree photos from the park.

There were also scads of white trilliums in bloom on the forest floor and I’m still striving for a perfect spring trillium shot.  I take a bunch every year.  Here’s a few of this year’s contenders from the park.  Coast D3-7Coast D3-6Coast D3-5

There was also a lovely bright red mushroom which cried out to be photographed.

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Maybe Hygrophorus coccineus also known as Scarlet Waxy Cap.

And here’s one of the giants just hanging out in the forest.  No trail to it.  I just enjoyed seeing it so nicely ensconced in all the other foliage and shrubbery.  Coast D3-9

So, back into the car and on down the highway.  We stopped at a pull off somewhere’s down the road from Crescent City for a bit of a beach break.Coast D3-10Coast pano D3-12Coast pano D3-1

From here, we headed down to our ultimate destination, the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and the Avenue of the Giants in Phillipsville, where we had booked what we thought was a nice AirBnB cottage.  Hoo boy were we surprised when it turned out to be a pretty down and out motel.  It’s amazing how good you can make something look if you take pictures of it from a certain angle in just the right light.

By the time we rolled in around 8 PM or so, it was too late to do anything about it so we made the best of it.  We headed to the Riverwood Inn, a restaurant/bar across the street from the motel and had a pretty good Mexican dinner so it was not a complete disaster.

Then we rolled into bed and made plans for spending the next day gawking at the big trees.

Well, I think that’s enough for now.  I’ll finish this trip report with the next installment.

Happy Ramblings,

Rich

Belcarra Jug Island hike

It was another rainy day but we just had to get out into the forest and breathe some tree air so J and I headed over to one of our local parks, Belcarra Regional Park, and took the trail that brings you out on a beach that looks directly across to Jug Island and has a great view down Indian Arm.

Even though it was rainy, cloudy and cool, there was a steady stream of “traffic” on the trail.  When we started out, there was an Asian gentleman manning a big kettle of soup being heated by a propane set-up under one of the lean-tos.  We asked him what he was doing and we think he said he was cooking bone soup for all his hiking friends when they returned and that we were welcome to join them.  We were jealous.  I want a friend like that!

The returning Asian hikers passed us on our way down the trail just a little after we started in so we knew that by the time we got back, they would be gone and so would the soup.  See, there really is no such thing as a free lunch!

Got to the beach about the same time as a group of younger folks, took a few pictures looking down Indian Arm and headed back to the car.

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Taken while taking shelter under a nearby tree.
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A bit more of a “moody” treatment
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A not so perfect panorama stitch with other hikers
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That kinda day

You can just see the tip of Jug Island at the far left on the shots.  Nice couple of restorative hours.  It’s always worth it to get out. No matter how bad the weather seems it’s always nicer on the trail.

Happy ramblin’

Rich