Category Archives: hiking

Cathedral Lakes Park: Up in Smoke! Days 2 and 3

In going back over the previous post, I realized I never showed you our campsite.  That’s because I didn’t take any pictures of it!  But S did and here’s what it looked like.

If you look closely, you can see me just sitting around in a folding chair.  Not what I usually take on a “backpack” but as the Lake of the Woods camp site was only a kilometre from the drop off point, I figured I could endure carrying the chair for 20 minutes!  So glad I did!  Gave S my normal thermarest backpack chair and J brought her favourite backpack chair so we were pretty comfy.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you about another interesting development that we discovered when we started to cook dinner the first night.  We brought my snowpeak propane backpack stove and my backpack popcan stove that uses methanol (methyl hydrate is what you purchase it as).  Before we left home, I had assiduously filled up my gas transport bottle with methanol.  At least that’s what I thought I did.  So I filled up the popcan stove and tried to light it.  It wasn’t lighting.  It never not lights!  I sniffed the container and realized I hadn’t looked at the label of the stock I had used to refill it.  It was paint thinner, not methanol, and wouldn’t light!  So that meant we had only 1 small stove for the 3 of us to make all our meals and couldn’t use a fire as there was a fire ban throughout BC because of all the wildfires!  DOH!  Well, we almost made it through but our last meal the propane tank ran out.  Note to self; be more careful next time!

Day 2 

Ok, it’s day 2 and we are deciding where to go.  As yesterday’s hike kind of wore us out a bit, we decided to take it easy.  J and S decided they just wanted to go back to Ladyslipper lake and hang out there, maybe go swimming.  I decided I really wanted to see Goat Lake so after a short way to Goat Lake, they headed back to the trail juncture and went back to Ladyslipper.

Good choice for me on my part.  I hadn’t been hiking alone in quite a while and it turned out to be just what I needed!  Here’s my trip to Goat lake, which failed to live up to its name as I didn’t see any goats there but filled my needs in all other aspects.

From our juncture, the trail descends into the valley that leads up to a basin where Goat lake is.  Once in the valley, it’s a nice gentle trail to the lake.  Easy walking 🙂

From the map I knew that the lake would be surrounded by a bunch of peaks and nestled into a basin.  Every now and then, I would get a glimpse of where I was ultimately headed.

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First views of some of the peaks around Goat Lake

And you can now begin to see some of the devastation caused by the bark beetle.  Most of the large spruce etc are dead.  Fortunately, there are young trees springing up to replace them so in another 30 years or so, if they survive, it won’t look quite so desolate.  You can also see the continuing effects the smoke was having on the views.  Normally would have been clear blue sky with high definition on the mountains given the lens I was using.

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the stream winding through the valley that issues out of Goat Lake.
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I called this image “tenacity”. It will take a good long while for the new ones to attain such a majestic state but I’m hoping they’re tenacious.
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and this one “rebirth” because you can see all the new trees coming up to replace the dead ones.

Here’s a lovely boggy meadow filled with a sedge called narrow-leaved cotton grass and then a closeup of the actual cotton grass plant.

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More peaks coming into view and a lovely bunch of cotton grass
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cotton grass up close and personal.

Getting a bit closer to the lake now.

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More of the mountain you saw in the previous picture with all the cotton grass
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A panorama preview of what’s coming up around the lake!

And, tada! Finally made it to the lake.

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It was a warm lovely day except for the smoke so I walked around to the other end of the lake and found a great spot from which to view both the surrounding mountains and the lake while I ate my lunch and drank my tea.  Nice breeze to keep the bugs away, too. Happy camper I am.

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Looking South from my lunch spot
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More views South.  This is called Denture ridge.
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Looking North across the lake
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The boggy area between the lake and the mountains surrounding it. I was eating lunch perched on a big rock in the trees on the right hand side of the image.

So…. Goat lake is just a nice little lake.  Nothing special about it except for where it is and the peaks that surround it.  There were 2 other young folks there and they left before I did so I had the place all to myself for quite a nice bit of time.

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A lovely larch tree
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The mountain furthest South and East along the lake’s border.

I just love the rock that these mountains are composed of.  It’s quite dramatic looking and it looks like it would be really fun to scramble up and climb if you were so inclined. Of course, much steeper than it looks in the photos!

After relaxing and taking a few more pictures, it’s time to head back.  A parting shot of the lake on my way back out.

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Took a few more photos of flowers and such.

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False Hellebore
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A dead young spruce.  Not just the old ones are killed.
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Alpine Lupine leaves in their yellow fall coloration
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One of the Sparganium spp, probably emersum or angustifolium.
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A lichen I’d never seen before!  Really cool colours.  Couldn’t find it looking in Plants of Coastal British Columbia is but checked with a lichen expert and he suggested might be Solorina crocea, chocolate chip lichen.
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Another common lichen often found on dead larch and which we saw a lot of, is called tree hair lichen or black tree lichen.  Bryoria fremontii

Made it back to camp and joined up with J and S.  Sponged off my sweat in Lake of the Woods, ate dinner and relaxed.  Watched stars, fell asleep.

Day 3

We had originally planned to leave on the 3:30 shuttle down so after a lazy breakfast we packed up camp and figured we could just leave our gear at the lodge and go for a day hike, returning just a bit before heading out.

Nope.  As I mentioned in the previous post, due to the smoke coming into the park, BC Parks declared an evacuation of Cathedral Lakes Park.  So we pared down our hike to a short jaunt over to Scout Lake which was just a km or so from the lodge and hoped we could get out on the 1 pm shuttle.  No sense hanging around for more smoke!

Turned out to be a good plan.  Wandered over to Scout lake and enjoyed ourselves and saw another of the lakes.  Here’s a few pics.

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Our original day plan was to hike up that far ridge but due to the evac, just went to the lake.
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Another view of the surrounding mountains from the other side of the lake.

I walked all the way around while J and S just stayed on one side.  Here’s a nice sedge that I saw at the lake.

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Carex stylosa? Variegated or Long-styled sedge is my current best guess and if so is a rare plant.

And a nice batch of Arnica next to a rock.

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I think this is Arnica montana or Arnica mollis

On the way out I went a little way past the lake to see the creek coming out of it and got a really nice shot.

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It’s very peaceful looking, don’t you think?

Back to the lodge and it turns out that they decided to try to evacuate everyone on the 1pm shuttle.  So they had 3 or 4 trucks going back down to the highway.  Uneventful ride, back to the car and then back home.

So that’s our trip to Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park.  Maybe we’ll go back when there isn’t any smoke and see all the wonderful views we were supposed to see originally.  But there are just so many wonderful places to visit, that maybe we won’t.  Only time will tell.

Hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of this wonderful park.  We sure did!

Until next time, keep on rambling.

Rich

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.

pre stone city pano-1We’re now at about 2400 metres elevationRim pano-2

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 

 

Gushing

This past weekend, J and I headed into the Burke Mt area with a couple of friends to spend some time hiking and viewing a couple of waterfalls.  The forecast was for clouds and the occasional shower.  Luckily, we got the clouds but not the showers.

Our objectives were the Dry Crossing and Sawblade Falls, both on Coho Creek which tumbles down between a couple of unnamed peaks in Pinecone Burke Provincial Park.

The hike goes up several shared use hiker-mountain biker paths and old logging roads through several different forested areas with lots of lovely spring flowers along the trails, the most common being false solomon’s seal, star-flowered false solomon’s seal, foam flower, bunchberry, and yellow wood violets.

As it was a bit cool for the season, we also lucked out in not being bothered to any serious degree by our insect friends, although the occasional black fly needed brushing off.  After a couple of hours we got to our first waterfall, Dry Crossing Falls.  2 waterfalls hike-12 waterfalls hike-22 waterfalls hike-3

One of the reasons we picked this hike was because we are still in the Spring run off season here in SW British Columbia and the waterfalls are just gushing spectacular amounts of water.  A couple of creek crossings which in summer would be easily transversed required high level ballet type balancing to avoid serious foot and leg soaking!  Not to mention avoiding the algae covered slippery rocks!!

From Dry Crossing Falls, we followed a rough route, the Sawblade Bike Trail, further downstream to arrive at what is becoming a fairly common local hiking destination, Sawblade Falls.  About 30 minutes or so and we arrived at Sawblade falls.  2 waterfalls hike-42 waterfalls hike-5

Our plan was to eat lunch at Sawblade Falls and then head over to a couple of other falls on the way back to the car.  What with the cooler weather, and a strong wet cool spray coming off the falls, we found a less exposed area behind a few trees where we could hear them but not see them and hunkered down and enjoyed our lunch. Here’s a video I took of the falls before we ate.

After lunch, and enjoying a last bit of falls viewing, we decided to forego the other falls and made our way back to the car to conclude a lovely day spent with friends and falls.  A parting shot of Sawblade falls as we head back out.2 waterfalls hike-6

Just a bit of warning; if you’ve never hiked this area before, most of these hikes start at a gate that is just a few hundred metres from a gun club so you often hear loud blasts of gunfire while you’re walking.  But once you get far enough along, the gunshots diminish and forest sounds take over.

And just because you’ve been so patient, here’s another gusher we visited a few weeks ago in the Squamish area, Crooked Falls.  Check out this video, too.crooked falls-1

We do like our waterfalls and there are so many lovely ones here in BC.

Until next time,

keep rambling.

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