I’m a Cover Model! My friend’s hiking book.

I’ve mentioned before that I only discovered my passion for hiking in the last few years and the main person I have to thank for that is my dear friend Chloë Ernst.

canoe, paddle, river, hiking, west coast, vancouver, outdoors
Chloë paddling towards Widgeon Falls.

She took on a contract to write a book of hikes near Vancouver and invited me along to do a few of them with her. I wasn’t in very good shape at the time so it was pretty tough at first. Luckily for me, Chloë was very patient with me, and also very good at picking hikes that would challenge me enough for me to make progress, but not be so hard that I would be turned off hiking altogether.

The first hike that really made me fall in love with hiking was Upper Shannon Falls near Squamish, BC (Distance 7.5km, Elevation gain 470m, Intermediate).

When we reached the top and I looked out over Howe Sound, it…changed me. I was in awe and knew I needed more of this in my life. Plunking down and drinking in the rugged beauty of nature while eating a well deserved snack in the sun made me so happy. I was addicted.

view, hiking, howe sound, upper shannon falls, vancouver, west coast
View of Howe Sound from Upper Shannon Falls viewpoint.
hiking, west coast, vancouver, view, mountains, upper shannon falls, howe sound
Chloë admiring the view of Howe Sound from Upper Shannon Falls.

Hiking is my therapy. The combination of nature and exercise melts the stress away. Seeing incredible mountain views remind me of the big picture and how the little things really don’t matter all that much.

Over the course of about a year or a little more, I did several hikes with Chloë for her book. My fitness level gradually improved, and I started spending (too much) money on gear and technical clothes because I knew I had finally found a hobby I was passionate about and would stick with. We ended up redoing some of the hikes so she could double check her notes and add in more details, and I was very pleased to see the progress I’d made in terms of fitness compared to my first time doing them. That’s another thing I find rewarding about hiking – you can really see how your fitness level is improving. Minnekhada is actually one of the first hikes I ever did, and when I do it now it really shows me how far I’ve come. I still have a ways to go but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.

minnekhada, hiking, vancouver, west coast,
Part of trail at Minnekhada. It seems very shire-like for you LOTR fans.

During these hikes, both of us were snapping pictures regularly, and then one day Chloë sent me an email asking me to give her approval to use some pictures of me for her book. And THAT my friends, is how I became a cover model! I’m also on four pages inside!

You can (and should) buy Chloë’s book here. It features directions, summaries, statistics, route details, stats, pictures and maps for each hike. It also includes interesting facts, history or tips on nearby events or restaurants for some of the hikes as well. You can look up hikes by certain criteria such as being dog friendly. And, best of all – you can throw it in your bag and bring it with you for reference (your phone won’t work everywhere when you are hiking)!

Not my best photo but here I am thrilled to get my copy of Chloë's book. That's me on the cover!
Not my best photo but here I am thrilled to get my copy of Chloë’s book. That’s me on the cover!

The book is done and published, but we are still hiking, and I feel like I’m just getting started!

Thank you Chloë for bringing me along, being patient with me when I was horribly out of shape, and making me a cover model! And most importantly, thank you for being such a great friend!

hiking, widgeon falls, vancouver, west coast, beer
Chloë also has great ideas like packing beers to enjoy in the sun beside Widgeon Falls.

Gear Review: Therapik Insect Bite Treatment

The Therapik next to a pen for scale.
The Therapik next to a pen for scale.

Therapik Insect Bite Treatment: Bugs LOVE me and my body reacts to their bites quite strongly with swelling and redness and itchiness that lasts for days! I was browsing the MEC website and came across this little device that heats up and apparently helps draw blood to the area. I didn’t really believe it would work, but the rave reviews convinced me to give it a try because I was scratching myself raw. I just tried it out today, four days after getting the bites (they say it works best when used right away) and…it WORKS! So far anyway. I used it about two hours ago on the worst offenders, and they aren’t itching now! I think this little thing is going to live in my hiking bag from now on! It’s a little clunky, but it’s pretty light.

All you do is place the end against your bite and push on the big blue button for 30 seconds (or less if it gets way too hot). Apparently the heat causes blood to rush to the area which helps clear away the ‘bug poison’. (Please read their official description as that is really not a very technical description!)

Caution: Make sure you don’t hold it on your skin for longer than 30 seconds. I have a high pain tolerance and wasn’t paying attention once and ended up burning myself and getting a nasty blister. I’m hoping it won’t leave a scar because that’s not exactly a cool scar story.

Gear Review: La Sportiva Thunder III GTX day hiking boots

la sportiva

La Sportiva Thunder III GTX day hiking boots: These boots look great and seemed to fit well in the store. I had a MEC staff member check the fitting and he thought they fit well. I wore them around the house for a while and they felt good, but as soon as I went hiking – pain and blisters. I took them on four hikes, hoping they would break in, but, no such luck. I think it was a combination of the fact that there is a rough seam up the back inside of the heel, and the fact that the sole is very stiff. But, this is exactly why I always buy my gear from MEC – because of their Rock Solid Guarantee I was able to return them hassle-free! I’m going to wait for my heels to heal before I go trying on more boots to find their replacement.

Mount Seymour

View from top of Mount Seymour first pump
Mount Seymour, First Pump

Monday was a holiday here in Canada and it was a beautiful day. My friend and I loaded our day packs, got a breakfast sandwich and then headed to Mount Seymour to hike up to the first ‘pump’ (peak). The website says it’s not open until July, but we’ve had hardly any snow this year so many trails have been clear much earlier than usual.

Now, it’s going to be hard for me to write a good account of this hike because I was in a lot of pain from about 20 or 30 minutes into the hike. I’ve been trying to break in my La Sportiva Thunder III GTX hiking boots, but things just kept getting worse. I tried moleskin, doubling up my socks, loosening the laces, tightening the laces…but the blisters kept coming. So, this hike felt a lot harder than it would have otherwise. There were also a LOT of bugs, which was hard to get used to after the joy of bug free winter hiking! Four days later I’m still nursing about a dozen nasty bites – and yes I used bug spray! But last night I grabbed a Therapik from MEC and it seems to be working really well! I will review that in another post.

That being said, it was a good hike. We took the “road” route, which for much of the way was pretty open and sunny. In the beginning it was loose smaller rocks, but as we went on the path narrowed and the stones became larger and more stable.

I had to take breathers much more often than usual because the pain in my heels was really getting to me. Shortly before we reached the first pump I actually started to feel a little light headed…but I was determined to see that view before heading back! I also didn’t want to let down my friend by giving up.

So we made it up and found a sunny spot to sit and eat…and ice my heels in a patch of snow! (Note to self – remember to pack Advil on hikes!) Up top the bugs were mostly absent and it was nice and warm so we hung out and relaxed for a bit.

Photo by Chloe Ernst. That little pink, black and skin coloured patch on the rocks is me!
Photo by Chloe Ernst. That little pink, black and skin coloured patch on the rocks is me!
Photo by Chloe Ernst. Me taking a break and basking in the sunshine.
Photo by Chloe Ernst. Me taking a break and basking in the sunshine.
Beautiful!
Beautiful!

Once we’d had enough of a break and snapped a few pictures we decided to head back. Going down was much easier on my feet and we made good time. About 15 or 20 minutes from the trail head it started to rain – at first it was just a few big fat raindrops here and there but then it started to pour. It felt great though – it was still sunny and warm and the cool drops were actually quite refreshing.

I must say, I’ve never been so happy to take off a pair of hiking boots and slip on my comfy runners in my life. I fully plan to do this hike again with different footwear, and a better coating of bug repellent.

Back in Action!

Hello everyone!

I took a little hiatus from the blog for a number of reasons.

Mostly, I was busy moving and getting my new apartment all set up. I love it! It’s spacious and sunny. I started growing herbs and vegetables on my balcony and I have a quick commute to work.

I also haven’t been doing a lot of hiking over the past couple of months as a result of me being busy, and my main hiking buddy being busy as well. I did go on a couple, but I didn’t get around to posting about them.

But! I did one on Monday and I will do a post about that soon, as well as some gear reviews.

I hope you are all doing well!

Adrienne

Eagle Bluffs Hike on Cypress Mountain

Eagle Bluffs Viewpoint
Eagle Bluffs Viewpoint

Due to the lack of snow received in the Lower Mainland this year, we were able to hike Eagle Bluffs on Cypress  Mountain (Distance: 8km
Elevation Gain: 350 meters) yesterday without snowshoes. It was a beautiful day for one of my favourite hikes. Previously I’d only done it in the summer so it was great to get to see it in another season – and without all the bugs!

It took us about four hours at a moderate pace with about a twenty minute break at the viewpoint. There were a fair number of people on the trail taking advantage of the good weather and lack of snow. The beginning section is made up of some fairly steep switchbacks which gets you warmed up really fast – and then it levels out and is quite pleasant for the rest of the hike.

This was the first time I used my new Black Diamond trekking poles – and the first time I used poles for a full hike in general. I really liked these poles – the handles were comfy and they were easy to adjust. The flick locks feel a lot more secure than the previous poles I had which just had a twist-lock mechanism – which failed, hence the new poles. I found it really made a difference to use them – my legs didn’t get as tired, and it helped with balance, moving quickly, and reducing impact on my knees. There are plenty of reasons to use trekking poles – you can read more about those reasons in this Outdoor Gear Lab article. I also found them useful for balancing during a stretching break!

The Eagle Bluffs viewpoint is breath-taking. The photo at the top of this post is the view from one angle. Here are a couple more:

Eagle Bluffs hikers, viewpoint
Eagle Bluffs hikers
Me looking out at all the freighters in the harbour.
Photo taken by Chloe Ernst. Me looking out at all the freighters in the harbour.

In the above photo I am wearing:

  • My new La Sportiva hiking boots which I am still breaking in. I find it takes me a while to get super comfy in any sort of trail shoe so I will reserve judgement on these for now.
  • My MEC Sandbagger pants that I absolutely adore. They are perfect for hiking because they are stretchy, durable and super comfy. I also like that they don’t flare out at the bottom – this helps prevent getting snagged on branches and roots. I also think they are cute enough to wear in the city before and after your hike without feeling like you are looking like a grubby hiker.
  • My MEC Ruby jacket is a great layering piece. It is light, thin and soft but provides a decent level of warmth. I was wearing this with just a technical T-shirt underneath for most of the hike. I just threw my North Face Thermoball jacket (see pic below) over top when we were stopped and I cooled down. I’ve actually been wearing the Ruby jacket a lot in the city as well. It’s cute and very practical. The Thermoball is super warm for it’s size and weight, and it packs down into it’s pocket so it’s really easy to bring anywhere.
  • My MEC Frigorific Headband (see below pic). I love this thing because I often get too hot to wear a toque while hiking, but this is perfect. I can wear it easily with a ponytail, and it lets my head breathe and not get too hot but keeps my ears warm.

So that was my Sunday! Hiking with one of my best friends to admire my favourite type of eye candy.

Selfie at view point
Yours truly in my happy place.

Bonus photo: This is the same view as the first photo in my post, but taken last summer. It looks different every time I go there!

View from Eagle Bluffs
Eagle Bluffs, Cypress Mountain

Get yourselves outside and into nature if at all possible! It’s good for the soul!

Family Day Rainy Hike

resevoir
Cleveland Dam Reservoir

Monday was Family Day in British Columbia so instead of going to work I got to go for a hike!

My friend and I decided to do the Capilano Pacific Trail from Ambleside in West Vancouver, up to the Cleveland Dam and reservoir and back down. We may not have followed the exact route as there are many trails in that area and we “changed it up” a bit, but the total was approximately 15 kilometres…wearing my brand new La Sportiva hiking boots that I got from MEC. A 15km hike may not have been the best idea for the first time out in new boots, and I did pay for it a bit, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected and I want to get them broken in quickly. At one point I stopped to put a bandaid on because I felt the beginnings of a blister and that did the trick. My feet were a bit sore for the next 24 hours, but I’ve had worse with shoes that were already broken in so I think these boots will do well with a few more wears.

There were some pretty rainy stretches on this hike, but luckily I’ve reached a point in my outdoorsy-ness where the rain doesn’t really bother me (as long as it isn’t absolutely pouring). It also helps that I have decent gear. Those new boots are waterproof, my Sandbagger pants are water resistant (and super stretchy and durable), and my North Face Venture Jacket is waterproof, lightweight and breathable. I didn’t put the hood up so my hair got pretty wet but the rest of me stayed dry and comfy. I used the jacket’s pit-zips for the first time and I was surprised how much of a difference it made when I was getting a little toasty! I definitely recommend getting a lightweight breathable rain jacket with pit-zips if you are going to be active outdoors in this region with all of our rain! I am not one of those people that can stay inside all winter and only be outdoorsy from May to September!

I was carrying probably about 15 pounds in my backpack because I’m trying to get used to carrying more weight on my hikes as training for backpacking. Even though I hadn’t been hiking in a while I did well with the weight and distance.

I personally like hiking in weather that creates moody skies and mists because I get to see beautiful sights like these:

Capilano River
Capilano River
Looking out from above the Cleveland Dam
Looking out from above the Cleveland Dam
IMG_2455
Looking back at the Lion’s Gate Bridge as we head back to the car.

Don’t let less than stellar weather stop you from getting outside. With the right rainwear you can be outdoorsy all year long in the Lower Mainland!

A New Direction?

Hello everyone!

I have taken some time away from the blog because I am reconsidering it’s direction.

As mentioned previously, I have developed a passion for hiking over the past couple of years. This passion is growing and I am looking to get into backpacking on overnight and multi-day trips.

I think this might be a better use of my blog, and because it is my passion, I will enjoy the writing more.

I will still post about simple living and happiness periodically, but you can expect to see a lot more about hikes and hiking gear in the future.

I hope you will stay with me, and I thank you all for reading.

ETA: I have made my old posts that don’t relate to the outdoors private.

Practicing Positivity – My Jar of Awesome

My Jar of Awesome
My Jar of Awesome

Happy New Year everyone! I’ve been absent from the blog for a while. I had a nice break from work and I took a break from the blog as well in order to spend time with friends and family and to really and fully relax for a while.

I have a little tradition I’ve been doing for the past two years that I’d like to share with all of you as it has been very rewarding for me.

I call it my Jar of Awesome – but you can call yours whatever you like if you decide to do this as well.

I started it in January 2013. Every time something awesome happens – a fun day, an accomplishment, a friend having a baby…the list goes on – I write it down on a little piece of paper and pop it in the jar.

On New Year’s Day I spill all the little pieces of paper out and read them over. I find so much joy in doing this! I tend to forget a lot of the great things that occurred over the course of the year and being reminded of them and remembering those moments brings me into such a positive mind frame to start the new year.

I then write them all down in a moleskin notebook so I have a permanent record that I can look back on over the years.

There are a few reasons why I do this:

  • It’s a fun and happy tradition to start the new year.
  • It helps me remember all the good things that have happened over the course of the year, allowing me to reflect on it positively, and allowing the negatives to fade from my memory as much as possible.
  • I feel that in the future I will be very glad to have a record of all the happy events in my life over the years.

This year before emptying my jar I thought to myself “I don’t think I will have as many as the last year, I don’t recall as many awesome things this year.” Lo and behold, there were actually more than the previous year! Many had escaped my memory and I was very glad to be reminded of them.

Tip: After doing this for two years now, I’ve learned that it is a good idea to date the events, and it’s nice to include a few notes about some of them to help you remember. For example, if my note is that I attended the Vancouver Film Fest for the entire weekend, I might add a note about who I went with, who I ran into there, and what bands I discovered I really liked.

I also like to throw in concert tickets and similar items to paste into the book as well, to make it like a scrapbook. I’m also planning to print out pictures of some of the events to include as well.

This practice has been so much fun and really helped me to be positive and grateful for all the good things in my life. I hope you will choose to join me while the year is still young so that next New Year’s Day you can relive your best memories from the preceding year as well.

A Beautiful Day for a Hike

Yesterday I had a wonderful day doing what I love the most – exploring nature with a friend. For the locals: We headed out to Buntzen Lake in Port Moody. We did the loop around the lake, with a detour at the north end to go around another small lake and catch a glimpse of Indian Arm.

Hiker on trail
That’s my friend leading the way.

I love hiking year-round. The benefits of fall and winter hiking include the fact that you don’t get as hot and you don’t have to fend off the bugs!

And, you get to see some cool things, like this:

I love watching steam rise out of the trees to join the passing clouds.
I love watching steam rise out of the trees to join the passing clouds.

 

mountain in clouds
More cloud appreciation.

We stopped at North Beach for a snack and a stretch and got to appreciate the view.

Hiking shots
View from North Beach, Buntzen Lake Hike, Port Moody, BC, Canada
dock on lake with sky view
Dock at North Beach, Buntzen Lake

And then we continued on along the trail taking in the sites of the lake, moss covered trees, trail-side mushrooms, streams, and several waterfalls.

IMG_0594It was a gorgeous day for a hike. I only wish the pictures could do it justice. If you are able to, I highly suggest you find a friend, pack a bag and head out into the woods!

Make sure you are prepared though – hiking safety is important!  Check out the Mountain Equipment Co-op website for some tips and tricks.