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.

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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!