Aldergrove Lake Regional Park

IMG_6230
Enjoying some sunshine at Aldergrove Lake Regional Park.

Last Saturday we did some easy hiking at Aldergrove Lake Regional Park. There are a few trails so you can do a short hike or join up with other trails to make it a bit longer. There were some slight inclines but it is more of a walk than a hike.

Scott was fighting a bit of a cold so we wanted to take it easy but still get some outdoor time and movement in. I had never been to this spot before. It was a lovely spot for a walk without having to drive  too far (Scott lives in Surrey).

I got a Fitbit Flex a few days ago, and so far I am loving it! It’s definitely helping me be more aware of how much activity I’m getting in during my work days, and motivates me to do things like get off the bus a stop early. I’ll post more about it once I’ve had it for a while.

I should say that I realize how lucky I am to live somewhere where I can be outside in January dressed like I am in the picture above – warm walking boots, thick leggings, a long sleeved base layer and a light jacket. I started with a toque and gloves as well, but shed them pretty soon after going up a couple of hills.

I hope you are all doing well and getting outside when you can despite winter temperatures!

Advertisements

5 Beautiful Days on Pender Island

jyrtd

I got to spend five beautiful days on Pender Island, BC with my boyfriend Scott, thanks to his parents who let us use their “cottage” (two bedroom, two bathroom, gas fireplace…not exactly roughing it).

We arrived on the afternoon of December 31st and rang in the New Year together at the cottage. Then we spent the next 3 sunny days exploring the island. Starting the year off exploring nature and enjoying beautiful views with my favourite person was pretty much the best way to kick off 2016.

IMG_6013
Me and my favourite guy out exploring.

There are lots of  roads and trails you can follow and find your way to little beaches and pretty views.

jhfg

IMG_6171

One of the things that really stood out to me was the fact that Pender Island has so many Arbutus trees! I absolutely love these coastal trees that are native to British Columbia. Read all about them here!

IMG_6132
Arbutus trees
IMG_6122
The gorgeous red peeling bark of a large Arbutus tree.

We also checked out a short hike in the “Enchanted Forest”. While it had some decent views at one end, as well as the Arbutus trees pictures above, it was definitely one of the less spectacular places we went. When I had searched online about hiking on Pender, one of the first sites I came across described the Enchanted Forest as confusing, easy to get lost in, and suggested that one should allot a fair amount of time to it. We did not find it in the least bit confusing and it is pretty close to the road and meets up with it in a few spots so I think it would be pretty hard to get lost if you have any familiarity with hiking or being in the woods at all. It also only took us about 45 minutes to go to both ends, including stops for picture taking. And while it didn’t have the level of breath taking views as some of the other spots we went, it was still a lovely walk.

IMG_6092
Enchanted Forest Park entrance, Pender Island

My favourite place that we discovered was Gowlland Point. We found it just driving around exploring. We drove to the end of a road and saw the ocean, so we walked down to it and were amazed by the long stretches of gorgeous beach with stunning views.

IMG_6032
Gowlland Point, Pender Island, BC
FullSizeRender
Gowlland Point, Pender Island, BC
gp
Gowlland Point trees.
gp2
Gowlland Point, Pender Island, with Mount Baker faintly visible in the background.

It rained on the last night, but we were already back inside, warm and cozy by the fire. On day five we had a leisurely morning, and then packed up and headed home…and for me, back to work after three weeks off! It was a wonderful trip. Pender Island is beautiful, so if you get the chance to check it out, you should! And if you are looking for some yummy pub food check out the Port Browning Pub!

Happy New Year to all of you! I hope 2016 treats you well and is filled with adventures, good health and happiness.

Overflowing Buntzen Lake

Buntzen Lake Loop is one of my favourite easy hikes. It’s long enough to get a decent workout, but it’s not steep or too challenging if I want to bring along a friend who is new to hiking. And most importantly to me, it’s gorgeous no matter what the weather is doing. In fact, I like it best when it’s cloudy because you get awesome sights like this:

View from the far beach.
View from the far beach.

When we were driving into the parking lot there were signs warning that the lake’s water level was really high and that some sections of the trail may be closed. We decided to chance it anyway, and luckily, the trail was open the whole way around. There were a few “Hazardous Tree” warning signs along the way, but that was it. However, it was quite something to see how high the water level was compared to usual, so I thought I’d whip up this post to share some pictures with you. My thoughts around the high water levels are that the ground became very dry during our drought, and then when we got that heavy dump of rain, the ground was unable to absorb it so it just flowed down the mountains into the lake.

Check it out!

The main beach.
The main beach.
The far beach - I couldn't even get to the dock I like to take my pictures from!
The far beach – I couldn’t even get to the dock I like to take my pictures from!
Luckily it didn't get high enough for the tables to float away!
Luckily it didn’t get high enough for the tables to float away!

Fall is in the air and the cooler temperatures are ideal for hiking – and there are less bugs! As always, I urge you to get out into nature – it’s good for your health, your stress levels, and your soul!

Keeping busy, having fun.

Hello everyone!

I owe you a few posts! I went camping at Birkenhead Lake which was amazing! So I will do post about that soon.  I also owe you a couple of gear reviews (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad).

Life has been very busy lately, but very good.

I’ve got to sort through some photos, and then I will get to posting!

In the meantime, here are a couple of pictures from this past long weekend:

Horseshoe Bay. One of my favourite places for a quick walk or bite to eat.
Horseshoe Bay. One of my favourite places for a quick walk or bite to eat.
Enjoying the sunshine and views at Whytecliffe Park in West Vancouver.
Enjoying the sunshine and views at Whytecliffe Park in West Vancouver.
Me and Scott - the best thing keeping me busy lately!
Me and Scott – the best thing keeping me busy lately!

Vancouver Folk Festival 2015

This year I attended the Vancouver Folk Festival on the Friday night and most of Saturday, and as always, I had a great time. I think the Folk Fest qualifies for my outdoorsy blog since the whole thing happens outside at the beach!

My friend Chloe (left) and me enjoying the show from the back of the crowd at the main stage.
My friend Chloe (left) and me enjoying the show from the back of the crowd at the main stage.

The thing that always impresses me the most at the Folk Fest (besides the musicians) is the fact that everyone is just there having a good time. People are friendly and polite. It is a family friendly environment with plenty of kids and activities for them to do, but there is also a beer garden and yet no one seems to get out of control or obnoxious.

There is an artisan’s market which is accessible to the public as well. I bought a lovely blue and teal batik for $15. I bought two last year, but I ended up using them on my furniture to keep cat hair off my couch and chair, so I needed to buy another one to use as a beach/picnic blanket. I also bought a portable charger for my phone which will come in handy when I’m camping next weekend (stay tuned for a post about that as well as a review on my new tent).

There are lots of good eats at the Folk Fest as well. They have a “food court” of food trucks with plenty of tasty options. Although I must say, I was disappointed that the Kaboom Box wasn’t there as had been advertised. I’d been looking forward to having their amazing veggie Buddha Burger since last year. I’m not even vegetarian but that is seriously one of the best burgers I’ve had. I believe they are usually downtown so if you come across them I highly recommend you give them a try.

My favourite act that I saw perform twice was the The Strumbellas. They are listed under country on iTunes but I would describe them more as upbeat folk-rock. I bought their most recent album yesterday morning and I’ve been listening to it non-stop.

Some of the other acts I saw included Hawksley Workman, Frazey Ford, Adam Cohen, Perch Creek, Pokey LaFarge, Melbourne Ska Orchestra, The Sadies, Basia Bulot, and Trampled by Turtles. Overall, I was impressed by the talent.

I even got to chat over dinner with the drummer and fiddle player from The Jerry Cans, a band from Nunavut. They were really nice and I was disappointed that I missed their performance on Saturday morning.

The venue is amazing. The stages are all set up on the grassy areas at Jericho Beach and sometimes you are treated to beautiful sites like this as you are dancing along to the music:

sunset
Beautiful sunset at the Vancouver Folk Festival on Friday night.

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: 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.