Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bears, Bears and More Bears

The weather has improved since April and we've been getting out and enjoying the spring. A couple of weeks ago, we went to Newhalem in Washington with our friends the Tasakas for a little climbing, a nice night of camping and a good dinner out in Bellingham. We all had a nice time and the weather was wonderful.

Here we are at our campsite. From the left: Scott, Elise, Olivia and Pam.

Besides camping and climbing, we went for a hike. We spotted salmon in the river and lots and lots of flowers in the gardens near the water. This is Elise and Olivia (who is eight) hiking down some stone stairs that Elise crashed and burned on shortly thereafter.

The hiker hamming it up for the camera.

The flowers were amazing.

Red Columbine

Early this past week, Elise and I took a drive out the Squamish River Valley road to look at a new climbing cliff and hopefully spot some bears. We didn't see any bears, but we did see a grouse up close, something Elise had never seen before. After hiking to the cliff, we found a spot by the river to have lunch. We drove 37 miles up a logging road - it was quite a journey.

Elise saw a beautiful purple butterfly and got absolutely obsessed with catching it. I watched her do a slow motion dance for almost fifteen minutes trying to pinch it from the ground. She never got close (and neither did I), but it didn't stop her from trying. It was fascinating to watch...

Yesterday, we drove to Whistler intent on hiking into Cheakamus Lake, a spot we hadn't been to in 15 years or more. The hike is 3 km in one direction, and Elise did it all by herself - her longest hike yet, we think. We promised her fishing at the lake as a reward and this helped motivate her along. We got caught in a light snow squall upon arrival, which threw us for a loop. It's May, for goodness sakes!

The sign halfway to the lake. Evidence of the distance Elise hiked.

This trail, which is beautiful, was lined with some truly amazing trees. Huge Western Hemlock, Douglas Fir and Western Redcedar framed the path.

Some flowers were out, although it was still a little cold for a full bloom. This is Pacific Bleeding Heart, which Elise has mixed up and calls "heart bleeders".

Elise and I fishing at the lake. It was cold and we didn't get a nibble or see any fish. I'm not too sure why. Maybe we weren't patient enough or our timing was poor. I did manage to get the hook snagged on an underwater log. I temporarily contemplated going for a swim to get it, but common sense took hold as the snowflakes swirled around my head. I got it loose with a very long stick.

The sun came out and we reveled in the warmth before the hike back.

Elise at the base of a large cedar. There was a hole I wanted her to pose in, but she was scared. She thought there might be bears hiding in the darkness, which I thought was ridiculous until the drive home...

As we drove down the logging road back toward the highway, Elise shouted "bear". Sure enough, a mother bear and her cub were right beside the road. We stopped and watched from the safely of the van and never have I been so close to a bear in the wild. It almost came up to the edge of the vehicle while munching the grass. We all enjoyed the show and stayed for some time. This photo was taken WITHOUT a zoom lens from the passenger window.

After the bears wandered into the trees, we continued our drive down the road. Not five minutes later Pam yelled "bear". This time, there was a mother and two cubs in the ditch. We stopped and watched again, amazed at our luck.

We continued onward and started driving south on Highway 99. In the vicinity of Daisy Lake dam, I spotted - you guessed it - more bears! This time it was a mother munching grass near the highway and a cinnamon cub up a tree. What a delight!

All in all, we saw a total of 10 bears on the drive. That was a record for us and left quite an impression on Elise.

I thought I'd throw in one final shot of interest. Elise loves to dress up and we had some friends over the other evening along with the son Evrest. Elise put Evrest in her Snow White uniform, which we all got quite a kick out of. He didn't seem to mind, but eventually asked his father to take it off. Have mercy! I thought he looked cute...

I've canceled my trip to Maple. My shoulder is not well and my physiotherapist said it wasn't a good idea. I'll put all my effort into rehabilitation right now so we can stay on track with our plans for later this summer and the coming fall.

Enjoy the spring!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spring Update

It's been a long time since I last wrote, but we've had a busy time since our Olympic trip to California. Pam has a tough class at school this year, which keeps her spinning three or four days a week, and I have been working hard toward a self-imposed deadline on my latest book project, which I couriered to the printer in Hong Kong today - whew! The new book is a second edition to a previous book that I had written, Squamish Bouldering. The research and writing on this new edition was extensive and I'm really glad it's done.

In amongst the busy work, we've had some nice outings with Elise. A few weeks ago, Pam and I took Elise for one last ski before the mountain closed for the spring. We had a beautiful sunny day and enjoyed skiing under the Magic Chair at Blackcomb and having an outdoor lunch at the lodge. Elise wants to keep going back and I've had to explain to her that skiing is only possible in the winter, which is one of the reasons it's special. She's looking forward to next year.

Easter was a fun time this year. Elise is really getting into the swing of these holidays and eagerly anticipates their arrival. Pam and I hid eggs around the house and enjoyed watching Elise hunt for them on Easter morning. Afterward, we went to the Brennan Park Rec Centre for a group egg hunt, which is really just a mad rush to collect chocolate eggs that have been sprayed across the field by the local fireman. Regardless, the kids love it.

Elise relaxing after her morning egg hunt.

Elise with her "take" from the Brennan Park egg scramble. Not bad...

The biggest Easter bunny I've ever seen. Elise was hesitant. I'd be too. Note that the "bunny" is wearing hiking boots. Anyone seen the film Donnie Darko?

Pam and Elise had a nice visit to Vancouver to see Great Grandma Brown. She thought Elise was a lot taller - it's hard for Pam and I to tell because we see her all the time, but she is growing for sure. They had a nice time together, Elise played in the apartment and Uncle Grant read her a story.

We enjoyed a visit from Grandma Bourdon a week ago. The highlight for Elise was the present that Grandma arrived with - a Tinkerbell outfit! This was a huge hit and as you can see in the pictures, she was thrilled. We went to a big pasta dinner at the local country club that evening with many of our friends and Elise insisted on wearing the outfit, much to the envy of a few of her friends. The costume is impressive.

They also enjoyed a sunny day in Vancouver and visited the beach near Ambleside. Elise found this starfish. Any sea creature is of great interest and she was thrilled to handle this one. We've been invited to Hawaii for this coming Christmas and Elise and I will be training hard for the snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. Speaking of swimming, there was a breakthrough at the local pool this weekend when Elise finally got up the nerve to try swimming in the deep end without a flotation device. This was followed by an even more significant event when she decided she'd jump off the diving board. This had been a real phobia of hers and she talked about it constantly for the next couple of days. We were very proud of her.

Elise continues to climb and has become a much more active participant in this common activity of ours. On our father-daughters days, I sometimes take her to the Smoke Bluffs close to town where she can do a climb or two and then have a picnic lunch with me. Last weekend we took her into Cheakamus Canyon. She now hikes to the cliffs by herself and gets exasperated waiting for "her turn" to climb. Here are a couple of photos of the approach hike and her climb (and lower).

Her biggest recent physical accomplishment (besides the skiing, swimming and climbing) has undoubtedly been her hike up the Chief. We decided to do the hike one nice evening and I fully intended to carry her to the top. At the start of the hike, she walked alone because I was taking some pictures by the creek. Pam and Elise went ahead up the trail and I caught up about 10-15 minutes later after doing my photography. We were about to put her in the backpack, but I thought we might as well see if she'd hike a bit further. Did she ever! She went all the way to the first summit with little complaint. Truth be told, I lifted her up close to 20 large steps, but never carried her. Pam and I were very impressed, especially since we'd done very little to prepare for such an outing. Here she is on the summit after the successful ascent.

Some plans are coming together for the summer and fall. I'll likely go to Maple Canyon in Utah with a couple of friends from Vancouver in late May. I wish Pam and Elise could come (like last year), but the job of a school teacher has minimal vacation flexibility. After Pam is finished in late June, we may go to the Canadian Rockies for a short trip - we'll see. The big plan, though, is for the fall. We are hoping to visit Turkey this year in November and December. The area we are targeting is on the south coast near a city called Antalya. It's a touristy area on the sea and the sightseeing, climbing and swimming are all supposed to be superb. If it works out, it will be a great trip.

We hope you are all doing well. I'll try not to let so much time go by before our next post.