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!

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