Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bowen Island and Diedre

This past week has gone by in a flurry of summer activities, including a five-day gymnastics camp for Elise, a trip to Bowen Island, a family climb on the Chief and a few evening barbecues with friends. We are off to the Rockies for a few weeks and wanted to pack in as many Squamish outings as possible before leaving for the interior.

The trip to Bowen Island was fun. We had perfect weather and walked on to the ferry for a hiking adventure on the small island. We were joined by our friend Anne Clifford and her two girls, Josie and Sophia (the baby).

We did a hike around Kilarney Lake, a nine-kilometre loop on forested trails. The terrain was lush and the path was well groomed, perfect for a family walk.

Of course "Eagle Eye Elise" spotted the only fauna on the trip, a small frog and a snake slithering through the water. Pam and I would have walked past both of these without a second glance. She really does take in her surroundings.

The trail around the lake had many boardwalks across muddy sections. I told Elise to strike her "explorer pose" for this picture, and this is what she came up with.

Once around the lake, the girls played in the water by the shore. The lake was very swampy, despite its size, and we were slightly horrified to discover many leeches near the shore. Needless to say, we didn't swim, and this wading session was short lived as Josie got two small leeches on her foot in less than 30-seconds!

We finished the day with some time on the beach by the village (no leeches!) and then had dinner at a pub by the harbour before heading home on the late ferry. It was a nice time, but we were all tired, I think.

Capitalizing on the nice weather, we took Elise up the Apron on the Chief the next day. She's been up the cliff twice, but this was her first time on the climb "Diedre", likely Squamish's most popular multi-pitch route. This was Elise's hardest multi-pitch climb so far, and she did very well, climbing much of the route on her own. I provided a tight rope on the fourth pitch as the rock was quite slippery and she had a hard time keeping her footing.

Elise took this picture of Pam and I at the second belay stance.

Pam and Elise near the top of the fourth pitch, likely the hardest part of the route for Elise.

Fooling around on the fifth pitch. Elise said she learned this move in gymnastics! Go figure...

We promised her gelato for a successful ascent and she didn't let us forget! Her flavour of choice? Pink bubble gum of course...

We will likely be in the Rockies from July 29th to August 20th. Enjoy the summer weather!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ancient Cedars

What happened to summer? The last week in Squamish has been cool and rainy, more reminiscent of early June than the start of July. Swimming at the lake has been less appealing, but we've been doing work around the house and a bit of hiking.

On Sunday, we drove to Whistler to buy a pair of used touring skis for Pam. Afterward, we drove up the Sixteen-mile Forest Service Road and did a hike on Cougar Mountain called "Ancient Cedars". It was really buggy and showery, but the trees were amazing. After half an hour of uphill walking we reached a grove of old-growth cedars that were some of the biggest we've ever seen! The wildflowers were in bloom as well, so despite the conditions we had a good hike.

We leave for the Rockies on Sunday the 29th and plan to stay for about three weeks before heading home through the Kootenays.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Pam and Elise are back from their trip to California. They had a wonderful time with Mike's family and Elise was very excited to share stories with me upon their return. I picked them up in the airport on Thursday and was a bit late due to midday traffic. As I walked into the terminal, I heard a distinctive screech, "Daddy!!!", and knew they'd already arrived.

No trip to California would be complete without some beach time. Here are the cousins, enjoying the sand.

And no trip to California would be complete (for a child, anyway) without a trip to Disneyland! Elise and Pam had a "girl's day" at the park with Liz and Elena. This way, they could focus on princesses without the boys there to distract them. Pam "tricked" Elise into going on a roller coaster, and of course she had to go a second time.

In front of a princess castle.

Posing with one of her favourite Disney princesses, Jasmine.

That cotton candy is as big as she is!

With Eor...

With Elena...

The family spent a weekend in San Diego, visiting both the zoo and Seaworld. Here's a nice picture of the cousins. From left to right: AJ, Elena, Elise and Jason. AJ and Jason are twins.

Elise on a roadrunner.

Clowning around before a session in the hotel pool. The pool had three waterslides, which Elise was thrilled about!

Pam and Elise came home to amazing weather and the Squamish Mountain Festival. Here's Elise scaling the artificial wall set up at the Squamish Adventure Centre as part of the festivities. She did two routes quickly, and impressed the volunteers who were belaying at the wall. We finished the day with a hike around Brohm Lake to the rope swing, which she did six times, much to our amazement! Summer is here.

Enjoy the warm weather!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


The school year wrapped up in a flurry of activities - sports day, pot luck dinners, field trips, etcetera. Elise had a good experience in kindergarten, but had difficulty with one student in particular. The conflicts arose over "possession" of a certain friend, and this theme wove itself throughout the school year. It provided an unexpected challenge for us as parents, and I'm sure this is simply the tip of the iceberg. Regardless, school is still "fun" and there were many memorable activities.

The picture Elise drew for her teacher, Ms. Kislasko. When I asked Elise what she'd miss most about school during the summer, she said Ms. Kislasko...

The final field trip of the year was to Porteau Cove, about fifteen minutes south of Squamish. The kids had a grand time flipping boulders to search for small crabs, blennies, etcetera. It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed watching Elise interact with her friends in her school setting, something Pam sees all the time.

Elise with her friend Kendra, who's also in kindergarten. They have lots of fun playing together.

The sun didn't last long, and as June progressed so did the stormy weather. Here's Elise at the Canada Day festivities on a misty morning. She got her face painted - always a popular addition to the ensemble of the day. We came back for the fireworks at night and enjoyed a hula-hoop fire show after dark. It was a pretty fun day, actually.

We spent an afternoon in Pemberton, again in the rain. Here Elise poses with Jay and his dog Beau, whom Elise walked all the way into Nairn Falls (a couple of kilometres). Beau was very patient with Elise's erratic dog handling behaviour.

Posing with Dad near the falls.

Later that afternoon, we went to a strawberry farm and picked berries. They were delicious. I think Elise and I ate more than we picked, which was hard not to do. When given the option between this and fishing at the lake, she choose berry picking! Go figure... We ended the day with a nice dinner at Jay and Amica's, who are expecting a baby in a few weeks!

Pam and Elise are currently in California enjoying a week with the cousins. They went to the San Diego Zoo and Seaworld, then spent a night in a hotel with three waterslides, as I was excitedly informed by Elise. The highlight of the weekend? Touching a dolphin's back at Seaworld. She sure does love her marine mammals.

Here are the cousins in the hotel pool. From left to right: Jason, Elise, Elena and AJ.

While home alone and unable to climb due to another (!) injury, I decided to do an interesting hike, one I'd not done before. It was a bit of a spontaneous decision, and I did the bare minimum of research beforehand (insert foreshadowing here). I choose the hike to Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Provincial Park as it's a popular winter ski touring destination and a summer hike of great beauty, one I fancied doing with Elise.

The day started casually enough with a 40-minute drive up logging roads north of Squamish to the trail head. The sign in the parking lot had the usual warning about bears, car break-ins, etcetera, and their were a number of other vehicles. Nothing looked suspicious...

The first five kilometres of the 11 kilometre hike is up an old jeep track. About halfway up the track, I encountered a bit of snow by the side of the road. Hmmm, I thought...

As I continued upward, the snow got deeper and soon covered the entire jeep track. At first I hoped that when I was out of the woods and up on the exposed ridge, the snow would be gone, but that hope was short lived. As I neared the Red Heather Hut, halfway along the hike, the snow was over one-metre deep, and complete in its ground coverage. What to do? I took a break in the hut and thought it over.

The inside of the hut, which is used by many ski tourers in the winter.

Outside the hut, it became clear this area is still in hibernation mode. However, a "path" in the snow continued up Paul Ridge, so I decided to probe upwards with the option to turn back if it got too brutal.

The "path" along the ridge. At this point I seriously wished I had brought either Yak Tracks (spikes for my shoes) and ski poles or my full ski touring kit. No kidding - there was that much snow.

Regardless, I forged onward and the soft snow provided acceptable walking conditions. It was almost 30 degrees out, so the snow actually had a nice moderating effect on the conditions, and my wet hiking shoes felt good on my feet. This is a view looking north along the ridge toward Mt. Garibaldi (on the left).

As I descended the ridge, I neared Elfin Lakes. Yes, that's a lake buried under all that ice and snow. Good thing I packed in my swim suit!

Ice water with sun-cupped snow in the foreground . Brrrr....

The shelter was just beyond the lake, and I was keen to check it out to see if it would work well for Elise. I met a few other people there, who had also endured the 11-km snow slog. It was like walking in wet sand. We were all dreading the hike back...

The shelter turned out to be beautiful, and the view north toward the Garibaldi Neve was stunning.

The downstairs. The hut had a propane furnace, sinks and cooking stoves.

Upstairs were enough bunks for 32 people. Elise would like this, I'm sure...

The guest book.

Detail of Mt. Garibaldi. That's a lot of snow for early July. We had another big winter this year.

On the long hike down, I got a beautiful view of Howe Sound and the Chief in the late evening. We've had a lot of haze around here lately, and I've been told it might be from the wildfires in Colorado. Hard to believe, but not completely implausible. It made for a dramatic view, regardless of the cause.

Here I am, spent from 22km of snow hiking in the heat. Not looking too good there buddy... That's blood in my nose, sunscreen smeared all over my face and scabs on my forehead from some Aldera treatment I've been enduring over the past couple of weeks. The fatigue was satisfying, in a strange way.

In the end, I got what I bargained for. An interesting adventure to a new location. Will I take Elise here? I might, but only if the snow was completely out, likely in September. Time to scout some more potential locations before the girls get home...