Elfin Lakes!

27 08 2013

We were up in the Diamond Head area of Garibaldi Provincial Park for 4 day/3 nights last week. The alpine scenery was amazing.  Here are some highlights of the hike.

1. Mount Atwell and the Gargoyles

Mt Atwell and the Gargoyles by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

2. Wildflowers

Beautiful flowers by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

3. Premium camping location!

Summer in the Alpine by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

4. Full Moon Rising

Full Moon at Elfin Lakes by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

5. Alpine reflection

Reflection of Mountain beauty by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

6. Lit by the full moon

Elfin Lakes and surroundings by the full moon. by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

7. Moonset over the Tantalus Range

Moonset over the Tantalus range by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

8. Panoramic view from the Opal Cone (bigger on Flickr)

Panorama from the Opal Cone by DragonSpeed, on Flickr

I hope you enjoyed the virtual visit to the alpine!  More shots can be found at:

Comments and Critique welcome!

Hiking up Cotopaxi! April 9, 2012

30 07 2012

We met our driver, Lincoln at some ungodly early time in the morning and headed out from our hotel to start out on the “Avenue of the Volcanos” The idea was that if we left early enough, we might actually SEE some of them before the afternoon clouds came in.  We headed south from Quito and sure enough, the clouds had already covered the tops of many of the volcanos. That’s OK, the drive wasn’t too bad anyway.  We arrived at the base of the Cotopaxi National Park, and Lincoln registered the vehicle as entering.

Parque Nacional Cotopaxi

We drove up to a small building where we had a lot of the background of the volcano explained and a last chance to get some snacks, coca tea or water.   Our next stop was Laguna Limpiopungo.  There were some andean gulls flying around, but none of them close enough for a good picture.   We did see this one little lonely bird around 4200m though… Not sure what he is (Stout Billed Cincoldes, Cinclodes excelsior)

A lonely bird.

The parking area was at 4500m and the wind was whipping up a good chill.  It was NOT warm.  We got our gear on and began the hike up the side of the volcano.  Not much switchback stuff, just UP.  It was on loose, gravelly moraine so you basically gained 2 steps for every 3.   The going was tough.  It was my personal goal to hike 25 steps before stopping and sucking wind.   There were a couple of times that I just thought “Forget it.  I’ll meet them when they come down!”  But we all made it eventually!  4810m was the height of the shelter.

4810m Wow! We made it.

The Views, when the clouds lifted briefly were lovely!

Volcanic plains of Cotopaxi

It was a real surprise to run into a couple of nuns hiking up while we were heading down.

Hiking nuns

We did all make it down eventually, as the fog settled in and shortly before the hail started

Descending in the fog

After hiking the volcano, we headed towards Banos for the night.  We stopped at a lovely Hacienda for lunch

An old Hacienda turned guesthouse

The day’s pictures can all be found at:

June 7, 2010 Hiking in Plitvicka Jezera

17 06 2010

We woke up to what was already becoming a warm day.  It was going to be a hot one.  Not exactly what I had been hoping for when the plan was to be hiking for most of the day.

We had laid out our plans last night.  We were ready for our attack and the plethora of waterfalls meant that we’d be bringing the tripod and the ND filters to see if we could get the silky flow look going even in the more full sun of the midday.

We headed over to the hotel restaurant for breakfast.  We had powdered Orange Juice (yeach!) and rather than a buffet like many other breakfasts had been, this was an a la carte one.  After looking through the menu, most of us had variations of omelettes – ham and cheese, ham and mushroom etc.  I think it was Maggie that ordered the scrambled eggs and sausage.  As usual, bread was abundant, but there was no butter or jam.  We really had begun to wonder if people just ate their bread dry (yeach again!)

The poor waitress was pretty overworked so breakfast was a bit slow.  That’s OK, we had started early to ensure we’d be moving early enough before the heat of the day. It was going to go up to 32C today!  When our omelettes showed up, they were HUGE.  I’m pretty sure they were 3 egg omelettes.  Shortly after them, the butter and jam for the bread.  Now we had a feast to finish.  The eggs and sausages ended up being basically big pieces of kielbasa sausage cooked up and next to the scrambled eggs.  There was enough cholesterol and fat to put you into cardiac arrest right there and then.  We finished as much as we could and then scrambled out to the van to head up to lakes.

The drive up was quick as we were about 15 minutes at most from the parking lot.  We found a shady place to park the van which we knew would be a small oven later otherwise.  Cameras? Check. Water? Check. Tripod? Check.  Off we went.  The cost to enter the park was 110 Croatian Kruna/person which seemed like a lot.  Then we learned that it would include the cost of bus transportation within the park as well as the boat ride. Well, now it seemed like pretty swell deal!

We walked about 2km over to the pickup point for the “bus”.  We were heading off from ST2 and would head up to ST4 and begin our hike down the lakes, returning to where we had started.  The plan was that the hike would be more downhill than up that way.  The map of the lakes helps you to understand this.  We were going to head from the top left corner down to the bottom right.  It was an ambitious plan that would have us hiking for 4-6 hours according to the park ranger to whom we spoke. The ranger also assured us that there was somewhere along the way that we would be able to buy and eat lunch – which was nice.  No need to pack in lunch!

At ST2 where we were catching our bus we found things that looked a bit like trains with wheels. I should have taken a picture as it’s hard to describe.  They call them “panoramic trains”  The front of the “train” is a bit like a transport truck cab and it’s attached to a passenger compartment that holds about 16 or so people, very much like a normal bus.  Then they chain on 2 or 3 more “cars” which are passenger compartments that hold about 20 people each.  This train then takes you up for a 20 minute drive through the forest and you realize that it’s going to be a lot of walking until you get back to where this thing came from!  We disembarked at ST4 and were immediately fascinated by the beautifully clear water running in the creek near the stop and the sound of what I thought were ducks quacking.  We began our hike at 0950.

Wow!  What can I say?  Words cannot accurately describe the wonderful walk through shaded paths and boardwalks along such a well maintained trail that wound its way around azure and aquamarine lakes that were so clear you could see 14” fish cruising even when they dropped down 10-15 feet into the depths.  Too bad no fishing is allowed. ;)  We were treated to waterfall after waterfall which varied from cliffs to small rivulets.  All the while we stopped and clicked. And Clicked. And Clicked some more. The photo opportunities just kept on rolling.  These lakes are a water landscape photographer’s dream!

It wasn’t all roses though.  One drawback to such natural beauty is that it attracts many tourists. It’s not too hard to shoot around them, but the boardwalks are designed such that a tourist 50 feet away makes your tripod bounce while you are trying to get that 5” water blur shot.  This was annoying.  The only real thing that they could do to stop this would be to build more supports into their boardwalks. Not a HUGE pain but a nit, and one of which I was acutely aware around some of the busier viewpoints.  All the people on the trail were all very well mannered and respectful of photographers – even the group of 30 less than quiet school kids that were on trip.

We got down to the boat launch to catch our boat across the big lake and have lunch.  The boat arrived. We were ready.  Two of us were missing!  Oh no! The boat schedule said it travelled every 30 minutes.  We weren’t looking forward to a 30 minute wait.  Our two companions arrived – late.  We had missed the boat.  Apparently the call of nature had been a bit too much with the sound of all the rushing water. Hehe.  We were lucky.  Since we were into peak season, the boats ran every 15 minutes and one seemed to arrive even sooner.  Without much delay we packed onto the boat and enjoyed a leisurely 20 minute boat ride over to the side of the lake.

As we approached the far shore of the lake you could see one thing.  MASSES of people!  It was crazy… tour after tour of people were all eating lunch, playing games…  You name it. The serene quiet of the lakes was totally SHATTERED!   By now we were around 1300 and the sun was coming straight down from above and working at frying anything exposed into a little sunburnt crisp.  We were anxious to find shade in which we could settle down and eat lunch.  We split up and continued to scan the tables for people that appeared to be leaving.  We set up on a few groups that appeared to be tidying up and we scooped in just in time before another group got a premium table – in the shade and near the cafeteria line.  I went with the classic schnitzel while others had a chicken leg.  Drinks went down really easily and this was one of those times that you were glad that they sold drinks by the bottle and not some tiny glassfull.  While we ate, the school kids moved on and things became a bit more relaxed, but the heat kept us hiding in the protection of the shelter.

We continued our hike down and were treated to more spectacular views and quiet waters.  This continued until we got to the end and went to the “big waterfall”.  It was REALLY tall, and consisted of a group of about 10 different stream points all flowing off the cliff edge.  In the sun, the mist shone and when the wind blew up we all hid our cameras to protect them from the water :)  Due to the angle of the sun, it was tough to get a group shot in front of the falls but we tried and had some moderate success.  We then began our ascent up the steep walk to ST1 where we were going to catch the little bus/train back to ST2.  The walk was open and exposed, making this the hottest part of the whole hike.  It was hot, exposed and uphill.  When we got to the top we were pretty happy to find a little stand where we could buy popsicles and pop.  Wow did we need them!

We pretty much finished our hike around 1550.  All tolled we took 6 hours to walk the walk.  Lot’s of photos!

After getting back to the van we drove home and all took showers to cool down and clean off after the hot day of hiking.  I went out to see if I could find a snake or two or maybe a bird.  No love.

We went over to the hotel restaurant and had dinner before going back to our rooms to review our day’s pictures and activities.  Tomorrow we would drive towards Vienna with a stop at some Austrian castle for the night.  Should be interesting.

Going to be a long day driving…off to sleep.

Backpacking into Alder Flats

5 10 2009

It has been a number of years since I led our Scouts into a backpacking trip. I was afraid that I’d forget something or that I wouldn’t have them correctly prepared.  I was pretty stressed getting ready for this trip.  October trips in the Vancouver area usually mean tarps and rain – attempting to avoid a complete drenching.  I was pretty leary about backpacking.

It turns out that I was over concerned.  The weather turned out to be spectacular and most importantly DRY.  Even the ones that didn’t quite have all their gear packed correctly, that would have spelled misery in bad weather, managed to keep it all together.

We were destined for “Alder Flats”, an area that is open and, unsurprisingly, full of alders.  The campsite is along the trail to the peak for Golden Ears (a 12 hour round trip, big elevation gain, hike).  The site was about 5.5 km in and about 250m elevation gain.

The beginning of the hike (about the first 3km) are quite smooth and easy as you hike along what was once an old logging road which is now overgrown to leave only a narrow trail in places and slightly wider one in others.  After 3km things started to get more technical as you had to navigate rocks, hike up flowing creek beds and avoid slipping on the eternally wet tree roots.  It was muddy in places and it was fun to watch the kids try to hop over and avoid puddles despite the fact that they had good waterproof boots.  I kept telling them to just keep their stride and not to keep trying to hop and manoeuvre around everything all the time as it would only tire them out.

As we approached our destination the spirits of my hiking Scouts started to flag.  They were wearing out.  This was the first time that they had hiked, having to carry everything on their backs. Their hips and shoulders were tired.  When we crossed the last creek, I knew our campsite would be close.  We came across some flat openings in the fir trees near a creek and decided to settle there even though it wasn’t officially “Alder Flats”.  It turns out that the actual location we had wanted was about 100m further up.  The flats, themselves, didn’t have easy access to clean flowing water so I’m glad we camped where we did.  We made it up to the site in about 2.5 hours.  Our camping location was actually 49.36282N, 122.46951W

Upon arrival they all set up their tents and looked after all their necessities of camping.  I won’t bore you with all the details but they had fun, learned a lot (like the fact that 1kg of pepperoni is more than enough for 3 people!) and that if you actually pack well all your belongings can fit in your backpack.

On Sunday we went up to the boulder field by Alder Flats and spent some time for Scouts’ Own and enjoyed the beautiful view of Edge Peak.  We hiked back down after that – it only took 2 hours.  I think they were motivated to get off the trail 🙂

Good Hiking Scouts!  Here are a couple of pictures from Sunday Morning:


Edge Peak:
Scouts Marpole hiking GoldenEars camping backpacking BC Canada

40th Marpole Scouts with Edge Peak in the Background:
Scouts Marpole hiking GoldenEars camping backpacking BC Canada

A quick walk into Brandywine Meadows

3 08 2009

Yesterday, we took a couple of friends in to see Brandywine meadows.  The road to get there is a little more confusing but it’s not too hard.

Having a 4 wheel drive Tundra is handy.. Instead of having to hike up 600m to get to the meadows, we can pretty much drive to within 30 minutes of them!  It was VERY hot but we were rewarded with some amazing views.

Here is the headwaters of Brandywine Creek – Brandywine Mountain and Metal Dome – a 37 photo panorama

Beautiful place!

Another from the hike.  5 shot pano.  Beautiful pink flowers in abundance:

2009-08-06:  I created a PHOTOSYNTH of the meadows…  Not bad for a first attempt

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