Tag Archive | Hiking

2015: The year of endless sunshine, smoke and a diamond ring

What can I say? The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. There are so many blog posts that I meant to write but didn’t get round to, and now I’m wondering whether they’re even relevant anymore.

I wanted to write about that time I decided to ‘shake things up’ and get a tattoo. Then I was going to write about my first trip to gorgeous Galliano Island where I sunbathed, hiked and got driven home from the pub in a school bus by a man playing a drum kit above his head while I tapped along with a maraca. Then I was going to write about the wildfires across BC that caused smoky skies all across Vancouver for a week, dashing our plans for a weekend hiking in Whistler. THEN I was going to write about how we went to Golden Ears Park instead and walked through the forest to a waterfall where the man only went and got down on one knee…eeeeek! We’ve been together almost 8 years, including moving to Vancouver together from the UK, so it was extra special that we got engaged in such a ‘Canadian’ location. The last couple of weeks have passed by in a complete blur of excited phone calls, engagement parties (yes multiple, I’m a very lucky girl) and staring at my left ring finger. Talk about shaking things up.

Shocked doesn't even begin to cover it!

Shocked doesn’t even begin to cover it.

It still hasn't sunk in!

It still hasn’t sunk in!

The best part is, things aren’t going to calm down any time soon. We head to Oregon on Wednesday for an extra long weekend and our first time exploring inland Oregon. We’ll be enjoying some much needed R&R while checking off four of the seven wonders of Oregon: Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood, Smith Rock and Crater Lake. A week after we get back, the fiancé’s (oooh!) parents arrive from the UK for a two week trip which includes five days in San Francisco. A couple of weeks after they leave my parents arrive for three weeks and we start their visit with a weekend in Tofino. And then it’s practically Thanksgiving and we’ll eat a big roast dinner and have a nap. Phewwww.

While I can’t promise I’ll get around to writing all of those blog posts any time soon (except the tattoo one, I really want to write that one!), I can promise that I’ll keeping enjoying life here in Vancouver. For more ‘in the moment’ updates about the craziness that is 2015 you can follow me on instagram. Who said odd numbered years were bad ones?*

*Oh wait, that was me. Shows what I know.

Joffre Lakes: Hiking Canada’s Turquoise Waters

When I first decided to move to Canada, I did the obligatory google image search to see what might await me. You may have even done it yourself. If you haven’t, do it now. Once you scroll down past the maple leaves and country maps, the first picture of the Canadian landscape is a beautiful lake with stunning turquoise waters, flanked by a glistening white glacier. The picture you’re looking at is probably Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada’s most famous of the turquoise lakes. The unique colour of the water is caused by glacial erosion of bedrock which results in tiny particles of rock, known as rock flour. When rock flour runs down into a glacial lake, it turns the water that unbelievably vivid shade of turquoise; a far cry from the mostly murky waters of the United Kingdom.

The beautiful Lake Louise...where I haven't been yet!

The beautiful Lake Louise…where I haven’t been yet!

I haven’t made it to Lake Louise yet (though it’s been on ‘the list’ every year!), but I did round off the last long weekend of the summer with a day trip to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, just East of Pemberton. It was a toss up between Joffre Lakes and Garibaldi Lake (just South of Whistler) and Joffre Lakes won due to it being one of the only dog-friendly provincial parks in the Whistler area (of course Dave hiked too). It was a three hour drive to Joffre Lakes and it started to rain as we pulled into the parking lot. We considered turning around and heading to the nearest coffee shop, but decided to push on and see how it went. I’m so glad we did. Lower Joffre Lake, the first of three, is easily accessible just a few minutes walk away from the car park. I couldn’t believe how little effort was required to see so much turquoise! Apparently, neither could one very brave camper who went for a swim in the mist. We decided against it (d’uh), and returned to the main trail.

Ready...set...hike!

Ready…set…hike!

Our first views of turquoise through the mist of Lower Lake

Our first views of turquoise through the mist of Lower Lake

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The Grouse Grind: Climbing Mother Nature’s Stairmaster

Now that the sun has finally hit the West Coast of British Columbia I’ve been making more of an effort to do all the things I read about in the guidebooks. Swimming at Kitsilano Outdoor Pool, jogging round the seawall and drinks at Granville Island have all been great fun to tick off the list, however my latest adventure was a little less relaxing. The Grouse Grind is a 2.9 kilometre hike up the side of Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, is open from May to November, and is the alternative to taking the four minute gondola ride up from the mountain base. ‘Up’ being the operative word. The trail consists solely of steps and rocks, and is a relentless climb with an elevation of 2,800 feet. Despite this, Grouse Mountain estimate that over 100,000 people a year complete the hike. The average time to get to the top is up to 90 minutes, though the current course record is 25:01. No pressure then.

Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. Or not.

As well as being one of those things you just have to do whilst in Vancouver, the Grouse Grind is a fantastic workout. With over 2,830 steps, they don’t call it ‘Mother Nature’s Stairmaster’ for nothing. This is why I decided to tackle the Grind for the first time this week whilst on a visit to the mountain with my brother and his girlfriend. I set them up with their lift tickets, handed them my backpack with a change of clothes, pointed them in the direction of the gondola, and off I went to the entrance. I’d been building up to this day for a while and was surprisingly nervous. The fact that the Grind had been closed for some hours that morning due to a medical emergency didn’t help. I had that feeling in the pit of my stomach as if I was about to walk in front of a million people and make an important speech. In French. Naked. Nevertheless, I took a deep breath and set off.

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