Exploration

Three Days In the North Cascades

During the Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada, I drove down to Washington State to go ski touring with a couple of friends. 

It was one of the tougher trips I've done (that said, it feels like every trip we do is the toughest one I've done!) and really pushed me out of my comfort zone. 

 Some of the gear. Not picture: skis, poles, boots, additional warm weather gear. 

Some of the gear. Not picture: skis, poles, boots, additional warm weather gear. 

 After a 5km walk down a logging road (in ski boots, carrying our gear), we should have had an fairly easy ski up to camp. Snow conditions were brutal, it was a lot more technical than we thought and there was a lot of swearing.

After a 5km walk down a logging road (in ski boots, carrying our gear), we should have had an fairly easy ski up to camp. Snow conditions were brutal, it was a lot more technical than we thought and there was a lot of swearing.

 Our camp on the fist day. This was either immediately before or immediately after we got hit with freezing rain, and laid low in the tents for an hour or so. 

Our camp on the fist day. This was either immediately before or immediately after we got hit with freezing rain, and laid low in the tents for an hour or so. 

 Sunset view from camp facing the other way. 

Sunset view from camp facing the other way. 

 Sahale Peak was our destination: that little black triangle in the centre of the photo. It was still a a long ways off, but the weather was great. This photo was taken around 8am, after a 6am departure from camp. 

Sahale Peak was our destination: that little black triangle in the centre of the photo. It was still a a long ways off, but the weather was great. This photo was taken around 8am, after a 6am departure from camp. 

 Rearranging gear and getting a drink as we head up Sahale Glacier. 

Rearranging gear and getting a drink as we head up Sahale Glacier. 

 Pete out ahead, boot packing the last snow section until the peak. It was steep. 

Pete out ahead, boot packing the last snow section until the peak. It was steep. 

 Just relaxing before the summit. 

Just relaxing before the summit. 

 Different angle as previous photo. Just chilling near the summit. 

Different angle as previous photo. Just chilling near the summit. 

 Ty lead-climbing the final summit section with his skis and gear - what an animal! He was planning on skiing off the far side, but conditions weren't good for it.   Not pictured: Me freaking out when I had to climb this section and almost not making the summit. Thanks for pushing me through it, Ty and Pete! 

Ty lead-climbing the final summit section with his skis and gear - what an animal! He was planning on skiing off the far side, but conditions weren't good for it. 

Not pictured: Me freaking out when I had to climb this section and almost not making the summit. Thanks for pushing me through it, Ty and Pete! 

 Pete's boots as he belays Ty. 

Pete's boots as he belays Ty. 

 Summit view. 

Summit view. 

 Rappelling down from the summit (thanks for the photo, Ty!).

Rappelling down from the summit (thanks for the photo, Ty!).

 We found some nice snow to ski down on the descent. Not pictured: my huge, wide turns (my legs were too tired to make pretty turns). 

We found some nice snow to ski down on the descent. Not pictured: my huge, wide turns (my legs were too tired to make pretty turns). 

 Skiing out the final section after waking up in the clouds. You can sort of see some glaciers up on those cliffs, with big waterfalls running off of them. 

Skiing out the final section after waking up in the clouds. You can sort of see some glaciers up on those cliffs, with big waterfalls running off of them. 

 Hiking back out 5km down the logging road with our gear - the green of the temperate rain forest felt like a different world after two days of snow, ice and rock. 

Hiking back out 5km down the logging road with our gear - the green of the temperate rain forest felt like a different world after two days of snow, ice and rock. 

It was an unbelievable trip, and there was no way I could have done it without Ty and Pete planning, leading and guiding me through it. 

I'm glad I pushed through and made the summit for no other reason than the sense of accomplishment.

 

 

The Crystal Clear Waters of Watersprite Lake

After seeing a few photos from friends of an incredible green lake hidden in the mountains, I knew that I wanted to hike there. 

I took a Tuesday in the middle of the week for the trip to avoid the crowds, and made the drive up to Squamish. The trailhead was about an 40 minute drive down a logging road near the Sea-To-Summit Gondola. 

 The first part of the hike is pretty standard BC trail, with a few interesting features like this mountain stream. 

The first part of the hike is pretty standard BC trail, with a few interesting features like this mountain stream. 

 But once you make it past the final incline, you arrive at this incredible view. 

But once you make it past the final incline, you arrive at this incredible view. 

 It really does look like this. And it's cold (I went for a quick swim).

It really does look like this. And it's cold (I went for a quick swim).

IMG_2441.jpg

Not much more to add at this point, except it was a great afternoon of trail running and hiking. 

Two Days In the Mountains - Russet Lake, Whirlwind, Overlord

One weekend last summer, a few friends and I drove out to Whistler on an early Saturday morning, took the chairlifts to the top of the mountain then hiked into the back country. 

 The view from the top of Whistler. In the middle of winter, this is covered in snow and skiers. You can see Black Tusk off in the distance. 

The view from the top of Whistler. In the middle of winter, this is covered in snow and skiers. You can see Black Tusk off in the distance. 

 Mountain Meadows en route to our camp site. 

Mountain Meadows en route to our camp site. 

 After about 10-12km, we arrived at Russet Lake. Our camp site was about 50 meters to the left of this photo, alongside a stream running out of the lake. The peak in the photo is Fissile Peak. 

After about 10-12km, we arrived at Russet Lake. Our camp site was about 50 meters to the left of this photo, alongside a stream running out of the lake. The peak in the photo is Fissile Peak. 

 It was the middle of summer, but it gets cold in the mountains once the sun starts to go down. Thankfully one of our group brought some wine to keep us warm. I made dinner for some of us: pasta with canned chicken and pesto sauce. it would have been gross under any other circumstances. 

It was the middle of summer, but it gets cold in the mountains once the sun starts to go down. Thankfully one of our group brought some wine to keep us warm. I made dinner for some of us: pasta with canned chicken and pesto sauce. it would have been gross under any other circumstances. 

 The view from our campsite. The lake in the photo above is behind us in the photo. 

The view from our campsite. The lake in the photo above is behind us in the photo. 

 An iPhone will never be able to do justice to to way the sky looked in the mountains on such an unbelievably clear night, and this is the last photo I took before it got dark. We sat outside for an hour or so after this and just looked at the stars. 

An iPhone will never be able to do justice to to way the sky looked in the mountains on such an unbelievably clear night, and this is the last photo I took before it got dark. We sat outside for an hour or so after this and just looked at the stars. 

 A few of us got moving at at 6am the next morning to try and tackle a few of the nearby peaks. This is the view on the way up - the lake is just off to the right of this photo as we're moving up a steep scree slope. 

A few of us got moving at at 6am the next morning to try and tackle a few of the nearby peaks. This is the view on the way up - the lake is just off to the right of this photo as we're moving up a steep scree slope. 

 A view fro the summit of Whirlwind, the first peak we hit. You can see the next one we were aiming for, Overlord Mountain, along the end of the ridge trail on the left of the photo (we had to follow that ridge).  

A view fro the summit of Whirlwind, the first peak we hit. You can see the next one we were aiming for, Overlord Mountain, along the end of the ridge trail on the left of the photo (we had to follow that ridge).  

 View from the top of Overlord, looking back along that ride and Whirlwind. At this point, it was 9am on Sunday morning and the weather and views were amazing. 

View from the top of Overlord, looking back along that ride and Whirlwind. At this point, it was 9am on Sunday morning and the weather and views were amazing. 

 Descending down from Overlord. It's not really a hike, more of a scramble. 

Descending down from Overlord. It's not really a hike, more of a scramble. 

 Ty on the descent. 

Ty on the descent. 

 Hiking bike to civilization with Whirlwind and Overlord in the background. 

Hiking bike to civilization with Whirlwind and Overlord in the background. 

IMG_2160.jpg
IMG_2161.jpg

It was a pretty good way to spend a weekend with some great friends. 

Check out more of the hikes and scrambles I've done in the past little while at the Explore section on BlogCampaigning.

Tricouni Peak: Blue Sky Scramble

Tricouni Peak - about 40 minutes from Squamish, British Columbia - has been on my friend Ty's bucket list for years. He's attempted the summit a few different times (on foot and skis) but told me that each time he was turned back by weather, conditions, snow or timing. 

A few weeks ago he asked me to join him to try it again on what was probably the last non-rainy day of the season. 

 3D satellite image of Tricouni Peak via Google Earth Pro. The little lake in the bottom middle of the photo is one of the frozen ones in the image below. 

3D satellite image of Tricouni Peak via Google Earth Pro. The little lake in the bottom middle of the photo is one of the frozen ones in the image below. 

 Looking up at the peak across a frozen lake. This was a couple of hours into the hike. 

Looking up at the peak across a frozen lake. This was a couple of hours into the hike. 

 Looking back across that same lake as we hiked a bit further - at this point, the "trail" was mostly frozen snow and loose rock. 

Looking back across that same lake as we hiked a bit further - at this point, the "trail" was mostly frozen snow and loose rock. 

 Ty leading the way across frozen snow - we both had two trekking poles for most of the trip, but as things got steeper we switched to mountaineering axes. 

Ty leading the way across frozen snow - we both had two trekking poles for most of the trip, but as things got steeper we switched to mountaineering axes. 

 Getting a bit higher up. 

Getting a bit higher up. 

 Ty on the summit - what a legend. Also a great  chiropractor in Vancouver ! 

Ty on the summit - what a legend. Also a great chiropractor in Vancouver

 Summit view. 

Summit view. 

 Me at the summit contemplating the gnarly hand-over-hand scramble we had to do to get here. I was pretty much terrified, but Ty's mountain confidence got me through it. Thanks, buddy! 

Me at the summit contemplating the gnarly hand-over-hand scramble we had to do to get here. I was pretty much terrified, but Ty's mountain confidence got me through it. Thanks, buddy! 

 Climbing down...this section wasn't actually that steep compared to some of the sections. 

Climbing down...this section wasn't actually that steep compared to some of the sections. 

It was a long day, but definitely worth it. 

Summer Of Sun and Snow

It was a pretty amazing summer here on the West (best?) Coast. Below is a mostly-chronological recap of May-September. Yes, there was a lot of snow (and some ski-touring!).  

IMG_2014.jpg
IMG_0680.jpg
IMG_0753.jpg
IMG_0983.jpg
IMG_1035.jpg
IMG_1131.jpg
IMG_1915.jpg
IMG_1511.jpg
IMG_1514.jpg
IMG_2107.jpg
IMG_2152.jpg
6BCB9675-8D71-4CC5-9BB0-167B0C5F5A01.jpg

Garibaldi - Black Tusk - Helm Creek

On Saturday a couple of friends and I did a pretty epic hike. 

 Ty and Parker moving quick with the Black Tusk in site. We didn't start until a little after 2pm and knew we'd have to keep up a good pace to finish before dark. 

Ty and Parker moving quick with the Black Tusk in site. We didn't start until a little after 2pm and knew we'd have to keep up a good pace to finish before dark. 

 We drank fresh, cold water from the stream. At 11.5km into the hike on a hot day, it was very welcome. That's Garibaldi Lake in the background. 

We drank fresh, cold water from the stream. At 11.5km into the hike on a hot day, it was very welcome. That's Garibaldi Lake in the background. 

 Ty and J-Dub making their way up the snow. 

Ty and J-Dub making their way up the snow. 

 Different angle/elevation. 

Different angle/elevation. 

 Looking into the crater and beyond. 

Looking into the crater and beyond. 

 Climbing this scree slope was tough. Two steps forward, sliding one back. 

Climbing this scree slope was tough. Two steps forward, sliding one back. 

 Ty on the way down. 

Ty on the way down. 

 Beautiful mountain meadows on the way down. 

Beautiful mountain meadows on the way down. 

 Some sort of high plain. 

Some sort of high plain. 

 Home stretch - the sun was starting to get a bit lower, and we still had about 10km to go. 

Home stretch - the sun was starting to get a bit lower, and we still had about 10km to go. 

All in, it was an incredible hike. Ty even made the summit (J-Dub and I hung back the last little stretch because we didn't feel like scrambling) and we completed the 27.6 km and ~1700m of elevation in about 6.5 hours, getting to the car just it was getting dark at about 9pm. 

Mt Baker On Skis

One of the reasons I moved to Vancouver was because of what surrounded the city: mountains. 

Since moving here, my friend Ty has taken me under his wing and is showing me the best peaks in the area. He's also gotten me into back-country skiing (or ski-touring), and over the May long weekend we summited Mt. Baker in Washington state. 

(For those that are unfamiliar with the sport of ski-touring, as I was until November last year, it's a combination of cross-country skiing and downhill skiing. To go up the hill, you put something called a "skin" on the bottom of your ski that provides you with traction (they're synthetic now, but I'm sure that back in the day they used to be actual seal skins). When you get to the top, you adjust the bindings, take off the skin and its downhill skiing.)

 A view of the peak from the logging road, after about 20 minutes into the trip - we drove to within about 2 miles of the trailhead, and then hit snow so strapped the skis on and started going up. 

A view of the peak from the logging road, after about 20 minutes into the trip - we drove to within about 2 miles of the trailhead, and then hit snow so strapped the skis on and started going up. 

 Not sure who took this photo, but it's a beautiful one, and not even the steepest part. 

Not sure who took this photo, but it's a beautiful one, and not even the steepest part. 

 This was our camp for the night, after about 4 hours of traversing through the forest, and going uphill. 

This was our camp for the night, after about 4 hours of traversing through the forest, and going uphill. 

 Sunset from our camp. 

Sunset from our camp. 

 Going up on the second day. 

Going up on the second day. 

 A view from the peak of Mt. Baker: about 10,700 feet/3,200 meters above sea level. I took a nap on my backpack when we got there. 

A view from the peak of Mt. Baker: about 10,700 feet/3,200 meters above sea level. I took a nap on my backpack when we got there. 

 The crew, from left to right:  Backcountry Pete, Kerry, Parker, Ty 

The crew, from left to right:  Backcountry Pete, Kerry, Parker, Ty 

 Another view from the peak - it really shows you how much higher Mt. Baker is than the surrounding mountains. 

Another view from the peak - it really shows you how much higher Mt. Baker is than the surrounding mountains. 

 Part of the descent - it was steep! I didn't ski this part, but slid down on my ass and used my ice axe as a brake. 

Part of the descent - it was steep! I didn't ski this part, but slid down on my ass and used my ice axe as a brake. 

 Ty skied down the toughest, most technical part and ripped it up. 

Ty skied down the toughest, most technical part and ripped it up. 

 Conditions at the bottom were spring-like: after we got below the tree line, we followed this glacier water runout channel. 

Conditions at the bottom were spring-like: after we got below the tree line, we followed this glacier water runout channel. 

It was probably one of the coolest trips I've ever been on. But also one of the toughest. I'm sure that for the crew I was with, this was an easy little weekend trip into the mountains, though. 

I'd like to give a HUGE thank you to Ty, Pete and Kerry for having me along on the trip. I was definitely the rookie, and there was no way I could have even considered going on the trip without them. 

If you liked these photos, you might like a few other posts about hiking that I've done in the last year or so: 

Tommyhoi Peak (visible from Mt. Baker) 

Surfing and Hiking in New Zealand

Hiking Tasmania: Quamby Bluff

Haleakala (Maui)

Waterfalls, Rainforests and Sand Dunes: New Zealand Hiking

The Pinnacles: New Zealand

Hiking Tasmania: Quamby Bluff

IMG_5815.jpg

These photos are all from the Quamby Bluff hike in central Tasmania. It's only about 7km, but there are a lot of steep sections and there is one section that requires you to scramble up a scree slope. The hike is totally worth it, though, 

If you liked these photos, you might also like photos of a few other hikes I went on: 

Haleakala, Maui: Re-entering the House of the Sun 

Casades Kauri Park: Waterfalls and Sand Dunes

Pinnacles, New Zealand: A Foggy, Moody Hike

Waterfalls, Rain Forests and Sand Dunes: Another Amazing New Zealand Hike

Yesterday, I hiked from the Cascades Kauri Park through to Bethells Beach, and back. I think it was the Montana Heritage Trail for most of the journey, but I also think I went off that a little bit. 

Highlights of the hike were the green rain forest, some massive inland sand dunes, a waterfall (that I wasn't expecting), and some great views of classic, rolling hills. 

According to the iHealth function on my iPhone, I walked about 30km and the entire journey took me just under 5 hours. I'd highly recommend it if you've got a spare day in Auckland, as it's a great way to see some awesome and varied New Zealand scenery. 

If you liked these hiking pictures, you might also like the ones I took last week when I hiked The Pinnacles or this post with more general pictures of New Zealand.

A Foggy, Moody Hike In New Zealand: The Pinnacles

Below are a few photos from a hike I did on the weekend called The Pinnacles. It's on the Coromandel Peninsula and is about a 90 minute drive from Auckland. You can find more info about it here. It was a misty day when I went so the views were great, but the conditions made the hike almost more interesting and mysterious. The first half of the hike was through jungle-like terrain that involved crossing back and forth over a stream and waterfalls, with swinging bridges and stepping stones. The second half was alpine hiking and bare rock faces. 

The entire hike was about 20km round trip, with some seriously steep sections. 

See more photos from my time in New Zealand here