|Posted by deanhebert on March 6, 2013 at 4:00 PM||comments (0)|
Leaving Chilliwack, Monday morning, the weather was looking beautiful! Lou and I planned on hiking up to Zoa Peak and doing some photography of the northern exsposures of Yak, Nak, and Thar, possibly waiting for sunset if the lighting cooperated. However, as we passed Hope I could see clouds building in the distance and by the time we were approaching the Coquihalla summit the blue skies were gone. Undaunted, we geared-up and followed a well trodden trail along the access road. When the going got steep, the trail we were following branched off towards the lake. This was our first time hiking here but we thought the route went up and north so we began climbing the slope.
As we rose, Thar Peak came into view and I stopped for a couple of shots.
I couldn't believe how tired my legs were and it seemed like this road just went on and on! After an hour or so we stopped and checked the GPS. The trail seemed to level out just a bit farther ahead so we kept going. Lou spotted some tracks leading into the forest so we investigated. It looked like the right place so we stopped for a food break, which was just what I needed!
Once in the forest, the trail flattened a bit and I seemed to catch my second wind. Soon the trees were thinning out and we started to glimpse the surrounding mountains. We reached the sub-peak a short time later and from there the views were fantastic!
The light was pretty flat and everything looked black and white. I put my long lens on and took some pictures of the peaks, but it wasn't until the sun almost broke through the clouds and back-lit the ridges that I got anything worth keeping.
We continued on to the true peak, but as anyone whos been there knows, the views are better from the lower peak.
With the light not cooperating, we decided against waiting for sunset and headed down after having a rest and what remained of our lunches.
Going down the slope is always easier than going up so when we faced the climb up to the sub-peak we decided to skirt the issue and side hill around to the north. Just before regaining the trail on the ridge we faced a dicey situation. The light was so flat that I couldn't discern the angle of the last gully and before I knew it I was half way across on what turned out to be a very steep slope. Thankfully the snow held and we were quickly back on the line we had followed coming up.
A light snow accompanied us throughout the day and after being on the trail for over 6 hours we were back at the car having not seen another soul all day. Maybe next time we'll do an over-nighter!
|Posted by deanhebert on January 19, 2013 at 6:25 PM||comments (0)|
After the fiasco of my last trip to this area I wanted to prove to myself that I could hike this mountain without getting hurt.
This time was a completely different hike; no overnight gear, I'd be starting from the trailhead, and snow! I was also going to start hiking in the dark and hopefully reach the "alpine" before light. Then I could be set-up to get some pictures of the morning glow as the as the sun crests the mountains.
When my alarm went off at 3 a.m. I wasn't ready to get out of bed. I turned over and went back to sleep, telling myself I would get up around 4, and as luck would have it, I woke up at 4 feeling ready to go. After a quick breakfast, I packed my gear, stopped at Timmie's for a coffee, and drove to Chilliwack Lake. A few minutes later I was on the trail.
In the dark there are no distractions, my headlamp only illuminated a small portion of the trail, so I kept my head down and did my best to put one foot in front the other. I was making pretty good time but I still wasn't clear of the forest when the sky began to lighten. The trees began to thin out and with a clear view of the sky I realized that it was going to be an overcast day. My hope of catching the morning light on the slopes was not going to happen. Some things you can't control, the weather being one of them, so I did my best to enjoy the quiet and solitude of the mountain.
The trail I was following climbed ever higher and was headed to Flora Peak instead of the lake. I was fine with that and followed the tracks of a couple of snowshoers who had been there on the weekend. When the tracks stopped short of the summit I decided not to risk going any further. I enjoyed the views for a bit before heading down.
|Posted by deanhebert on October 11, 2012 at 11:20 PM||comments (2)|
When the rock tilted beneath my foot I had no time to react. As I stood up and looked at the deep gouge on my leg, blood began to course down my shin. I cursed out loud. I did not want to spend the night lost on the steep slope, and a hurt leg would definitely slow me down. With the light fading and in unfamiliar territory I had maybe 1 to 2 hours before I would be forced to stop. The thought of my wife and our friend back at camp worrying about what might have happened to me spurred me on.
The day began perfectly, the weather was great and our spirits were high. With just a short hike up to Lindeman Lake, our first overnight "backpack" camping trip was more like a trial run than a real outting. Our heavy packs slowed us down and after 40 minutes we were finally at the lake. A couple we met on the way up had said they had the campsite to themselves and when we arrived there were people there but no one camping.
We quickly set up camp and had some lunch. After we ate I packed my bag and set off to hike the loop trail up to Flora Lake with Fergus. It was 12:45pm and I had read that it was an 8 hour hike to Flora so I hustled my butt around Lindeman and almost ran the trail to Greendrop Lake. It was an easy hour of hiking until I reached the turn-off for Flora Lake. I took a short break, having a snack and some water before attacking the steep switchbacks and gaining 200 meters in about a kilometer. I thought I had heard voices ahead of me and in about 10 minutes I caught up to a couple of guys and their dog who were going to Flora as well. I'm not sure if they made it as I didn't see them again.
Once I'd gained the upper valley the trail levelled out and the going was easier. There were a couple of boulder fields to traverse over the next 2 kms and great views of Flora Peak. The forested areas were beautiful and I really enjoyed walking among the towering trees. Although there are no giants here, it has an open, "old growth" feel, unlike anywhere else nearby.
It took about an hour of steady travel to reach Flora Lake from the trail junction. At the lake, I slowed down and started looking for photo opportunities. The water was pretty calm until Fergus started attacking it, creating waves that spread across it's surface. There were colourful grasses in shades of green, yellow, and purple, and logs submerged along the shoreline.
I knew my time was limited so it wasn't long before I made my way to the far end of the lake. There's a nice little camping spot there, so I dropped my pack and spent a bit of time enjoying the scenery. I could see the trout as they chased the flies, jumping out of the water to catch them. Finally it was time to leave the lake and climb out of the bowl. I'd told Serea that I would be back to camp around 7pm, just as it would be getting dark, and I didn't want to be late and worry her.
The trail out of the valley was easy to follow but I found it to be a bit of a slog, gaining around 400m in about 2kms. As I approached the ridge, the trail opened up and I appreciated the views. Fall colours were in full swing in the alpine and the slopes were covered in reds, oranges, and yellows. From the ridge it's all down hill and I looked forward to a quick and easy descent. The Chilliwack River Valley stretched away to the west, the mountain layers fading into the distance. I stopped along the open hillside, looking back to take some pictures of Chilliwack Lake and the surrounding mountains.
I was trucking along when I took a switchback and thought to myself that the trail was deterieorating. Fergus had intially gone straight until I called him to me. I back tracked up to the more defined trail but it looked like someone had placed a log across the path, steering me downward. Back down I went as the trail turned from path to faint trail to animal track to nothing. Not overly concerned at this point, I kept going, thinking that I would meet up with the trail after a bit of off trail travel. I checked my GPS and the slope seemed about the same all the way down the mountain, so I just picked the path of least resistance.
Off trail bushwhacking is slower going than hiking on a trail and as I pick my way down I began to be concerned about the time. If it got dark before I regained the trail I would be spending the night in the woods. The terrain was quite steep and there was no way I'd risk sliding off a cliff and getting seriosly injured.
It was about 5:30pm, an hour after loosing the trail, when the rock jumped up and bit my leg. I pulled out my first-aid kit and put a couple of bandaids over the wound. I had to keep moving, the sun was going down behind the hillside and the light was fading. I checked my GPS again and I could see Post Creek on the map and I wasn't too far away. After a few minutes I began to hear the sound of water and I knew things were going to be ok. Another 15 minutes or so and the ground leveled out and I emerged onto the Lindeman Lake trail just a few minutes from the trailhead.
I was ecstatic to be on a trail. It was 6:22, half an hour from dark and time to get out the headlamp. I was pretty tired but there was still the trip back to our campsite. I put my head down and pushed myself to continue. The bandaids had fallen off my leg and blood had dripped down to my sock. Adrenalin had prevented me from feeling too much pain from the wound, but as I neared my destination I began to relax.
As I arrived back at camp, Serea and Paul were happy to see me. Then they caught sight of my leg! Serea's reaction was to pack-up and head to the hospital but I didn't want to ruin our first backpack trip so I said it wasn't bad. Paul cleaned the cut and covered it. I began to shiver so I layered up. Serea made me some dinner and Paul poured us a coffee.
It was a beautiful night at the lake, we watched the stars and listened to the breeze as the fire died down to embers. I think it was a great "first" backpack overnighter, but I also think there's a bit of room for improvement!
|Posted by deanhebert on September 19, 2012 at 6:00 PM||comments (0)|
The plan was to drive to the July Mountain trailhead, hike to the summit, then return to Drum Lake and do some photography waiting for the sun to set. Things got off to a bad start when my friend Karl called and said he would be late due to his fridge dying over the weekend while he was away. It was a good thing that we didn't have any real time constraints other than sunset. The drive up was uneventful but be warned, the fsr is overgrown and I left my fair share of paint on the encrouching shrubbery.
The trail follows the fsr through an old clearcut and we were able to get a couple of pictures of our destination.
After 1/2 an hour or so the trail enters on open forest and follows above a creek. When we got to the meadow, the flowers were well past their prime so I tried to capture the "feel" as the meadow went to seed.
A short time later we entered the sub-alpine and began to gain elevation in earnest. The clouds were moving in and I thought I noticed some snow flakes. The ever-present breeze turned into a gusty wind.
There isn't a well defined trail through this section and I mentioned to Karl that I didn't feel confident hiking back in the dark. He agreed so we changed our plan to just summitting and taking a few photos before heading back.
There were still a few pockets of flowers in the gullies and I did my best to frame a couple shots.
As we approached Drum Lake, at 1900 meters, there were definite snow flakes and a huge, dark cloud rolling in above the mountain ridge. The wind made the lake choppy, ruining any chance of getting a reflection shot of the peaks. After a quick huddle we decided to push on to the summit as the weather was becoming a concern. We donned all our clothes including tuques and gloves, sweaters, and rain jackets.
Gaining the col was a straight forward push. From the ridge there were ok views back down the valley, but visibility towards our destination was limited and there was no shelter from the wind. The temperature continued to drop and hail and snow whipped around us.
Without the possibility of a decent view, we made the descision not to continue to the summit, but to decend to the lake and find a spot out of the wind to have some food.
After a quick walk around the lake in the accumulating snow we felt it would be better to get off the mountain and back to the truck. There we could eat our lunches in the comfort of the heated cab. The snow covered trail was pretty slippery until we got back into tree cover.
Then, miraculuosly, the weather changed and by the time we reached the FSR the skies began to clear and we laughed about turning around and going back.
Even as eventful as this hike was, it re-affirmed why I put this on my "5 Best Hikes of 2011", a short and moderately easy trek through some beautiful territory.
|Posted by deanhebert on July 26, 2012 at 6:15 PM||comments (0)|
This area reminds me alot of Trophy Mountain in Wells Gray, except that there are more mountain peaks near Illal.
Nestled just south of the Coquihalla Summit Recreational Area, Illal Meadows is surrounded by Jim Kelly, Coquihalla, and Illal mountains. The access to this wide open area is a long but easy hike, starting with a 3.5 km walk along an overgrown forest service road. After crossing a small creek and meadow, the trail climbs up through a forest before gaining a low ridge. A couple of kms later the forest opens up and there are some good views of Spiral Mountain across the valley. Just a bit further you reach the plateau and, if you've timed your hike right, the wildflowers are in bloom, carpeting the meadows.
There are 2 small lakes, 1 below Jim Kelly and 1 at the foot of Illal Mountain, as well as countless smaller pools and tarns.The area is criss-crossed with small streams and outlets, and interesting rock formations.
If you continue on westerly heading you'll reach an overlook of the valley that seperates Illal Meadows from Coquihalla Mountain. From there, you can follow a trail that runs between Jim Kelly and Coquihalla mountains( but since I haven't gone that way I don't know where it ends) or, in the other direction, to Illal Mountain.
Illal mountain is an easy peak to reach. When I went, we circuled along the trail until there was an obviuos route, and then just picked a line and hiked up the moderate slope. From the peak you can see the meadows and the surrounding mountains. On a hot day, the lake below the mountain is an excellent spot to soak your toes or have a dip.
|Posted by deanhebert on July 26, 2012 at 6:10 PM||comments (0)|
This is one of the closest hikes to my house and yet this was my first ( and second ) time hiking it, at least to the top.
I had met fellow hiker/photo enthusiast Karl, on a recent group outing and asked him if he would be interested in catching a sunset on Elk Mountain. He said sure so we met after work and hiked this steep but relatively short trail that's located behind Ryder Lake.
On our first attempt the weather didn't seem to be cooperating as the sun was hidden behind clouds. The forecast had been for clearing skies so we waited as wave after wave of mist poured up the slope and obliterated the view. Finally, as the sun was close to dissappearing below the distant mountains, a break in the clouds allowed the sun to light up the hillside and I quickly took some pictures.
I was hoping for a profusion of wildflowers but the pickings were pretty sparse. There was a nice clump of phlox on the slope so I got down low to make them fill the frame.I bracketed exsposures because the dynamic range was too great for the camera's sensor to record in one shot. I combined the pictures later using photoshop.
On this night when the sun went behind the clouds the light died, and after a few minutes in the chilly meadow we called it quits and headed back in the dark.
I'd taken Fergus with me on this evening's adventure, and about 1/2 an hour before we were back at the truck he decided to take-off. We called for him in the dark to no avail and continued walking. Thankfully he showed-up just as we were getting back to the trailhead.
Almost a month later I called Karl and asked if he was into heading up Elk again to see if the flowers were blooming yet. He agreed, so we marched to the meadows just below the summit and were rewarded with almost a carpet of lupines. This night there wasn't as many clouds but the mosquitos were out in full force. I sprayed myself and that seemed to keep them at bay.
I scouted out some nice groupings of flowers and waited for the sun to shine through them. Again I bracketed exsposures, but this time I also did some depth-of-focus bracketting as well. Combined in photoshop they look like this.
Looking away from the sun, the mountains behind me were being lit by the soft reflection of light from a band of haze.
The clouds above me were lit-up but I couldn't find a comp that I liked. About the time that I figured the light show was done, a glow along the horizon began to intensify into a deep yellow/orange/red band of fire behind the distant mountains. I zoomed in and got this shot.
|Posted by deanhebert on May 6, 2012 at 11:35 AM||comments (0)|
To know where you're going you must know where you've been.
After reading a couple of articles about reviewing your work that included the Ansel Adams quote "Twelve significant photos in any one year is a good crop", I decided that I would pick my twelve favourite photos whether they were "significant" or not.
Sometimes I go looking for a specific shot and other times I'm just exploring. During a morning shoot in early January, I found myself looking down at the ice that had formed along the Fraser River. I took several "grand" photos of the river and mountains before pointing the camera straight down. The haunting patterns looked cool on the display and after playing with the image in photoshop I came up with something that I was pretty happy with.
The winter of 2011 was spent mostly at Chilliwack Lake or along the Fraser River, both fairly easy places to reach and both with photographic vistas. I struggled to get a "view" shot that I was happy with, so I tried something a bit abstact, just lines and tones. The lines leading to these twigs piqued my interest and in the -8 degree weather I composed a few shots, settling on this one as my favourite.
Sometimes luck can be your best friend. My wife was having a home party and politely asked me to be somewhere else for the duration. Seizing the opportunity, I grabbed my camera and drove out to Harrison Lake. This photo will always remind me of standing beside the road, the wind whipping my hair, the fresh scent off the lake, watching these storm clouds race towards me. It was a wonderful experience!
My camera accompanies me whenever I headout the door, whether it's to explore a new location or trod a familiar trail, so when the light caught this maple beside the Teapot Hill trail I was able to frame it against a backdrop of moss covered firs and cedars.
After reviewing hundreds of photos I noticed that most of my shots were in a vertical orientation. I seemed to "see" the world top to bottom instead of side to side. A large foreground element was another prevalent feature of my pictures. These might be the beginnings of a trend or a rut, maybe even a "style". As a musician I knew what genre I liked and whos playing influenced me, so as a photographer I'm finding my way and being influenced by todays top photographers(as I see them).
As I strove to show scenes as I "saw" them I noticed that the camera can be very limiting compared to my eyes. My memory comes into play as well since I'm processing these photos days, weeks, sometimes months later, trying to recapture the feelings I had at the moment of capture and express them the best I can.
I quickly joined the school of "post processing", developing images to suite my tastes and not worrying if they deviated a bit from what the camera "saw". That said, I still try to present the scene accurately. I won't remove or add anything important to a photo(of course I'm the judge of what is or isn't important), but I'll composite multiple shots for depth of focus, and dynamic range, and clone out distracting spots to clean-up an image.
Most Landscape Photographers will tell you it's all about the light and that the best light happens around sunrise and sunset. If you're not prepared to be in the field before the crack of dawn, or to retrace your steps in the dark after the sun sets, you'll have a hard time making "significant" photos. Luckily, there are plenty of places where you can pull off the road and take pictures of beautiful views.
Immersing yourself in a location allows you to see past the big shots and discover the hidden gems that only familiarity with a subject invokes. I took a short photography vacation in Wells Gray Provicial Park, just myself and my camera, exploring this wonderful part of the province for 4 nights in September. I discovered that I'm a tad leary of hiking in the dark alone so most of the images from the trip didn't make the cut for me. I liked this shot of the light catching the foreground water juxtiposed against the shadowed waterfall because it happened while I was letting my creativity loose.
Moul Falls is in Wells Gray, a great location reached after a short hike. Of course, since I took a wrong turn, I arrived at the falls much later than I wanted to. Looking over the area, I decided that the best vantage point would be in the middle of the stream, good thing I was wearing water-proof boots.
One of the most scenic lakes I've been to is Statlu Lake, on the west side of Harrison Lake. Finding the lake as calm as glass was the perfect invitation to photograph it. On this hike I wasn't alone and photography wasn't the main objective so I didn't want to make my companions wait too long.
Cascade Pennisula, on Harrison Lake is an area that I've fequented, trying to get a great shot of a tree growing on the point but I haven't succeeded yet. On this morning I took a different direction, choosing to shoot along the shoreline. I'll admit that I had to place the leaf there, although I did find it close by.
And for all you bakers and lovers of baked goods
|Posted by deanhebert on January 23, 2012 at 3:00 PM||comments (0)|
I received an email Jan 20/2012 from Roy Ramsay, Editor-in-Chief of Outdoor Photography Canada, stating that my photo, "A Nightmare in Ice", had been unanimously selected as the over-all, Grand Prize winner! It was quite a shocker to me because I'd completely forgotten about the contest( I'd submitted the photo for the February 2011 contest ).
As the winner I will receiver a "Best of Year" certificate, a 16x20 gallery wrap of the image, and a placement on Darwin Wiggett's winter workshop to be held at the Aurum Lodge just outside of Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies!
It looks like I'll be attending the tour starting Feb 8th. 4 days spent immersed in all things photography in a rustic lodge on the shore of Abraham Lake, I can't wait. Hopefully I'll get plenty of great shots(fingers crossed).
Also, on a side note, my photo "Storm on the Lake", has been short-listed by Canadian Geographic for publication in a special upcoming magazine collecting the best photos of Canada¹s extraordinary weather. Keep your eyes open!
|Posted by deanhebert on December 22, 2011 at 6:10 PM||comments (0)|
About 2 weeks ago I attempted to do some photography of the sunset from the shores of Lindeman Lake without much success. The hike out in the dark proved to be not too difficult so the next week I decided to try to catch the sunrise.
As I left my house at 5 am, I noticed a light mist falling. I figured the worst case scenario would be hiking to the lake in the rain and then turning around and coming right home, getting some good exercise but leaving the camera in the bag. The rain increased as I drove through town and then dissappeared as I turned the corner onto Chilliwack Lake Rd. After an uneventful drive to the trailhead, I got out of the truck and was a bit surprised to see the moon and some stars, maybe there'd be some magic when the sun rose!
I donned my headlamp and carried a flashlight, beginning the 2.5km hike in the pitch black. My plan was to be at the lake with plenty of time before the sunrise to find a good composition and then just wait for the best light. A short time later I was at the lake and clouds had moved in, obscuring the views of Mount Webb. Not to worry though because I liked the patterns in the ice, the subtle lighting, and the clouds against the mountains. I tried several comps. and so far this is my favourite.
Part of my plan for the day was to hike to Greendrop Lake, which is about another 3 kms from the end of Lindeman Lake. It was pretty easy going until the trail became icy beneath the trees. By 9 o'clock I decided that it was just to dangerous to keep going so I turned back.
On the way back I noticed this craigy prominence and tried to show how the trees clung to and thrived on the sheer rock faces. This might look better with more than just a blank sky.
Lindeman Lake might not be the most photographic lake but the more time I spend there the more I find to take pictures of.
|Posted by deanhebert on August 27, 2011 at 12:15 AM||comments (0)|
My wife,Serea, and I were looking for an easy hike/walk after work and decided that a circumnavigation of Hicks Lake would fit the bill perfectly. We loaded up our gear and headed out, hoping to catch some nice sunset light.
Upon arrival at the parking lot we noticed a sign telling us that the gate would be locked "dusk to 8am". I'm not sure the exact time of dusk but I knew we would probably be out past it, so I found a wide spot on the road just outside the gate and parked. We geared up, put Fergus on a leash, and headed out.
The beach in the day use area was deserted so we followed it around, over some rocks and past the boat launch, to another small beach. Fergus needed to run so Serea let him off and I found a stick he could chase.
After a bit it was time to continue our journey, so I started off in the general direction of the road that encircles the lake, not realizing that Serea thought I was trying to get to another beach. She didn't seem to be too happy with bushwacking through the forest, getting farther and farther from the lake, as the light began to wane.
I knew the road was just ahead and couldn't understand her growing angst. Shortly, the road appeared and our miscommunication became apparent. So, with the light fading and most of the lake to still get around, we set off.
Three quarters of the way around the lake is a nice little beach that I thought would make for some good sunset photos, so we stopped and I snapped a few shots. The sky didn't light-up like I wanted but, if you're not there, then you never have a chance when the fireworks do happen.
Packing up to leave, it didn't seem to be too dark, but as we walked back to the road it was apparent that it was time to break out the flashlights. A couple of minutes later we passed another trail leading back down to the beach area as we continued along the road. When the route veered away from the lake I began to doubt the wisdom of our decision to be out in the dark. We turned around because I had a thought that the trail we had passed earlier might actually be the way we were supposed to go. Sure enough it was.
By now it was night so I put Fergus on leash, and not a moment too soon. We had just started down the trail when we heard a noise somewhere in the dark. Fergus began barking excitedly and pulling hard on his leash. Our flashlights barely penetrated the blackness and we had no idea what was causing the noise. It had to be a bear! A big bear! I grab my bear spray and prepared to fend off the wild beast. But nothing appeared out of the darkness and as we continued on we began to breathe easier.
Soon we were at the camping area. I became a bit disoriented and Serea said there was no way she was going to bushwack in the dark. She had the brilliant idea of just heading out of the campsite where, of course, our truck was waiting. 5 minutes later, there it was.
A nice "welcome back" was under the windshield wiper. A $58 parking violation! I was a bit upset, but I knew it was a risk we had taken when we'd parked on the road. It was a good thing too, the gate to the day use area was closed and locked, and we would have been stuck there, possibly until morning.
It wasn't until we were almost home that we noticed that the "parking ticket" was actually just a warning.