|Posted by Dean Hebert on June 7, 2018 at 12:30 AM||comments (0)|
A last minute cancellation meant that I was solo hiking again! I called Jasper to change my resevations and the lady I was talking to said that I should be aware that there was a very high level of grizzly bear activity in the valley! Great!
Tonquin Valley is renown for it's muddy trails and hordes of mosquitos but by the end of August I found the trails mostly dry and pretty much bug free.
With what I thought was going to be a relatively easy 14 kms to Switchback camp, I set a moderate pace, passing quite a few people who were heading out. Views across the Astoria River valley were constant and I kept gazing at the numerous peaks.
After around 4 kms I crossed the river and got to see the mountains on the other side. The trail is a decent grade until you pass a recent rockslide and begin the switch backs.
From a low point of 1700 m I gained almost 400 m before reaching my campsite for the night.
Without a great view I didn't spent too much effort doing any photography that evening or in the morning.
After a lazy morning I packed up camp and headed to my next campsite. The trail went past Amethyst Lake and I had to stop and gaze at the Ramparts, an impressive ridge of jagged peaks!
Past the lakes it was a short walk to Mccarib camp and I arrived in the early afternoon. After taking a short break to rest my feet I made an early supper and decided to explore the trail leading up the lower flank of Majestic Mountain. At the back of the campsite is the grave of a ranger who died nearby. I was quite on edge and hiked with my bear spray in my hand.
It didn't take long to clear the trees and emerge on the open slopes.
The smoke from nearby fires made for some "interesting" effects as I wandered further upslope.
My confidence level wasn't very high and I couldn't seem to find a shot worth waiting for so I started back down. There was some nice light that caught my eye.
Due to booking my trip so late I couldn't get a very organized itinerary so in the morning it was time to pack up and retrace my steps to Clitheroe Campground. With less than 7 kms to get there I dallied along the way, stopping to photograph the Ramparts and any flower I could find.
With lots of energy left in my legs after getting set-up I decided to do some exploring. It's a short, 2 km hike to Surprise Point with more great views along the way.
This part of the valley was deserted and I didn't see anyone at the campsite. Which was a good thing as I wasn't impressed with the "open concept" out houses. Although I must admit that the view was amazing!
Tonquin Valley is really a wide open, high mountain pass. As clouds filled the sky I stopped and took a photo of tomorrow's destination, Eremite Valley.
Back at Clitheroe Campground I met Christophe, a hiker from France. He was planning on hiking Eremite Valley as well so I suggested we hike together. We made plans to meet in the morning.
After breakfast, I met up with Christophe. The plan was to hike to the ACC hut where I was booked for the night and see if there was room for Christophe to stay in the hut as well. Unfortunately there's provisions for walk-in guests. With that in mind, Christophe decided to not to hike Eremite Valley with me. We had some lunch and I dumped my gear before we hiked back down to the Eremite Valley trail head, where I said good-bye to Christophe.
The sky was leaden above the silt-ladened streams flowing across the valley floor. The two streams exit the valley side by side, one through a small gap in the hillside, the other underneath it.
As the trail meandered along between the forested hillside and the shrub covered valley floor, I was getting a little freaked out. There could be a grizzly bear just meters away and I would have no idea unless it made it's presence known. I made plenty of noise as I hiked along, so it was a bit of a surprise when I spotted a moose about 50 meters into the valley.
Thankfully it didn't disappear as I switched out lenses. This was the first moose I'd ever encountered in the wild andI spent several minutes photographing it before it decided it had had enough of me and quickly stode out of sight.
Soon after my moose sighting the trail began to climb towards the head of the valley. The path wound it's way through ripe berry bushes and I enjoyed a tasty snack until it dawned on me that I was in the middle of prime grizzly feeding grounds. A big pile of bear scat reinforced that fact.
I reached the head of the valley and the end of the trail. I would love to explore this area further but the overcast sky and the prospect of hiking back solo in the dark made my descision for me and after a short stop I headed back to the hut.
Back at the hut, I rested my feet and had some supper. With only a couple of hours of daylight left, I set out to explore around Outpost Lake.
The first thing that caught my eye was a small seedling, trying to gain a foot hold on a boulder. It was stunted and broken, struggling to survive in the harsh enviroment.
The gathering clouds warned of a storm to come but I was hopefull it was going to pass.
On the far side of the lake, I stopped to photograph the eastern side of the Ramparts reflected in the calm waters.
The outlet of the lake was easy to cross and from the other side I was able to get a good view of Outpost Mountain.
Darkness fell quickly and I headed back to the hut for the night.
The next morning I took a short walk by the lake, photographing Outpost Peak, before packing up and starting the 16 km hike back to the trailhead.
Leaving the Wates-Gibson hut the trail descends quickly and I stopped to take a few shots behind me.
I made short stop at Chrome Lake and then carried on.
While most of the trails I'd hiked over the last few days had been relatively dry, the route along the south side of Astoria River still had lots of water flowing off the flanks of Thunderbolt Peak. It wasn't until I crossed over to the north side of the river that my boots had a chance to dry out.
Only half way back, I was getting tired. I should have taken a longer break at the bridge crossing back to the south side but I was so intent on getting home that I just kept trudging along.
I struggled along for another couple of hours before finally reaching the truck. Then it was time for the long drive home.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on June 3, 2018 at 1:00 PM||comments (0)|
We made a return visit to Las Vegas for a friends birthday celebration and some of the people we were with, including our son, Devin, had never been to the Valley of Fire.
Devin always wants to drive so I let him take the wheel of the rental. After a couple of quick stops at the entrance and the "Bee Hives", we passed the visitor center and started driving through a break in the red rock. Something caught Devin's eye and he turned the car around and drove slowly back until he pulled over. Then we all saw the family of big horn sheep. I quickly switched to my 70-200 lens and began snapping away!
As the sheep moved away I saw where they were headed and moved to position myself for a better view. With Devin beside me, I waited for just the right moment when the large male emerged on the ledge and posed for us.
Then they were gone.
With such a late start there wasn't a whole lot of time to explore but we pulled into a parking lot and took a look around. We all met at the top of a little rise and posed for a phot.
The sun was headed towards the horizon so I said I was going for a stroll.
I know I'm not the first person to walk these paths but when the light is low and there's noone else in sight there's a definite sense of aloneness.
I found a pinnacle catching the last rays of light.
I didn't want to make everyone wait too long so I headed back to the car. It was nice to know that our friends enjoyed the Valley of Fire as much as we do.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on April 12, 2018 at 12:45 AM||comments (0)|
I've seen this ridge on the south side of Needle Peak, plenty of times and finally gave it a little reconnaissance.
From below Flatiron, I skirted around Tastey Lake, and side-hilled a bit until the ridge dropped down to meet me. The best wildflower blooms had come and gone but I managed to find a few.
I couldn't take my eyes off of Needle Peak, rising up from across the valley.
There was a bit of a trail but I just wandered about, eventually coming upon a small pool that was drying up. I tryed to get a reflection of Needle Peak but it was tough to get a clear view.
My original goal was to get to the very end of the ridge but I wasn't ready to take on the steep gully that seperated me from it.
With a decent water source I decided that this would make a nice over-night destination and left any further exploring until next time. After another shot of Needle Peak,
I took a look around at the smokey views to the south. There was an "other-worldliness" to the landscape so I framed a few shots.
It was easy to retrace my steps back to the trail junction where the lowering sun created layers of fading light.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on February 18, 2018 at 3:50 PM||comments (0)|
A couple of years ago I "discovered" the amazing wildflower display in the bowl below Mount McGuire and I knew I had to get back and photograph this area again.
With no intention of summiting, I headed to the trail head in the late afternoon. The lower part of the road is still ok but it's getting overgrown making for a lot of single lane driving. Then the road deteriorates rapidly and I switched to 4 wheel drive to save my tires.
There was no one at the trail head and I quickly headed to the rockslide. The hills were alive with flowers but the contrast made it difficult to get a decent shot. The trail gets steep at the funnel and I took my time until reaching the ridge. My first look into the bowl confirmed my timing. The hills were bursting with blooms!
By 7:00 pm the light had softened enough for my to start getting some good exposures and I did my best to frame the flowers with Mount McGuire in the background. There was tonnes of white flowers with some yelow, pink, and red ones thrown in for variety.
This can be a difficult location to photograph due to the steep slopes and I struggled to get my tripod to not fall over! And of course, wildflower season is mosquito season!
At one point I found myself in a field of thistles. Thankfully I wasn't wearing shorts!
After realizing that the clear skies wouldn't provide a great sunset I made my way to the top of the ridge. There the light was better and the line of the ridge leading to the peak made for an ineresting composition.
As the light faded from the sky, I said good-bye to one of my favourite, local destinations.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on February 14, 2018 at 11:30 PM||comments (0)|
Elk Mountain, my go-to location for a quick, after-work hike, combining some decent photo opportunities with a good cardio workout!
In early summer the wild flowers are in full swing so I headed up a little after 5:00 pm hoping to catch the sunset on the summit.
The dense greenery of the lower slopes always has me looking for a good composition. I took some quick shots of these ferns, cranking the ISO on my camera up to 1600 and reducing the exsposure to try and get a longer shutter speed as I was hand-holding my camera. I always give myself a slap in the face later, for not setting up my tripod.
Just past the road I took a quick shot of some flowers and then gave myself a mental slap-in-the-face and pulled out my tripod and spent a bit of time framing the shot.
From there, I put my head down and huffed and puffed my way to the summit area where the steep slope was covered in blooms.
I would be great to just sit and enjoy the views after the hard hike but in the evening the hill is alive with mosquitoes. The deet stops them from biting but the buzzing in your ear is maddening!
When it looked as though there wouldn't be much to see at sunset I started back down, stopping for a parting shot of the little white flowers that lined the upper trail.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on February 6, 2018 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
We've been going to the Valley of Fire for years now because of the incredible scenery and I'd never been to "the wave". This short, easy hike leads to a cool rock feature.
As sunset approached, I made my way down the trail and around the tumbling cliffs of a large outcrop of red rock. On the south side of this formation I was mesmerized by the countless lines and layers in the rock surface. Normally, this would be, at most a 10 minute walk, but I had to stop every few feet and frame another photo!
There were some neat clouds in the sky and I was hoping they'd stick around for sunset and add more colour to already colourful landscape.
This is not a secret trail and there were some other people enjoying the scenery and exploring around the wave. After waiting a while for some people to move, I decided to just go about my business and try and stay out of their way.
With plenty of light in the sky I headed down a little valley and up the other side, climbing to the top of some cliffs.
If you've ever been to the Valley of Fire you'll know how intriguing this spectacular landscape is!
The sun was just above the horizon as I made my way back to the wave. Most of the crowd had left, leaving me to compose my shots without having to work around anyone else.
Because the Wave is in a depression it was soon in shadow. Fortunately there was more to photograph as I headed back to the car, and my waiting wife, and I used up all the light I could.
Even after so many trips to this unbelievable valley, I'm still spellbound by the remarkable scenery!
Until next time!
|Posted by Dean Hebert on February 5, 2018 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
As usual I was trying to time my hike to be near the peak by sunset. It was a cloudy day and I didn't hold out too much hope that I'd get any good photos but you know what they say, " Any day in the mountains is a good day! " With the road to the trail head snowwed in there's a couple of extra kilometers to hike.
After hiking the road and then up the open slope I reached the lower forest and followed one of the winding trails leading upwards. I've done this hike enough to have a good idea of which way to go so I wasn't concerned when others trails led away from the one I was taking. In the snow you don't have to worry too much about trampling any sensitive ground cover.
As the forest thinned near the top of the ridge, the light began to change colours. It was close to sunset and the entire sky was acting like a soft box with a pink glow.
It was getting close to dark and my fingers were pretty cold so I begged off reaching the summit and headed back to the truck. Going up in snowshoes takes way more effort than going down and I reached the open slopes with a trace of light still in the sky. I stopped for another shot as the light change above Thar.
From there it was only a few minutes back to the road. I'll consider this another successful day in the Coquihalla!
|Posted by Dean Hebert on January 29, 2018 at 12:30 AM||comments (0)|
Almost half of 2016's best photos are from a trip around the Three Sisters. The other photos are from Skyline Divide and the Coquihalla Summit Rec. Area.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on January 24, 2018 at 7:25 PM||comments (0)|
September 5-10, 2016
As the season progressed, I looked forward to a multi-day camping trip in the rockies but the weather forecast looked dismal for the days I'd booked off. I searched south and found a decent forecast in Oregon, so Dan and I decided to hike the almost 50 mile loop around the Three Sisters.
On the day we were to leave, Dan informed me that didn't have all his gear ready, so we put off leaving until the next day. That meant we'd have to make up a day on the trail!
After a 9 hour drive and a short stop in Portland for a map, we arrived at the trail head.
A dry, dusty path leads from the popular parking lot and passes a couple of small lakes before reaching the first junction. We planned on a clockwise trip so we turned left.
It was getting late and darkness closed in beneath the forest canopy. We couldn't find the trail to the lake we were planning on camping at so I pulled up the GPS app on my phone and we plunged into the underbrush. I kept reading the map wrong but amazingly we found the lake! After setting up in the dark we crashed for the night.
The next morning was grey and overcast, with rain threatening. It was 16 kms to our next stop so we didn't linger over breakfast.
It was almost a good thing that the weather was bad as we spent most of it trudging through the pole creek burn, eventually making our way to two small lakes where we spent our second night.
As with most mornings, I slept past dawn but got up in time for some decent light.
With another 16 kms to go, up and over a pass, we got an early start.
The skies cleared and we were treated to views of South Sister and Broken Top. At the top of the pass we stopped and had a long break, taking photos and having lunch.
Then it was off to Green Lake.
It would have been nice to camp at Green Lakes and spend some time exploring the area but our destination for that night's camp was Moraine Lake.
I was pretty happy to arrive at Moraine Lake, nestled at the foot of South Sister, as my feet were getting tired of carrying my heavy pack.
The campsites were on a bluff overlooking the the lake and they all seemed to be occupied so we kept searching higher and higher. There was a sign warning against random camping so we needed to find a designated site. Ten minutes of searching found us an open site and we set up camp.
After a siesta and dinner it was time to explore and do some photography. I found a nice spot overlooking the lake with Broken Top in the background and waited for the best light.
In the morning there was enough of a breeze to ruffle the water and spoil my attempts at a reflection shot.
With a full day of hiking to reach our next camp site, we set out under clear blue skies.
We spent the morning hiking over open, rolling hills before reaching a branch in the trail. We took the low road and I was so happy with that desicion when we came across a ripe blueberry patch!
At the next trail junction we found a water source and pitched our tent. Some scouting of the area turned up a nice spot to do some photography in the morning but the light wasn't cooperating that evening so I crawled into my sleeping bag.
For once I woke up in time for sunrise. I found the spot I'd picked out the night before and began taking shots as the sunlight hit the top of a nearby peak.
Although neither Dan, nor myself were in any hurry to get going, we had our longest day of travel ahead of us.
After passing Obsidian Falls we took a break beside a cool stream, where we met a group of hikers we'd met two days earlier on the other side of the sisters. Small world!
The hardest part of the whole circuit was the climb up Opie Dilldock Pass, a dry, rocky pass that probably wasn't more than a couple hundred meters of elevation gain but seemed like so much more!
Finally, we crested the summit and began or descent to South Matthieu Lake. We were pretty tired as we circled the lake, spotting the last vacant campsite. Just as we got to the site another hiker walked up and claimed it. After a minute of discussion the hiker, Paul Carew, agreed to share the site with us. As we continued to talk I found out that Paul was a fellow photographer so we spent the next half hour talking gear and style!
In the pre-dawn light I wandered down to the small lake and took a shot of the silhoutted trees reflected on the calm water.
Continuing to explore, I found myself running up a small rise as the sun broke above the horizon. When the best light was over I returned to camp as we had a short hike and a long drive ahead of us.
Dan was a real trooper as he suffered from blisters on his feet almost the whole trip.
I think next time I'll do a loop around the two southern peaks and plan a day to summit South Sister.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on October 2, 2016 at 1:00 AM||comments (0)|
With a forecast of clearing skies I decided to attempt another hike in the Mount Baker Wilderness.
I've got to say I'm not a big fan of the access road; one lane, blind corners, and potholes. Thankfully it was Monday and traffic was light.
It was late afternoon when I hit the trail and began climbing up the modest grade through a nice forest. This late in the season I had to stop and photography every flower I could find!
As I neared the crest of the ridge, the sky was a solid layer of cloud so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw some blue skies at the top.
The sun was trying it's best to burn off the remaining clouds as I wandered up the rolling hills, making my way closer to Mount Baker.
As I reached the next summit along the trail, Mount Baker emrged from the clouds and filled the skyline.
I spied some flowers a little lower down so I stopped to frame a few shots.
A layer of clouds flowed over the ridge and I loved the light and shadow and colours.
As the light began to fade, I made my way back to a field of flowers I'd seen earlier. More clouds meant more photos along the way.
Mount Shuksan glowed pink in the dying minutes of sunlight.
A layer of clouds had formed below me on the opposite side of the divide.
By the time I was set-up at the flowers I'd seen I was left with a soft, alpine glow.
I sat there enjoying the view unit it was dark before heading back to the truck.