|Posted by Dean Hebert on September 18, 2016 at 11:55 AM||comments (0)|
I'm always looking for new hikes near my home in Chilliwack and after seeing some photos of the Mount Baker area I decided I needed to go and explore.
The Lake Anne hike starts in the wrong direction, descending into a green valley. I wasn't happy going down the switch backs knowing I'd have to climb them on the way back.
Early views hinted at the scenery to come.
I'd timed my hike to reach the lake with plenty of time before sunset so there was no need to rush.
Much of the trail runs along the bottom of the valley before slowly rising towards the pass. I met a gentleman who was carring a camera and hiking with his two young daughters. We struck up a conversation which helped pass the time.
As Mount Baker came into view I had to pause and take a few shots.
Lake Anne sits just below the pass at the foot of Mount Shuksan, which is pretty impressive from this vantage point.
I wandered down to the lake and sat beside the shore to have a snack. The lake is a popular campsite and even on a Monday there were plenty of people spending the night. With a couple of hours before sunset I took a slow stroll around the lake. It's an incredible sight!
As per my usual, I ditched the best light at the lake to see if I could get a better shot of Baker, which didn't pan out as well as I thought. I did get a descent shot of one of the neighbouring peaks before the sun went down.
As the last of the light faded from the sky I booked it back to the truck, inspired to return and see more of this incredible wilderness.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on August 25, 2016 at 5:25 PM||comments (0)|
After several attempts to reach beyond the lower Pierce Lake I was finally able to summit Mount MacFarlane.
The hike to Pierce Lake is a long, steep, slog, mostly through ugly forest. The exception is a stand of old-growth forest before the crossing of Pierce Creek. Unfortunately this is only a few minutes in a 3 hour climb of 1000 meters.
After an age of drudgery I came abreast of the lake and a short drop brought me down to the shore. It's a pretty lake but I didn't linger as there was still a mountain to climb.
It wasn't long before I reached the open slopes at the far end of the lake. The impressive headwall loomed in the distance but I wasn't deterred as I knew there was a trail leading to the top.
The last time I'd been here the upper meadow was filled with mist and I'd lost my way, retreating when I could find the trail. This time I had no problem following the boot-beaten path. I stopped to take a shot of some large tiger lillies.
Further along the trail there were more flowers so it was time for more photos. I had been hoping for fields covered in wildflowers but that's not what I got.
The sound of the waterfall serenaded me as I climbed the steep headwall, finally reaching the upper lake for the first time.
My feet were tired so I sat down and snacked on some food, debating whether to go on to the summit or start the long hike back. As I waited I convinced myself that the peak was right there and I should get off my lazy ass and go see what all the fuss was about.
The trail isn't obvious in some spots but easily regained by continuing upward. The views steadily improved as I worked my way up the ridge.
Finally at the summit I enjoyed the amazing views. This might be the most impressive viewpoint of Mount Slesse, which is further south along ridge.
As usual, my original plan had been to find a great scene, preferably of the mountain reflected in the upper lake, and wait for sunset. But I was so tired and the cloudless sky was so uninspiring that I just headed straight down. I took a couple pictures of the forest between the lower lake and Pierce Creek.
I'm thinking this hike would be better as an overnight, eventhough I'd dread hauling my gear to the upper lake.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on August 22, 2016 at 1:00 PM||comments (0)|
A great day for photography was marred by high winds and a blur on my wide angle lens.
I'm always a little nervous when I hike by myself and the dense young growth at the beginning of the trail had me calling out to warn off any ursus that might be in the area.
After crossing the stream I stopped in the clearing and tried a few shots.
Then a quick climb up through the forest to the ridge before beginning the long walk to the wide open pass. Bushes covered the trail for most of the lower slope until I reached the rock slide. After a bit of elevation gain I reached the lower meadows. I was hoping for more abundant flowers but had to settle for some blooming heather.
I kind of had plans to climb Jim Kelly but once at the meadows I just didn't seem to have the energy. I'll just have to save that one for another day.
Coquihalla Mountain makes a great backdrop and the dappled lighting added interest.
The wind picked up on the pass and I quickly cooled off. I made my way over to the lake below Illal hoping to recreate a shot from a couple years ago but I couldn't find the patch of lupines and had to settle for more heather.
I'd also contemplated summiting Illal but I just wasn't feeling it. Instead I moseyed over to the cliffs overlooking the valley between Coquihalla Mountain and Illal Meadows. There's some lakes down there that I'll have to explore some day.
I composed a couple of shots from there before continuing to look for interesting subjects.
The wind was intense by now, you'll know what I mean if you've been there, and the flowers wouldn't hold still for pictures. Thankfully, rocks don't sway in the breeze.
I caught a spotlight on Jim Kelly.
The plan was to catch the sunset from the meadows, but I was getting quite chilled as I'd failed to layer appropriately for the conditions. Also, as I was doing a set of focus stacked shots, I noticed a blur in an image. I tried to clean it with a micro fibre cloth but couldn't. I switched to my 70-200 lens but it wasn't what I wanted to use. I knew there might be some good light but I decided to start back. This way I'd have less trail to travel in the dark and I'd be home, in bed, sooner. A couple of parting shots as the sun sank below the clouds and then it was time to make tracks.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on August 3, 2016 at 11:45 PM||comments (0)|
McGuire Ridge is one of my favorite photography locations. Unfortunately, the road is deteriorating. Loose rock and trees encroaching on the road are beginning to make this a "bush beater" special.
I'm always looking for veratrum viride and whenever I see it I have to stop and try to get a good shot. The lines and shapes lend themselves to black and white treatments.
While I was paused I noticed some fern heads emerging nearby.
Then it was time to tackle the rock slide and steep access to the ridge. There was still a fair bit of snow as I side hilled over to one of my "go to" locations.
I took the usual photos of Slesse and Tomyhoi, as well as the border peaks while I waited for the sunset. here were some interesting rocks so I set up the tripod and focus stacked smoe shots.
Around this time of year the wild flowers make their apperance.
Without clouds in the sky there wasn't much chance of a stunning sunset so I started back. Sometimes it just the direction that your looking because when I crested the ridge there was some good light to the west.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on June 4, 2016 at 2:25 PM||comments (0)|
I haven't been getting out much so Zoa seemed like a good way to stretch my legs, without killing myself!
There was still snow half way to the parking lot so I found a good spot and geared up. The snow was firm so there was no need for snowshoes and once at the trail head the snow was gone. I ended up carrying my snowshoes the whole way. The hardest part of this hike is the first hill but I stopped often to take photos. There were storm clouds moving in so I kept my fingers crossed that they would just blow by.
The ground was snow-covered in the forest, making it harder to travel than it shoud be, even though the snow was packed. Yak Peak poked through the trees so I framed a couple of shots.
By the time the forest began to thin out the storm was upon me. When it started hailing I pulled out my camera and recorded some video of it. The hail didn't last long and I was soon at the first summit which is my favourite spot to take photos.
I'd thought about staying for the sunset but as I cooled off I decided to head back. Coquihalla Mountain and the surrounding peaks were still covered in snow beneath a cool cloud formation.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on May 14, 2016 at 1:20 PM||comments (0)|
A trip to the American Southwest during easter has become an annual tradition for my wife and I. I try to make it all about photography but she's not so interested in that. For her, it's a quick get-a-way to a warm destination. This year's trip had too much driving and Serea and Shawn were burnt out quickly and less than willing to wait for sunsets.
Even so, I was able to spend several hours in Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley.
Now, if you're not into deserts then these might not be your ideal destinations but I love the rocks and sand as well as the hardy vegetation and wildlife that eeks out a living in these harsh enviroments.
So, after flying into Palm Springs and renting a car, we were off to Joshua Tree.
After driving in the desert, the bright pink blooms of the cacti caught my eye and I quickly pulled over. After an indeterminate time, I looked back at the rental car and saw Serea and Shawn beckoning me to return. This set the tone for the rest of the trip.
Our next stop was Split Rock, so named for the large rock, split in two, at the trail head.
I wandered down the trail, enjoying the unique topography of the area. A cool formation of rounded boulders rose above the surrounding rocks and I tried to get a good shot.
Then a lizard posed for me!
Knowing they were waiting for me, I made my way back to the car, stopping once or twice when something interested me.
We drove up to Keys View and spent a few minutes at this high look out.
Then it was off to Hidden Valley where we explored the trail through this rocky landscape.
It was suggested that we go for dinner, and since we'd planned to eat at Red Lobster in San Bernadino, it was easy to get in the car.
After a quick overnight stop we were off to Death Valley. Our first stop was a short trail to a water source. I came across a lizard that blended in with it's background.
More bright cactus blossoms caught my eye.
It was a long drive through the desert and when we reached the entrance to the park we pulled over for a break. Bright yellow flowers a few meters from the road were enough for me to get my camera.
Turning south, we wound our way up to Dantes View. The dried pools of the salt flats made for some interesting images.
I've never seen one of these lizards before.
Zabriskie Point is one of Death Valley's iconic locations so I was hoping to be there for sunset. Unfortunately my trusty companions thought we should head to Las Vegas for dinner. I pulled over at Twenty Mule Team Canyon and did a quick reconnaissance up a small hill. I knew time was limited so I ran a bit, quickly gaining the summit only to see more levels. My time was up so a few shots was all I could get before we were back in the car.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on January 17, 2016 at 3:45 AM||comments (0)|
Janice had posted that she wanted to head to Cutthroat Pass and after a quick search I decided to join her.
It's a long drive from Chilliwack so we loaded up on coffee, crossed the border, and then drove for hours along Hwy 20. We made a couple of stops along the way before arriving at the trail head. At the first opening in the forest I realized I'd failed to charge my batteries and they were all dead. I figured I could get a couple of shots, so I would have to use my phone unless the scenery warranted using up my battery.
The trail is part of the PCT and is so well graded that we kept a quick pace all the way to the pass. Views were spectacular and we'd timed it just perfectly as the larches were ablaze with colour!
We had our lunch while we enjoyed the sights. With plenty of time, I suggested we explore a ridge to the north. Choosing a line, we hiked straight to a notch where we peered into the next valley.
Janice didn't like the steepness of the final approach so she went back to the trail while I fought my way up the last 20 meters or so. More great views awaited me at the top. A larch tree was growing near the top so I took some photos.
Descending a steep slope can be tricky so I took my time, inching my way down. By the time I got back on the trail, Janice had disappeared. I figured she'd gone to explore around the corner so I started in that direction. I quickly caught up to her and we decided to head back.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on January 3, 2016 at 7:55 PM||comments (0)|
At the end of each year I look back at all the pictures I took (3500, a slow year) and decide which 12 photos are my favourite, which ones represent the year. Here they are in chronological order.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on October 21, 2015 at 10:50 PM||comments (0)|
Upon returning from Waterton Lakes, I was surprised to see that someone had replied to an ad I'd placed on clubtread. I'd been looking for someone to accompany me on a circuit tour of the Sawback Range in Banff National Park for almost 2 years. I sent off an email to James from Edmonton to see if he was still interested. He was, so we synced up our time off and made plans.
On most of my trips so far I would drive to Golden and then spend the night there before heading to the trail head the next morning. This time I found an inexpensive hotel in Sicamous so I stayed there. It meant that I still had a 3 hour drive in the morning but I was able to make it to Lake Louise by noon.
With an eye on the forecast, I was apprehensive of doing a loop trip. If the weather took a nasty turn we could be stuck a long way from comfort and safety. One final check at the visitors centre showed a slight improvement so we booked our campsites and headed to the trail head at Moose Meadows.
As we put on our boots and made final adjustments to our packs, clouds covered the sky. It was actually great weather for hiking, nice and cool, as we headed up the easy trail through the forest. All to soon, the trail joined an old fire road and began to climb. We passed lots of folks who were daytripping to the ink pots, as well as a couple of young women who'd camped at Luellen Lake the night before.
After 2 hours of steady hiking we arrived at the ink pots. Maybe on a sunny day this would make a pleasent spot to stop and enjoy the sights, but today it seemed a little drab. We rested just long enough to get a few photos before pushing on.
This leg of the hike was a steady journey up the forest enclosed valley. We reached the first campsitequickly, but since it had zero views we'd opted to not stop there and instead, carry on to Luellen Lake. It would make for a long day with full packs but I was hoping the scenery would be worth it.
By the time we reached the turn off for the lake, I was hiking on fumes. Maybe I'd packed too much stuff. I'd brought my 3 man tent because I wanted the extra room to try and stay dry if it rained hard, but that added 2 pounds to my pack. Anyway, that last kilometer was equal parts wanting to lie down right where I was, and the excitement of reaching camp.
The first views of the lake were less than incredible as the cloud cover completely obscured the surrounding mountains. In the gathering darkness we set up our tents, had dinner by headlamp, and then retired for the night.
Not much had changed in the morning and James and I ate breakfast beneath a couple of trees, trying to stay dry. We discussed some ideas about our plans for the day, deciding that since we had a day to "waste", and today was supposed to be the worst day, weather wise, we would hangout close to camp. I didn't see any reason to try navigating a high mountain pass in what could turn into white out conditions.
After sitting around for a couple of hours we decided to go for a little stroll along the shore. A light mist was falling but we thought nothing of it.
There's a waterfall at the head of the valley and as we continued around the lake I thought it would make a nice destination and provide a good photo op.
An hour and a half later we were at the foot of the falls and the mist had turned to mixed precipitation. We climbed up the hillside to get a better perspective of the cascades, at one point encountering some slippery footing.
Not wanting to get hurt, we turned around and began the journey back to camp.
By now it was snowing but it melted as soon as it hit the ground. James and I both had wet feet, and I had made the mistake of not removing one of my base layers that I sleep in. Half way back the snow intensified and started piling up.
Back at camp I dusted the snow off my tent and snuggled into my sleeping bag to warm up. I hung my wet garments inside the tent hoping they would dry out. Lying inside I listened to the slithering of the snow as it slid off the tent. I read my book for awhile until it seemed the snow had stopped. I flicked the side of the tent and the layer of snow that had built up, fell off. Then I could hear the snow again, still coming down. Outside, I could hear James walking back and forth presumably getting something to eat. I thought that was a good idea so I got up to join him.
The tempeture had dropped and my boiling hot, noodle soup cooled down quickly. After dinner it was back to my tent where my clothes hadn't dried out yet. I put on all of my dry clothes and then huddled in my sleeping bag, reading more of my book.
In the middle of the night I awoke disoriented. My tent had collapsed under the weight of the snow and I had a difficult time figuring out what had happened. I finally got myself rearranged but now more of my gear was wet, including my sleeping bag.
Just after dozing off, the tent collapsed again. This time I got up and went outside, removing all the snow from around the tent.
In the morning I stayed in bed as long as I could. At this point, I couldn't any way that we would be able to complete our hike. The cold had sapped all of my desires except to be warm again.
While the fresh carpet of snow made for some good photography, it wasn't long before I was back in my sleeping bag. James and I had discussed our options again and decided that the wisest course of action would be to just sit tight for the day, then hike out tomorrow. It was a good thing that I'd brought a good, long book with me.
In the middle of the afternoon I heard voices. A group had hiked through the snow to reach the lake. They were setting up their camp next to me and I could hear James talking with them. I got up to see who had joined us, to discover it was a group of teens on their grad trip! It was nice to have some company and James and I helped them to get a fire going before joining them for dinner.
We all sat around the fire until sunset before we turned in for the night.
The next day there was a cool layer of clouds over the lake so I took some photos before breakfast.
Then it was time to pack up. The kids were heading out to Baker Lake and after we took a couple of group photos we parted company.
Surprisingly, the trail was in good shape and we had an easy, (other than the grunt out of the inkpots) but long hike back to the truck.
This means that I have some unfinished business in the Sawback Range.
|Posted by Dean Hebert on September 21, 2015 at 3:20 AM||comments (2)|
I've got this idea to visit all the national and provincial parks in the Canadian Rockies. So far, I've only been to Banff NP, and Assiniboine Provincial Park, but I'd found a good trip in Wateron, so I booked the time off and started another adventure.
It's a long drive to Waterton so I spent a night in Cranbrook before arriving at the park gate the next day. I picked up my camping pass at the visitor centre and checked in at the warden cabin. It's suggested that solo hikers leave an itinerary as it is considered a high risk activity. Then it was a short drive up the scenic, Red Rock Parkway, where I parked and prepared for the hike.
I was encouraged by views of the surrounding mountains before plunging into the forest. The first 4.5 kms are along an old road and I made good time.
After an hour of this pleasant walk I reached the junction to Goat Lake. A young family was resting on the trail so I stopped for a minute to talk with them. Then it was time to face the tough climb and I huffed and puffed my way up the steep slope, gaining around 400 meters before arriving at the lake.
It didn't take long for me to set up camp and go for a little walk around the lake.
I climbed a rock slope to get an overview of the area. While I was up there I could hear the voices of the young children as they played around the lake. The noise was a little worrisome but they soon quieted down and it never became an problem.
By the time I was back at the lakeshore it was time for dinner. After a quick meal I wandered along the opposite side of the lake, looking for some inspiration. The sky had some cool stuff going on but a light wind ruffled the water and ruined any thought of a reflection shot. I found an interesting rock formation in the shallow waters near the shore so I stopped and waited and eventually the wind died down. With the last bit of light fading from the sky I was able to frame a few shots.
Then it was time to turn in for the night.
A light rain greeted the dawn and kept me in my tent until after 10:00. Once the weather broke I got up and had my usual breakfast of coffee and oatmeal. The kids, who were from Salt Lake City, were eager to talk to me so I lingered over my second coffee.
My goal for the day was to hike up to Avion Ridge and then summit a couple of the surrounding peaks. I had all day so I sauntered my way up the valley. There are cliff bands at the head of the valley but an easy trail leads through them. A figure was on the ridge so I quickened my pace to see if I could catch up. I'd spent a few minutes discussing my plans with a fellow camper and I thought it might be him.
The view back down the valley to the lake was impressive so I stopped for some photos.
Just below the col the rock changed to a red argillite and there was very little growing at that elevation. I lost sight of the other hiker so I followed the easy footpath to the summit of Newman Peak. There I met Brian and we had a good talk while we took in the beautiful views. Unfortunately, Brian turned out to be an LA Kings fan so I couldn't let him join me as I headed towards another peak along the ridge.
Dropping off Newman Peak was easy and the views down the surrounding valleys were spectacular. There was no path to follow but the way was easy, other than the loose rock. This area reminded me of the Valley of Fire in Nevada.
Minutes later I was standing on the summit of Spionkop. Ridgelines streched out in all directions, capped by the red rock.
I spent awhile enjoying the scenery, looking back the way I'd come up.
Retracing my steps, I found myself at the low point of the ridge taking photos.
I figured I could sidehill below Newman Peak and save myself some elevation gain. Apparently I wasn't the first person to think that as I pick-up a faint trail and followed it back to the col above Goat Lake.
The dappled sunlight added some interest on the landscape. Then I ran across this outcrop topped with vegetation so I positioned it to get a sunstar.
By the time I was back at camp it was time for dinner. I eat alot of noodle soup when I'm backpacking because it provides lots of calories in a light weight package. And it's yummy!
While I ate I met the newcomers, a family of 4 from nearby in Alberta. They invited me for tea, but not a real tea, a hot mint drink. We chatted while I kept one eye on the changing light. There was a deer wandering through the campsite. It made it's way into the eating area and slowly moved towards the food I'd left on the picnic table. I took out my phone at took a few photos. I didn't think anything of it until it started to nibble at my storage bag. Then I yelled at it and chased it away.
It was close to sunset, and eventhough the clouds had all dissappeared, I excused myself and headed to the lake to do some photography. None of the shots were keepers but it was a memorable evening as another deer almost walked into me as I sat quietly by the lake.
The next morning I slept in, a common occurance when I'm camping, but didn't miss anything because the sky was clear again. I still went down to the lake with my gear and when the light hit the top of the ridge I was able to get a couple compositions I was happy with.
By 8:00am I was done and it was time to move to Twin Lakes. My fellow campers were taking the highline route along Avion Ridge but I was taking the low way, which was much shorter and easier. Unfortunatley, the trail from Goat Lake to Twin Lakes is almost all forest enclosed so there were no views. It was also completely deserted and I saw no one until I arrived at the Twin Lakes campsite.
I don't know what they were smoking the day they laid out the campsite but my tent pad was smack dab in the middle of a berry patch! I ate as many as I could thinking I could make a difference. If there was a bear in the area it would be making a bee line right to my tent!
I rested my feet for awhile and read my book in the sun. It was relaxing and I soon found myself feeling refreshed so I figured I would climb the ridge behind the lake. Heading back the way I came, I soon found the Sage Pass trail and hiked the graded switchbacks to the pass. From there another trail branched off to the south so I went up it, beginning to feel the days exertion in my legs. While not overly steep, the trail continued to gain altitude and I had to push myself to reach the summit.
When I was checking in at the ranger station the ranger had mentioned that I should hike to Kishinena Peak and there I was. The peak offers views down the valley I'd hiked to get to Twin Lakes as well as the valley I would hike on the way back to the parking lot. I took photos of the surrounding peaks and then headed back.
My legs were tired and my feet were pretty sore so I was thankful when I could lie down in my tent.
The sky was clear and at some point I decided to stay up and do some star photography. It seemed to take forever for the last light to fade and the stars to appear. I did a 20 minute exposure and got some decent trails but it didn't come out the way I wanted it to so I'll have to do more to figure out what I need to correct.
The next day had some weird light. A haze blanketed the entire landscape and cast a reddish hue to everything. I walked to the shore of the lake and took a few shots but there wasn't much appeal there for my tastes.
With a forecast of rain for tomorrow I decided there was no reason to hang around and then hike out in the rain the next day. Even if I climbed a mountain there'd be no views.
The hardest part of the hike out was climbing out of the Twin Lakes basin. From there it was all down hill through the forested valley. I sang out loud making lots of noise as I didn't feel like having any kind of bear encounter. About half way through the 14 kms hike, I felt a hot spot on my toe and when I stopped to look at it I'd developed a blister. I did the best I could to bandage my toe and set off again.
For 13 kms I had the trail to myself before reaching Blakiston Falls. This is one of the main tourist attractions in the area and people were flocking to it. I was a little out of place with my loaded backpack and 4 days of accumulated dirt and sweat. Within 15 minutes I was at the busy parking lot. I ripped off my boots and socks and let the air at my feet. It felt so good!
With nothing left to do but drive home, I stopped at the ranger station and checked out. They confirmed that the forecast was for rain tomorrow as well as thunder showers this afternoon! I felt pretty glad to dodge that bullet.
I'll make a return trip to Waterton Lakes in the future even though the long drive makes it a logistical challenge.