Monday, 31 May 2010

Hiking Season Has Commenced: 2010

Yesterday we set off on our first "real" hike of the 2010 season. It was raining fairly heavily when we got to Argenta and I was surprised to realize that this was the first time I've ever really been to the community of Argenta, north of Kootenay Lake. It's a small Quaker community with some very interesting people.

We hiked about 5 km (one way) of the Hamill Creek Trail and the creek is pictured here. We had one cable car crossing of the creek and could have done another if we'd wanted to travel further. The showers ended shortly after our departure and we enjoyed a few bits of sunshine, beautiful greenery in the forest, canyon walls, rushing creeks, rockslide debris, old mining operations, and a lovely log cabin, partially collapsed. It was good to have the boots on once again.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Roads Taken: Getting to and From Work

I'm pretty sure that yesterday was my last day of work in schools and as I drove up the lake to Meadow Creek, I couldn't help but reflect on all the beautiful roads I've taken to work over the years, particularly over the last decade when I began being "green" getting to work. It began with a nearly hour long bike ride over to the north end of Saskatoon from Montgomery Place - about 18 km each way, mostly along the beautiful trail along the South SK River. While working on the west side of Saskatoon I was close enough to walk to and from work even on those bitter winter days and I remember snowshoeing a couple of times. The year in the Isle of Man was magical - I had a 15 minute walk to my rideshare and could see the sun rise over the Irish Sea. If I disembarked at the right bus stop on the way home, I could walk past thatched cottages and views out to Ireland. Yesterday, I was able to drive north on Kootenay Lake, observing Mt. Willett most of the way
(pictured here; photo credit to Dave). I really can't say which have been the "best" of all those routes - every one of them has been special in its own way. The whole business of teaching has been a road taken, too!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Baby, 30

We travelled to Rossland last Thursday to celebrate the 30ieth birthday of our baby, Andrea. Where did that time go? I know my Dad told me that he felt old when his eldest child turned 40. I took this turning 30 in stride; the unease I felt that day was placing my will in a safety deposit box in Trail and thinking that Andrea might be the next person to open this - hopefully not before she is 60!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

No GPS, Lots of Common Sense

I had a chance to walk to the headwaters of the Columbia River last Saturday after a long sit at meetings during the day. We parked the vehicle just south of Fairmont Hot Springs and an hour's walk brought me to this view of Columbia Lake and the beginning of the great river. One thing I really like about travelling through the Pacific Northwest (aka Cascadia) is to see where the great mapmaker David Thompson spent a good many days. Just outside Invermere we found Kootenae House, where Thompson spent the winter of 1807, travelling there via Howse Pass with his wife and children. It's a pretty uninspiring place for pictures today, but it's easy to imagine what might have been. He's the most underrated of Canada's explorers, in my opinion. We don't do much to enlighten our population about his travels; I often find we get more information about David Thompson while travelling through the US. He accomplished so much during his lifetime, pretty much mapping most of western North America. He had incredible common sense when it came to the fur trade, too, but he was largely ignored by his "superiors". And to think he did most of this journeying with a compass, canoe, and a few writing instruments.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Camping: AB style!

Last Friday night Dave and I stayed at the Enid Lake Forest Service Recreation Site. We arrived in early afternoon and had a wonderful time watching pairs of red-throated grebes court each other. A pair of loons was nesting on a small island in the center of the lake. I walked around the lake a couple of times and spring was alive! The bad thing about these recreation sites is that they are so sadly neglected and have been for about the past 5 years. The are called "user maintained". The overuse of ATV's and dirt bikes was evident in all areas around the lake. We enjoyed our evening at the campsite and just as dark hit (which is 10 p.m. on MST) a couple of big trailers arrived with kids, dogs, ATV's, and chainsaws! The fire was lit with gas from a container and every time additional fuel was needed the chainsaws started up. I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to start up an ATV in the dark. Sadly, the lifestyle is too likely to be copied by the next generation. The fire was going again early the next day and I noted that both vehicles had Alberta plates (this camping unit was the classic stereotype)! I saw that Mr. Campbell's government has posted signs that damage to the environment can result in fines up to $100,000. Unfortunately, no one is hired to ever enforce any of it and the forest around this quite lovely lake will continue to be decimated.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Camping: B.C. Style

I moved to B.C. partly because of B.C. Parks. We'd spent so many of our holidays travelling to B.C. to visit my parents, or to tour around this beautiful province. We loved almost every B.C. Park that we stayed in. I was able to get a little of that experience back on Thursday night when Dave and I stayed at Alces Lake in Whiteswan Provincial Park. The campsites are big, fairly far apart and we didn't seem to find yahoos in the campground. They probably arrived on Friday when I understand the place does get busy. It was interesting to note that we were the only B.C. plated vehicle in the place; everyone else had AB plates. Most of the legacy of the Campbell government is a complete tragedy and B.C. Parks has certainly fallen into that category. The parks are closing and those that remain are very poorly serviced. It was good to enjoy a bit of the "old" experience the other night.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Rails to Trails: Cranbrook

I had a chance to enjoy really pampered cycling on Sunday while over in the East Kootenays. Here's the new rails to trails cycle bridge over the St. Mary's River between Cranbrook and Kimberley. It's a great trail, even if it does end (or begin) a little abruptly. It ends (or starts) in the forest at the termination point of an old rail line and travels north to Marysville, the charming town of the Kimberley area. The grade was beautiful and the conditions of the trail excellent. There are many great views of the river and its valley, as well as views out to the Purcells. While travelling south, the Steeples, near Cranbrook dominate the view. I'd highly recommend it to cyclists in the area - kudos to the trail builders.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

'Tis the Season

One thing which I really enjoyed while travelling through the Columbia Valley and the Columbia Gorge were the masses of balsalmroot (shown at left) and blue lupines. I have always loved yellow and blue as a plant combination and it covered many of the hillsides of WA and OR. It was so good to come home to the beauty of our own garden, too. We have tulips, daffs, heathers, fritilleria and pulmonaria in bloom. Welcome, spring!