Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Brother's Creek

Another hike on the books.  Last Saturday it was a gorgeous day out.  We ventured out to West Vancouver ... according to Wikipedia:

West Vancouver is home to some very large and expensive properties and houses. Occasionally, houses have been priced and sold at around CAD$30,000,000. As of 2011, West Vancouver's average house sells for over CAD$2,000,000;[7] 95% of the houses or close to 16,000 homes are worth over CAD$1 million. West Vancouver is often referred to as one of the wealthiest municipalities in Canada.

Houses at 30 Million!  Yikes!!  I knew it was VERY expensive to live there, but WOW.  Honestly many of the homes are quite dated, though they are starting to upgrade.  The views from some of these lots though are amazing and certainly must contribute greatly to the price of these homes.

Here is one of the views at the beginning of the hike (which is right beside some of the most expensive homes in West Vancouver).  I could imagine waking up to this each day.  The home below us has been demolished and is in the process of being rebuilt.

Unlike our last hike, this was the only view of the ocean and cities that we were to see on this hike.  This was more of a "nature" hike.

As this was an easier level hike, we took along both dogs.  They had a blast!  Here are Heike and Tia exploring one of the many bridges.  The dogs were in heaven on this whole hike.  I was happy to be able to take Tia on this one.  I don't feel right about taking her on the longer, steeper hikes.  She would do it, but I don't want to hurt her.

I loved how most of the bridges are handmade, but still quite rustic.

The first half of this hike was, in my opinion, kind of boring.  The above pictures look decent, but they were certainly of a better portion of the trail.  Most of it was on a rather wide path, with either a dirt or rock trail (see pic below).  Some of the forest was pretty, but some of it got kind of bushy.  I think ideally you'd want to have some good conversation while getting through this section.  There are a few side trails that we didn't explore this time.  Perhaps that would add a bit more interest.

Heike having a little rest break

It wasn't a steep climb up, just steady.  Suddenly we came upon the crossing of Brother's Creek which had a lovely bridge across it.  We stopped here for a little rest and some pictures.  We had set up the camera on a little ledge and just as it went off, this cyclist rode across.  Poor guy felt so bad.  He couldn't see the camera and didn't realize what we were doing.  Afterwards he took a few more pictures for us to "make up".  I actually think it's kind of funny that he's in this picture.  Honestly, everyone you meet when out in nature are super nice.

I still can't believe this guy, and his 3 buddies, rode their bikes up there.  The direction they came from is fairly challenging terrain to hike.  I can't imagine how you'd possibly bike it.  Though, when we saw his friends they were carrying their bikes, so maybe they did a lot of that (still freakishly hard!).

As you can see, there is a little bit of snow just behind us on the right.  Apparently there is a trail from here that goes to a lake and it still has quite a bit of snow.  We debated taking it, but decided not to this time.  I've since looked up information on that trail and it seems like it would be worth trying.

The hike down the other side of the loop was AWESOME!  Waterfalls, interesting terrain, beautiful forests, LOTS of gorgeous bridges to cross.  I just loved this part of the hike and it made up for the monotonousness  of the first half.

I just realized I did not get ANY pics of the actual trail on the way down.  I will make sure to do that next time I go ... which could be very, VERY soon.

On this particular bridge that crossed over the main creek, there was a "pool" under one side and it just screamed "WISHING WELL" to me.  And Lord knows I could use some wishes to be granted these days.  So I dug out a couple quarters and my daughter & I both made our wishes and tossed them into the water.  After I threw mine I was kind of puzzled.  I turned and looked at my daughter and said, "Can you see that?" ... which she did.

My quarter got stuck between two rocks and was sitting there plain as day.  You couldn't make that happen if you tried!  My pessimistic view was that my quarter got stuck so now my wishes will not be carried away by the river to be granted.  However my husband said that perhaps this meant my wishes weren't being washed away, they were firmly planted and would come true.  I wished for an awful lot though so I don't know ...

This hike was wonderful to take the dogs on.  There were SO many water sources for the dogs to drink from or walk in.  As we got further along I noticed Heike was opting to walk through the water rather than over the bridges that were over the small run-off creeks.

It's REALLY hard to get a good picture of a solid black dog...  Luckily my sweet little Tia has lots of grey hairs like her Momma so we can find her in these pictures.   She had SO much fun on this hike.  It wiped her out for the day, but she loved every minute of it.

The final portion of this hike is along the Baden Powell Trail (a 48 Km trail through the North Shore Mountains, named after Lord Baden Powell, founder of Scouting).  This section was gorgeous, and easy hiking.  I could have taken in the surroundings for hours.  On such a warm day it smelled so much of pine that it reminded us of fresh Christmas trees.

I have every intention of going here again.  It was an easy enough hike that most people in reasonable shape can do it.  I have tentative plans (hinging on weather) to go up in the very near future with a small group of friends.  Maybe I can convince them to explore some of those side routes, or perhaps venture further up the trail to the lake.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Diez Vistas - Completed and with a special encounter in the woods

This is a bit of a boring post because there is a complete lack of pictures.

Saturday I went up to Buntzen Lake again and hiked the Diez Vistas trail (same as last weekend).  However, there were a few differences.  First, I went with my son this weekend.  Last weekend I went with my daughter, which is a more easy-going hike.  She feels no urgency to complete anything in any hurry - driving me slightly crazy, but I'm thankful to be out and also to be spending time with her.  My son on the other hand is go, go, go .... mo rest for the wicked!

Our mission was to complete the entire trail and see as many viewpoints as we could.  My daughter and I only visited the first two.  Unfortunately this weekend it was MISERABLE!  I knew rain was on it's way in and when we arrived at the trail it was mostly cloudy with just the odd raindrop.  By the end of the trail it was WET!  As such, the view points left an awful lot to the imagination.  But, we saw enough that we would love to do this hike again on a clear day.

My daughter and I took a good hour and a half to get to the first viewpoint.  With my son we got there in an hour, and between the dog and I, we were most definitely holding him back.

Even though we didn't get the best views on this hike because of the weather, we did have some excitement.  About 20 minutes into the hike, the dog suddenly stopped then ran off the trail into the bush a few feet.  She had seen a black bear!  It was maybe 50 feet from us, standing up against a tree, just watching us.  The dog wanted desperately to go after it, but I called her back to us.  I thought if the bear went away peacefully then I didn't want the dog chasing it.  She LOVES to chase bears, and has done so quite successfully on hunting trips with my father in law.  She was known for running away from camp and treeing bears.

As it was, the bear just took a little look at us, then scampered off in the other direction.  The dog wanted to go after it and kept trying to head in it's direction, but I wouldn't let her and eventually she forgot.  To be honest, I was kind of excited and relieved to have encountered my first bear ... and happy that my son was with me. I knew there was a great possibility of encountering one out in our forests, and I'm was very pleased to see my dog's reaction.  One of my big reasons for bringing her is for some added security from animals and humans.  She did her job just right!

Further on the trail we were coming down a hill and heard a VERY loud CRACK!  We were certain it was another bear as there weren't any other humans nearby.  But, after stopping and having a very good look, then, proceeding slowly and cautiously, we never did see anything ... and the dog wasn't even remotely interested.  Perhaps it actually was just a branch breaking on it's own.

The entire hike took us a good 4 1/2 hours, and we rarely ever stopped.  A couple times we tried to take some pictures but they were just all grey.  The viewpoints weren't worth hanging out at for long with the weather, so we plundered on.  I definitely could have used a few rest breaks, but my son likes to plow on.  He was rather bored with my pace - hahhaa.  

The last hour and a half were quite boring.  For a good half hour we had to detour off a closed trail, and had to follow a road.  SNORE!  Eventually we got back to the original trail, but it was a very popular trail that was very well groomed.  It was a beautiful running trail, but not quite what for a hike I enjoy a more challenging terrain.

This hike was TOUGH!  I definitely got whiny as the trail progressed.  You climb up steep, rocky sections for about an hour or so ... then down the same kind of stuff for about 2 hours.  I am rather clumsy so must pick my footing VERY carefully.  By the last hour I was sore, wet, and tired.  My feet were killing me and, well, pretty much every other body part.  My son actually pushed me up some of the hills at the end. :D.  With the detour we had to take, I would estimate this hike was approximately 17 Km.  The main trail is, I think, 14Km, but we had to take quite the extra loop.

If you are interested in a much more picturesque blog report of this particular hike, check out VANCOUVER LIFE - DIEZ VISTAS TRAIL.  I came across this blog while researching local hikes and this blog is very thorough and informative.  I have been combing over it extensively the last week in search of new adventures!

Sunday I had planned to hike with my daughter but it was absolutely POURING out.  A little drizzle is one thing, but this was pelting against my bedroom window.  With my soreness from the day before, plus my daughter fighting a cold, we thought it best to postpone this one for another weekend.  Little trooper said she would go if I wanted to, but I didn't think we needed to subject ourselves to that.  Hopefully next weekend!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hiking - Diez Vistas

Recently I've been reminded that we shouldn't let life slip by.  Do the things you want and love to do as often as you can do them.

With this in mind, on Saturday my daughter and I ventured out for a hike.  Wanted to do this last year, and it just didn't happen.  Partly because, to be completely honest, I'm a little scared hitting up trails like this without my husband.  I am somewhat directionally challenged and really just afraid to try new things on my own, but he's just too busy and it's not an option to wait for him to be available.  I have to figure this out on my own and hope sometimes he can come.

For this hike I chose a trail that was expected to be in good condition (many of our local mountain trails still have a good layer of snow on them).  It also was to offer some spectacular views and a reasonable challenge, without being too difficult.  My daughter has never hiked before and I wanted to really encourage her and have her enjoy it.

The trail starts at the beautiful Buntzen Lake in Port Moody.

I had never been up here before, but it is beautiful!  Of course it was a gorgeous day too.  There are a variety of trails around here and I would love to come back here and check them out.  Even some that are flat enough for some trail runs.  There is also a rather large off-leash dog section of the lake to allow the puppies free play in and around the water.

The hike starts out with a steady, but easy climb on a fairly open, yet wooded, trail.  The perfect tree cover for either a hot sunny day, but would probably also offer good coverage on a rainy day.

We took along our big dog, Heike.  In the woods like this there is always a very good possibility of bears and apparently she is a fantastic bear chasing dog (I hope to never have to test this!).  Heike is actually my father-in-law's dog, but I have kind of adopted her in the last year or so and she goes everywhere with me now.  When she was younger she did a fair bit of Schutzhund Training.  I definitely felt more protected taking her along.  Although, as we got further up the trail, she was pretty tired and I'm not sure how much protection she could have offered. ;)

As it was, because it was such a beautiful day, we passed a fair number of other hikers and I think the risk of a bear encounter was probably on the slim side.

The forest we climbed through was absolutely gorgeous!  For the most part it was a well maintained trail, with some quite steep, challenging sections ... and then a nice mix of flatter rolling hills.  It was nice to have the variety.  There were a few times I had to give the dog a "lift" or "tug" to help her through a technical section.  My daughter didn't handle the steeper sections so much.  I said to her at one point, "You do realize that every time we have to climb you get whiny?".  She said, 'I know."  hahahah  But at the end of the day she liked it and said she wants to do it again.  I look forward to taking some of her and/or my friends out on hikes sometimes.  But this was really nice to do for just her and I.

The name "Diez Vistas" translates from Spanish into "Ten Views".  Apparently there are ten viewpoints along the trail.  Unfortunately, we didn't have time to complete the round trip and just visited the first two viewpoints and then came back down the trail.  I'm hoping to get up there this weekend with my son and we will complete the whole loop and see how many viewpoints we can find.

When we got to the top poor Heike was pooped!  I learned some lessons on this hike.  I never thought about bringing a doggie dish for her.  I had treats for her, but nothing to put water in.  I guess I was expecting to find some creeks, which we did but only on the lower end of the trail, not up top.  As it was, I poured water into a baggie and she drank from that.  I'm going to see about getting a little backpack for her and she can carry some water too.

At the top we had a couple snacks and took a good 20-30 minute rest break, taking some pictures and just taking in the view.  Even had cell reception up there so got a call into my husband and a couple of texts with friends (Hi Tamara!).  I probably could have sat there for longer.  It was so peaceful.

(just one of the MANY views looking out over Metro Vancouver)

I don't know why I look so red in this picture.  I actually wasn't overly hot at all.  I think it's a lighting thing.  It also looks like I was right on the edge of a cliff, but I can assure you that I was not and it was very safe.  I wouldn't risk that!

Overall it was an absolutely wonderful hike and I actually worry a bit that I may have set the bar too high for future hikes. :)  But more adventures will follow to determine that.  I can not wait to get out there again.  

It was a good practice run and I have a few things to pick up to make future hikes even better:
  • collapsible doggie dish
  • doggie backpack
  • better shoes for my daughter (hers were bothering her so I swapped shoes with her ... then proceeded to twist my ankle - grrr!)
  • bear bells (just in case!)
  • bug spray - this hike was OK, but it will get worse as it warms up

Also, it would have been better to have had more time to complete the full trail.  As it was I had plans for a girls' night and had to be back in time for that (where I proceeded to dance way too much on my twisted ankle - including jive dancing when my husband showed up).  It was a FULL weekend.  My son turned 18 last week and hosted a party at our house on Friday, got up early and out for the hike Saturday followed by a late night out with the girls.  Sunday was blissfully quite.  Other than getting my girl off to work, I spent the majority of the day on the couch with an ice pack on the ankle and desperately trying to rehydrate after a day of hiking in hot weather followed by perhaps a teensy bit of alcohol - hahaha.  It was actually a GREAT weekend!