Francis Point Provincial Park

What a beautiful day! The sun beckoned this morning so I forgot about any paperwork and headed outside to enjoy. You just can’t pass up sunny January days sitting inside. I decided to follow Sunshine Coast Tourism‘s suggestion for #52weeksoftrails by heading to week #1 Francis Point Provincial Park.

Francis Pt 598 Francis Point is located in Pender Harbour…about 45 minutes from Arcturus Retreat. Well worth the drive! I’ve never taken the time to hike here before and I was pleasantly surprised. A perfect way to spend 15 minutes or an hour. A place for clearing your head and just taking in the view.

Francis Point Provincial Park

Francis Point Provincial Park

The entire park is along the Malaspina Strait in the Pacific Ocean and the sound of waves crashing on the ancient granite rocks is a soothing constant. This is easy hiking (not a cardio day) although hiking on the rocks makes for an uneven surface in places. There are 2 trails in the park. Either way, you start your journey here in front of a beautiful bay. Waves were crashing in the distance and I thought, “Love to see that up close”. Sure enough, the trail hugs the coastline and before I knew it I was getting a great view of crashing waves on huge granite boulders. Choosing to start left takes you down the longer trail that probably took 20 minutes to the surprise lighthouse at the end. Hard to say on time though…I just kept taking pictures and enjoying the view.

Francis Pt 605

Arbutus Trees

Arbutus Trees

Rocky Pacific coastline is a sure sign to find arbutus trees. These are the coolest trees. They keep their leaves all year and shed their bark instead. It leaves a perfectly smooth orange texture that you won’t find anywhere else. These trees grow right out of the boulders where it is hard to imagine how any tree could take root.

Circling back to my original starting point, I found the short trail that goes right. Just when I thought I wasn’t going to get any cardio for the day, I found the 50 or so steps that lead to an amazing viewpoint. So worth the burst of energy! I’ll definitely be back to enjoy these views. It would be very interesting to see it in different seasons…but I imagine it is always picture perfect when the sun shines bright.

Hello Pacific Ocean

Hello Pacific Ocean

Winter Adventure Packages

Enjoy the magic of snow where sunshine & brightness warm you right up. Leave all the details to us while you play in the snow of Dakota Ridge high above the Sunshine Coast.

An amazing day on the mountain

An amazing day on the mountain

Reserve your Snowshoe Adventure now – only $525/couple + GST (based on double occupancy)

  • 2 night stay, full home-baked breakfasts
  • 2.5 hour guided snowshoe adventure with hot chocolate break
  • mountain transportation, equipment & trail passes
  • hot tub under the stars

 

Try Cross Country Ski Lessons – only $525/couple + GST (based on double occupancy)

  • 2 night stay, full home-baked breakfasts
  • 2.5 hour cross country ski lesson & practice on the trails
  • mountain transportation, equipment & trail passes
  • hot tub under the stars
Be skiing on your own in no time

Be skiing on your own in no time

***Dakota Ridge season runs until March 31, 2017***

In order to recognize the value of our guides, cancellations within 1 week will be charged a $100 cancellation fee. Cancellations within 24 hours will be charged the full package price.

Snowshoe Adventure – February 1, 2013

You know how sometimes you just want to be out on your own with time to think?  Today was one of those days.  With the promise of sun, I grabbed my snowshoes and caught the Alpha Adventures shuttle to Dakota Ridge Winter Recreation Area.
Eagle Lookout Trail

Even though I arrived at Dakota Ridge with 15 other people in the shuttle and there were quite a few skiers near the parking lot and the warming hut, I had the trails to myself.  All the trails are now signed and have been well marked, so after of couple of times of hiking with other people I have no problem venturing out on my own.  I take care, one could easily get lost in the white snowy forest if you left the trails, to ensure I stay on the marked trails…letting the alone time be adventure in itself.  I hiked the almost 2km Eagle Lookout trail without seeing another soul.

just me and the forest

Dakota Ridge had a ton of snow in December. The base was up to almost 3 meters. When we were there on Boxing Day, all the trees looked like white Dr Seuss candy canes.  Today the trees were green as we’ve had warmer temperatures lately that have melted some of the snow.  The snowshoe trails are obvious with hard tracks to follow.  Fresh snow in this week’s forecast should cover that up with fresh powder.

Map along the trail

After a short snack break outside the warming hut, I headed out on the Balsam Loop. This is another green trail just over 2km long that starts and ends at the warming hut.  The first half of the trail meanders through the forest, but there is a point where you come over a hill and into a clearing where on a sunny day there are just amazing views. Today the sun was playing peekaboo most of the day. There were touches of blue sky and warm sun, but clouds kept hanging in. The view is still pretty awesome.  Check out my December post if you want to see the clear sky pictures.

Eastern side of Balsam Loop

It wasn’t until the very last leg of the trail that I passed 2 groups that I had ridden up with in the shuttle.  Almost 4km of snowshoeing completely alone with my thoughts…great exercise and productive brainstorming.  When I finished, I had a nice break in the sun at the warming hut.  I was able to visit with someone who was waiting for the rest of his party.  Dakota was well used today.  A dad/daughter learning how to cross country ski, a large group of co-workers on a team building day, a husband/wife team on their first snowshoe adventure, screams of joy from the tobogganing area, and just as we were leaving a boy scout troop on a winter camping adventure.  I am sure I won’t let another month go by before my next snowshoe.

Dakota Ridge – December 14, 2012

It may be another week until the official start of winter, but today we enjoyed our first day of fun in the snow.    Saturday, December 15 is the official season opening for Dakota Ridge Winter Recreation Area.  Our good friends at Alpha Adventures took us out for a sneak peak & guided snowshoe tour.
15km Nordic ski trails
All trails have been named this year
It was an AMAZING day!  You couldn’t ask for better weather conditions.  It is early in the season, but new snowfall was 50cm (that’s 20 inches) in the past 24 hours. The clouds broke overnight and the sun was shining this morning. Temps were just around the freezing level.  We were warm after a bit of hiking and the snow on the trees was just melting a bit in direct sunshine. A perfect bluebird day.
Knee deep in fresh powder!

Dakota Ridge has almost 4km of groomed snowshoe trails and another 3km of wilderness trails. With our expert guides, we were able to get off the beaten path (though in all that powder…not so beaten) and break fresh tracks through the forest. The forest is magical….so very quiet. Snow makes the most interesting shapes covering varied terrain, small trees, and moved by the wind. It was a bit like a Dr Seuss picture with rounded magical shapes.

Our expert guides Jamie & Lauren

Alpha Adventures offers guided trips and lessons for both cross country skiing and snowshoeing. They also operate a convenient shuttle from Wilson Creek up the mountain roads to Dakota Ridge. The access road is much improved this year thanks to a provincial grant.  The road is wider and has more pullouts, but it still requires chains or 4×4.  My little VW isn’t making that trip, so I am more than happy to ride in Alpha’s comfortable shuttle.  The parking lot has doubled in size, so there is more room for everyone making the trip.

We hiked quite a distance without seeing another sole…partly because this was the day before opening day, but these trails are never crowded.  Plenty of room to get away from it all and just enjoy exploring on your own.  Coming down over the Eastern trails, we found the most amazing view. We could see the North Shore Mountains, including Cypress and The Lions. There were low level clouds & fog blocking the view of the ocean, but we were so far above the thick clouds that they looked like a big fluffy ocean.

What a view! Mt Elphinstone in the background

It was the perfect spot to stop, take a few pictures and have a snack. Just an amazing 360 degree view.

After a full day of snowshoeing we stopped in the warming hut for lunch and hot chocolate. A much needed rest at the end of a great day. I can’t wait to get back up on Dakota Ridge…thinking a great way to spend Christmas Day.

New Year’s Day – Jan 1, 2012


Happy New Year 2012! It is a beautiful day to start the year. After a delicious breakfast of blueberry crepes, we headed down for the annual Gibsons Polar Boar Swim.

Fresh snow on the North Shore Mountains makes for a great view. As you can see from the waves, it was quite windy on Howe Sound today. It really wasn’t that cold, but the wind made it feel cold.
Unfortunately the Polar Boars conflicted with high tide, so there wasn’t room along the beach for everyone to line up at the same time.

Instead it was a quick dart down the old stairs and into the water. A few brave souls were out today…but not near as many as last year when the weather was just gorgeous.
I love this New Year’s tradition. Start the year off with a BLAST. Take up the challenge. I love to cheer on those who put themselves out there.
Maybe one day I’ll do it too. But for now, I’ll raise a glass and salute those who put it all out there, including one very brave little girl who received the most cheers for her efforts.

Here’s to a great 2012!

Dakota Ridge – March 23, 2011


I had the most incredible day…a perfect day of sunshine up on Dakota Ridge. Warm temperatures, clear skies, and views that you just can’t beat. Oh, and did I mention 285cm of snow? That’s almost 10 feet!

I know I’ve posted about Dakota before, but this was what it is all about. Clear skies, sunny and warm. My friend Kelly and I set out on the western snowshoe trail first. The live view is better than the pics, but this is looking west across the Salish Sea to Vancouver Island and its snow covered peaks in the distance.

We hiked for 2 hours and didn’t see a soul. Just incredible views and a completely peaceful forest. We headed back to the warming hut, but chose to enjoy the sun and have lunch out on the picnic table. It was a popular spot, suddenly there were people everywhere…even a bbq in the parking lot. So many families enjoying the last taste of winter during spring break.

Rested and fed (with sandwiches & wraps from Strait Coffee), we headed off on the eastern trail. This picture is part of 13km of groomed XC ski trails with the Salish Sea in the distance.


Along this trail, I soon found a familiar sight. I am lucky enough to look at the North Shore Mountains every day from my deck. Here in the distance, is the same view…just from a vantage point 1,200 meters higher. A bit further up the trail, you could see all the way to Mt Baker in Washington.

No time to waste if you want to see Dakota Ridge for yourself this year. The area is set to officially close for the season on April 3. Get out there and have some winter fun!

Dakota Ridge – March 23, 2011

I had the most incredible day….a perfect day of sunshine up on Dakota Ridge. Warm temperatures, lear skies, and a view that you just can’t beat. Oh, and did I mention 285cm of snow? That’s almost 10 feet!
I know I’ve posted about Dakota before, but this was what it is all about. Clear skies, sunny and warm. My friend Kelly and I set out on the western snowshoe trail first. The live view is better than the pics, but this is looking west across the Salish Sea to Vancouver island and its snow covered peaks in the distance.
We hiked for 2 hours and didn’t see a soul. Just incredible views and a completely peaceful forest. We headed back to the warming hut, but chose to enjoy the sun and have lunch out on the picnic table. It was a popular spot, suddenly there were people everywhere…even a bbq in the parking lot. So many families enjoying the last taste of winter during spring break.
Rested and fed, we headed off on the eastern trail. This is part of the 13km of groomed XC ski trails with the Salish Sea in the distance.
Along this trail, I soon found a familiar sight. I am lucky enough to look at the North Shore Mountains everyday from my Arcturus Retreat B&B deck. Here in the distance, is the same view…just from a vantage point 1,200 meters higher. 

Soames Hill – Feb 22, 2010


Heaven on earth. This was my thought today as I basked in the warm sunshine atop Soames Hill with beauty all around. Simply amazing…I could have stayed for hours ( I did stay 1 hour).

I can’t believe I waited this long to make this hike. Honestly, I was a bit intimidated by the description of 205 wooden steps to the summit. When I first moved here, I wouldn’t have made it to the top. I was in such poor physical shape.

Today I made it up those steps in about 20 minutes…breathing hard, but not tired. Then it is just a bit farther up the trail to the summit. So worth it! I will be back the next sunny day with an extra hour for a workout.


Today was another spectacular day. Glorious sunshine on a warm day. Flowers are blooming and pollen is in the fresh air. It feels like April or May…not February.

The sun was so bright that these first pictures miss the vibrant colour. These are looking south toward Gibsons…what a beautiful village by the sea. In the distance you can just make out Vancouver Island, but it was easy to see in person.

Keats Island. The tug made its way through Howe Sound and home to Gibsons Marina. Think how smooth the water was to create a wake like this from a slow-moving tug boat.

The vibrant blue and green really stand out in the photos facing east and not facing into the sun. Keats Island is in front and Bowen Island is in the distance.


Paradise only 5 minutes from my home….ok 5 minutes and then 30 minutes up to the summit. I hope to spend many more days atop Soames Hill on BC’s spectacular Sunshine Coast.

 

Snickett Park – Jan 18, 2010

So, it’s the middle of January…the heart of Canadian winter. Well as you can see from these photos, there are only the smallest patches of snow remaining at the very top of the mountains. Look closely…it is still there…only at 1,000 meters or more.
Here along the beach of the Georgia Straight on the Pacific Ocean, temperatures are about 12C (54F) and every couple of days we get this gorgeous sunshine.
Overnight, we had just had huge storms with gale force winds and heavy rain. This coupled with high tides created lots of debris along the shore, though you can’t really see it here. Most of the rural areas were without power for hours as crews repaired the lines and removed fallen tree branches.
Meanwhile, many people were out to celebrate the sun, the warm temperatures and one of those many picture perfect days here on the Sunshine Coast. Maybe the storm was nature’s way of reminding us to get away from the computer and the office and to get outside to appreciate her.

These pictures are from Snickett Park which is a popular seaside trail in downtown Sechelt. Dog walking is an extremely popular activity here. Others finish off the walk with a friendly conversation on the many park benches taking in the spectacular view.

Here is to more days spent outside…at least for part of the day.