Mt. Elphinstone – September 27, 2011

Fall has arrived on the Sunshine Coast. Yesterday we had our first major storm which left me and my neighbours without electricity for many hours while hydro crews collected tree branches from the power lines. Today the sun returned, so I decided to celebrate the afternoon with a hike on Mt. Elphinstone

Is this the coolest looking tree or what? Spiral bark pattern with remnants of the forest fire 80+ years ago. Take a look at the boardwalk at the base of the tree. I’ve really started paying attention to the actual trails. Who builds wooden platforms like this in the middle of the forest? Nature loving, hard working volunteers who have great passion for mountain biking, that’s who. Great work and kudos for sharing it with us hikers.

I was very impressed with the forest today. We’ve had over 2″ of rain the past couple of days, so I was a bit worried the trails would be muddy. Not a bit! There were small branches and pine needles scattered everywhere from the high winds but the trails were in fine shape. The forest floor soaks in moisture like you wouldn’t believe.

Recent rains mean the forest is exceptionally green this time of year. Moss is growing on fallen logs, ferns are sprucing up, and everything has new life with slightly cooler temperatures and plenty of moisture. I need to have someone teach me about the edible mushrooms.

This picture doesn’t really do it justice. You have to get out there and see for yourself. Sunshine was streaming in through the towering branches, birds were singing, and I was the only human in sight. It’s magical to take an hour in the middle of the afternoon to be quiet, get a good cardio workout, and be immersed in the natural environment…less than 5 minutes from my front door.

BC Bike Race – July 7, 2011

This week’s highlight was BC Bike Race’s annual appearance on the Sunshine Coast. This is a premier mountain bike race with over 400 riders from all around the world competing for 7 days. The Sunshine Coast is proud to be home for 3 days of the race.

Today, riders made the trip from Sechelt to Langdale…38km with 1,400m of elevation climbing. Serious stuff, but they all love the 7km downhill decent at the end. These are the same trails that I hike regularly on Mt Elphinstone. The last kilometer comes down through our neighborhood with the finish line at the ferry terminal.

The fastest riders made the trip in 2 hours. A good number were in by 3 hours and some made a day of it. There is obvious relief & joy when they hit the finish line.
The first rider I spoke to was from Belgium and the next pair was from the UK. Love to see people come from around the world to ride in my backyard. The brits loved the course, but were disappointed that they hadn’t seen a bear yet. I told them that was probably a good thing.
One rider said, “The most fun you can have on your bike.”
After the race, there is still much work to be done. The support team for the event is as least as big as the riders themselves.

Each day there are celebrations and awards for top finishers. Teams of 2, individuals, and two race categories. There are a number of women racing, and the best are right up there with the guys. These women rock.

What better after 3 hours of gruelling riding than a massage by this caring crew?

The first task after the race is food & drinks. Tables are layed out for the riders with fruit & drinks to rehydrate. The second task is to give the bikes a quick shower and get them loaded up on the truck for easy transport on the ferry.
Once the bike is taken care of…its time for the riders to have a shower, too. Yes, there is a mobile truck for that, too.

Then its time to hit tent city a have a good long sleep. Afterall, there is more singletrack waiting the next morning.
Good luck to all the riders in stage 6 & 7!

Music in the Landing – June 26, 2011

How does a month go by so fast? I download a bunch of pictures today…that I meant to write about when I took them… Oh well, I am writing now and that is what counts.

Today was a treat of Gibsons in the summer: Music in the Landing. Today was the first performance of the year. Free concerts in the park in Gibsons Landing on weekends all summer long.

First up were the Knotty Dotters. These ladies are a 7 piece marimba bank playing music inspired by Zimbabwe. Always lively, they just make you smile and want to dance.

I have tried to attach a video that I shot during the performance. There may not be sound, but you can still see the energy that these fabulous ladies play with. One of these days, I’ll upgrade my old camera and then maybe I’ll have full video capabilities.

Music in the Landing takes place Friday evenings in the Gazebo down by the government dock. Saturday during the day there is music near the Visitor Information Centre and/or in the space by Sweetwater Bistro. Saturday evening are full concerts in Winegarden Park…perfect for friends & families to bring the chairs/blankets and enjoy. Sunday afternoon concerts are part of the Gibsons Landing Sunday Market.

Don’t miss! Great concerts all summer long…all local performers.

Soames Hill

Spring has truly arrived…just in time for Victoria Day weekend. Three weeks since my last real hike and I can feel it…mentally and physically. Why do I let time slip by without getting outside? I couldn’t pass up the sunny and warm afternoon, so I headed for one of my favourite spots: Soames Hill.

A big THANK YOU to the SCRD parks staff for the installation of the new trail signs. Made of wood, they look completely natural along the trail and are a great resource for hikers. There is no getting lost in this park.

Since today was a bright sunny day, I headed directly for the green trail…the 250m summit. Since I haven’t been hiking regularly of late, I was feeling the cardio workout. My quads gave a cheery “Hello!” at about step 150..(there are 206 stairs). But this hike is completely worth the effort. The view from the top is simply amazing.


I could sit up there for hours. It is a great place to think, to relax, and soak in the sun. The rockface at the summit shows the power of the mountains and the ocean is such a deep blue. It was low tide today…you can see the sandy beach ringing the land. This is Gibsons Harbour…a few more boats popping up as summer approaches. Vancouver Island is in the distance with a few snowcapped mountains still in view. My photo skills don’t do it justice. It’s an amazing 240 degree view.

This is the view to the southeast. Keats Island is in front with the Paisley Islands in the back. We can’t see these from town…only up this high can we see over Keats. Look at all the boats who have already arrived in Plumper’s Cove for the holiday weekend. It was just a little hazy. On a crystal clear day, you can see to Richmond and YVR.Paradise….just 5 minutes from home. One of the best places in the world to simply escape for a while.

Gibsons Creek – April 8, 2011

Spring has arrived! The first hike of the year with no jacket and fantastic sunshine. From the first moment of sun streaming on your face while you lay in bed, you know its going to be one of those fantastic Sunshine Coast days. Everything looks better and springs to life in the sun. That amazing deep blue water was back. No gray, no fog, no rain…..just wonderful sunshine. After a morning full of appointments and errands, I hastily made my way to meet the girls for an afternoon on Mount Elphinstone. I haven’t made the group hike for about 2 weeks now, and the excitement of returning was evident. We chatted away the entire time…the sun giving everyone a burst of energy. We chose a familiar path today, Technical Ecstacy to Sidewinder and up to Gibsons Creek. Today wasn’t so much about taking in the wonderful scenery (although it was certainly there). Today was about catching up, being glad to see each other, and getting a good cardio workout. Before we knew it, we were up the the bridge that crosses Gibsons Creek. Two months ago there were huge icicles hanging on these falls. Today the snowmelt and recent rains made for a great show as the creek swells with water. One of these days, I’ll find out what is on the other side of that bridge. It is a landmark that makes for about a 1 hour roundtrip hike, so it is always our turnaround spot. As the days grow noticeably…sunset is almost 8pm already…I’ll just have to find time for a longer hike and see where this trail goes. Sometimes I look at the bridges and the bike ramps on the trails and wonder about the diehard volunteers who built them. Think about the effort that it takes to hike in with the equipment…let alone the effort and the vision that it takes to build something like this. How did they decide that this is the spot to cross the creek? The ridge leading up to it is quite steep and offers a great view of the valley below. I’ll just keep admiring their work and seeking out new trails on the mountain. Here is a THANK YOU and a hug to those who build great trails!

Gibsons Landing – March 19, 2011

Happy Spring! It may not be official just yet, but today was a lovely spring afternoon to stroll Gibsons Landing. Nothing better than taking a short rest in Winegarden Park gazing out at the marina and the snowcapped North Shore Mountains in the distance.

New this week in the Landing is Feastro the Rolling Bistro. Delicious fresh food from the purple truck. Today I had my favourite treat…halibut tacos which feature organic greens from Henry Reed Farm just down the road. There is a full menu of yummy treats…plenty of seafood options including bonzai prawns, pulled pork, and chicken. My partner tried out the poutine today and thoroughly enjoyed. I think my next trip will be to sample the sockeye salmon taco.

Winegarden Park…the perfect spot to walk the dog, pull up a seat on a bench, and in summer…the place to be on weekends for Music in the Landing. A scoop of locally made gelato from Mike’s Place, an organic smoothie from Liquid Living Room, and a treat from Feastro’s purple truck. So many sweet treats.

Catch Feastro and the Sunshine Coast featured on the Food Network’s “Eat Street” on April 27.

Langdale Trail – Feb 1, 2011

Welcome to February and welcome to more sunshine! I watched my first sunrise in a while today…now just before 8am. Not a cloud in the sky and a warm orange glow building above the Coast Mountains. I quickly decided a hike was in order today.

I decided to try the trail above Langdale…our street ends and the trail heads off into the forest. This tree is amazing. It has to be hundreds of years old. For comparison, the tree on the left is 2-3 feet in diameter. The dark patch in the center is like a small cave that I can completely sit inside. I just can’t imagine what this area looked like just 125 years ago before European settlers started logging.

I haven’t hiked this trail for a few months. With all the rain we’ve had lately, the upper part of the trail has become a stream. Nevertheless, I was inspired by the great weather so I hiked all the way to the powerlines. This was a first for me. Roundtrip was 2 hours and a good workout. Not steep, but enough to get the heart pumping. It was fun to see how the water works its way around all the rocks, branches and leaves…constantly flowing…constantly searching for the ocean.

I’ll be back, but maybe later this spring when the trail is dry.

Langdale Falls – Jan 26, 2011

Today was absolutely beautiful with sunny skies that demanded I go outside. We’ve had a bit of rain and gray the past few days, so the sun is always refreshing.

I decided to hike on Mt. Elphinstone again. Lucky for me, I ran into my good friend Tony at the trailhead. He was excited to have a hiking buddy, and I was looking forward to what he would teach me about the forest. So we headed in for my first (of I’m sure will be many) trip to Langdale Falls.

I’ve seen the sign before, but had been told there were some steep sections on the way. Follow the pink and blue trail symbols and they lead you right to the waterfall.

This is a very good time of year to visit. We have had 200mm of rain this month and temps are warm this week so there is snowmelt feeding the streams as well. It is about a 40 minute hike in to the falls. Not too hard, but there are some good climbs and some narrow paths where you really don’t want to fall.

The waterfall is impressive. You can hear it well before you arrive. It must be at least a 50m drop. Tony says it is a great place for a swim & shower in the summer. Great to cool off after a day’s hike.

The forest on Mt Elphinstone is amazing. Tony taught me to identify a Douglas fir, a red cedar, and a hemlock. Having grown up in the prairies, I don’t know my west coast trees. He also pointed out salmonberry and different kinds of ferns. The ecosystem is amazing and I hope to learn much more on many more walks through the forest. All this within 2km of my house.

Soames Hill – Jan 8, 2011

Another gorgeous sunny day on BC’s Sunshine Coast. I just had to get outside to make up for missing yesterday’s group hike. So I headed to one of my favourite sunny day spots…Soames Hill.

Now if you came across these stairs in the middle of the forest, wouldn’t you head upward? Of course! 65 steps to the first bridge and rest point gets you ready. A little heavy breathing and your heart starts beating. 206 total winding stairs in addition to a bit of natural slope gets you to the first mini-summit. It’s those last 35 steps that really get the heart rate up.

But so worth it! The views here are just amazing. Soames Hill is the highest point around Gibsons without climbing Mt Elphinstone. It is 200m to the first viewpoint and 250m to the highest viewpoint.

This shot is looking eastnortheast over Howe Sound to the Coast Mountains. The edge of Keats Island is on the right.

This is the second viewpoint…standing on solid rock. Keats Island is in the front and the Paisley Islands on the far side. There was a single sailboat out in the harbour today…gorgeous day for a sail.

It is hard to see from the picture, but there is a solid rockface behind these trees. This is the otherside of the hilltop…south of the stairs. I was just standing up on top of those rocks a few minutes earlier. Taking this shot, I am on fairly level ground in thick forest.

If you follow this particular trail, you decend all the way down to Marine Drive. Someday I’ll make that part of the hike. The trick is…not wanting to hike up from there. It’s a serious uphill climb. So you park at Shirley Macy to access the main trails and stairs to the summit. If you hike down to Marine Drive and the water….how do you get your car back? Some day…

Hiking on Mt Elphinstone – Jan 2, 2011

A bright sunny wintery day is the perfect time to explore the forest. This is one of the lower trails on Mt Elphinstone, which is the dominating landscape feature as you arrive on the Langdale ferry from West Vancouver. Lucky for me, the trailheads are only 2km from Arcturus Retreat B&B.

Most of these lower trails are built by avid mountain bikers and neighbor Sprockids Mountain Bike Park. It’s not an official park, so signage isn’t much more than a few reflectors and an occasional arrow for riders.

Nevertheless, there are some amazing trees in this forest. Note the vibrant colour on this tree…like none of its neighbours. That is Stan in front to show you just how large this tree is. So happy to have Stan join me for this hike! I don’t know this area well enough yet to head in alone.
A tree with character like this just makes you wonder at what it has been witness to over the years. It has clearly seen all of the 20th century and I wonder how much more. This forest was logged in the early 1900’s when Europeans first arrived. Port Mellon is only 10km away and was home to the first paper mill in the area.
We came across a trail called “Technical Ecstacy” which we just had to follow. Clearly a mountain bikers dream…lots of cutbacks, bridges, jumps, ramps, twists and turns. It is an easy walk, but you need to pay attention as this was clearly not built with the hiker in mind. A rider could come up quickly and definitely deserves the right of way.

It is hard to see in this picture, but you can see out to the Georgia Straight. It can be a bit dark in the forest, but light flows in at the top of the trees and is really quite a view when you come to an opening.
After travelling over the Christmas holiday, I am very aware of how green the forest is here. Other parts of North America are so brown this time of year with every plant in hibernation waiting for spring. Here on the Sunshine Coast, we are very luck to have green life everywhere all year long. Not only the trees, but the ferns and groundcover and moss all bring life to the forest floor.