August 05, 2012

Wolf Cub–My Original Membership & Welcome Cards

Wow, I came across these today as I continue sorting through boxes of my late Mom's files in our garage. She kept so many cool items.

This is my 1968 membership card in the Boy Scouts of Canada, and the "Welcome Card" that came with it.

We were all well-scrubbed and wholesome back then!

Actually, I do remember being well-scrubbed, because I was a troop leader, and my troop often led the pack in clean fingernails and spiffy uniforms.

BTW, I also have a list of all of the members of our pack, their street addresses, and phone numbers, circa 1968. Of course I won't post that here for potential privacy reasons, but if there's anyone out there who is on that list, I'd be happy to share . . .

paul_cub_scouts_1968_small

And, of course, not to forget Robert Baden-Powell . . . The cover of a father-son Scout dinner banquet program:

baden_powell_1960s_small

Now, let me be perfectly clear.

I do not in any way mean to disparage the Scouting program, if,
perchance, anyone should take my comments in that manner.

In my youth, it was wonderful. At a young age, it taught me
respect, many skills, and provided me with formative experiences
in leadership.

I am just showing how imaging and PR changes over time . . .

Posted by Paul at 09:55 PM

June 12, 2012

Morning Birds at Lac La Jeune Provincial Park

I didn't realize until I was breaking camp this morning that I'd slept within meters of a downy woodpecker nest at Lac La Jeune Provincial Park. I caught a flicker of motion out of the corner of my eye as I was getting ready to roll out, and saw a pair of adults passing food into a tree cavity. I waited for an hour, but the closest I got to getting a decent shot was when I was coming back from a bio break - take your camera everywhere! : -)

downy_woodpecker_400_20120611

Next up was a mountain bluebird

mountain_bluebird_400_20120612

Posted by Paul at 08:55 AM

May 30, 2010

Camping, Canoeing, Bears at Birkenhead Lake

Friday:

The first camping trip of the year was met with rainy weather, but we forged on regardless and had a great time. We headed up to Birkenhead Lake Provincial Park, one of our favourite parks because it's only about a 3-hour drive from Vancouver, yet it's remote enough that it tends to be fairly quiet, especially early in the season.

birkenhead_lake_20100529

And quiet it was! Of the nearly 100 sites in the campground, several walkabouts over the weekend showed only a few dozen were occupied. We had reserved a nice site up against Phelix Creek,  and the sound of the rushing water also helped to muffle any human noise.

Rain regardless, we put our canoe in the water on Friday afternoon and paddled for several hours until we were soaked and tired. Trolling a line behind produced a single bite, and no catch.

birkenhead_lake__yumi_canoe_20100528

Fortunately we had been able to set up the tent and rope up a tarp over the table before the rain hit, so were fairly comfortable on Friday evening with a cosy fire.

birkenhead_paul_yumi_camp_20100529

A 15-minute shot of sun through the clouds!

Saturday:

Saturday resulted in more rain off and on, and blasts of wind. We headed out in the canoe again, but there can be substantial winds with occasional heart-quickening, canoe-heeling and spinning  gusts on the  mountain lake, so we headed back in after only an hour or so out on the water.

The next bit of entertainment came as Yumi was washing some of the mud off our trusty '98 Outback at our campsite (15km of access road to the park is "gravel," or in other words, potholed, stony washboard, packed dirt :-). As she went to refresh her pail of water from a pool just off the edge of the tent pad, I saw a black shape silently lumber past through the woods just a few meters beyond her.

"Yumi, get back! Back to the car, right now! There's a bear!"

Poor Yumi didn't see a thing, but scampered back nonetheless. It was amazing how silently, and how fast, that black bear rambled by.

I immediately ran out into the road because I knew some kids had been bicycling up and down the campground, and sure enough a wide-eyed little boy zoomed off to his dad as I barked at him, "look sharp, there's a bear right in there!"

The father spotted the bear, policed his family, and then the two of us monitored the beast, while spreading the word to other campers, blowing our car horns, etc. The fellow said he'd heard from park staff that the bear had recently gotten into a cooler that some irresponsible camper had left unattended. The word was to make as much noise and be as uninviting to the little bruin as possible, in the hope that it would move on, and not get itself shot.

The bear moved back down the campground between tent sites and the creek, and disappeared. Half an hour later as Yumi and I set out to hike up to the Goat Trail Lookout, the bear burst out of the bush, ran across the road, and hightailed it into the forest on the other side with park staff in a truck hot on its heels, horn blaring madly. The attendant got out, hollered he was going to set off a bear banger, and, BOOM!

We saw no more of the bear, but we sure made a lot of noise as we climbed up to the Goat Trail Lookout!

birkenhead_paul_phelix_creek_20100529

Crossing high, fast, Phelix Creek on the Goat Trail

birkenhead_paul_woodpecker_tree_20100529

Now that's some head banging!

birkenhead_paul_goat_trail_viewpoint_20100529

The lookout

birkenhead_yumi_goat_trail_viewpoint_20100529

Yumi scoping the lake and mountains

birkenhead_lake__yumi_sun_20100528

An hour of sunshine, wow!

birkenhead_lake_canoes_20100529

There is canoe rental at the lake now, but we're glad we
have our own

birkenhead_red_breasted_sapsucker_20100529

A red-breasted sapsucker that let me get to within two meters
or so to get this shot with my teeny Canon SD780 pocket camera

Instead of canoeing the choppy lake, we decided to try the trail on the north side to where the wilderness campground used to be (now shut down due to hazard trees).

Not far down the trail we ran across a big pile of fresh green scat - OK, at least the bear's a vegetarian. Another dozen meters and lots more fresh scat, dark in colour, but at least no bear bells in it :-).

We ventured a bit further, but as our pace slackened and doubts increased, we decided that common sense outweighed valour, and turned back.

Sunday:

It still being cloudy and drizzly, we packed up in the morning, thought about another jaunt in the canoe, took one look at the cold, choppy lake and decided to head south. Coffee in Pemberton, a walkabout at Alice Lake, lunch in Squamish, and a leisurely drive home.

Posted by Paul at 06:41 PM

September 07, 2008

Canoeing, Camping Lightning Lake

We finally got away for our first camping trip this year! I'm zonked so I'll add to this later, but here are a few photos....

osprey_lighting_lake_bc_20080907.jpg
Osprey on a perch.

osprey_flight_lighting_lake_bc_20080907.jpg
Osprey in flight.

loon_lightning_lake_bc_20080907.jpg
Loon in the morning mist.

The above shots were taken hand-held in a moving canoe at my Canon S5 IS's maximum telephoto of 432mm (35mm equivalent). Not bad, though I wouldn't want to blow them up to 8 X 10s :-). They were taken within about 30 minutes of each other, showing how fast the light can change in the morning in the mountains.

lighting_lake_bc_sparkles_20080907.jpg

lighting_lake_bc_2_20080907.jpg

lighting_lake_bc_3_20080907.jpg

lighting_lake_bc_20080907.jpg

lighting_lake_bc_bridge_20080907.jpg

Posted by Paul at 07:38 PM

June 25, 2007

Ellison Provincial Park

We took an overnight trip to Vernon to visit some friends, staying at Ellison Provincial Park. After a great dinner, we headed back to the campground for what proved to be a short sleep -- some idiots kept chopping wood to feed their fire well past midnight, and then the crows began providing wakeup calls at 4:30 a.m.

We didn't have time to check out the park, but we did have visitors to our campsite.

mallards_ellison_prov_park_20070625.jpg

Posted by Paul at 04:26 PM

June 20, 2007

Manning Park Day 2

We had a modest campfire last night at our site at the beautiful Lightning Lake campground at Manning Park, burning wood we brought with us that we had collected from a "free firewood" pile after someone cut a few trees down on their lot near our place in Burnaby several years ago. It being nearly the longest day of the year, it didn't get dark until well after 10:00. That also meant that it was getting light by 5:00 a.m., and the birds were in full chorus by 5:30. We should have gone fishing, but instead we dozed until 7:30.

We had breakfast, broke camp, and loaded the car before we tried some spincasting from shore. I had rainbow trout following my lure several times, and even had one hang about just a meter or two offshore for nearly a minute, but we didn't get a single bite. It's frustrating to see fish jumping to feed and not get a bite. Perhaps we should learn how to fly fish!

After an hour of fishing we pulled out and hiked the short Canyon Loop on the Similkameen River. It's a beautiful walk. We then drove up to the lookout on the alpine meadow road before heading back home.

canyon_trail_similkameen_river_20070620.jpg
A shot of the Similkameen from the canyon trail.

dying_pines_manning_park_20070620.jpg
Pine beetle devastation.

yumi_similkammen_river_20070620.jpg
Yumi checking out bugs in the river.

manning_park_lodge_lightning_lake_20070620.jpg
A view from the alpine meadow road lookout with Manning Park Lodge below and Lightning lake in the background.

stellers_jay_manning_park_20070620.jpg
A Steller's Jay harassed us while we picnicked at the west gate.

Posted by Paul at 08:14 PM

June 19, 2007

Manning Park Day 1

Yumi and I took a quick overnight camping trip to Manning Park. We stayed at the Lightning Lake campground, and took a walk around the lake in the evening. We were shocked at all the pines killed by pine beetles, and wondered what the park would look like in a few years. We saw lots of trout jumping in the lake as they fed, and planned to do some catch-and-release fishing in the morning.

lightning_lake_manning_park_20070619.jpg
A view of Lightning Lake from the trail.

canoes_lightning_lake_manning_park_20070619.jpg
Canoes at the rental dock.

ground_squirrels_manning_park_20070619.jpg
Inquisitive ground squirrels -- these fellers obviously expect food!

Posted by Paul at 08:02 PM

October 10, 2006

Adams River Sockeye Run

Yumi and I headed up to the Adams River yesterday afternoon to take in the sockeye run -- 2006 is one of the peak returns that happen every four years. I checked the BC Parks website and discovered that a campground near Vernon, Kekuli Bay, was still open, so we decided to spend the night there.

That evening it was cold and windy, and we chowed down on hot ramen and hot dogs in the dark.

kekuli_camping_20061009.jpg

The next morning, we had a chat with the park operator and complimented him on the clean site. The park is on the bare side, but still beautiful in its own way. We saw loads of small fish from the dock, and enjoyed the changing colors on Kalamalka Lake as the sun rose.

kekuli_bay_20061010.jpg

We drove up to Adams Lake via the Falkland-Chase road. It's a small highway with a stretch of gravel that passes through pretty country. When we arrived at Roderick Haig-Brown park, it was already crowded even on a weekday. There were lots of schoolbuses with hundreds of kids.

adams_river_schoolbuses_20061010.jpg

DFO staff were on hand to tell people about the sockeye, and disect a few dead ones.

adams_river_sockeye_disection_20061010.jpg

We headed out to the river to watch the fish. It is a breathtaking sight to see the thousands of spawners performing their final act before they die.

adams_river_sockeye_20061010.jpg

adams_river_sockeye_mass_20061010.jpg

We were surprised to see many chinook spawners as well -- they are huge fish compared to the sockeye. We hadn't seen any chinook when we visited the Adams run four years ago. Here's a dead chinook next to a dead sockeye and the size disparity is evident.

adams_river_sockeye_chinook_20061010.jpg

There were several people snorkelling and taking video and still images of the spawners.

adams_river_snorkellers_20061010.jpg

Here's one more image of a male sockeye in his full glory.

adams_river_sockeye_male_20061010.jpg

We spent over an hour walking along the river and watching these beautiful animals complete their life cycle. As a sign on the path poignantly pointed out, they're born orphans and die childless. A true wonder of nature.

We drove to Kamloops and then took the 5A south to Merrit, stopping for an hour of fishing at Stump Lake along the way. I had a couple of bites casting from shore, saw a trout following my lure, and had one on line for 10-15 seconds, but we didn't land any. We always use single, barbless hooks. Here's Yumi as the sun began to drop in the sky.

stump_lake_yumi_fishing_20061010.jpg

Posted by Paul at 10:00 PM

September 06, 2006

Jasper Lakes and Canyons

Day three of our fall camping trip dawned clear and sunny, so we took the road to Maligne Lake near Jasper.

Medicine Lake looked a bit eerie in the early morning light.

medicine_lake_jasper_20060906.jpg

We walked some of the trails near Maligne Lake and observed a large brook trout in the Maligne River. The river runs cold and clear.

maligne_river_jasper_20060906.jpg

A cute chipmunk munched on some natural food.

chipmunk_jasper_20060906.jpg

We hiked the Maligne Canyon trails as we did two years ago. You never get tired of the magnificent views. We spotted trout in several of the deeper pools.

maligne_canyon_jasper_20060906.jpg

We took the high trail back to the main parking lot, appreciating the expansive vistas along the way. It was the first time we'd taken this trail for there was a cougar warning in the area on our previous visit and we had seen cougar tracks. Yumi snapped me at a spot popular with hikers for photos.

maligne_canyon_upper_trail_20060906.jpg

It was hot and we were tired so we went back to Whistlers campground for a bit of relaxation. After dinner we decided to check out Patricia Lake and Pyramid Lake near the Jasper townsite. We had not visited them before and were enchanted with their beauty. We saw lots of fry (baby fish) in Pyramid Lake. Here's Yumi cooling off in Patricia Lake.

patricia_lake_jasper_20060906.jpg

Posted by Paul at 04:21 PM

September 05, 2006

Clearwater River to Jasper

On the second day of our September camping trip we got up early, packed up our gear and headed back to the Yellowhead highway from Clearwater Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park. We stopped at several points of interest along the way to check out the Clearwater River and several falls. At Bailey's Chute we saw chinook salmon attempting to leap the falls after swimming up the Fraser and Thompson rivers. It's an amazing sight to see these magnificent fish strive to overcome the chute before dropping back to spawn lower in the river.

chinook_baileys_chute_clearwater_river_20060905.jpg

Dawson Falls are just a short walk from the road.

dawson_falls_clearwater_20060905.jpg

We came across a black bear and her cub along the Clearwater road.

black_bear_and_cub_clearwater_20060905.jpg

We stopped at Swift Creek in Valemount on our way to Jasper to check on the world's longest chinook run, however it was over and we only saw a few carcasses and many huge redds (nests of eggs). These chinook travel 1,280 km from the mouth of the Fraser River to spawn! Further down the road we were rewarded with a magnificent view of Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. The mountain is often obscured by mist and clouds, so this was a treat.

mount_robson_20060905.jpg

Posted by Paul at 03:34 PM

September 04, 2006

September Camping Trip - Clearwater Lake

With summer over, we headed out on Labour Day for an eight-day camping trip. We prefer taking a vacation after the summer rush has subsided. Day one we camped at Clearwater Lake in BC's Wells Gray Provincial Park, and the lake certainly lived up to its name.

We hiked along the trail from the campground to the boat launch and back, enjoying several marvelous views along the way.

clearwater_lake_20060904.jpg

This was the first of many days that we regretted not having brought our canoe along, but there simply isn't enough room in our Outback for all our camping gear and supplies for a longer trip, plus our canoeing gear.

Posted by Paul at 03:18 PM

August 21, 2006

Camping Manning Park Day 2

On the second day of our trip we hiked the canyon nature trail and then drove up to the alpine meadows.

manning_park_similkameen_river_20060821.jpg
One end of the canyon trail. We spotted several small trout having breakfast.

manning_park_similkameen_river_rocks_20060821.jpg
Boulders in the Similkameen.

manning_park_alpine_view_yumi_20060821.jpg
On the trails at the alpine meadows.

manning_park_alpine_meadow_mountains_20060821.jpg
A mountain view.

manning_park_alpine_meadow_spider_20060821.jpg
A tiny, but very cool-looking spider.

manning_park_alpine_meadow_butterfly_20060821.jpg
A lavender moth or butterfly.

manning_park_alpine_meadow_butterfly_orange_20060821.jpg
And an orange one.

Posted by Paul at 06:34 PM

August 20, 2006

Camping Manning Park

Hard to believe with summer almost over, but today Yumi and I headed out on our first camping trip of the year. It was just an overnighter to Manning Park to get out of town and shake out our equipment.

We assumed there would be plenty of spaces on a Sunday night, however to our chagrin we found the Lightning Lake campground was full. We backtracked to Coldspring campground, and found a spot tucked under the ridge away from the highway.

After setting up camp, we went down to the Similkameen River to explore. As passionate streamkeepers, we had to check out the river, with Yumi particularly excited about looking for aquatic bugs and other creatures.

manning_park_similkameen_river_20060820.jpg
The beautiful Similkameen.

manning_park_similkameen_river_yumi_20060820.jpg
Streamkeeper Yumi checks out the river.

manning_park_similkameen_river_stonefly_20060820.jpg
Success, as she finds the husk of a stonefly larva.

manning_park_similkameen_river_tadpole_20060820.jpg
This tadpole was hiding under a stone.

Posted by Paul at 06:24 PM

June 14, 2006

Coleman Canoe Arrives

We ordered a Coleman Ram-X 15.5 foot canoe about a month ago from Canadian Tire and it finally arrived today. We got a great price -- it was $200 off. Now I just hope we have some time to use it this summer!

It was a bit of an adventure getting it home. I had expected it to be in a box "with some assembly required," however we got a floor model that was ready to hit the water. We had ropes and bungy cords and got it home OK, but we'll have to figure out a more efficient way of strapping it onto the roof rack.

We have only one weekend free this month, and I'm raring to get up to Birkenhead Lake or another interior lake.

coleman_canoe_20060614.jpg

Posted by Paul at 06:10 PM

April 26, 2006

WiFi in California Parks

Just discovered that California is offering WiFi connectivity in some of its state parks. Will have to check out how common this is. Usually when we go camping, we're trying to "get away from it all," but then again, we could go camping for longer periods if we could do a little work too. Hm. Have to think about this one :-)! Wonder if/when BC parks would have such service?

Check it out.

The information isn't all that clear to me, but it looks like you can get access for US$7.95/day.

Posted by Paul at 02:47 PM

July 05, 2005

Now That's A Green Roof!

Yumi standing in front of a park facility with an environmentally conscious green roof :-).

green_roof_toilet.jpg

Posted by Paul at 07:20 PM

Camping at Long Beach

Yumi and I went to Pacific Rim National Park a few weeks ago and stayed at the Green Point campground for two nights. It's the third time we've gone in as many years, and we always enjoy walking aptly named Long Beach and exploring tidal pools for interesting critters.

We always throw in a tramp along the gorgous Wild Pacific Trail near the lighthouse in Ucluelet, and visit funky Tofino as well. Here are few shots I took.

paul_edge_of_pacific.jpg

Me standing on the Pacific rim :-).

wild_pacific_trail.jpg

One of the hundreds of beautiful views from the Wild Pacific Trail that greet you every meter or two...

Posted by Paul at 07:01 PM

May 15, 2005

Kettle River Camping

Yumi and I went on an overnight camping trip to Kettle River Provincial Park over the weekend.

The forecast was for rain, but we took our chances and arrived as the sky was clouding over. We saw a grouse strut through the campsite we chose, followed by greetings from assorted chipmunks, squirrels and jays, and then we got the tent and tarps set up.

Our dining and eating shelters in place, we walked the river from the campground south to the old Kettle Valley railway bridge and then back to the north end of the park before dinner.

We were looking for beavers, for we had seen one near the island at the north end of the park last year, and on our way back to the campground we rounded a bend and found ourselves face to face with a sturdy specimen eyeing us from the water only a couple of meters away. We stared at each other, and then as I reached for a camera, it disappeared. Sigh.

After dinner we walked back south to the bridge, and then all the way to the south boundary of the park and back. There were dozens of swallows flitting through the sky over the muddy, fast flowing river like a melee of dogfighting Spitfires.

It rained that evening, but we were snug under our tarp by a fire.

The next day dawned soggy and foggy after heavy rain. We had breakfast, packed up the wet gear in garbage bags, and went for a walk on the other side of the river where there are several visible entrances to old mines. They are all "closed" because of the danger of collapse, however it's obvious that people explore them. Not us, though, a photo in front of a dark, gloomy, mostly filled-in adit is close enough for me!

Kettle_River_Old_Mine_20050515.jpg

The morning walk was also rewarded with seeing a marmot, spotting several unidentified raptors, and hearing an owl. As we slowly drove out of the park, a couple of young deer near the road graciously said goodbye with ears flared, and noses twitching.

Posted by Paul at 06:53 PM

September 14, 2004

Cloudy Lake Louise

In the morning we headed back toward Lake Louise, the gem of the Rockies, under cloudy skies that quickly turned to rain as we proceeded back north.

Our luck held, however, as when we arrived the rain had fallen off, and it only spat at us now and then as we walked to the upper end of the the lake, returned, and hiked to the lookout at the southeast corner of the lake.

We made sandwiches and ate them at the lakeshore, while watching people from all sorts of ethnic groups taking souvenir photos. If one sat there for an afternoon, one could learn the old joke "move just a few steps back" in dozens of languages :-).

Lake Louise must be one of the most photographed places in the world, so I include no photo.

It rained again on the road back to Banff, and rather than hike Tunnel Mountain, we decided to wander around the town. The gardens around the admininstration building were still beautiful.

Posted by Paul at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2004

South on the Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Banff is known as one of the most beautiful drives in the world.

Our next stop was at Athabaska Falls. We had lunch by the river, and succumbed to a mooching dog who was obviously a pro. He played the "I'm lost, can I gradually approach you and have something to eat" game perfectly, then disappeared after getting some cheese.

The falls were magnificent.

athabaska_falls_20040913.jpg

There are several old channels to explore, and it's a must-see stop just a minute off of the highway.

exit_athabaska_falls_20040913.jpg

Continuing south, our next stop was the world-famous, 325-sq.-km Columbia Icefields. While shrinking at a dramatic and increasing rate, these icefields still feed rivers draining into three oceans: the Pacific, the Atlantic (via Hudson Bay) and the Arctic.

Tourists can climb a short way up the glacier, and the sound of melting water and creepy mini-crevasses makes it a tense experience. Several people have died in the last decade by wandering out of bounds, falling into a crevasse, and freezing to death before highly trained rescue teams can reach them.

paul_columbia_icefields_20040913.jpg

From the icefields we continued south toward Banff, and ran into some heavy rain, and heavy hearts as we contemplated having to motel rather than having the primeval joy of a campfire.

Yet miraculously the rain stopped a few kilometers out of town, and we settled into the Tunnel Mountain campground tired, but happy.

Popping back into town, we picked up pork chops, mushrooms, peppers, and rice, and created a royal feast on our Coleman propane stove. For starters we had corn on the cob roasted in tinfoil in the fire. Yum!

Posted by Paul at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

To Mt. Edith Cavell

Up with the sun again, we broke camp and headed south on the Icefields Parkway. Our first stop was at Mt. Edith Cavell, accessed just a few dozen kilometers south of Jasper.

The road up to the mountain and glacier was paved but in bad condition, so the 14.5km passed slowly, but the views more than made up for the bouncy, twisty ride.

Named after nurse Edith Cavell who was executed by German forces in WWI for helping Allied soldiers escape Belgium, the site is suitably majestic and uplifting.

glacier_cavell_20040913.jpg

The lower end of the upper glacier is known as the "Angel," while ice calved from the lower part floats in the little lake.

Posted by Paul at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2004

Hiking Near Gorgeous Maligne Lake

Up at the crack of dawn, we built a smokey fire from damp wood, ate breakfast, and headed off to Maligne Lake.

The sky cleared and the sun came out, literally brightening the prospects for some good hiking. The drive to Maligne Lake took us past Medicine Lake, an interesting body of water that appears and disappears with the seasons.

In the spring, Medicine Lake magically appears as the snow melts, and then gradually shrinks over the summer until it disappears in the autumn. The mystery was solved when underground channels were discovered that empty the lake at a pace that doesn't keep up with the spring rush, but eventually drain it as the inflow decreases.

We arrived at Maligne Lake around 9:30 a.m., ahead of the tour bus rush. It was beautiful. We walked the shore, and hiked a loop through the woods.

maligne_lake_20040912.jpg

After having lunch sitting on some rocks near the shoreline, we headed back toward Jasper. We stopped at Maligne Canyon for another hike.

The hike down the canyon is spectacular, with amazing rock formations and thundering water. Some of the underground channels from Medicine Lake can be seen emptying into the canyon. We took the trail as far down as 5th bridge, and then considered returning to the parking lot on a different trail through the forest.

yumi_maligne_canyon_20040912.jpg

There was a cougar warning out for the area, so we were a bit uncertain about the narrow, darker, less-used forest path, however with tighter grips on our walking poles, we ventured forth.

About 50 meters into the forest Yumi suddenly stopped dead in her tracks, and pointed at a muddy area on the path. Superimposed on horse tracks was a perfect cat print, only the size indicated this was no house cat! A careful look around found more cougar tracks, and we about-faced and with tingling spines headed back to the path along the canyon where there were plenty of other hikers.

Posted by Paul at 06:55 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2004

Sleeping With Elk in Jasper

We left Prince George early in the morning and cruised east on the Yellowhead (Highway 16) toward Jasper. It was overcast with occasional rain.

Being avid streamkeepers, we stopped several times along the way to check out rivers and creeks including the Willow River, Bowron River, Slim Creek and the Milk River.

As we approached the intersection of highways 16 and 5, I recalled that there was a salmon viewing area in Valemount, about 20km south of our course. We decided to check it out, and discovered that we'd missed a chinook salmon run by a week or so. They had arrived a couple of weeks early and we saw only one carcass.

Swift Creek is billed as the home of the world's longest chinook salmon run -- the fish travel 1,280km from the Pacific Ocean up the Fraser River and to the creek to spawn. Apparently they average about 18km a day. Amazing.

Retracing our course back to the 16, we continued east to Mt. Robson Provincial Park where we stopped for a tailgate lunch and a visit to the information center.

It's hard to believe that the icy blue torrent one sees in the north is the same Fraser River that is a brown, silt-filled working channel back home in Burnaby.

We arrived in Jasper around dinner time, and headed for the Whistlers campground, the only one that was open due to the "strategic services withdrawal" underway by national park staff negotiating for better wages. Park staff were uniformly friendly and helpful throughout our trip.

As we registered at the campground, we were warned to be on the lookout for elk, as it was the mating season and the males could be aggressive.

elk_jasper_20040911.jpg

We set up camp, got a fire going and were cooking dinner when a group of female elk appeared, three mature and three yearlings, slowly moving along while munching on grass and shrubs. Not long after a male with an impressive rack appeared, obviously the leader of the harem.

Bull_elk_jasper_20040911.jpg

We were a bit nervous while the male was around, but eventually he trotted off, and the females bedded down less than 10 meters from our tent! We thought that eventually they would move on, but on our last bathroom run for the night, we discovered they were still sleeping there.

Posted by Paul at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2004

On the Road to Prince George

We headed out of town on our camping trip with qualms about possibly rainy weather. We planned to stay at 10 Mile Lake Provincial Park north of Quesnel.

We camped there several years ago and it was a pretty park.

I'm always amazed by the diversity of ecological zones in BC. As you drive north from the lower mainland, you leave lush coastal areas and enter near-desert landscapes. The terrain keeps changing and eventually you are in rolling hills and thick forests.

Unfortunately, as we neared our destination, we encountered light rain that steadily picked up in intensity to the point that it was pouring as we approached the park.

We didn't want to start our trip with a soaked night of tenting and the resulting wet tarps and equipment in our stuffed-to-the-gills car, so we decided to head north to Prince George to find a cheap motel.

We found the city difficult to naviagate on a dark, rainy evening, however we finally settled on a motel and hoped for better weather for the next day when we planned to head for Jasper National Park.

Posted by Paul at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2004

Autumn Camping Trip

We worked straight through the summer and finally booked a week off in mid-September. The plan was to do a loop through BC and Alberta, heading north to Prince George, west to Jasper, south to Banff, and then back to Burnaby.

We left on Sept. 10 and we're home now (Sept. 17), and over the next few days I plan to post photos and comments about our adventures.

Overall it was a mostly cloudy, rainy trip, however we were always fortunate to arrive at campgrounds during lulls in the rain so we could set up our tent and raise tarps so we could stay dry.

We also had several sunny spells for some great hikes.

I'll backdate the posts to the days events transpired to keep things simple.

Posted by Paul at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2004

Friendly, Beautiful Nakusp

I'm still catching up on our trip home from Calgary to Burnaby last week.

After crossing Arrow Lake on June 8, we continued south to the charming town of Nakusp and its friendly residents. Everywhere we went, people chatted with us, and we met several former Burnabarians who had moved to this interior town to enjoy a slower pace of life.

We walked the lovely lakefront and saw hawks and osprey soaring overhead, and enjoyed the jam-packed local museum.

Unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit the hot springs, but I suspect we'll be back sooner than later.

Nakusp_Lakeside.jpg

Posted by Paul at 08:36 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2004

Crossing Arrow Lake, Shelter Bay to Galena Bay

We woke up to a cacophonous chorus of irritatingly cheerful birds, squirrels and chipmunks around 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 8, at Blanket Creek Provincial Park. The auditory assault on our peaceful campground prompted us to hit the road early.

We were on our second day of driving home to Burnaby from an Editors' Association of Canada conference in Calgary.

We planned to catch the 9:00 a.m. ferry across Arrow Lake from Shelter Bay to Galena Bay, and arrived at the landing only to find it was half an hour late.

As the sun's intensity increased, we slathered on the sunscreen. At last we drove onto the small ferry, and were on our way.

I love ferries, large and small. It's great being on the water, binoculars and camera at hand. The 20-minute crossing was all too short.

ArrowLakeFerry.jpg

Looking north up Arrow Lake from the ferry.

Posted by Paul at 07:24 PM | Comments (0)

Blanket Creek

We stayed at Blanket Creek Provincial Park on Monday, June 7. It's about 25km south of Revelstoke on Highway 23. We'd never been down that road, and were impressed by the beautiful scenery.

Of the 64 sites, only half a dozen or so were occupied, so we looked forward to a quiet evening.

It's a beautiful little park on the shores of the Arrow Lake reservoir. We walked down to the water, and did the 2km nature trail. There were piles of deer scat all along the trail, however we didn't encounter any deer.

We'd certainly camp there again if the occasion arises.

ArrowLake_from_BlanketCreekPark.jpg

It's hard to believe that paddlewheelers used to ply these waters in days gone by.

Posted by Paul at 06:55 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2004

Free Writing at EAC Session

We arrived home in Burnaby last night after a couple of days camping on the road back from the Editors' Association of Canada conference in Calgary last weekend.

I'll post a few entries over the next day or two about our travels, however first I'd like to share a free-writing excercise from the conference. We were asked to write "to" a thing, keeping our pens moving non-stop as soon as they hit the paper. I chose computers.

To computers: You seduced me with your power, the magic of green or yellow characters dancing across a screen. You let me combine work with play, and even let a bit of that adolescent hot-rodder continue to express himself into middle age with gigahertz instead of horsepower, graphics cards instead of mag wheels, oodles of RAM instead of Edelbrock intake manifolds. You have made me dependent upon you to put a roof over my head and keep it there. Without you, my business would die. You make me uncomfortable because while initially you empowered me, I am now almost totally dependent upon you. That's why I'm eagerly looking forward to spending three days camping on my way home, far out of WiFi and cell phone range, isolated from email and clients. Three days of freedom before I am bathed in the glow of your screen again, mesmerized.

Posted by Paul at 06:26 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2004

Camping Near Revelstoke

Last night we camped at Martha Creek Provincial Park, a small campground with 25 sites on Lake Revelstoke.

It was a pretty little campground, and we saw what were either snowshoe hares or some introduced rabbits, and, to our delight, a weasel that bounced through the grass looking for prey.

When we walked down to the boat launch, we were surprized to see a huge trout beneath the dock, and schools of fry and fingerlings along the shore.

It was our first night camping this year, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We really like being out in nature and having a little fire and watching the stars appear as it grows dark.

Today we spotted white-tailed deer, mountain goats, mountain sheep, a black bear, several hawks, and other assorted wildlife as we drove along the Trans-Canada.

We were driving from Burnaby to the annual Editors' Association of Canada conference which is being held in Calgary this year.

Yesterday, we stopped at a roadside rest near Sicamous where we'd seen eagles on another trip three or four years ago. The parking lot was deserted, and as we scanned the gorgeous view of Shuswap Lake, and the skies above, we were rewarded with the sight of a pair of bald eagles, and then a pair of what appeared to be osprey, soaring above.

Posted by Paul at 09:29 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2004

Chopping Up the Xmas Tree

We finally took down our Christmas tree today. The decorations and lights were removed a couple of weeks ago, but it was still in good shape and still had that zesty Douglas Fir aroma, so we were loath to see it go.

We carried it into the garage where we sawed the branches off and put them in a box for drying, and placed the denuded trunk along one wall. I'll saw the trunk into sections in the summer when much of the sap will have dried out.

Butchering a Douglas Fir Xmas tree is akin to giving a cat a bath -- as with the amazing shrinkage in the feline, the tree also loses its grandeur. The stick of a trunk that remains is a bit shocking.

We've been going through this process yearly ever since British Columbia stopped providing free firewood in provincial campgrounds.

I can see some rationale behind the change, and it certainly stopped people from mindlessly burning huge bonfires for hours on end. However, it also set off a rash of scavenging that has noticeably hurt the brush and forests in some campgrounds.

Education and enforcement need to improve. Meanwhile, we'll continue to personally recycle our Xmas trees, and scavenge for discarded construction material and woodworking waste to support our camping habit.

Posted by Paul at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)