Saturday, June 30, 2007

Hermit Meadows

We were at Hermit Meadows over the long weekend with Mark, a former colleague of mine. We didn't really have any specific objectives in mind and just wanted to spend a couple of nights out and perhaps get up onto the glacier below Mount Rogers.

Brenda and I made the same trip last year and have fond memories of being forced to dig out a tent platform with a pot from our cook set. With the big snow pack this year we made sure to bring a shovel this time. In the end we could have used two or three. There was still 2-3 meters of snow in places. It took hours of digging but it was well worth it to have a nice dry (albeit cramped) platform to pitch the tents on.



We had a good dinner, drank lots of tea, and watched the sun set on the mountains across the valley, but we were soon chased into our tents by the cold wind.

We woke to a nice morning with a mix of sun and cloud and made our way over Tupper Ridge and onto the glacier.



Just for kicks we climbed a steep snow slope to reach the top of a sub-peak beside Mount Rogers. It's the double humped feature in the center left of this photo:


Here's Mark trying to decide whether or not he's having fun (he was):


Another night out and then back down to the car where we found one of Brenda's most favourite things in the world...a cool bug!


Leave a comment if you can you help us identify him. I should have put something else in the photo for comparison because he looks tiny. Actually his body alone was about 2-3cms long.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

Just back from a 6 day canoe trip to the Bowron Lakes. The trip was organized by a great group of guys from Edmonton. My connection to them was through Ross McEwen. I know Ross from the time when we both lived in Montreal. The timing was perfect since I was leaving the company that I was working for and starting a new position elsewhere. The trip fell in between nicely.

The park is situated on the western slopes of the Cariboo Mountain Range about 700km north of Kelowna. It was a loooong drive and I took the opportunity to christen the new (old) VW van by sleeping in it on the night that I drove up.



I arrived on a sunny Friday morning to find the happy pre-trip chaos of Ross, Darcy, Gary, Daryl and Mario mixing equal parts of packing, drinking, and general hilarity.

There is an unreal amount of administrative bureaucracy to go through before being allowed to depart from the staging area. There are information sessions, videos, and gear weigh-ins ad nauseam. Looking at this map, the trip begins in the top left corner and then travels clockwise from there. The places we camped are circled in red.



The circuit itself is 110km long with about 10kms of that being portages. It's very much like a canoe trip in Algonquin Park except that the mountains are...well, mountains...with snow capped peaks, avalanche runouts, and weather that changes in an instant. The portages are also much easier with well maintained trails that are designed to be used with canoe carts. This makes a huge difference in the amount of weight that you can carry (think giant smoked hams for the non-veggies and lots of booze). We saw moose, baby moose, eagles, ospreys, and bear. Got cold, hot, wet, and very dirty. So overall a great trip!







On the drive out Darcy and I passed two grizzly bears playing in a meadow near the road just outside of Wells. We pulled off onto a side road to watch from the van. We were amazed as they made their way directly towards us, play-fighting and running and loping around. Eventually they were within about 20 metres of us when all of a sudden an RCMP truck pulled up behind us, blasted its siren, and then parked directly between us and the bears. An officer jumped out with a rifle and started throwing rocks at the bears and yelling "Go on! Get out of here you stupid bears! Yargh!!". The bears stood up on their hind legs, hesitated a moment, and ran off in the other direction.

It was pretty dramatic. He explained afterwards that the bears are a real menace so they actively deter them when they get near the edge of town. The rifle was loaded with rubber bullets.

We had a fantastic meal at a little restaurant in Wells and then a highly entertaining evening in the slightly larger town of Quesnel. It gets a bit foggy from here but I do believe that we made quite an impression on the local populace. Highlights include karaoke in the Caribou Bar, endless sambuca shots courtesy of Daryl, and a new dance invented by Mario in the Quesnel Bar that features several people forming a line and paddling around the dance floor to heavy dance music.

I slept in the van parked in the Ramada parking lot.

More photos from Darcy:
http://picasaweb.google.com/darcy.lalor/BowronLakesJune2007