Monday, October 31, 2011

Brother's Creek Loop

 A nice way to start a hike. At first look we thought these might be Chicken of the Woods, but after reading my reference book once we got home, I knew right away that they weren't. I'm guessing they are Velvet Foots (or is that "feet"), but without a more careful look I can't be certain. Mushrooms were abundant, and the edible we saw the most were Angel Wings, but we didn't collect any since they were quite damp and we had a long way to go. However, I thought if we had collected all along the way, we'd have quite a haul (a soggy haul).

Anywho...onto the hike. In the summer I had run part of this trail with my trail running group, and we had taken a side route that wasn't on the planned itinerary, but was a route that I remember commenting on how beautiful it was.
 db and I wanted to hike on Sunday, but the early morning rain made us a little lazy about heading outside so we took our time with breakfast and getting our day started. However, I was still up for a hike in rain or whatever weather was out there.
I remembered this side route we had run and looked it up, and found a nice loop hike listed that we could do in an afternoon. It also seemed like a good rainy day option since it wasn't about fabulous views or mountaintops.

The trail I was most interested in is called the Fire Access Road, which is actually the McNair Skidway.  "This trench is visible in several locations across the mountainside and was known as McNairs 'Fore & Aft' skidway.  In the early 1900's loggers pulled (skidded) logs down this trench by a steam powered cable system (steam donkey).  The logs were then transported to the waterfornt via a logging railway.(...) In the 1950's this old truck road was used to haul logs off the mountain." (from
 It's really not much of a road. It's a double track, rocky route that slowly ascends through a variety of forest up the mountain.

The weather was in our favor since the rain had stopped. It was foggy and damp, but we would remain mostly dry.

My interest to return to this trail was for the cedars. Once we left the Baden Powell trail and started up the "road" the forest was quite eerie. db suggested that the old stumps, logged in the early 1900s, reminded him of death (seems extreme, but it was eerie and we were thinking that it was a good Halloween trail). The fog amongst the tall trunks and these old massive stumps without much greenery around did make this section quite spooky.

The rain that we have had lately did mean there were several smaller streams along the way and at times the trail itself was a bit like a stream. We eventually reached the large cedars that I had remembered from my run in the summer (like the one two photos above). The trail was much greener along this section and very beautiful. Photos don't really give you a sense of the size of the trees so I didn't take many tree photos. db did take one of me hugging a tree (ha!), but I'll save that for another day.

The trail narrowed more and the scenery changed again and became more lush with more leafy foliage, and even more moss (is that even possible in the forests here?) and soon we could hear the creek.

This junction also leads to Lost Lake and Blue Gentian Lake, but we decided to stick with the chosen loop. We had had enough of climbing for one day, and knew that once you reach this point of the loop and cross the bridge the descent starts.
 The sound was incredible as the water rushed past us and over a small cliff. It was such a contrast to being in this area in the summer when it was completely dry. We didn't go to the creek then, but I'm sure it was probably just a small trickle since all of the other creeks we crossed at the time were bone dry.
 This is such a nice little marker and bridge. Most creeks aren't marked in this way, and I found it rewarding to see the sign because it felt like we had reached a destination. In better weather, we might have picnicked here.

Much of the descent followed a cliff edge that looked down at the creek, so we had the sound of rushing water as we negotiated our way through the soggy trail, and we had some impressive views of the creek at times. The Brother's Creek trail is very narrow and was quite damp, so we had to be careful with our footing and step around lots of muddy puddles.

At the next trail marker, we took the turn that had a narrow staircase down towards the creek and a bridge to cross it again. This is where we say this waterfall, and I remembered this section from the summer run because we had stopped here to break and have a snack. At that time the waterfall was a small cascade that seemed quite pretty. However, on this day it was a rushing waterfall, and we had to yell to talk to each other as we stood on the bridge. From the edge of the bridge we could feel the cool breeze generated from the water.

Our last ascent was up away from the waterfall (another staircase) before we started the rest of our descent that ended on a West Van. street where we had parked the car.

This was really a wonderful hike, and I think the damp weather made it even more beautiful.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rubber Ducky Half Update

Here's the latest results from the Rubber Ducky race I ran to raise funds for Wildlife Rescue.

Place: 31
Age group place: 5th Female 40-49 (there were 26 in my age group)
Chip Time: 58:50.7

I'm pretty happy with those results. That's the fastest 11 k I've ever done! The trail training must be paying off.
The race is one lap around Burnaby Lake so it's flat trail with some spongy, boggy parts, but I went for it and I'm pretty pleased to place 5th in my age group and to place 31st out of 132 runners in that distance!
Thanks to my mom for inspiring me! She made a generous donation to Wildlife Rescue and I decided that I would run the race with her in mind.

Beware the Runner's High

I absolutely love my trail running clinic on Saturday mornings. It is all the way to the North Shore (about a 35-40 minute drive), but it's so worth it.
I get to spend 2 hours plus running/hiking trails and each week it's a new route of rocks, roots, and streams (especially this time of year) that has a new challenge. I'm usually with several people at a time so the thought of bears doesn't cross my mind (too often). I've seen some of the most beautiful trails on the North Shore that I may have never seen otherwise.

We usually start out easy and have some light chit chat going on between us, getting caught up or just making small talk. Then there's usually a steep climb that silences most people for a while and we get more focused on our footing and trying to keep the pace moving as quickly as possible. This past week I noticed that towards the end of our runs, we get really chatty and we have a bit of a runner's high so the mood is light and fun. Two of the more experienced runners were talking about a couple of Ultra races (50k and up) they have done or are planning to do in 2012. I listened with interest in their stories and their plans. Then, they suggested that I think about doing one of these races, and I seriously started thinking it was possible. Yup, the runner's high when everything seems possible and you feel no pain.

When we ran back to our start/finish point to sign out and do some stretching, the high was still with us and they almost had me convinced to go home and sign up for these Ultras.
I'd say it took about 15 minutes in the car ride home for me to know that there was no way I was going to get home and sign up for an Ultra.

Okay, it might be on my list of possibilities, but I'm not registering for anything yet.

This coming Saturday I'll be ready for the runner's high.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall Favorites

 First I have to introduce the newest member at whoville. Owning a car is a first for us, and we held off as long as we could, but ultimately it came down to wanting to have access to all those things we love to do that Beautiful British Columbia has to offer.
db no longer had the company car on the weekends since he changed jobs (oh, did I forget to mention that? -- Long story, but it's all good now). Anywho...we found a nice little used Matrix that will get us wherever we need to go.
I still transit to work, and db takes turns with a co-worker carpooling, so we're still trying to minimize our carbon footprint even though it may have gotten a whole lot bigger just by owning a vehicle. Anyway, I'm not going to beat myself up about it any longer.

Now onto fall.

 The leaves are starting to change colour, but I haven't really been focused so much on the changing colours. It's been all about enjoying fall treats such as db's Apple Pie and freshly baked bread.
When I came home from work after he'd made pie and bread, the whole place felt so inviting and warm.

My favorite fall flower: the toad lily. This is probably my favorite lily (but then again whatever lily happens to be in bloom at the moment is usually my favorite). Lilies in the fall! It doesn't get better. Just when I thought the garden was winding down and I would have to start thinking about bringing in pots and tidying up for winter, the toad lilies bloomed. I love their freckled petals and their tiny delicate presence.
And then there are the mushrooms, a definite fall favorite. The Matsutake or Pine Mushroom was our first wild mushroom of the season. Unfortunately it wasn't something we found in the forest, but rather at the farmer's market. The vendor told us that they're from the Bella Coola and Terrace areas. That's a long, long way from whoville so I'm not rushing out to search for these (even though I know they're out there!). They had two large crates of Pine Mushrooms. We picked two from the less expensive ones that needed more cleaning than the more expensive ones. They were still pricey, but we really wanted to try them.

 The next day we went to our favorite fall forested area. On route to our chanterelle spot, db found this Boletus Mirabilis. It was in good shape having been somewhat protected from the rain by the canopy. (I wish I had taken more pictures of it. db took this one. I think the fork is supposed to give you an idea of the size, but it also might be a reminder to make sure you eat your mushrooms).
db did some research to be certain that it was edible and then sliced it and panfried it. I was reluctant to try it and thought that one of us should be alert and healthy enough to drive to the hospital, but then I couldn't resist, and I really was confident that it was an edible. Very melt in your mouth tasty. It's a shame we only found one.

Finally, the bounty. There were a few chanterelles on our way to our favorite spot, but nothing to get too excited about. We hiked up to our little mossy area in the woods and started looking around, but weren't finding much -- at first. Then, once we spotted one we kept seeing more and more. We left the smaller ones. The ones we did collect were clean and dry and pretty perfect overall. Again, that nice canopy over the moss seems to keep them from getting too damp. We'd find these soft green depressions where the moss had grown over the old growth and inevitably we'd find chanterelles. It seems like they're just starting.  More fall to come.