Monday, January 30, 2012

Snowshoeing in the Mountains

 I know! Two posts in one week. Don't think this will continue. I could disappear again for another month as the school work piles on.


There are snow in those mountains. I thought it just rained here all winter, at least until we got that snow a couple of weeks ago, but before that everything was green and rainy, and we had a mild Christmas. I'm acclimatised to the winters here, and know how to get through the months of rain.

However, this year db and I resolved to get in some snowshoeing. db had purchased two pairs of snowshoes for us in the fall as Christmas gifts. I was wondering if we'd ever get to use them because there was no sign of snow and friends I had spoken to in December said that the snow conditions weren't great on the mountains when they had been skiing, so I wasn't expecting much when we headed up Mt. Seymour Rd. for our first snowshoe outing. 

 Our Costco snowshoes. db found these at Costco and they've been great. The last time I was on snowshoes, it was those more "traditional" shaped snowshoes that you might know with the tennis racket shape: very wide and difficult to walk in. Snowshoes have come a long way, and these are great! They may not be as streamlined as some of the "running" snowshoes I've seen on the market, but they sure are fun for walking. (I really don't have plans for taking up snowshoe running...honest).

As we drove up towards the ski hill, we were relieved to have purchased winter tires because it was suddenly full on winter!

There were skiers everywhere. Kids were heading to the sliding hill with parents, and snowshoeing is definitely popular. We purchased our passes and strapped on the snowshoes.

These photos are from three different outings.  Mt. Seymour, Cypress (twice), and then back to Seymour.

You can see how much snow had actually accumulated on the mountain. Now I realize that whenever it's raining at home, it's snowing on the mountains.

 The reward back at home! Two vegan hot chocolates with those amazing sweet & sara marshmallows.

The following week, I took hot chocolate in a thermos (thank you to my brother for sending the fantastic company branded -- Capital Springs -- thermos for Christmas), and carted the marshmallows so we could enjoy it in the car. Why wait until you get home in the rain. It's more fun to have hot chocolate in a winter setting.

 This is Hollyburn Lodge at Cypruss. The snowshoe and nordic skiing trails lead to this lodge on the way to Hollyburn Mtn. It's a really cute little spot in the woods, and there were several pairs of snowshoes hanging outside next to skis while people warmed up inside. They have a little cafe in there as well, and there's a lovely wood stove smell as you near the lodge/cabin. Must be quite the hike up with the supplies (oh wait, there's a snowmobile track that leads up there).

You can see that it was snowing on that day. It was very pretty.

 I think this was Cypress the following weekend. We went on a longer hike. I was hoping to go all the way to Hollyburn Mtn, but once we hit the hiking access trail (free for snowshoers who don't want to pay to have access to the snowshoe trails), it was packed so we quickly headed back to the tranquility of the snowshoe trails and made our way on a fairly long route that pretty much tired us out for the rest of the day. db had also forgotten to put his orthotics in his hiking boots, so he had very sore and tired feet.

We did get some sun that day though. Blue skies.

This last shot was taken back at Seymour last weekend.  It was pouring when we left home, and as we drove up the mountain it was definitely like a winter storm up there. It was slow going on the road up.

At the top it was a blizzard. Snow was whipping around us and the winds were crazy. There were still skiers everywhere. There was actually an event going on, and it didn't seem to be slowing it down too much. db and I wondered how crazy we might be, but thought it would be better once we got into the woods, and it was. It was pretty tranquil in the woods, and we had another great hike. The trees creaked a little in the wind.

This hike was a little more adventurous since we took one of the "closed" trails. There were at least one or two other set of snowshoe tracks on the trail, so were weren't the only ones doing this. Plus there are many hiking trails that lead up to Seymour.

It was definitely more off the beaten path, but it did follow a well marked route and clearly someone else had been through. It was beautiful and quite hilly so it was a challenge. We did have to cross a creek without a bridge at one point so that was a little more challenge than I wanted in snowshoes, but I think there was probably a better way around that. was a good hike on a snowy day. The snow was still whipping up the ski slopes when we got back, and since we had been forced to park along the side of the road, we had a bit of a walk in the snow and wind, so we were glad to get to the shelter of our car, and warm up.

Next weekend, we might venture a little further afield. Squamish? Callaghan Valley?

Weekend Trail Runs

Had an awesome run Saturday! (I hate overusing the word "awesome," which I often do, but I'm using it anyway because it just seems right to describe today's run).

It was snowing when I left to meet the trail running clinic group...well, it was more slushy snow falling, which turned into rain when I reached the bottom of our hill, and then snow again as I started to climb along the Barnet. It was full on snow by the time I reached our meeting point at the bottom of the drive to Mt. Seymour (ski hill for those that don't know). There was a sad looking group of runners shivering in the parking lot, and I joined them, signed in and then we pretty much got under way because no one wanted to stand around for very long.

(the trail did not look as nice as this. Imagine it overcast, very damp, and partially snow covered and then you'll get an idea of trail running in the winter here)

The start was a long, slow climb on a trail that runs parallel to Mt Seymour Rd.  We were all running at first (probably just trying to stay warm. I know I was), and then eventually we all walked up at trail that's called Old Buck.  The clinic leader was at the next junction to meet us, and then we turned onto a more narrow trail that's part of the 48k trail route named Baden Powell. More climbing! The trail was snowy, but not too slippery. We stayed all grouped together. Usually we break up into smaller groups depending on pace, but this week we clustered in a big long group along the trail.

My legs were burning! I had done some lunges with weights on Thursday at the gym and was still feeling the effects of that, so the climbing was TOUGH. When we finally hit something I could actually run on it felt great, but it was a really rocky section with lots of loose rocks so it was slow going in the snow. I later found out that that section of trail is called the Seymour grind. Appropriate.

There was a lot of up and down, but the warmer I got, the better I felt and the final run down towards our meeting point felt great and I pretty much ran my own pace downhill. I seem to be pretty fast on the downhills, finishing them before many more experienced runners, which is making me wonder if I'm going too fast and not pacing properly. Will it catch up with me later on a longer run? I just don't find the downhill sections that difficult. The uphills I'm always at the back of the pack, but the descent is pure joy for me.

I think finishing on a good descent kept me feeling great all day. I had a real runner's high that helped carry me through work. I should probably run every day before work!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Friends Making Money

I didn't look up why this is called "Friends Making Money" when I found it on Wandering Coyote's blog, but that' okay.

FMM involves answering 20 questions, then leaving a link to your post on the post of the friend you got the list from.

1.  What is your favourite way to spend a Saturday?
Start the day with an early morning trail run with my trail running buddies, then go home for a db specialty coffee and some yummy breakfast/brunch and then just let the day unfold. Hopefully there's a great movie in there at some point.

2. List your top 3 favourite TV shows.  
I think I only watch re-runs. 
St. Louis Blues Hockey (that's current!)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (all time favorite)
The Simpsons
3. Would you rather be in pictures or take them?
Definitely take them.

4. Why do you blog?
Even though I don't do it as much anymore, I do blog for my family, and for my own interest. I think I started out to blog for different reasons and with bigger plans (creative expression), but it turned into a much more personal blog than I thought it would be.

5. Share 5 web sites you visit regularly.

Facebook (do you really need the link?)
Langara College (where I'm currently taking 2 courses)
SPUD (gotta order the veggies and see what's on special for the week) (running stuff)
Fat Free Vegan (always something yummy)

6.  If you could have lunch with one person from your Twitter list, who would that be?
I don't have a twitter list. Let's say my fb would be my sister.
7.  List a few of your favourite snacks.
Kale Chips from Tao Organics!!!! I'm addicted.
Vegan Peppermint Nanaimo bars from Sprout Vegan Bakery (She is an amazing local vegan baker)
db's hats (I can't give away the secret, but if you've had them, you know what I'm talking about.
Que Pasa tortilla chips and a spicy salsa (standard favorite).

8.  Do you have a pet?  If so, what kind.
Yes, two cats that are my companion animals.

9.  Which 3 material possessions would you struggle to live without?
 Struggle seems like a strong word for these things, but it would be: My Mac, My blender, and My camera. (not necessarily in that order).

10.  What’s your favourite drink?
Fresh juice with apple, beet, carrot and ginger. (Hmm, I think I'll go make some after this).
For something a little stronger, I prefer a nice red like a Barolo or Brunello di Montalcino (but who doesn't. I don't get to enjoy these too often though - $$$$$ -- so another tasty wine will do. I enjoy trying different ones.)

11.  Do you enjoy cooking?
Yes when I have time. Not so much when I don't.

12.  Do you have children?
Nope. I have two cats and too many other things in my life.

13.  What are you favourite hobbies?
Trail running, trail running, and trail running. Just kidding (sort of). I also enjoy photography, hiking, knitting, and volunteering at Wildlife Rescue.

14.  Would you consider yourself to be shy or outgoing?

15.  If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Better memory.

16.  Who is your favourite actor/actress?
My sis, of course!
Actor: Cary Grant.

17.  What’s the coolest thing  you’ve done this week?
Trail ran in the snow, and then later went out snowshoeing. That was today and I'm toast.

18.  Do you live near family or far from them?
Both. Most of my family is far away, but pw is just across the Salish Sea.

19.  List three of your talents.
Ability to take on any challenge.
Story editing (I do miss script editing)
Making risotto (It really is the best)

20.  What is your greatest attribute?
Compassion towards animals.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Christmas Day

 What kind of Christmas Day photo is this? Well, when db and I drove out to Mission to cut our Christmas tree, we took a wrong turn and passed this area that was full of eagles feeding on Salmon. A little further up the highway it was the weekend of Harrison's Eagle Festival, where eagles return every year to feed on the Salmon, so it wasn't surprising to see them in the area. As we drove past we saw eagle after eagle after eagle.

Anywho...db and I didn't stop that day, but decided to go back 2 weeks later on Christmas. The beach was littered with Salmon carcasses and there was mostly just gulls enjoying what was left.
 It's really a beautiful little spot, and the weather cleared long enough for us to walk along the water.
 An American Dipper. I looked up this little guy once I got home and could load the photo to see what it was. I was astounded when I saw it dive into the water and then come back out.
 Looking over the bridge, we watched this gull enjoying himself. The gulls really do enjoy cleaning up. They were almost as much fun to watch as the eagles.
 We did see eagles. At one point we counted a total of 14 in one area. It was probably a quarter of what we probably would have seen two weeks earlier.
 Several were perched in the trees. They stayed there the whole time we were there.
 This one bald eagle remained in this spot the whole time as well. Others moved around us, and we got to see several take off and land fairly close. It was quite amazing.
 More gulls having fun. (I love gulls!)
Finally, the best view! This eagle was along the side of the road and we almost drove past him and missed him. db spotted him as we drove by, so we swung around and parked several feet away to watch him (or her) enjoy whatever it had in his (her) talons. Beautiful raptors!