Carmanah Valley

Carmanah Valley has always felt like a bit of a magical place to me, where else can you walk among giant trees that have been standing for several hundred or even a millennium. Just trying to think back to what was going on in the world when those trees had started growing is a fascinating experience. The sad truth when it comes to this is that these trees and habitat are extremely rare. There is less than 2% of this type of old growth habitat still left in BC, and the rough and bumpy road required to access this park winds through the swathes of clear cuts that demonstrate the immense scale of the forest industry.

While there is not much of this habitat left we are lucky to have what we do have as it is truly specular. Spending time amount these living giants is not something that can easily be described and is best experienced for oneself if at all possible. Other than access being a little tricky due to the fact you are required to travel on rough logging roads for about 2.5 hours (one way) to gain access to the park. Once reached the park offers easy walking and lovely camping if desired with some of the most spectacular views I have experienced on Vancouver Island.

_D8C6644_webThe Heaven Tree

While there is a trail much of it is no longer maintained and some of the boardwalks and wooden structures are starting to show the side effects of being located in a rainforest.

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One of the more famous attractions of the park is the “three sisters”, a trio of huge sitka spruces arranged in a triangle with a platform that allows for visitors to gain a unique perspective of these huge trees.

_D8C6592_webLooking up between the “three sisters”

If you are planning a visit there are some great camping opportunities if you are will to hike down to the gravel bar that is near the three sisters. What more can you ask for, camping among ancient giants next to a lovely river.

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Carmanah is a unique jewel and will leave a lasting impression on visitors, if you are able to make the trip out that way you will not be disappointed. The only downside is that after seeing these giant trees “normal” trees just don’t have the same impact they once did.

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Winter Camping

When you tell someone you are going to go winter camping you tend to get a bit of a strange look in return. Winter camping while sounding daunting can make for a some stunning scenes if you are prepared for the conditions. A few weeks ago I headed up Mt. Becher in Strathcona Provincial park by first hiking past the old Wood Mountain Ski resort which is always a bit of a strange experience. This is a trip I have done before but this year mother nature really wanted to supply the real winter experience. The first 2 days consisted of heavy snow but we did get a very brief break in the weather which teased the views you can get.

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On the day we left we where rewarded with some better weather that allowed for some spectacular views of the Comox valley and the snow covered trees from the previous few days of snow.

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Sleeping accommodations can vary, while the most obvious solution would be a tent with snow you can use it to make a shelter, in this case a snow cave which are surprisingly warm.

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The view from my tent was hard to complain about…

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And the descent back home through a winter wonderland.  _D8C4607_web

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Fog

This winter was a little strange, it was much drier than usual and strangely warm. What this did mean is it seemed like there was a number of days when everything was covered in a thick blanket of fog. This made for some unique opportunities to put a new spin on some locations I have visited in the past to get some new photos.

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Favourites From 2013

2013 has been a good year for photo opportunities, I got to do a number of hikes all over Vancouver Island, spend 3 weeks in Iceland and even a sailing trip up the Princess Louisa Inlet. All these amazing opportunities generated a number of photos that I enjoy. The following is a selection of a few of my favourites from the past year in no particular order. I am hoping that I will have more opportunities in the upcoming year as I did this year. Thanks to everyone out there who helped make these possible.

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Strathcona Hiking

A few weeks ago I spent 4 days hiking in the stunning mountains located in Strathcona Provincial park. We first hiked in to Baby Bedwell lake to setup base camp. From here we would explore some of the surrounding areas including Mt. Tom Taylor. While the weather was not ideal we made the most of it and on the plus side it never rained!

The hike up to Baby Bedwell while steep was a very good trail which was easy to follow and provided some nice views of some streams.

Our first views of Baby Bedwell lake where far from the stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains that people had been raving about…

It was far from summer at camp.

The following morning we started out on our attempt to summit Mt. Tom Taylor. The weather was much the same with limited visibility and we had some difficulty finding the trail but eventually we got going. While it was nearly August we still where dealing with winter conditions.

Once we got closer to the summit the clouds did break a few times to tease us with the views we missed on the way up.

The following day we had a bit of a break in the weather and decided to enjoy some of the views we missed the day before and explored Bedwell lake area.

Overall it was an amazing trip and I can not wait to get back into the mountains.

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