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Favourites of 2016

2016 had some lows and highs but it did offer a few good opportunities for photos, some of which I am still not done editing. Here are a few of my favourite images that I have been able to edit from 2016 in no particular order. I’m looking forward to see what new opportunities present themselves in the coming year.

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Favourites of 2015

Time to look back on another year, once again I spent most of this year exploring my backyard and still finding new places and experiences. This past year was odd weather wise with hardly any winter conditions and a dry hot summer. Looking forward to a new year worth of adventures in 2016!

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The setting sun illuminates grass and flowers at Neck Point in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.

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A black tailed deer fawn no more than a day or 2 old “hides”.

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Looking out the entrance of Dreamtime cave on northern Vancouver Island.

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A blanket of fog shrouds the slopes of Mt Becher on Vancouver Island.

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The setting sun illuminates mist from upper Englishmen River falls.

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Water flows between 2 trees in the Lantzville foothills.

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A fallen logs points up through a misty forest towards the top of Mt. Benson in Nanaimo.

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The sun sets through some summer clouds as seen from Neck Point in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.

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A pacific chorus frog (also commonly known as the Pacific tree frog).

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Favourites from 2014

Looking back on the previous year it has treated me pretty well. While I did not venture to far from home as I have in other years it did not mean I did not get to do my fair share of exploring. These trips just reminded me of the amazing place I get to call home. A big thanks to everyone who came a long on trips or helped out over the past year, here’s to hoping that 2015 will continue deliver these wonderful experiences. In no particular order a few of my favourite photos from 2014.

A "supermoon" rises over Pipers Lagoon

A “super moon” rises over Pipers Lagoon

A ice cave at Century Sam lake

A ice cave at Century Sam lake

Home under the stars in Marble Meadows, Strathcona Provincial park

Home under the stars in Marble Meadows, Strathcona Provincial park

The "heaven" tree in Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park

The “heaven” tree in Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park

Snow falls near the summit of Mt. Becher

Snow falls near the summit of Mt. Becher

A great blue heron waits in the snow

A great blue heron waits in the snow

A thick blanket of fog obscures the view from the Lantzville Foothills.

A thick blanket of fog obscures the view from the Lantzville Foothills.

Looking up through the fog and the tree canopy on Mt Benson.

Looking up through the fog and the tree canopy on Mt Benson.

A Rough-skinned newt near Nanoose

A Rough-skinned newt near Nanoose

Low tide in Lantzville

Low tide in Lantzville

 

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Century Sam Lake

Century Sam lake is a spectacular alpine lake located in the shadow of the Comox glacier. While the hike is steep at time it is relatively short. Unfortunately access to the trail head can be a pain. The first hurdle is that it is accessed via private logging roads controlled by TimberWest and generally the area is gated off. Access can be checked through their website, you want to check the status for “Comox main”. The last hurdle that is the last KM or so of road is in poor shape and has a number of large washouts which will require a decent 4×4 vehicle to get past. If you do not have a vehicle capable you can walk but this will extend your hike somewhat.

Assuming you can gain access to the trail head there is a lovely hike starting relatively flat following a creek through some mature forest and a few slide paths before getting into a step section of forest that you will make your way through until you reach the lake at the top. While the lake is stunning one of the other attractions is a snow cave which is often formed in the snowfield just beyond the lake.

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Crossing the steam near the trail head

The lake is filled from a snowfield and the Comox glacier (I assume) which sits above the lake which gives it that stunning “alpine” lake colour from the particles suspended in the water.

Looking down onto Century Sam lake

Looking down onto Century Sam lake

One of the big draws of this hike is the “snow cave” that is formed in the snowfield at the far end of the lake. While this is a stunningly beautiful feature use extreme caution if you decide to explore inside of it, there is no knowing when/if it will collapse.

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Water coming down the side of the surrounding mountains with the snow cave in the background

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Melt water pouring out of the cave entrance, notice the collapsed snow and ice

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A large ice arch formed in the remaining snow and ice

Inside the cave while eerie and ominous is a pretty amazing place once you get past the constant deluge of cold water falling from the ceiling.

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Looking out towards the entrance of the cave

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A fellow explorer standing in one of the cave entrances

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Melt water carves it’s way through the ice and rock towards the cave entrance

Century Sam is a trip well worth taking assuming you are able to gain access to the trail head. It is one of the more unique hikes I have done on Vancouver Island and given the relative ease of the hike given the nature of the scenery it is certainly very rewarding. The trail is usually in good condition as it is maintained by Comox District Mountaineering Club and is well marked for the most part.

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Marble Meadows

Marble Meadows, just a short boat ride and a mere 1400m of steep switch backs and you will arrive at your destination. Approach challenges aside Marble Meadows promised spectacular alpine views into the heart of Vancouver Islands mountains and Strathcona Provincial park. While the approach was as grueling as expected the views did not disappoint.

We started off by making the 1km journey across Buttle lake to spend the first night at the Phillips creek before starting the seemingly never ending uphill battle to our campsite at Limestone lake in the morning. The area around Phillips creek was stunning and was a welcome surprise and other than the many mice around the camp site is was one of the nicer ones I used considering the relatively easy access.

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Looking down Buttle lake from the mouth of Phillips Creek

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Looking down Phillips Creek towards Buttle lake

The next day it was an early start to tackle the 5.5 hour grind up to out campsite at Limestone lake. We gained about 1400m of elevation but until you get to the meadows you really don’t get any rewarding views other than the switch back just above and below you. Limestone lake is one of 3 lakes in the general area and like most alpine lakes was quiet beautiful. As soon as we dropped our packs it became immediately apparent that we traded the amazing views for an unbelievable number of bugs who from what I could tell have never eaten before. Bugs aside it was a stunning place and after camp was setup it was time to take in our surroundings for the next few days.

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Reflections in a nearly calm Limestone lake

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The last of the sun touching lighting up the ridge above camp

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Twilight tones outline the mountain ridges surrounding camp

The following morning we decided to tackle Marble Peak that over looked our campsite. This involved a number of increasingly exposed scrambles but with each one the views of the area only got more spectacular.

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Scrambling up a small gully on Marble Peak

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One of the more rewarding views on the way up Marble Peak

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Another exposed scramble with the 3 lakes in the background, Limestone lake is the smallest one on the left

Not one to sit around camp, especially with all the bugs around it was time to do a bit more exploring before the sun set. While it seemed we missed some flowers there was still some colour left in others.

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The sun slides behind a stand of trees by camp with a small patch of wildflowers in the foreground.

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Golden light illuminates the stalks of wildflowers

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Looking down onto another group camped at Globe Flower Lake

One of the more spectacular things to see when in the alpine is the stars. Away from the lights of the city you get an unobstructed view of the stars and it always blows me away just how bright they are. If you get the chance to spend a night or two in the alpine away from the glow of artificial light do yourself a favour and get up to take in the all night sky has to offer.

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Home under the stars

The following day we spent some exploring the limestone area we had seen from the trip up Marble Peak. While it was fascinating to explore the area and examine the various rock formations and fossils it was not overly conductive for photos. Fortunately we had another nice evening to take in the surroundings near camp.

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The sun sets over Marsh Marigold Lake with the Golden Hinde in the background

The following day was a relatively quick (and easier than the approach) hike back to Phillips Creek and a nice boat trip back across the lake while it was still nice and calm unlike the journey over.

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Boating back from the Phillips Creek trail head

Marble meadows like all the hikes I have done in the alpine of Strathcona provided some spectacular views but it certainly makes you work for them. It seems that Marble meadows is really just a hint of all the other adventures that are hiding just over the next set of hills. Looking into the heart of the mountains  in Strathcona is both alluring and beautiful, it tends to draw you further in the more time you spend exploring the never ending adventures it seems to offer.

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