The Rest of my BC Summer

I shared an earlier post about the first half of my summer in BC, so here’s one for the second half of what has truly been an awesome summer!

Seth and I did a lot of camping in July in August. In hindsight, we probably would have preferred to do a little less camping and a little more hiking, but we still had a good time. Unfortunately, we got rained out on our first two camping trips. It only rained about 2-3 times during the entire month of July and it just happened to coincide with our camping trips! We were able to salvage some of our camping trip to Cultus Lake with an early morning hike of Teapot Hill. It’s named for an old teapot that was found at the top of the hill and if you hike there now, people have hidden dozens of teapots all along the trail, which makes for a fun scavenger hunt on the way up.

View from Teapot Hill

We had better luck in August and spent a weekend camping at Alice Lake Provincial Park near Squamish. We bought a rubber dinghy earlier this year and we finally got to take it out for a spin at Alice Lake. Alice Lake was much smaller compared to the other lakes we’ve camped at, but it was one of my favourites because it’s too small for motorized boats, so there’s no boat traffic at all. Our main motivation for staying at Alice Lake though was to cut off some of the drive to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, which is a hike that has been recommended to me by pretty much every avid hiker I talked to throughout the summer.

Alice Lake

Joffre Lakes is located outside Pemberton, which is a three hour drive from Vancouver, and features three alpine lakes nestled under Matier Glacier. It’s an 11km roundtrip hike up into the mountains, which seemed like a walk in the park compared to our 20km hike to Garibaldi Lake. We both loved Garibaldi Lake, which ends at a beautiful glacial lake, but has a long 7km trek up continuous switchbacks to get to the view. I loved Joffre Lakes because the entire hike is incredibly scenic, not just at the end.

The hike starts at the first lake and then hikes through a boulder field up to the middle lake. The middle lake provides a great view of the Matier Glacier and there’s a beautiful waterfall flowing down from the upper lake. When you reach the upper lake, you can look straight across to the glacier. If you continue around the lake, you can actually camp on a huge rock located right under the glacier and you get a great view of the rest of the mountain range. It was a great hike, but it’s definitely worth it to get there early in the day, because everybody else loves this hike too. Parking was insane off the side of the highway and the crowds of people on the trail were at times a little overwhelming. Otherwise, I would highly recommend this hike!

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Some of other highlights of my summer included a Vancouver Canadians baseball game, the annual Celebration of Light, and of course, more hiking. The Vancouver Canadians are the Toronto Blue Jays affiliate team for the Northwest Minor League. We found a great groupon and both attended a game for just $14! They play in Nat Bailey Stadium, which is just a bunch of bleachers behind home base, but it felt very old school and we had a blast.

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The Celebration of Light is an annual fireworks competition that takes place over English Bay in late July. Every year two other countries compete with Canada to put off the best fireworks show. We decided to go watch Brazil’s fireworks display, which consisted of a 30 minute show choreographed to music. There were all kinds of activities beforehand and we had fun watching some Brazilian samba dancing, Capoeira (a Brazilian martial art), and the SkyHawks, an awesome Canadian parachute stunt team. The fireworks display was amazing and next year we’ll have to try and catch Canada’s contribution.

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I did a few shorter hikes during the summer as well. I joined Karen and Grant on the North Shore for a day hike up to Dog Mountain, which had a great view of the city. And I made a trip out to Squamish and hiked along Brohm Lake, which also had a great view of the some of the snow capped and glacier covered mountains.

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We ended off the summer with a trip to Vancouver Island for the first time since we’ve moved to Vancouver (and embarrassingly, my first time ever). The main purpose of the trip was to visit Victoria, but we camped outside the city in Goldstream Provincial Park to save money on a hotel. We didn’t spend too much time at the campsite, except to sleep, but we did do a nice roundtrip hike of the park. Goldstream River is named for the gold that was panned from the river during the gold rush and over the weekend we learned more than I thought there was to know about the gold rush.

The Goldstream hike takes you past an old goldmine cave that you can crawl into and up to an old railway trestle that crosses a huge gorge. It’s abandoned now, so you can walk along to the middle of trestle, which offers a pretty terrifying view down to the river at the bottom. We stopped at a few waterfalls along the way, the most notable of which is the very tall Niagara Falls. It’s a thin stream of water that flows down from the mountains, but it’s so named because the waterfall is actually taller than Niagara Falls! We finished the hike with a walk along the river which is very popular in the fall when thousands of salmon crowd the river to spawn.

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Victoria was a very nice city. It reminded me a little bit of St. John’s because everything in Victoria is much older than in Vancouver and many of the buildings were built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. We spent the morning at the Royal BC Museum, which had a great exhibit on about the gold rush, as well as their permanent exhibits about BC’s European and First Nations history, as well as BC’s natural history. My knowledge about BC’s history is a little lacking, so I definitely learned a lot.

We continued our education in the afternoon with a walking tour of Victoria. Our tour guide was excellent and we learned all about Victoria’s story – the many people that have passed through the city and the history of many of the buildings around the inner harbour. We always knew that New Westminster was the former capital of BC and that Victoria was the former capital of Vancouver Island, but our favourite story was when we learned how Victoria stole the title of BC’s capital from New Westminster.

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On the day of the vote for the capital, the Victoria delegation took the man who was going to give an impassioned speech in favour of New Westminster out for breakfast. They knew he had a weakness for gin, so they graciously supplied him with gin throughout breakfast until he was so drunk that when we got up to give his speech, he ended up stumbling through the first page 3 times before being taken away for drunkenness. Without his strong plea for New Westminster, Victoria was able to steal the vote and secure itself as the BC capital! Seth loved the story because it seems like the kind of half-brained plot you’d see fail in a movie, not actually succeed in real life.

Victoria has so many attractions that we had a hard time fitting them all in. We spent an evening at beautiful Butchart Gardens and a morning at the Butterfly Gardens. We drove to the top of Mount Douglas for a great view of the gulf islands and did a little hike up Bear Mountain for a nice view of Vancouver Island. We finished the trip with a stop at Sea Ciderhouse to sample some local made cider and go on a tour of the ciderhouse. It was a gorgeous day and we enjoyed a flight of cider outside on the deck before catching the ferry back to Vancouver. Even the ferry was a thrill and we saw an orca mama and baby duo swimming in front of the ferry on the way back!

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After a long, hot, and dry summer, fall is finally catching up with us. It was still quite warm in September, but there’s definitely a chill in the air and we finally got some rain to fill up our reservoirs. Apparently it’s a super el-nino year, so we’re expecting another mild winter. I’d love to have snow to go skiing, but if we don’t get any, we’ll probably just continue our tour of BC’s wilderness by hiking!

Much love,
Maria

A Hot Start to Summer

Summer has been off to a great start this year! I think I’ve alluded to how much I love spring in BC and this year summer has been just as much of a treat for me. Temperatures have been in the high 20’s since the end of May and it always amazes me to realize that I’ll actually get to enjoy three full months of summer!

Our warm and dry winter led us into an even warmer and dryer summer. The grass that was beautiful and green all winter has turned golden brown in the summer heat. I can only recall two days when it has rained since the beginning of June. I love the sun, but the heat has definitely required a little bit of an adjustment from what I’m used to. At any given time it’ll be between 27 and 30 degrees in our house and I’ve taken to leaving all the windows open and sleeping without blankets and the fan pointed right at my face. Unfortunately, the dry heat and lack of rain hasn’t been great for the wildfires across the province and the air quality has been pretty bad in recent weeks.

But I won’t complain because I absolutely love the sunny weather! I’ve been planning my summer activities with abandon, not worrying about how the forecast might turn out. We’ve already crammed in a ton of summer activities and knocked a few more items off my bucket list.

The fun started right after my return from Brazil with a visit from my wonderful parents! They came to stay with us for the May long weekend and we took advantage of the holiday to travel down to Washington State for the weekend. It was Mom and Dad’s first trip to Seattle and we did a little exploring around famous Pike Place Market and then cheered on the Boston Red Sox at a baseball game at Safeco Field (I think it was my first time not cheering for the home team). We didn’t spend too long in Seattle though and opted instead to spend the weekend exploring enormous Olympic National Park.

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The Park is located south of Seattle along the west coast, just below Vancouver Island. It was quite a bit larger than we thought, so we spent two days driving around the park trying to fit in as many of its diverse attractions as we could. We had a picnic lunch at a waterfall in Elwha, hiked through the forest near Crescent Lake, went tidepooling at Rialto Beach, and took in the amazing views along Hurricane Ridge. It’s a beautiful park and I wish we’d had a bit more time to spend there. We tried to fit in a few small hikes so we could see a bit of everything, but we did have to spend large portions of our time driving.

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Olympic National Park is also home to another setting you might be familiar with, Twilight. The area serves as the setting for Stephanie Meyers popular franchise and we passed through many of the towns from her book. Rialto Beach is located just across the river from La Push and we had a good laugh when we drove through Forks on our way there. They’ve definitely capitilized on ‘Twilight Fever’ and we saw a lot of references to the books around the town. The sun came out for us though, so we didn’t see any vampires around!

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Towards the end of May, Seth and I bought bikes as a new way to explore the city. Steph joined us for a bike ride around the Stanley Park seawall at the end of May, but otherwise we’ve mostly been biking around New West. We discovered one of the outdoor public pools within biking distance is free, so that’s been a great way to cool down on hot days. New West is very hilly though, so I really need to work on my leg muscles for biking!

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In June we kicked off our camping and hiking season. Our first camping trip was out to Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park. Karen and Grant joined us and we had a fun drive out, stopping for a pretty memorable meal at one of the local bars called Tractorgrease. We spent the weekend BBQing, lounging by the lake, working on our frisbee skills, and making s’mores over a campfire. We ended the trip with a short hike up to Lindeman Lake, one of Chilliwack’s many mountain lakes.

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We also made a trip out to Golden Ears Provincial Park in early June with some of my colleagues and went on a nice hike out to Viewpoint Beach, nestled in the mountains along one of the freezing, snow-melt rivers. The river would numb your toes, but we went for a swim in gorgeous Alouette Lake at the end of the hike, one of my favourite places from last summer.

One of the biggests excitements of the month was the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which I’m sure you know was hosted in Canada this year! I bought a set of tickets to several games in June of last year and I couldn’t wait to finally see the women play. We had tickets to two games from the group round (Cameroon vs. Ecuador and Japan vs. Switzerland), two games in the round of 16 (Canada vs. Switzerland and Japan vs. Netherlands), and the quarterfinals (Canada vs. England). It was so incredible to cheer on Canada twice at sold out games with more than 50,000 people in attendance! We finished off the tournament with tickets to the final; it was a bit of a disappointing game since we decided to cheer for Japan, but still an incredible event to witness! Most of all, I was happy to support women’s sports and I hope that Canada came to appreciate their awesome female atheletes a little bit more.

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Some other highlights from June included going on a tour of UBC and Wreck Beach with Amy, seeing Ed Sheeran in concert, and celebrating my 25th birthday. I didn’t manage to get tickets to see Ed Sheeran in the first sale, so I had to pay a lot more to get tickets from a third-party, but it was so worth it! Ed is such a fantastic performer – it’s just him, his guitar, and a loop station on stage. Steph and I had such a blast watching him, we decided if he ever comes back we’ll be shelling out for floor seats! I also had a great birthday. I’m pretty sure we gathered up all the Newfoundlanders we could find in the city and had a nice BBQ at the house; although sadly, I forgot to take any pictures.

Our most recent exploit was a Canada Day hike in Garibaldi National Park. I’d heard a lot of good things about Garibaldi from people at work, so we wanted to check it out. We did the 18km hike with one of my colleagues and it was just as impressive as everyone raved it was! The hike itself is a bit of a slog – you start with about 6km of steady uphill through the trees before you really get to any scenery. We stopped for a snack at the 6km mark and encountered one of our favourite birds, Gray Jays (or as they’re known in BC, Whiskey Jacks), which don’t need much enticing to eat straight out of your hand!

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The scenery improves a little after that and we hiked through some peaceful meadows before finally reaching gorgeous Garibaldi Lake. It’s a glacial lake and has some of the clearest, blue-green water I’ve ever seen. It’s surrounded by snow capped mountains with the Sphinx and Sentinel Glaciers on the far side of the lake. My colleague was doing a dry run with his big pack for a weeklong hike he’s doing in August, so he had his bag filled with every sort of sandwich fixin’ imaginable and we had a delicious meal on the shore of the lake. After lunch, we all went for a swim in the freezing, crystal clear water to cool down before the hike back. We ended the day with the New West fireworks show, which truly made for a perfect day!

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That’s my summer thus far in a nutshell. I’m looking forward to lots more camping in July and I’ll be home for a full two weeks in early August. Sending lots of love and sun back to Newfoundland!

Maria