Alternatives to the Grouse Grind

Fraser Valley Waterfall Hikes

6 Hot Backpacking Breakfasts

    Photo Essay Thoughts

    Memories of 2016

    As is tradition around this corner of the internet, here are my favourite memories of 2016. (How many years do you have to do something to make it a tradition? I did this in 2014 and 2015, so I think it’s fair to call it a tradition now.) This year when I sat down to sort through photos and write this post, I started out a little disappointed. I thought I hadn’t done that much this year. I thought I should have gotten out more. And while I didn’t keep track of my stats such as kilometers hiked or nights I slept in a tent, it still was a pretty epic year! I mean a year that includes mountain goats, a half-marathon, a viral blog post, a to-the-studs gut kitchen renovation and a trip to Nepal can’t be a boring year. So here’s my month by month recap of 2016.

    January

    I rang in the New Year with friends at a cabin on Galiano Island. Since one of my sisters lives over there, I’ve done a fair amount of hiking and biking there. The hike to Mount Galiano is probably my favourite thing to do on the island. You can read about it in my post about outdoor adventures on Galiano (along with some other great hikes and bike rides).

    Summit of Mount Galiano

    My sister and my dog-niece on Mount Galiano

     

    A few weeks later I spent a wintery weekend in Squamish exploring the backroads and rafting down the Cheakamus river on Sunwolf’s Eagle Float tour.

    Squamish River in winter

    The Squamish River and its mountains.

     

    Sunwolf Eagle Float in Squamish

    Floating down the river, looking for eagles

     

    February

    For the last few years we have had a new long weekend in February thanks to Family day. I took full advantage this year and spent the weekend in Tofino with one of my sisters and her surfer friends. I didn’t surf (too cold for me!) but I did enjoy hiking the Big Tree Trail on Meares Island.

    Surfers on Chesterman Beach in Tofino

    Surfers on Chesterman Beach in Tofino

     

    Big Tree Trail, Meares Island, Tofino BC

    On Meares Island the trees so big they make you feel small

     

    I also ran my first ever half marathon in February. I spent a lot of time training for that race, including lots of fun trail runs, and now I think I can finally call myself a runner.

    Trail running in North Vancouver

    Trail running with my sister in North Vancouver

     

    At the end of the month I taught a Leave No Trace workshop for the local chapter of the Outdoor Women’s Alliance. If you haven’t seen it yet, my guest post about that experience was just published on their blog.

    MEC Warm Obsession Hoodie Review

    Taking a hot chocolate break while teaching Leave No Trace

     

    March

    In March I made the best of the melting snow by going snowshoeing at the top of the Sea to Sky gondola. It’s so gorgeous in the snow!

    Snowshoeing at the Sea to Sky Gondola

    Winter views at the Sea to Sky Gondola

     

    Easter was early this year – in March! I always go backpacking for Easter and this year we chose to tackle a low elevation section of the Sunshine Coast Trail.

    Sunshine Coast Trail

     

    April

    In April I did a new hike for me: Tunnel Bluffs near Lions Bay. This hike is steeeep – Grouse Grind steep!  In fact it is so steep that it inspired me to write a whole post about alternative hikes to the Grouse Grind.

    Tunnel Bluff - Alternatives to the Grouse Grind

    A cloudy view from the top of Tunnel Bluff

     

    Later in the month I headed down to Deception Pass State Park for a weekend of camping and hiking with the Alpine Trails book club. I hope to be able to make it to more of their meetings next year. They are based in Seattle but often hike closer to the border.

    Deception Pass State Park

    Hiking at Deception Pass State Park with the Alpine Trails bookclub

    May

    I thought I knew all the good hikes in Squamish, but in May I discovered a new one: Crooked Falls! It’s a shorter hike, but you reach an awesome waterfall that you can view from multiple vantage points. I wrote a complete trail guide for hiking to Crooked Falls if you need directions.

    Crooked Falls in Squamish

    Looking out from behind Crooked Falls

     

    For me, spring time is about coastal hiking since it’s too early to get into the mountains. For the May long weekend we headed south to the beaches of Olympic National Park for a backpacking trip. It was my third trip in the park (and definitely not my last). There are lots more photos and directions in my trail guide to the Ozette Loop.

    Ozette Loop trail

    Looking across to Ozette Island from near Cape Alava

     

    June

    By June I was itching to get into the mountains so I hiked in to Statlu Lake near Mission for a quick overnighter. It was high enough to feel like we were in the mountains but low enough to be snow free. It wasn’t mosquito free though – oh goodness it was not.

    Statlu Lake

    Early morning reflections at Statlu Lake

     

    I work with a pretty awesome team and this spring for our team day we canoed Widgeon Slough and then hiked to Widgeon Falls. #joblove

    Canoeing in Widgeon Slough

     

    At the end of June I organized my second annual women’s backpacking trip. Just like last year, the weather was terrible and unfortunately that meant that we had a lower turnout and we ended up day hiking instead of backpacking. This year’s destination was Joffre Lakes and despite the grey skies, it was beautiful as always.

    Joffre Lakes

     

    July

    Just like in Squamish, I also thought I knew about all the good trails in Whistler. But thankfully, I was wrong again. I hiked the new Skywalk Trail up to the alpine on the northeast side of Rainbow Mountain. It was amazing up there, but we were a tad too early. I’ll have to go back next year after the snow has melted more.

    Skywalk Trail in Whistler

     

    At the end of the month I went on a 5 day backpacking trip to the Enchantments in Washington’s Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It is an absolutely stunning area full of beautiful alpine lakes and semi-tame mountain goats. You need to enter a lottery to get an overnight permit, and I feel so lucky to have won!

    The Enchantments, Washington

    Prussik Peak reflected in Leprechaun Lake

     

    The Enchantments, Washington

    Waterfall below Sprite Lake

     

    The Enchantments, Washington

    Hungry mountain goat, grazing on alpine flowers

     

    August

    With the new reservation system in place for Garibaldi Lake, we were actually able to spend a weekend up there this summer.  We hiked Panorama Ridge and even brought up an inflatable boat for floating around the lake.

    Black Tusk

    Black Tusk from Panorama Ridge

     

    Garibaldi Lake

    Floating around in Garibaldi Lake

     

    Garibaldi Lake is one of my favourite places but it is getting a little loved to death. While we were camping there was an unfortunate incident with a food-habituated bear. It made me so upset that I wrote a little rant about it, and it ended up going a bit viral. In retrospect I would have phrased things a little differently, but I’m happy I got a bit of awareness out there about respecting wildlife. Lots of people don’t know the best way to protect themselves and the bears when they hike or camp. As a follow up, I wrote a post with some bear safety tips.

    At the end of August I flew to Nepal. I spent 10 incredible days trekking to Annapurna Base Camp. Trekking in Nepal is amazing. It is so different than hiking in North America: you pass through numerous villages where people have lived and worked for generations, all on the side of a mountain. It is best experienced with a local guide who can help explain the Nepali culture.

    Trekking to Annapurna Base Camp

    Trekking high in the Himalayas

     

    Trekking to Annapurna Base Camp

    The view of Annapurna from base camp at dawn

     

    September

    After our trek we spent a couple days in Kathmandu seeing the sights, including my favourite Swayambhunath, also known as the monkey temple.

    Kathmandu

    Swayambhunath, the Monkey Temple

     

    Kathmandu

    Monkeys at the Monkey Temple

     

    After Kathmandu we spent a couple days in Hong Kong, including a day trip to Macau. Hong Kong was fascinating: I thought it was kind of like an Asian Vancouver with mountains rising up directly from the ocean. Apparently Hong Kong was fabulous hiking, but with temperatures of 35C, it was too hot to find out.

    Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

    The view of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

     

    Macau

    Selfie Sticks in Senado Square, Macau

     

    October

    For years I’ve been wanting to see the larch trees change colour – it is a coniferous tree that is deciduous and loses its needles in the fall. The closest larches to me are in Manning Park, so we spent a weekend up there and hiked to Mount Frosty to see them.

    Larches on Mount Frosty in Manning Provincial Park

     

    On my first backpacking trip in Garibaldi Park over a decade ago, we spent three days doing a traverse from the Rubble Creek trailhead to the Cheakamus Lake trailhead (with some side trips in between). At the time, it seemed like a pretty tough trip. I’ve hiked a lot more since then, so I wanted to tackle the whole 24km distance in a single day. I teamed up with some friends to do a key-swap style car shuttle. We met up with them for a lunch break in the middle where we discovered that we had accidentally dressed as a rainbow!

    Rainbow at Garibaldi

    Accidental rainbow at Garibaldi Lake

     

    There was also quite a bit of early season snow, and what was supposed to be a fall colours hike turned into a winter wonderland hike.

    Black Tusk in winter

    Black Tusk in the snow from the cinder flats

    November

    I didn’t get out much in November since I was working hard on renovating my kitchen. We’ve been doing the project as a DIY (mostly) and it’s pretty time consuming. We demolished it down to the studs and removed a wall. For awhile there things looked pretty scary, but now we are almost done.

    My kitchen looked like this for a while.

     

    I did manage to get for a quick hike on the North Shore on Remembrance Day, though. I used the opportunity to take some head shots of me with my Source Outdoors hydration reservoir to use in the article I wrote for them about hiking at high altitude.

    December

    December has mostly been about finishing my kitchen reno, but I did manage to get outside for some snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain for another team day at work. (#joblove Part 2!) We had some real luck with the weather: it was foggy down below but we climbed up above the clouds to discover a beautiful inversion.

    Snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain

     

    So in retrospect, I guess 2016 was a pretty rad year after all! Nepal was definitely the highlight, but in any other year the Enchantments would have gotten top slot. And of course the kitchen will be the highlight of 2017… when I finally get it finished! That and the trip to Iceland I have planned. (So Excited!) What were your highlights from 2016? What are you most looking forward to in 2017?

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