Tuesday, May 29, 2012

2012 Bike to Work Week - Victoria

Had a chance to participate in the 2012 Bike to Work Week in Victoria this week. Today made it to two Celebration Stations. One was on the Lochside Regional Trail at the Saanich Municipal Hall; the other was in Esquimalt on Esquimalt Road at Memorial Park.

Both Celebration Stations offered free goodies including minor bike tune-ups from bike mechanics, apples, drinking water, Starbucks Coffee and fresh scones with jam from Cobs Bread. At Saanich Municipal Hall there were a large number of riders taking in all the festivities whereas the Celebration Station at Memorial Park was almost deserted with most of the volunteers huddled together and braving the strong wind coming off the ocean.

There is still 3 more days to go in this annual event and if the by the amount of riders out on the Galloping Goose Regional Trail is an indication of its popularity, this year will prove to be a huge success. Hopefully this rise in participation will spill over in near future with more people cycling to work in the year to come once the 2012 Bike to Work Week has ended.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lake Lucille

During the last weekend especially with this warm weather came an opportunity to try and find a new swimming hole called Lake Lucille. This local secret for the nearby people of Squamish and Whistler is located off the Sea to Sky Highway 99 approximately 15 km (9.5 miles) north of the Brohm Lake parking lot.

To get here usually takes around 45 minutes from Horseshoe Bay but this time it took about 75 minutes because of the running of the RBC GranFondo. The 2nd annual bicycle event requied traffic cones covering the whole route plus vehicle speed restrictions reduced on Hwy 99.

After a short stop for a pastrami sandwich at Chef Big D’s in Squamish we headed for the parking lot for Lake Lucille which is located at the beginning of Chance Creek FSR. Lake Lucille as it turns out is not really a hidden secret after all with around 15 or so vehicles found in the parking lot situated next to the Cheakamus River.

The walk in from a closed gate near the parking lot was a little confusing at the beginning as it had two trails leading in different directions. One direction - the Sea to Sky Trail goes north travelling adjacent to the CN Railway tracks. The correct route, to the left, follows the BC Hydro transmission lines eventually coming to a cross trail with Lake Lucille being on the south side.

There are no signs or proper directions to Lake Lucille plus also evidence of bear scant on the trail and there could be possibility of cougar encounter so caution must be taken when hiking to the beach. The walk in at an average pace took approximately 15 minutes.

Once at the swimming area located on the north side of Lake Lucille we found a very nice small sandy beach. The water depth dropped off quite deeply from the shore and was quite clear and very refreshing. There was a small island that a number of people were swimming to and the beach area was pleasant with the sun lasting late into the afternoon. There are no beach facilities or lifeguards at Lake Lucille so swimming is at your own risk.

Also at one time there was a small resort village situated near Lake Lucille called Garibaldi. The community had to be relocated in the early 1980’s because of a possible failure of a lava formation called the Barrier. The Barrier, which acts as a dam holding back the waters of nearby Garibaldi Lake, was deemed geologically unstable and had the potential for a slide. Therefore the land around Lake Lucille is part of the Barrier Civil Defense Zone and must be entered at your own risk with no camping allowed.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vanderhoof Eateries

So far one of the highlights of the 2010 summer was the discovery of a couple of really good places to eat in Vanderhoof.

The first place to visit, on the advice of the owner of Siesta Inn, was to try the dinner at the Reid Hotel, located at 2508 Burrard Avenue, considered “the best place in Vanderhoof.” As it turned out where you ate was in the pub called The Reid Bar & Grill. Not too loud, open fairly late and plenty of comfortable seats available with big screen TV’s. The bacon burger and fries were very good and looking at items on other people’s plates everything on the menu was appetizing.

Vanderhoof’s other standout was a coffee shop that was also on Burrard Avenue at 2608 is called ‘The Bean Coffee House’. Situated across the street from the North Country Inn ‘The Bean House’ is an inviting place complete with Wi-Fi and country garden. The facility serves up fair trade and certified organic coffee from the Shuswap Coffee Company, has smoothies and some fresh baked goods including a selection of very tasty muffins and scones.

Both places are both worth the stop while you are travelling on Hwy 37 through Vanderhoof. Only a short walk on the main street of Vanderhoof, Burrard Avenue is close to most of the accommodation along Hwy 37 and the public campground near the Nechako River. Unfortunately the only negative part was if you had kids under the legal limit, The Reid Bar & Grill would be off limits. The next best alternative is the North Country Inn another local favourite located at 2645 Burrard Avenue.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cunningham Pass Closed

After the BC Big Trailie 6 motorcycle ride an opportunity came up to do the backroad from Barkerville to Likely via the Cunningham Pass FSR.

To do the road was definitely on the bucket list as it followed the paths of the prospectors in the late 1800’s along the historic Cariboo Gold Rush Trail. From Likely the fortune seekers went north along side Cariboo Lake, Ghost Lake located on the west side of Cariboo Mountains Provincial Park and past Cariboo River Provincial Park eventually to Barkerville.

An earlier attempt was made in early October, 2010 to do the trip by going north from Likely on the 8400 Road. Unfortunately bridge construction was occurring between October 4th and the 8th on the 3100 Road at 4.5 km and 14 km and you could not get through.

This year the trip from Quesnel first started out with sunny weather but was then met with time delays with road paving for 18 km on Hwy 26 between Hwy 97 junction point and Cottonwood House. After that road conditions improved, the weather continued to be good and the mountains in the east looked clear, things looked fantastic.

Inquiring about the conditions of the road at the Jack of Clubs Lake Visitor Centre by Wells the news was not good, apparently since June 10 the Barkerville-Likely Circle had been closed because of a slide that took place at the 26 km mark of the Cunningham Pass FSR, making the road impassable.

Sadly the story on the Barkerville-Likely Circle route goes from bad to worse especially after talking to the local park official at Bowron Lakes Provincial Park and a RCMP officer at a construction stoppage on Hwy 26 (who doubted the road would have been open due to low snow levels). It turns out that the forest companies don't really have any more merchantable timber left in the area and it doubtful that the road will fixed and opened again.

Please see comment below: It appears that the road could be open again. Hopefully we will investigate this in the summer of 2012 and fulfill a dream.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lorne Hotel

It was sad to learn on a recent trip up Island to Comox to find that the old Lorne Hotel had burnt to the ground. Long a fixture located on Comox Avenue right at Port Augusta Street, the Lorne Hotel will be a sad loss for Comox and for those people who made a ritual on commuting here to view some of British Columbia's proud past.

The Lorne which was built in 1878, was considered the oldest hotel in British Columbia, named after the Marquis of Lorne, who at the time was Canada's Governor General.

The historic building had a covered balcony with it's unique pub served generations of people growing up and living in the Comox Valley. Every kid who grew up here remembers the building with such found memories it will really be missed.

For more information on the Lorne:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Avatar Grove

Just returned from a trip out to Port Renfrew with Club Mud where we had a chance to explore some forest lands near Baird Creek often referred in the media as the Avatar Grove.

Pretty well one of the only old growth forest areas left on southern Vancouver Island the Avatar Grove has now been surveyed, flagged and scheduled to be logged in the near future. The story about the potential loss of the Avatar Grove and the treasure chest of the old growth Cedars, Douglas firs and the complete eco-system around them was recently featured on a documentary in 2011 on Al Jazeera TV.

The contentious lands of the Avatar Grove are being viewed by some groups as a loss to society and are trying to save them with a regional or provincial park status along this corridor of the Gordon River. A group called the Ancient Forest Alliance has well documented and help bring attention and awareness to the public of possible change to this special place.

The lands around the Avatar Grove and Baird Creek are still private and not developed at all, so exploring the forest exposes people to some risk on the sometimes steep undeveloped trails and trespassing is not recommended for safety and liability reasons.

Once at Port Renfrew, by travelling on Hwy 14 from Victoria, the trip to the Avatar Grove involves travelling on the Pacific Marine Circle Route towards Mesachie Lake and Lake Cowichan, then once over the Deering Bridge turn left towards the Port Renfrew Marina. Continue on the Gordon River Forest Service Road (FSR) rather than the Harris Creek FSR towards Lake Cowichan.

While travelling on Gordon River FSR the road changes form asphalt to a number of short sections of potholes and gravel. The road eventually crosses a bridge over the Gordon River and then changes to completely gravel eventually crossing Baird Creek and going through the Avatar Grove private forest license.

The Avatar Grove and portion of land near the Gordon River and Baird Creek is known to have bears and various animals present so proper wildlife procedures must be taken when exploring. While travelling on the forestry roads remember that active logging can occur at so be prepared for heavy equipment and logging trucks at all times during the year.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lions Gate Bridge

For those of you looking for something to do the next time you happen to be in Vancouver try walking over the Lions Gate Bridge.

Starting on the North Shore at Park Royal Mall on the south side of Marine Drive is all day parking for your vehicle free of charge. From here there is a short walk across a bridge over the Capilano River to near the entrance to Capilano RV Park. Continuing on there is a stairway that takes you to a pathway and access to sidewalks on either side of Lions Gate Bridge.

Walking towards Stanley Park on the bridge sidewalks the up-hill walk up to the first set of arches of the suspension bridge takes around 20 minutes. The views of the North Vancouver, Ambleside section of West Vancouver and the business section of Vancouver are incredible. Along the way up here there is a couple of lookout vantage points away from the cycling section of the sidewalk allowing for gazing away to the panoramic vista of Vancouver Harbour in the distance.

The rest of the journey south from the crest of the bridge to the entrance of Stanley Park takes another 15 minutes. From here there is either a short trail down hill to the seawall walk around Stanley Park where you can extend your journey or another trail that takes you to the viewpoint of Prospect Point where you can marvel at the freighters passing under Lions Gate Bridge.