Monthly Archives: June 2013

Mont Sainte Anne

This week I left Whistler for a couple of days.  I was fortunate enough to head over to Quebec and was able to have a look at Mont Sainte Anne.  What a place.  Sadly I didn’t have to much time there.  Just two nights and one full day.  I tried to pack as much into that day as possible.  This proved to be quite hard due to my ability to get lost and end up driving around in circles.

I stayed in the newly renovated Chateau Mont Sainte Anne (ChateauMSA) which is situated right at the base of the mountain.  Apparently, it was supposed to be a fairly short drive from Quebec City and the airport although I managed to turn it into an absolute mission as I very badly negotiated the highways and their exits.  I was informed by several staff after I arrived that it should only take about 30 minutes to the city.  I think it took me over an hour.  The hotel was great.  The rooms were really comfortable and very spacious.

On Tuesday I went exploring on foot at first, then a bit of cross-country biking and eventually after dinner I hit the roads again, got lost and saw an incredible sunset and massive waterfall.

Pre-Jean Larose

While on foot and following a little path alongside a small river, I was hoping to find a waterfall called Jean Larose Waterfall that the staff at Chateau MSA had told me was spectacular.  I did indeed find a waterfall and although it was very nice I wasn’t overly impressed as it didn’t seem that incredible.

Pre JL 3 Pre JL

After taking a few photos I decided to keep following the path to find out where it ended up and all of a sudden the ground dropped away and there was a waterfall that was pretty amazing.

Chute Jean Larose

Chute Jean Larose

Chute Jean Larose

Chute Jean Larose

Chute Jean Larose

Chute Jean Larose

Then it was onto a bit of biking around a network of trails near Chateau MSA.  These trails were a lot of fun, and although I was on the bike for about two and a half hours, I wish I had had longer to explore.

After an excellent dinner at the hotel I drove towards Quebec City as I wanted to check out Montmorency Falls which drops an impressive 83 metres.  Running with my theme of the trip, I got lost on the way there and arrived on just after dusk.  It was still an incredible sight.  En route I saw one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen.  My sunset photography skills are seriously lacking though and wasn’t able to capture the moment.

Chute M

Chute Montmorency

Chute M2 Chute M3 Chute M4

Mont Sainte Anne is an incredible place.  I definitely want to head back and spend a bit more time exploring the area.  It was the first time I had been to the eastern side of Canada, hopefully it won’t be the last.

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Race Time!

We had a lot of plans for our days off this week.  Hiking and camping was the big one.  Then the skies unleashed and it very quickly saturated everything.  When we saw that the weather was to turn for the worse I wasn’t too disappointed because I could still have a bit of fun in the Phat Wednesday race.  I planned to race it early then head back up and try and snap some race shots before heading to the patio.  It was, however, too wet for the race as well and it was postponed.  I still went up and rode the bike park.  It was amongst the wettest conditions I have ridden in for a long time.  It was still incredibly fun.

Bike Park Patrol having some fun!

Bike Park Patrol having some fun!

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Since I didn’t get the chance to get any material from either hiking/camping or biking I thought I’d use material from a Phat Wednesday event last year when they raced the Canadian Open trail.  I was out of action due to an injury sustained while biking and although the injury hindered my camera holding abilities I was able to get a couple of shaky shots.

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DSC_0831 copyThe Phat Wednesday race series always draws a huge turnout.  Most Wednesdays throughout the summer a trail is chosen and roughly 250-300 riders race down with a rider starting every 30 seconds.  My general goal for this races is to survive and not to be overtaken.  The fee to participate is only $2 and that buys a race entry, a beer at the GLC and an entry into the draw prizes where anything from an incredibly fashionable Bud Light t-shirt to Rock Shox forks can be won.  The atmosphere is usually pretty awesome.

DSC_0331 Green Biker 1 DSC_0332 Green Biker 2

DSC_0391 Girl Biker 1 DSC_0393 Girl Biker 2

The photo’s posted today all come from the aforementioned Canadian Open race last summer.  The trail builders had been hard at work rebuilding and fixing the trail for the annual Crankworx festival.  There are some incredible riders that show up to race these races and this particular event saw downhill World Cup hopeful Steve Smith take the top spot on the podium.

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Hopefully next week the sun will be shining and we can get right back out there and of course, to the patio.

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A couple of falls never hurt anyone!

A lot of the high alpine hikes still have a decent amount of snow on the trails which means we have been restricted to the lower elevations when looking for things to do. That is not the end of the world however. Yesterday afternoon/evening we drove slightly south of Whistler to check out a couple of well-known waterfalls. It is absolutely ridiculous that I’ve been in Whistler for five and a half years and have never seen either Alexander Falls or Brandywine Falls.

Alexander Falls

Alexander Falls

The two are extremely easy to access. Alexander Falls is a short drive off highway 99 towards the Callaghan Valley and the Whistler Olympic Park. Brandywine Falls and Park is slightly south of Alexander Falls on the opposite side of the highway.

Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Falls

It had been a fairly slow day for me as I had participated in (and come last in) the Phat Wednesday races in the Whistler Bike Park. There will be more to come about these races in another post. After the races there is usually time to drink several beers on the GLC patio. The point is, Thursday started very slowly indeed.

Daisy Lake

Daisy Lake

Once finally moving and fed I managed to gather a small crew and convince them to come south with me to see the falls. We started with Alexander Falls. You can drive right up to the site of the falls and they are pretty impressive. It was a beautiful afternoon with a lot of sunshine. This actually posed a little problem as I want to slow the shutter speed right down to try and capture the movement of the stream however at that time of day it was just letting in a little too much light. Apparently the best time of day to photograph waterfalls and landscapes is around sunrise and sunset. That will take some determination that’s for sure. A few of the pictures turned out nicely though,

Alexander Falls - backup Alexander Falls 1 Alexander falls 2When we had exhausted ourselves standing around watching Alexander Falls, it was time to head to Brandywine. A short drive south and into the carpark, we prepared for the epic 500 metre hike to the falls. Brandywine Falls are completely different to Alexander Falls (I know that they’re both water traveling with gravity, I mean in the sights they offer). Brandywine Falls seem as though the Earth just sunk suddenly mid-river and the water was then forced to plunge to the pool a long way down.

Brandywine falls 5 Brandywine Falls 4 Brandywine falls 3 Brandywine Falls 2About 150 metres further along the trail there is an awesome view of the river flowing into Daisy Lake. That was worth the effort as well.

Daisy Lake

Daisy Lake

I can’t believe it has taken me over five years to see these fantastic sights however that’s all in the past now and I am glad I finally made it.

Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Falls

Long Weekend (for me)

Days off in Whistler are always incredible.  It doesn’t matter if you stumble out of bed, hit up a couple of cheeky disc golf holes, then sneak in one, two or several pitchers on a sunny patio.  Or if you embark on an epic mission to hike to the summit of one of the many peaks in the area.  There is an abundance of activities to keep oneself occupied.

I have just finished my weekend which confusingly falls midweek and I was pretty stoked to have had a long one.  Tuesday was a day well spent in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.  After several hot and dusty laps it was time to sneak in a beer on the patio at Citta’s.  Citta’s patio is one of my favourites in town.  Central, sunny, usually busy and plenty of opportunity to watch the village and all its activity.

Lower Whistler Downhill

Lower Whistler Downhill

Tuesday night was perfect for a bbq and the day really set the tone for the next two.

Wednesday started a little slow, there may have been some late night beers at Brandy’s-at-the-Keg.  Once up and running we headed to a nice, mellow hike called Nairn Falls.  It’s about a 15 to 20 minute drive north of Whistler or five minutes south of Pemberton.  The hike to the falls is really simple, flat and easy.  It is roughly three kilometres round trip and takes you alongside the fast flowing ‘Green River’ until you reach the falls which are fairly impressive.

Nairn Falls

Nairn Falls

Just a little bit of water

Just a little bit of water

After we had got our falling water fix, it was time to get our food fix in Pemberton at the much recommended Mile One Eating House.  What a treat!  While searching the menu I came across their BLT that included pork belly and grilled apples and that was it for me.  SOLD!  A truly amazing burger.  The views from the patio were pretty amazing as well.  We looked straight across at Mt Currie which is a spectacular mountain.

Thursday, my final day off, was just as incredible.  A day in the bike park rarely disappoints.  Several laps were ridden of varying levels with various people.  A few close calls and a few heart-racing moments to keep the adrenaline pumping.  Perfect!

Joyride

Joyride

Joyride

Joyride

Downhill biking all afternoon followed by cross-country biking in the evening in the form of a ‘toonie ride’.  Toonie rides are a local favourite.  A race that has a different course each week with a different local sponsor.  After the race, people gather for a beer and a meal all for a simple toonie ($2 coin).  This week was a bike park special.  Grueling climb up, flat out down, reload up, flat out down.  I couldn’t think of a better way to see off the weekend.

Now just four more days and I can do it all again.

Storm Level (7Kp)

A couple of nights ago, I was sitting at home trying to mentally prepare for the Whistler Half Marathon. I had done very minimal training (a very bad idea by the way).  I noticed an alert on my Twitter feed:

Aurora_Alerts
In 58 minutes the Aurora Borealis should be at ‘STORM’ LEVEL! (It’s On!!) (7 Kp) http://t.co/alefUMiGVg
2013-05-31 9:49

As I waited for darkness to arrive I was torn between getting an early night or heading down to one of the lakes in the area to try and snap some shots. In the end I decided it would be worth a look and headed down to Lakeside Park at Alta Lake.

Growing green cloud

Growing green cloud

I am glad I did. The lights don’t put on quite the same show as they do further north and for awhile all that was visible was a large yellow-green cloud on the northern horizon. Eventually it grew and started changing shape slowly. After a while the green glow took up almost all of the north sky.

NL3WispsNL9

My skills behind the camera definitely need some improvement as my nighttime abilities have their limits. If anyone has feedback or advice on how to shoot better photos of the aurora please feel free to let me know. Basically I just played around with the shutter speed. Varying from 10-40 seconds. I think the best photos were the ones with shutter speeds between 20-30 seconds. I also tried playing around with the ISO sensitivity as well. Trying out settings between 100 and 1600. Since then I have read that the longer the shutter speed the lower the ISO setting needs to be. Hopefully I’ll get another chance to get out there and keep experimenting.

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Fiddling around with the pictures in Photoshop was another aspect I am completely new at. I tried to not do too much. What do you think?

NL8 Overblackcomb

I had planned to head down for 45 minutes or so then head home and still be in bed before midnight however watching the lights and playing around with my camera was pretty addictive. I didn’t make it home until after 0130. The half marathon was suitably difficult given my lack of fitness and fatigue but it was well worth it to get some photos.