The Peak of Fall Colours

Autumn is a time of unparalleled beauty on the west coast of Canada. The mixed forests of deciduous and coniferous trees become a patchwork of red, yellow, orange and green. I was fortunate to be out with my camera on a day that also included a dusting of snow in the mountains. I thoroughly enjoyed chasing the light and Fall colours. Click on a photo to see a larger version and use the left and right keys to scroll through the gallery.

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Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

Joffre Lakes is a beautiful hike that passes three lakes with turquoise blue water. The colour is caused by ‘rockflour’ or glacial silt that is suspended in the water and reflects blue and green wavelengths of sunlight. At the upper lake you get an impressive view of the Matier glacier and Slalok mountain which is 8704 feet high. Hikers need to obtain a day use pass and will be turned away if they don’t have one. Click on each of the photos below to see a larger version. If you click on the square in the top right hand corner of the image, the photo is displayed on a dark black background.

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The Granite Monolith

Today I hiked to the top of the 2nd Peak of the Stawamus Chief in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. All hikers must obtain a day use pass, which is an attempt by BC Parks to manage visitation levels in the more popular parks. The granite cliffs are world famous for their climbing and also a nesting area for Peregrine Falcons. After climbing a steep trail, chains and a ladder, which felt like two hours on a StairMaster, I was rewarded with incredible views of Howe Sound, the Squamish area, and Garibaldi Provincial Park. I shared my lunch with a chipmunk and a Steller’s Jay. On the top of the peak pine trees grow on the granite and it’s a very fragile ecosystem. Due to the fact that we’ve received very little rainfall for the last forty days the pine trees didn’t look very healthy. Thankfully, there is some rain in the weather forecast for this weekend. Click on a photo in the gallery to see a larger version.

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Life Cycle of a Forest

In this photo I like the juxtaposition of the old forest that was burned in a wildfire and the growth of new plants and trees.

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Rock and Ice

It was very warm and smoky, but I enjoyed camping for a week in Banff National Park. At Lake Louise I hiked up to the Plain of Six Glaciers viewpoint, which is past the tea house and a great place to eat your lunch. In my photo below you can see Mount Lefroy on the left and Mount Victoria on the right. In the middle is Abbot Pass which was named after Philip Stanley Abbot who was an experienced climber who died in 1896 trying to be the first climber to ascend Mount Lefroy. He was the first climbing fatality in North America. It’s hard to see in the photo, but at the top of Abbot Pass is the Abbot Pass hut which was built in 1922 by Swiss guides working for the Canadian Pacific Railway as a base for mountaineers. The route up the pass is known as the Deathtrap because of its exposure to avalanches and crevasses.

Lawren S. Harris was a painter and a member of the Group of Seven. He did abstract work of Lake Superior, the Rocky Mountains, and the Arctic. One of my favourite paintings is one he did of Mount Lefroy in 1930 which is part of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

” When I first saw the mountains, travelled through them, I was most discouraged. Nowhere did they measure up to the advertising folders, or to the conception these had formed in my mind’s eye. But, after I became better acquainted with the mountains, camped and tramped and lived among them, I found a power and majesty and a wealth of experience at nature’s summit which no travel-folder ever expressed.” Lawren S. Harris

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West Coast Sunset

Last night I went for a ride on my electric bike with my camera and tripod to a location I had previously scoped out. I had no idea the sunset was going to be so spectacular. For a few minutes, it lit up the clouds with beautiful colours of red, orange, pink and blue. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

The Sky Lights Up
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A Happy Accident

It was a beautiful Spring day and I spent some time taking images of Bald Eagles ( Haliaeetus leucocephalus ) chasing one another. They were flying fast and low through the trees. I was tracking this Bald Eagle when it flew behind some trees. I like this image because it looks like a composite image or a dream. I was lucky the camera’s autofocus remained on the Bald Eagle and wasn’t confused by the branches and leaves. Some photographer’s might delete this image, but I like it.

Hot Pursuit
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Blustery Winter Day

We received some snow last night and I decided this morning to get outside with my camera. The wind was howling, it was cold and the snow was blowing horizontally, but walking in a winter storm was a refreshing change of pace. I didn’t see any other people and the birds were more relaxed with my presence. I came across this Bald Eagle ( Haliaeetus leucocephalus ) perched on a branch and I could see it was using its nicitating membrane to protect its eye from the snow and wind. The nicitating membrane is like a third or inner eyelid that sweeps across the eye from side to side. It’s either translucent or semi-transparent while it covers the eye. It reminds me of someone wearing goggles while skiing in a snowstorm.

Nature Is Metal

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Double-crested Cormorant

A medium-sized bird that is found on any open water from ponds to ocean, the Double-crested Cormorant ( Phalacrocorax auritus ) lives on the west coast year round. They lack waterproof feathers, so I’ll often seem them perched in the sun and using the technique of ‘wing-spreading’ to dry their feathers after swimming. The double crest is only visible on adults during the breeding season ( March to May ). They have orange-yellow skin on their face and throat and striking aquamarine eyes that sparkle like jewels.

Adult Double-crested Cormorants
Double-crested Cormorants Wing-Spreading After Swimming

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Hoodie

It was raining heavily when I came across this male Hooded Merganser ( Lophodytes cucullatus ). This is a small duck with a slender bill and a hood ( crest ) that can be raised or lowered, which changes the shape of the head and the white head patch. Hooded Mergansers are fairly common on small ponds and rivers, where they dive for fish, and other food, seizing it in their thin, serrated bills.

Hoodie In The Rain
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