Snowboarding in Whistler’s Epic Backcountry

Whistler is home to untouched powdery terrain, high alpine bowls and extensive natural playgrounds that we get to enjoy during our beautiful winters. To celebrate another wonderful season, here are a few snowboarding clips taken earlier this year.

𝘓𝘰𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘥, 𝘶𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘓𝘪𝘭’𝘸𝘢𝘵 𝘗𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦, 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘶𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘢𝘴 𝘓̓𝘪𝘭̓𝘸𝘢𝘵7ú𝘭, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘲𝘶𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘴𝘩 𝘗𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦, 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘶𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘢𝘴 𝘚ḵ𝘸𝘹̱𝘸ú7𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘩.

Riders: JF Fortin, Mathieu Beaudry, David Jacques and Vincent Fortin.

Music: ‘I’m a Wanted Man’ by Royal Deluxe.

Tackling the 75km West Coast Trail

I slipped my feet into the white sand. Its cool composure liberated me from the throbbing pain. I was too exhausted to jump into the ocean and wash out all the dirt on my face and my hands, and the sweat that has accumulated on my skin and my clothing. I laid there for a couple of hours, soaking in the warmth of the sun, the breeze of the sea, and the sand between my toes, thinking about nothing but: I did it!

Seven days ago, my girlfriend and I had packed our backpacks with everything we needed to survive for a week: camping gear, hiking clothes, dehydrated food, and survival kit. We had planned this trip for a few weeks and were anxious to finally begin. The West Coast Trail has always fascinated me. I’ve heard about it from fellow adventurers I’d met along my travels, and it seemed like the kind of adventure I had to put on my bucket list. I am no expert hiker, although I have several trips under my belt. The Pacific Northwest has been my backyard for over a decade now, offering many trails to wander, glacier-fed lakes to discover and mountain peaks to conquer. I have also hiked around Kathmandu, Nepal, staying in tea houses, eating home-cooked meals and carrying a small backpack. But the WCT was the kind of adventure I’ve never done before. It was a physical and mental challenge far beyond anything I’ve done. It was much more than just a stroll in the woods.

The West Coast Trail is a gruelling 75km long backpacking trail hugging the southwestern edge of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Construction of the trail debuted in 1889, originally part of a communication system connecting the British Empire in North America by an undersea cable which ran all the way to India. After the wreck of the Valencia in 1906, the trail was improved to facilitate the rescue of shipwrecked survivors along the coast. It is now part of Pacific National Rim and is known as one of the world’s top hiking trails.

Day 1: Embrace the opportunity
Gordon River to Trasher Cove- 6km

Butch took us to the trailhead across the Gordon river with his fishing boat. We jumped off the craft onto the sand, only to be welcomed by a 52 rung vertical climb ladder. Welcome to the WCT!

My bag was heavy. It pulled my shoulders and the strap on my chest pushed my lungs making it hard to breathe. It wasn’t that the trail itself was hard, but rather acclimatizing to my gear. My 43 pound bag carried all I needed for surviving a week in wilderness. I did read it shouldn’t be more than 30% of my weight, yet bringing a deck of cards, a reading book, tank tops and too much food seemed to be essential and weightless at first glance. I regretted my amateur decision of bringing the unnecessary every step I took, carrying a bag nearly half my weight, turning into a turtle camouflaged by her shell. It was a slow march through the woods, travelling 1km an hour.

As I hiked I pondered what drew me into doing this trail. It wasn’t solely for the remote beauty of the coastline, the impressive old growth forests and the endless empty beaches. I wanted to test my capabilities, to see how far I could go physically and mentally. I was attracted to the sheer challenge, to the experience, to the accomplishment, to the opportunity to learn and to grow.

When we got to Trasher Cove, we set up camp on the beach, and watched the sun disappear behind the trees, leaving an orange glow over the ocean. As the sun dimmed its light, we called it a night.

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Day 2: Slow down
Trasher Cove to Camper Bay- 8km

The sunrise was sublime. The sky was clear and the breeze was invigorating. We started the day on the beach at low tide, hiking on black stone shelves, careful about wet surfaces. This part was so beautiful, and pretty enjoyable to trek. We walked through a cave and arrived at Owen Point where a group of sea lions sun bathed on a rock erected from the ocean.

We hopped from boulder to boulder, jumped over crevasses, traversed the edge of a gully holding on a slippery rope.

The magnificence of the views muted me. I was in awe taking in impressive images of the vistas. We took our time, slowing down to admire the incredible landscape.

When the tide rose up, we entered the forest and finished the trek inland. It was muddy, extremely muddy, and we had to be very smart about each step. This very technical day ended up at Camper Bay, where we arrived in our first cable car.

As the sun shied away behind the clouds, we gathered around the campfire with fellow hikers, discussing of food and gear, and sharing stories of the trail and of home.

We retired early to our tent, away from the beach and sheltered in the trees. Then the rain began.

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Day 3: Love the journey
Camper Bay to Walbran- 9km

It poured all night, and it wasn’t ready to stop. We broke camp, put on our monster backpacks and headed back on the trail as the heavy rain lashed. The course was challenging and we got to test our skills and our sense of humour on slippery logs, impassable headlands, uncountable ladders, broken boardwalks, thick patches of deep mud, suspended bridges and one more cable car.

It wouldn’t have been the WCT if it wasn’t for the wet weather, the rugged terrain, the remoteness of the trail. I was soaked, dirty, sweaty, yet I couldn’t be more happy to walk this incredible journey.

As we reached our couple last kms, the sun slowly penetrated the clouds. The forest canopy stood high above me as the sun rays filtered through old growth trees. I fell in love with the lonesome beauty of nature. It was raw, it was pure, it was terrifyingly beautiful.

The trail opened up to the creek, that ran into the ocean. We walked through the fog, shuffling our tired and wet feet in the sand. Campers setting up their tent, warming up by a fire, and collecting water greeted us with a smile. It felt like a parallel universe, being alone all day in the wilderness and arriving to a place temporarily inhabited by humans. I grabbed my flask of maple whisky from my bag, and took off my shoes. I didn’t want to start a fire, set up the tent, get fresh water nor cook dinner. I wanted to admire that well-deserved sunset.

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Day 4: Things aren’t always like planned, and it’s okay
Walbran to Cribbs Creek- 11km

The morning light seeped into the tent. I forced my feet back into my wet socks and boots, and strapped my loaded bag on my back. Our plan was to hike on the beach, but the creek was too high to cross that early. We changed our plan and headed inland, after crossing our third cable car.

It reminded me how in life things don’t always go as planned, and it’s okay. Sometimes we have to change our route or take a detour, but that doesn’t mean we’re not on track.

We arrived at Cribs Creek where I immediately removed my wet gear. I skipped dinner, still full from my decadent $22 cheeseburger I had at Chez Moniques’, a 77-year-old lady who opened up a burger shack in the middle of the trail on reserve land. I was exhausted and chilled to the bones, so after setting camp I crawled in the tent, zipped myself into my sleeping bag, and let my head sink into my pillow.

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Day 5: Keep going forward
Cribs Creek to Tsutsiat Falls- 16km

It felt like a never ending story. My bag seemed heavier than the first day, carrying wet and sandy gear. It was a constant effort to stay upwright. I longed for nothing more than water and to take my pack off my shoulders.

It was a slow progress, stepping one foot in front of another, carefully watching every movement, every step.  My eyes focused on the slippery roots, the sinking mud holes, the loose sidewalk. It became so technical I’d forget to look up. I had to stop, not only to rest my back from the load, but to admire the scenery. I stood in a world of infinite, pure and quiet beauty.

I’d take a deep breath, taking in all the fresh air and the beautiful images. Somehow it gave me energy to pursue. As it reminded me why I was there on this trail, how going forward was the only way to see more, to know more, to live more.

The last couple of hours were brutal. My body was about to collapse in the loose sand, my hair sticking to my face, my provision of water rapidly diminishing. I knew I had to keep going forward, because going back to where I started wasn’t an option. So I put one foot in front of the other, over and over again, because at least I was going somewhere. And I was going to make it.

I was drained, in pain and on the verge of collapsing when we arrived to the falls, but I was also over joyed and astonished of how far I’d gone.

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Day 6: Appreciate the details in each moment
Tsutsiat Falls to Darling Creek- 12km

We woke up to the roar of plunging waves. We admired the falls rushing their fresh water into the ocean bed. The birds songs travelling through my head overpowered the pain on my body. I was ready for another day.

We started off with a series of climbing ladders. I’m not sure if I got used to them, but I didn’t mind them. I had a couple days left on the trail and I was going to win. The clouds rolled in but it never rained. The overcast weather was ideal. There were some really nice stretches in the forest, and cliffside paths, with the ocean appearing in occasional views. I had to pause to appreciate the precious details of my surroundings. It was the lush greens of the trees, the water dripping from the tip of the branches, the sun filtering its timid rays through the fog, the sea foam caressing the sand…

It made me realize that since I’ve been on the trail, my mind never wandered like it does back home. I was so focused on each moment, on each step, free of appreciating the perfection of every circumstances. My mind wasn’t trapped in the past or the future. I was right there, in the reality of the moment, precisely where I was supposed to be.

When we arrived to Darling Creek, we found ourselves completely alone in wilderness. Hikers kept going further on to the next camp. We decided to stay, and enjoyed the whole beach to ourselves. We finally managed to have a raging bonfire, dry our clothes and boots, carved our names on a buoy and share our highlights of our trip, while sipping on the last drops of our whisky and savouring the ice cider I kept for our last night.

The sun came out for a last show of setting light and glow.

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Day 7: Push your limits
Darling Creek to Pachena Bay- 14km

We rose up to a moon crescent and a starry sky. It was 4am and we had a big day ahead of us. We couldn’t miss our shuttle in Pachena Bay back to Gordon River, and considering our slow pace, we had to have an early start. We poured the Bailey’s we kept for that morning into our coffees. I don’t know if it was the caffeine I didn’t have in a week, or the small dose of alcohol in my body, or a sudden boost of stamina on my last day, but I felt awake and energized. I knew I had to push myself even more today than the others. I had to, and I would. I was committed to accomplish this hike with bliss.

The first couple of kms were on the pebbled beach. We arrived at the other camp where everybody were still snoozing. We tiptoed through the tents and took the trail inland, making our way through the forest in the darkness of dusk.

This last stretch was the easiest of the whole trail, and we crunched distance like superheroes. I didn’t let my back, nor my blisters, nor my aching knee, nor my exhaustion discourage me. I was in such a mindset to push and keep going that I couldn’t feel anything anymore but my mind taking over my body. I was in a state I haven’t been in while, pushing myself well beyond what I thought were my limitations. I became numb to my pain, and felt the exhaustive exhilaration of pushing myself to my limits, with a burning desire to make it to the end.

We travelled 14km in less than 3 hours. And then there it was, the end. We have arrived.

We did it.

We signed off and unloaded our packs from our backs. We took off our shoes and our gaiters. We were the first ones of the day to complete the hike, and we had 4 hours before our shuttle. So we took the trail that headed to the white sand beach.

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Humbled and blissed

The coastal trail had humbled me. I was brought into the flow of life, embracing the immense beauty and magic of each moment. I had pushed myself further that I’ve gone before, and discovered a strength within that assured me that I could achieve anything I set my mind to.

The WCT reminded me the importance of setting ourselves goals, pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone, challenging ourselves to take one more step, running when we can’t walk anymore. By physically and mentally pushing ourselves, we discover that pain and exhaustion lead to incredible feelings of joy and success.

Life is about choosing our own path, taking risks, embracing uncertainty, taking the unpredictable turn, falling down, getting up, and never giving up when the road gets tough. We are stronger and greater than we think, and are capable of anything we set ourselves for. As long as we keep moving forward. As long as we have the right mindset and are not afraid to cross the creek and get wet.

5 Free Winter Outdoor Activities To Do In The Sea-to-Sky Corridor On A Rainy Day

“There is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.”

-Ranulf Fiennes

Some people tend to find inconvenience under atmospheric precipitation. They fear to get wet, to get cold, to soak their hair, to ruin their makeup, to get lost in the fog, or to be drown in sadness. Of course I am not talking about getting outdoors during a severe natural disaster. I’m insinuating getting outside and benefitting from the fresh air while the sky is grey, the temperature is chill and raindrops fall from the clouds. We don’t need to be kids to fill in warm clothes, a waterproof jacket and rubber boots. Adults can also find amusement in jumping in puddles and mud under a drizzle or a heavy downpour. At least, I do. I enjoy those simple pleasures and as childish as it sounds, it makes me happy: It makes me present in the moment.

February has been a rather rainy month in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor with chill winter air sweeping through the valley. Warmer days are in the forecast, and since spring is around the corner, with unpredictable weather, it’s important to remember that it is not a rainy winter day that should cancel our outdoor adventures. I made a list of 5 free winter outdoor activities you can do in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor on a rainy day :

Chase waterfalls

The Sea-to-Sky Country offers 5 stunning waterfalls: Shannon Falls, Brandywine Falls, Alexander Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Nairn Falls. Most of them are just a short hike from the parking lots, allowing you to wind through magical and impressive rainforests before accessing impressive rushing and crashing cascades. There is nothing I like more than walking through a forest under the rain. There is something so soothing about the sound of the rain falling through the tall trees, the freshness of the air and the scent of the earth soaking every drop. There is something so relaxing and purifying about standing at the bottom of a waterfall, breathing the pure air, and feeling the mist of the water pouring vigorously in front of us.

To know more about the waterfalls, visit: http://www.whistlerhiatus.com

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Go eagle watching

Squamish welcomes a significant number of wintering bald eagles from all over the Pacific Northwest each year. They congregate along the Squamish and Cheakamus Rivers to feed on salmon carcasses. It is a great spectacle to observe them perched in the trees, or flying gracefully above the water. The large gathering of eagles is prominent from December to March.

To know more about eagle watching in Squamish, visit: http://www.exploresquamish.com

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Soak in the hot springs

We are spoiled with two incredible, natural and road-accessible hot springs. Key Hole Hot Springs are found 100 km from Whistler, down Pemberton Meadows and up the Upper Lillooet Service Road. Sloquet Hot Springs are located about 142km from Whistler, and most of the drive is on the In-Shuck-Ch Forest Service Road, a gravel road along Lillooet Lake (be aware that snow might cover the road up to Sloquet. Watch the road conditions before you head up). What’s better than to soak in the warmth of mineral-rich pools, tucked into the wilderness, while the rain falls over your head.

To know more about the hot springs, visit: http://www.whistlerhiatus.com

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Bike the trails

If you have a cross-country bike, you are up for a treat. The Sea-to-Sky Corridor has an extensive trail network to explore, rain or shine. Squamish has the best spots to bike in the winter, due to its lack of snow at lower elevation. While mostly sheltered by the thick trees, you can find challenge in pedaling up and down muddy and wet surfaces. There is something cleansing about biking under the rain through the rainforest. A sense of pure joy and freedom.

To know more about the Squamish off-road trails, visit: http://mountainbikingbc.ca

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Photo taken from: http://www.movetosquamish.ca

Walk a dog

If you can’t find any friends willing to embrace the rain with you, why not drop in at your local shelter and see the possibility to walk a dog? Dogs don’t complain about being wet or cold. They wear the warm fur and will wag their tail at the idea of playing in puddles and mud with you. Not only does it allow you to get outside and get some fresh air, but you are also helping a furry friend to stretch its legs. Dog shelters welcome responsible dog lovers to apply as volunteers and drop in to take a dog for a walk.

To know more about these services, visit: Whistler Wag, Animal Control and Pound, and SPCA.

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So next time you see the rain, dress properly, wear the right attitude, and embrace the weather. Trust me, bad weather often looks worse from a window. So get out there and get wet!

5 Dog-Friendly Incredible Hikes in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor

The season has changed, leaving place to the cool and crisp air of autumn. Summer has been absolutely crazy, in so many good ways, with work, and camping and adventuring every weekend. But I am now looking forward to quiet days at work, cozy wool sweater weather and wrapping my hands around hot teas and good books. But the one thing I really love the most about fall is the cool mornings and glorious sunny afternoons. I am looking forward to get outside and embrace the fresh autumn air with my dogs.

Even if many trails are open year-round, I find that autumn is the best season to hike: no crowds, no bugs, no heat. Plus, it’s the time of the year where nature wears its best colours and its unique fragrance. Here are 5 incredible hikes to do with your furry companions this fall in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor:

Skywalk Trail- NEW!

There is a new trail in town! Built by volunteers from The Alpine Club of Canada, The Skywalk Trail was completed at the end of August 2015 and offers a stunning and scenic hike that starts in Alpine Meadows and leads to the north of Rainbow Mountain. This 14km round-trip trail goes up along 19 mile creek, passing beautiful waterfalls before entering into alpine meadows resting at the foot of an ancient glacier. After scrambling over some rocks, the trail leads up to Iceberg Lake, a beautiful green opaque lake sitting at 1600m, with an ice cave resting on its shore. The trail goes further up to Screaming Cat Lake and loop back to the starting point.

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While the trail is limited to foot traffic only, there haven’t been any restrictions for dogs. Remember to respect others by being a responsible owner and keep your dogs under control. Thank you to the volunteers at Alpine Club for this great job on building by hand this trail and offering us the privilege to explore our backyard in such a way. This is a true Whistler experience!

Stawamus Chief

Located in the town of Squamish, the Stawamus Chief, commonly known by locals as The Chief, offers a steep but short 3-hour round trip hike atop of the 700 massive granite cliffs. There are 3 summits, the highest being at only 1.8km, all offering scenic views of Howe Sound and the town of Squamish. There is a lot of traffic on this trail and sections with steep cliffs, so always keep your pooch close by.

Sea-to-Sky Trail

The Sea-to-Sky Trail runs 180km from the waterfront of Squamish all the way up to D’Arcy. There are many scenic spots to see along this non-motorized trail, from cascading waterfalls, to raging rivers, to suspended bridges, and pristine lake views. Wether you are biking, walking, running or hiking, your four-legged friend will be ecstatic to run beside you.

Joffre Lakes

A very popular and must do hike. Joffe Lakes Provincial Park is situated north of Pemberton, up the Duffey Road. There are 3 lakes, the upper one located at 5 km. The trails are well-maintained and enjoyable to ascend, although the last part between Middle Lake and Upper Lake is a bit more challenging. The reward is worth the sweat: pristine turquoise waters and rugged Coast Mountain scenery. Your pooch will be happy to pose for a photograph with such a background.

Rorh Lake

Nestled near the Marriot Basin on an alpine bench, just a few minutes north of Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, Rohr Lake is a beautiful and uncrowded hike. It is an ideal environment for the dogs, where they can sprint through steep trees and run freely in the alpine meadows. The hike is short (3-4hours one-way) but steep, rough, rocky, muddy and wet. Also, due to the unpopularity of the hike, the trail isn’t well-marked, so read the direction properly before heading up. Rohr Lake is beautiful and clear, and the peacefulness of the place is worth every efforts.

Happy trails!

Hornby Island for a Family Vacation

Raised by a single mother and with an older brother that took on his freedom filled life as soon as I was born, I never really had the chance to understand the term “family vacation”. Of course my mom always made sure we would go on road-trips and explore the beautiful corners and cultural gems of the province of Quebec. It was always a memorable mother-daughter vacation, sometimes tagged with our furry friends.

My brother settled in British Columbia 15 years ago where he met his wife and her family. My first solo flight was when I was 15, to go and visit him on the other side of the country. I got really close to this new circle, a reconstructed family of many siblings. Now that my brother and I both live in the province, he on the island, and I in the mountains, we don’t see each other as often as we wish, but I try to commit to once a year since he now has two beautiful blooming boys. So, when my brother and his wife invited me to their annual family vacation on Hornby Island, there was no way I could miss this special reunion.

We left Whistler on Friday afternoon after work. We boarded the 5:20pm ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay. The 1:40min scenic ride through the Gulf Islands was refreshing and relaxing, soothing a long work week.

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Once in Nanaimo, we drove north on Highway BC-19A. I had booked a campsite at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, just to make the trip less cumbersome and more enjoyable. Rathtrevor Park is located along the shoreline, in the city of Parksville. The campground is very clean and the sites are large, well-maintained and just few steps from the beach.

In the morning, Juno and I went for a stroll. We traversed the short path to the beach across an old-growth forest. The low tide left us with many treasures to find on the golden sand. I took deep breathes and soaked in the fresh air.

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After everything was packed up, we head back on the Oceanside Highway and drove north towards Buckley Bay. We hopped on the ferry towards Denman. Then drove accross the island and took another 10min-ferry onto Hornby.

Hornby Island has a small community of less than 1,000 residents, mostly artists, retirees, bohemians, and any lovers of the remote rural island life. We followed the road that hugged the sandstone shorelines, making our way to the northeast of the island. We arrived at Tribune Bay Campground, where we set up camp. The clouds slowly covered the sky, predicting a heavy rain. We set up a large tarp above our site, making our cozy home for the weekend.

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The rain arrived at the same time as my family. We greeted under the protecting trees. We built a shelter from pop-up tents and tarps where we found dry refuge for the afternoon. After dinner we sat around the fire-pit, catching up with the grown-ups while grandma told stories to the kids.

The weather cleared out the next morning and we spent the day at Tribune Bay Beach. The kids played in the waves, leftover from the stormy weather.

In the evening we headed to the Pizza Galore. We sat on blankets on the soft grass in the middle of an orchard. Under an apple tree we opened our bottle of wine and enjoyed delicious homemade pizzas. A live band paired our meals with notes of beautiful music while kids played hide and seek, and others played boardgames under the trees.

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The sunbeams scattered the sky. We spent another night around the fire pit, telling stories and playing games. And when the night reached its deep darkness, we took a stroll on the beach. We watched the constellations grace the night as the shooting stars ignited one by one.

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We woke up to a stunning sky. The rain evaporated from the heating ground. The kids rushed through breakfast, ready to hit the beach. We headed to Helliwell Beach, located on a headland at the southeast of the island. The sand is white, the beach endless, and the water of a crystal clear blue I have never seen in Canada.

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It was a beautiful day skimboarding, kayaking and paddleboarding.

The girls even opened up a sand spa for anyone keen of a natural seaside massage.

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It was time for me to head back. I kissed and hugged deeply everyone goodbye. As we drove away, I waived a last farewell to my brother still standing on the beach watching me depart.

The 3 ferries home gave me the time and the space to imprint all those beautiful memories I had made. I thought about my dear mother, who I wished could’ve made the trip from the East. I am so privileged to have the mother and the brother that I have, along with all my consanguinity family. I am also so grateful to be part of this circle of people that I have met at 15 years old, half way through my current life. I hope to many more family vacations.

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Whether they are your parents, sibblings, family members, affinities, friends, or whoever with there is a sense of belonging, unconditional love, mutual respect and care, acknowledge who those people are and make time for them, as often as you can. Family is not an important thing. It’s everything. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to call my mother.

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The Ocean Is Calling And I Must Go

There is a place on the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island that was built for dreamers: a place where the salty air is curing, the cold ocean is rejuvenating, and the lush rainforests are reinvigorating. A place where people go to gaze at the ocean in peace, and experience nature at its humblest best.
Tofino is indeed an oasis of nature’s wonders. With its beautiful old-growth coastal forests, abundant wildlife and miles of sandy beaches, this little surfing town attracts many surfers, outdoor adventurers, soul searchers, and nature lovers every year.
There’s been a lot of change recently in my life, and after a long winter spent in the mountains, I felt an overpowering urge to be by the ocean. So when Corianne showed interest for a weekend getaway, there were no doubts we had to make a trip to Tofino. We left Whistler at dusk on Saturday morning and headed South to catch the 8:30am BC Ferry leaving Horseshoe Bay towards Nanaimo. The 2 hour-ride through the Gulf Islands was scenic, as we sat in the rear deck, sheltered from the wind, exposed to the morning sun.
image Once in Nanaimo, we drove north on Highway 19, a car loaded with camping gear and a sun blasting in the sky. We crossed the island on Highway 4 towards Clayoquot Sound, meandering through a coastal forest of old-growth oaks. The beams of the afternoon sun poured through trees and fog. We travelled the road through the rugged coast, ascending and descending, swirling and twisting, until we arrived to the coastal town of Tofino.

We had booked camping on the beach at Bella Pacifica located on Mackenzie Beach. We set up camp and retired on the beach for the evening as the sun was setting. Along with wine, cheeses, and charcuterie, we admired the hues of the sky as the sun retired behind the evening haze.

We woke up early the next morning to another beautiful and sunny day. We brewed fresh coffee and took a stroll on the beach. As we shuffled our bare feet in the sand, we found ourselves spectators of a rare scene: the beach was blanketed by thousands of blue tiny creatures called “sail jellyfish”, scientifically known as Velella velella, that washed ashore during the night. At the rocky shores of the bay, we explored the tidal pools at low tide and spotted many starfishes and sea anemones. Amongst curious children, we were fascinated by the stunning diversity of marine life.

There was a short hike I’ve heard of and really wanted to do. It wasn’t on any map, so after asking a few locals, I had enough clues to hunt for the hidden trail. I couldn’t be more happier when I found the entrance, and I couldn’t be more excited when we reached the top, overlooking the panoramic view of Cox Bay.

After a lunch of fresh tuna tacos at Tacofino, we headed back to Cox Bay with our surfing gear. Time to slip in the wetsuit, put on the booties, strap the leash and head to the water. I am no surfer. But I can play in the waves. And here in Tofino, there is no better place than its beautiful beachbreaks and high waist waves. IMG_9587 I took a moment to embrace my surroundings: The water slipping off my forehead, the air cleansing my lungs, the setting sun warming up my skin, and a setting to dream for. I glanced at my friends, who glanced back, nodding for this inspiring moment we shared. We spent the night by the campfire on the beach, along with friends we met. The moon rose and settled in the sky, full and ripe, stretching its light far in the distance. We watched fireworks exploding in the clear sky while the sounds of drums resonated through the night.

We woke up the second morning to an overcast sky. After we packed our gear we made a stop to the beach. Corianne went for a last surf session while I watched her played in the wave under the rain, sitting cozy in my camping chair.

We headed back to Nanaimo in the afternoon to catch the last ferry. The sun eventually broke through the clouds, taking over the sky. The ferry ride made us speechless, as we watched the sunrays painting the sky, as it retired behind the islands. IMG_9693 Coastal living offers wonderful benefits. Not only does spending time by the ocean balances the body and creates physical harmony, but it also allows us to take a moment to pause, reflect, meditate and embrace solitude. It brings us to a tranquil state of mindfulness and awareness, and gives a sense of freedom. It clarifies the mind and opens up to new perspectives. There is something healing about looking at the ocean, listening to the soothing sound of the waves pounding on the shore and breathing the invigorating fresh air. So if you ever need to calm your mind, improve your physical health or find inspiration and purpose to your life, perhaps all you need is a holistic dose of Vitamin Sea. image

Bringing Sunday Funday to a Whole New Level

When Julie called me and asked what were my plans for the following day, I answered: “Well, it’s Sunday, so something outdoors and fun!” She replied with a smirk in her voice: “Excellent, I’ve got the perfect adventure for us! Just pack a bag with a bathing suit, a towel, and a nice bottle of champagne.”

Julie is one of my closest friends. We met in the mountains of Whistler ten years ago, and shared many adventures since. From snowboarding magnificient terrain, breaking ice canoeing in the winter, backpacking Central America and road tripping Maui, Hawaii, Julie and I are together an adventurous team, always thirsty for new discoveries and experiences.

I was so excited and intrigued by what she could possibly have in mind. It was hard to fall asleep that night. When the next day came, I jumped out of bed overly enthusiastic, and ran over to Julie’s. Indeed, she had the best Sunday Funday plan: “We’re going to the hot springs!’’

-“The ones that are now inaccessible?’’ I questioned.

-“Yes, that’s why we’re gonna take a helicopter!”

OH MY! I’ve been in a couple heli rides before. One in Cayman Islands when I lived there, as part of advertising, and one above the Garibaldi Range to pick up my boyfriend that built a hiking trail there at the time. However, I’ve never flown over my town, and especially not to the hot springs. Last time I went to Meager Creek Hot Springs, it was by snowmobile, before the bridge wiped out in 2009 due to a destructive mudslide, the second largest landslide in Canadian history. The idea to fly above my home mountain range and access secluded hot natural pools exceeded my expectations of this Sunday adventure. It is a privilege to have friends with good connections.

Our two helicopters departed the grounds of Whistler, on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning of March. We elevated above the trees and flew amongst curious birds in a cloudless sky. We headed North-West towards the Meager Creek Hot Springs, flying over the impressive volcanic peaks and expansive ice fields of the Pemberton Ice Cap (no wonder why so many films and TV shows were filmed here). This enchanting and scenic flight above towering mountains made me feel so impossibly small, yet so alive.

As we approached the valley, I could see the heart shape of the main pool.

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We landed on a narrow patch of grass, beside the creek in a midst of a beautiful green forest. We walked the sand path towards the pools. The heat steamed through the grounds as we approached the springs.
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Meager Creek Hot Springs is located in the southern Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. The beautiful constructed pools are fed from the geothermal vents of the Mount Meager massif on its north side.
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The water was hot, but soothing and revitalizing. We popped the champagne, bottle after bottle. It’s Sunday Funday after all.
As the sun slowly arched down behind the mountains, we packed our belongings and hopped aboard the crafts. We flew over the Pemberton Icefields once more and contemplated the alpenglow, a stunning rosy light suffusing the snow-covered mountain peaks below.
There was one last surprise before returning home: a must stop on a beach to watch the sun set over the ocean.
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We flew South-West towards the water, following a setting sun. As we approached the Strait of Georgia near the head of Jervis Inlet, we flew over the granite walled gorge through the snow-capped mountains erecting sharply from the edge of the water. There we found the gem that is Princess Louisa Inlet. 
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 We landed on the deserted beach and put our toes in the cooling sand.
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We cracked the last bottle of champagne, and as we gazed at the sun shying away behind the Pacific Ocean, we reminisced about our day, our new friends, and our adventure, processing the impressive beauties we’ve seen and the glories of life we fully experienced.
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 We may be tiny grains of sand, but we live a life so significantly grand.

Rohr Lake – Cayoosh Range, BC

Camping has always been an important part of my life. Since I moved to the west coast in 2003, I camp almost every weekend from late spring to early autumn. In the winter, I camp in the cabins of the backcountry. I don’t mind cold temperatures and am not scared of the wild. In fact, I always put up my tent in the wilderness, places where no one goes, and probably no one’s been. Camping is for me a way of disconnecting from the hustling of my everyday life, reconnecting with myself and finding healing through nature. In fact, for me, there is nothing like the feeling of the mothering power from the earth under my bare feet, the cleansing of my lungs from the pure air, the soothing sound of nature in my ears, and the eye candy images of the natural beauty surrounding me.

I have done truck, boat, canoe, and snowmobile camping. However, I have never camped by foot. I have done a lot of day hikes. However, I have always come back at dusk thinking how great would it be to sleep here under the stars. When I called my outdoorsy friend Claudel and explained her my plan, she jumped aboard instantly.

Most of the hiking trails here in the Sea to Sky are part of Provincial Parks or are watershed areas. Both owners of active dogs, we had to find a trail that allowed our furry friends to happily run wild and free. After a long research, I found Rohr Lake.

Rohr Lake is situated in the Cayoosh Range, on an alpine bench north east of Mt Rohr. The trail is a 15km round trip, for beginner/advanced hikers. I had never heard of it, neither Claudel. There wasn’t much information on the Internet or in the trailmap book, only a few blogs from people that attempted the trail. Perfect, we thought, an unknown and uncrowded trail, exactly up our alley!

We each packed a travel backpack with warm and light clothes, hiking shoes and flip-flops. We had one tent, a chicken salad, a homemade guacamole and corn chips, 2 panini sandwiches, a bunch of grapes and a few energy bars. Claudel brought her sleeping bag and mattress. I went commando on that. I had to leave room for the wine (2 bottles of red, and a sparkling for the mimosas in the morning. Oh and a 6-pack of ciders). Water, dog food, flashlights, whistles, lighters, tissues, cups, cutlery… Our bags were probably half our weight.

It was the last day of spring, on a beautiful and sunny late morning in June. We drove north on Highway 99 to Mt Currie towards Lillooet, on the Duffy Rd. When we passed Joffre Lakes and crossed the first bridge, we turned left onto an unassigned logging road.

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We drove as far as our car could go, and parked on the side of the trail. If you have a 4WD, you can probably access the trailhead. 

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We walked the rest of the road to the beginning of the trail. It wasn’t much later than 15 min of walking on an easy surface that I thought to myself: Maybe Claudel was right, we could have brought just one bottle of wine…

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The first few km were quite lovely. It was a very easy hike through a well marked forest trail. At times we hopped on rocks to cross streams, at other times traversed stomps over creeks.

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After a steep path, we arrived at the intersection of Aspen and Rohr Lake, where we stopped to catch our breath.

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After a confusion in directions, having to drop our bags down on the ground and search for the trail, we found our way and got back on track. The soil was muddy and slippery, wet and snowy. Yet, we were still pretty clean. We made our way to the alpine meadow, where a blanket of moss appeared under the melting snow.

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There was so much snow still that no trail was to be seen. On our right side, there was a rock facade where the stream came down. We knew there was going to be an abrupt 300m uphill, and there it had to be. We left the bags on the grass and climbed the rocks. Miraculously, I spotted a red little flag attached to a tree, flowing in the wind. We scrambled back down the rocks, and picked up our loads.

This wasn’t easy. As much as I could freely jump from rock to rock without my bag, now with 50 pounds glued to my back, I felt unbalanced with a lack of dexterity.

“So this is what it is to hike with an alcoholic!” mocked Claudel, with a winking smile, while climbing the wall with both hands and feet.

Indeed, the fermented juice we both carried made the hike most challenging. Yet, so rewarding!

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After climbing the steep hill, reaching for rocks through the stream and our feet sinking in mud, we made our way on top. We turned around and caught a glimpse of the alpine.

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We made it to Rohr Lake, pristine water surrounded by beautiful mountain. Plus, we had it all to ourselves!

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Why bring a mattress when you can find natural cushiness? I made one from cedar. Even Lady used it for a rest.

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The wine was definitely worth the effort and the sweat!

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We celebrated the summer solstice that night up at Rohr Lake. We said farewell to spring as the sun hid behind the mountains. We watched the stars shimmer the sky at night. And when the sun rose up from a short night sleep, we listened to the birds chirping to a new and beautiful morning of summer.

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Rainbow Lake – Whistler, BC

Summer has been magnificent so far with suns sparkling the forecast everyday and warm, pleasant temperatures reaching 30˚C each afternoon. Rain was needed and so it did for a couple of days, just enough to soak the dryness of the forest and revive the grass and trees of their pure lush greens.

It is wildflower season and it is the perfect time to undertake a hike. There are so many wonderful options here in the Sea-to-Sky corridor, from Squamish to D’arcy, from short easy hikes, to strenuous day hikes, to multi-day hikes. Unfortunately, most of them are part of provincial parks, like Garibaldi Park, or  are drinking water supply areas so dogs are not allowed on the trails. There are also regulations for camping and swimming at certain spots. Make sure you read all signs and recommendations before you start your alpine excursion.

I called Claudel on Friday morning and see if she could come up from Squamish and meet me in Whistler. I haven’t seen her in a while and I missed her down-to-earth, calm and wise personality. She is also a huge nature lover and studies Fish, Wildlife and Recreation at BCIT.  She is the perfect partner for this hiking mission. She agreed to meet me on Monday morning.

We decided to go to the Rainbow Lake Trail, a 16km round-trip hike reaching 850m in 8km. We also decided to bring the dogs, as you are allowed to do so until the intake and then you have to maintain them on leash (I would’ve felt guilty otherwise to sweat for 16km without my dogs).

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We travelled up the trail through a forest of Western Red Cedars, Black Spruces, Lodgepole Pines, Douglas firs and Western Hemlocks, traversing wooden platforms over marshlands. The essence of nature was fresh and earthy. Claudel stopped here and there, picking up wild ginger from the soil and identifying some leaves and pieces of bark from the trees.

The well-marked trail was easy to follow and was also well-maintained. However, the mosquitos and flies kept sticking to our sudor as soon as we paused to catch our breath. So we continued moving at a steady pace (gosh I’m not in shape!).

We passed a beautiful waterfall where we stopped in the breeze and let our drinking water slide through our dehydrated throats. Half way there!

After perspiration, bug bites, heart pumping and thighs burning, we arrived to our destination. We have reached the summit and found the tranquil alpine lake peacefully resting in the middle of a garden of wildflowers, surrounded by mountains peeking through a baldachin forest.

We ended up spending 3 hours atop, laying in a bed of wildflowers sipping on rewarding mimosas between buzzes of bugs and bees. We conversed about life: the things we have accomplished, the things we want to achieve. Life surely goes by fast and there is so much left to undertake. And that Monday of late July we attained that summit.

Just like life, a little of determination, courage and commitment can bring you to the top. Keep pushing yourself, even if it itches. It’s never supposed to be easy. Don’t give up, because once you arrive on top, you know you have succeeded. And that feeling is unique to yourself, because only you know how hard you worked for it. Enjoy it. Embrace it.  And don’t forget to smell the roses along way 😉

What to pack:

  • Water bottle
  • Lunch (sandwich, fruits, granola bar, nuts, etc.)
  • Towel
  • Bathing suit
  • Sunscreen
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Flashlight
  • Lighter
  • Whistle
  • Bear bells

* Don’t forget you only want to pack the necessary. It might be a long haul. However, always leave room for the sparkling 😉

What to wear:

  • Good hiking shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Comfortable clothes

Information websites and lists of trails in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor:

www.clubtread.com

http://www.mountainguru.com

http://www.seatoskytrail.ca

Happy trails everyone!