Ripple Rock

Day eight of my short Vancouver Island vacation.  North of Campbell River in the Seymour Narrows there used to be an underwater mountain with two peaks.  This was called Ripple Rock.  Due to the hazards this caused to navigation and the many boats that were sunk in the area, the Government of Canada fixed the problem.  In 1958 in what was at the time the largest non-nuclear peacetime explosion ever recorded the tops of the underwater mountain were exploded.  It was the first ever live coast-to-coast broadcast on CBC.  

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Comox Marina

Day seven of my short Vancouver Island vacation.  After the previous days strenuous hike a day of wandering around a marina drinking coffee was called for.  Plenty of things to see including some very fancy boats, eagles, seals and some very odd jellyfish.

Mount Becher and Boston Ridge Traverse

Day six of my short Vancouver Island vacation.  One of the major hikes I had planned for this trip was to hike to the top of Mount Becher and then take the Boston Ridge Traverse back to the bottom.  Quite a bit of planning had been put into this hike, and I even created a custom map of the route to make sure we stayed on the correct trail.  I was expecting it to be tough and it did not disappoint.

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Kye Bay Beach Walking

Day five of my short Vancouver Island vacation.  Kye Bay is always a wonderful place to walk and explore.  You never know just what you might find along the beach.  Always nice to see a heron wading through the surf finding things to eat.

Seal Bay Nature Reserve and Miracle Beach Provincial Park

Day four of my short Vancouver Island vacation.  Headed north from Comox to Seal Bay Nature Reserve for a pretty hike through a regenerated second growth forest.  Eventually made it down to a rocky beach area to poke around.  After getting back to the car, headed further north to Campbell River for some lunch and a stroll along Miracle Beach.

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Ptarmigan Cirque & Mount Rae

Solo hiking adventure starting  at the Highwood Pass in Kananaskis – July 15, 2017.  Mount Rae is the highest visible peak from Calgary and the 4th highest in Kananaskis at 3218m. 

From the parking area at the Highwood Pass (the highest paved surface in Canada at 2206m the trail heads up a number of switchbacks through the forest until you pop out of the treeline into the Ptarmigan Cirque.  This is a beautiful area full of waterfalls, streams, and fields of wildflowers.

Heading through the cirque the real trail heads back up an endless scree field toward Mount Rae.

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Grotto Mountain

Solo hiking adventure up Grotto Mountain – Canmore – July 9. 2706m, 1425m vertical ascent over 5.7km. Hate when a good day turns bad from my own stupidity. This was a  serious scramble up a very steep trail, but I was feeling great at the top. Had a nice lunch, took some pictures, headed down. Made it 3/4 of the way down when I realized my camera was safe and secure back up at the summit… Hadn’t seen a single other person the whole day so I knew nobody else was going to go bring it down. Back up to the top. Now I hurt. On the plus side, lots of animals.

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West Highland Way – Day Seven

Kinlochleven to fort william – 24km

A long climb out of Kinlochleven in the rain led to a long beautiful valley where the wind was howling and the rain was coming down sideways.  Many parts of the trail were either washed out or had streams running down the middle of the trail.

Eventually the rain let up and the sun came out as the trail led through a number of logging camps (yes, Scotland does seem to be trying to get rid of the few trees they have left).  This section was a bit grim and messy with muddy sections left from the logging machinery.  Eventually the trail made it past the logging and the first views of Ben Nevis were seen.  Unfortunately the entire top of the mountain was covered in cloud.

Once down at the bottom of the trail in Glen Nevis the rest of the way to Fort William was along a paved road which was really tough on the feet after being on soft trails for the past few days.  There are now two ends to the West Highland Way, one at the entrance to Fort William, and the new one which is conveniently placed in the middle of town through a cobble stone walk past all the tourist shops, go figure.

Dinner was a multiple course affair at the Lime Tree Inn.  This was it for the West Highland Way and the next day I jumped on the train back to Glasgow and then transferred to a train to Edinburgh.

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West Highland Way – Day Six

Kings house to Kinlochleven – 14km

After taking taxis back to Kings House the trail heads through Glencoe toward the Devil’s Staircase.  Rain and wind made this section a little bit unpleasant but the views more than made up for it.  It was at this point that one of the runners of the West Highland Way race passed the group.  I think that it must have been the eventual winner who smashed the record in finishing with a total time of 13 hours 41 min.  What a staggering thing to think, that what took me seven days was done in just under 14 hours.

From the top of the Devil’s Staircase the trail very slowly descends through valleys with amazing views towards Kinlochleven.  Lunch was spent huddling against the side of a hill  while the rain came down and the wind blew.  Once down in Kinlochleven (which has a brewery in the middle of town as well as an indoor ice climbing wall) lodgings and dinner were at the MacDonald Hotel.

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West Highland Way – Day Five

Tyndrum to Kings house – 32km

Heading out of Tydrum the trail climbs up until you reach the top of a pass and the views start really opening up.  Passing over the Bridge of Orchy you head up through a pine forest until it opens up again and you can see down to Loch Tulla and the Iveroran Hotel.  Stopping at the hotel for lunch, tea and lemon cakes was a great way to break up a very long day.

After lunch the trail heads up and into Rannoch Moor, one of the most beautiful wide open landscapes I’ve ever seen.  Every direction you looked had vista’s that were simply jaw dropping.  At the other side of Rannoch Moor the trail makes it’s way to Glencoe and Kings House.

Kings House is currently being renovated so from here taxi’s were taken to the Clachaig Inn in Glencoe.  

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West Highland Way – Day Four

Inverarnen to tyndrum – 19km

Starting out from Beinglas Farm the trail heads up through the forest and valleys of Glen Falloch.  Most of the day is spent on a simple track in mixed weather.  Lunch is spent on the trail with a quick stop before the midges descended and were annoying.

Finally in the afternoon the landscape started to open up into the Highlands with some better vistas of the landscape to come in the next few days.  Eventually arrived at Tyndrum and the nights lodging at the Tyndrum Inn.

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West Highland Way – Day Three

Rowardennan to inverarnen – 23km

Starting out this morning there was a slight drizzle but it wasn’t really wet enough to bother with rain gear for most of the day apart from a couple of stronger showers.  From Rowardennan the trail continued along the shore of Loch Lomond in landscape that felt very much like hiking on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.  Passing countless streams and waterfalls lunch was out of the rain at a the Inversnaid Hotel.

After lunch the trail continues along a  trail made interesting by many  roots and rocks to scramble over.  Eventually leaving Loch Lomond behind the trail becomes easier until reaching the end of the day at Beinglas Farm near Inverarnen.

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