Monday, 19 May 2014

Sea kayaking with Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak near Vancouver, B.C.

by Keith and Heather Nicol
Paddling toward Jug Island
     On Sunday, May 18 we headed to Deep Cove near Vancouver to try kayaking in Indian Arm and do a short hike to Quarry Rock. We were joined by our daughter Kristie and her boyfriend Eric. We had booked a 2 hour rental which allowed us to paddle around several islands and along the rugged shoreline of Indian Arm. Some of the shoreline that we paddled along had homes clinging to the steep rocky cliff. As we paddled north along our 8.5 km route the landscape was more wild and we saw a seal near Jug Island.  Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak also rents stand up paddle boards and leads guided kayak tours and provides lessons in both activities. After our paddle we had lunch in the park that overlooks the harbour and then did the Quarry Rock hike which is part of the Baden Powell Trail. This 1.9 km hike is well marked (but is steep in sections) and on this day was incredibly popular. All ages and stages were doing this hike which ends at a rocky bluff overlooking Deep Cove. This was a great way to spend a day in Deep Cove. We recommend booking at Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak in advance since they tend to book up in good weather and on weekends. See: for more information.
Kristie points to Racoon Island in Indian Arm

The Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak Centre is a popular place - book ahead
Quarry Hill hike gives a good view of Deep Cove

Friday, 16 May 2014

Sea kayaking with Ecomarine at Granville Island in Vancouver, B.C.

by Keith and Heather Nicol
Paddling in False Creek is handy for anyone visiting Vancouver
     On Friday, May 16th we took advantage of the continued good weather to take a self guided sea kayak trip on False Creek. Ecomarine has a paddle sport centre at Granville Island and they must be Vancouver`s oldest sea kayak outfitter. They offer a variety of services from their Granville Island location including rentals, sales, tours and lessons. Beside sea kayaks they also sell stand up paddle boards which have shown a big increase in business over the last few years according to rental manager, Catherine Paone. We did a 2 hour self guided sea kayak tour of False Creek which is a great protected area for paddling. We paddled to Science World at the end of False Creek and although we are used to paddling in the wilderness of Newfoundland we enjoyed the ``urban paddling`` experience of False Creek. We paddled past the tall apartment buildings of downtown Vancouver, several marinas and even a floating village. Ecomarine also has locations at Jericho Beach and English Bay which operate seasonally. For more information see: While you are at Granville Island you can check out the many shops and restaurants or take in a show by a street performer.
False Creek ends with dome shaped Science World

While at Granville Market take in a street performer show

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Don't miss the new Sea to Sky Gondola near Squamish, B.C.

by Keith and Heather Nicol
View from the large deck overlooking Howe Sound
   The new Sea to Sky Gondola is a must see new attraction just outside Squamish, B.C. If you are thinking of heading to Whistler then be sure to stop at this great new facility along the way. It is right on the Sea to Sky Highway and in just 10 minutes you are whisked up to 900 meters with a bird's eye views of Howe Sound and the spectacular mountains that surround this area. Sky Pilot Mountain is clearly visible from the Summit Lodge and jagged Diamond Head looms in the distance. We visited with our daughter, Kristie, on Thursday, May 15 just before the "Official Opening" on Friday.  We hiked on a couple of  short trails near the Summit Lodge and had lunch on a huge patio that must have one of the best views in the all of B.C. If you plan to visit very often then the season pass for just $100 is one of the best deals going. For those interested in rock climbing or longer hikes, the Summit Lodge can be used as a jumping off point to further explore this area. We can't wait to come back in to see this area in the winter. Also be sure to visit Shannon Falls which is located next to the base of the Sea to Sky Gondola. For more information see:
Kristie on the suspension bridge with the Summit Lodge in the background

The Sea to Sky Gondola takes just 10 minutes to travel to the Summit Lodge

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Cruising False Creek and Burrard Inlet in Vancouver, B.C.

by Keith and Heather Nicol
Be sure to see Granville Market
    Over the last couple of days the weather in Vancouver has been stellar and we have been taking to the water to see the sites from a different vantage point. On Monday, May 13 we took the False Creek mini cruise operated by Aquabus ( This is a great way to see various parts of False Creek from the water. We started our "voyage" at the Hornby Street stop and with a couple of transfers we ended up at "The Village" near Science World. Our guide told us it was about 4 km one way and you can also use the Aquabus to go to several other locations along False Creek. One of the don`t miss stops is Granville Island with its popular Granville Market as a main attraction.
The Aquabus ferries travel along False Creek
The Harbour Cruise is a great way to see Burrard Inlet
 On Tuesday, May 14 we took the Harbour Cruise which gives a 1 hour tour of Burrard Inlet. We boarded a paddle wheeler near Canada Place and our tour gave us a great perspective of Vancouver Harbour which is Canada`s largest port. We sat on the upper deck in the sunshine and had a grand time seeing the mountains on one side and Vancouver`s high rises on the other. We even saw an eagle soaring overhead and a harbour seal that had pulled out on an unused dock. Harbour Cruises also does a sunset tour and also trips up nearby Indian Arm. For more information see:
Harbour Cruise uses a paddle wheeler for its tours of Burrard Inlet

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Great spring skiing at Whistler-Blackcomb

by Keith and Heather Nicol
Michael catches some air
      On Saturday, May 10 we headed to Whistler, B.C. for our annual ski trip with our kids, Kristie, Michael and Kristie`s friend Eric.  It started out abit foggy but then it around noon it cleared up and we had great views of the surrounding mountains. Blackcomb is the only mountain open in the spring and we spent most of our time on 7 th Heaven and the Jersey Cream chairlifts. But our best skiing of the day was when we headed into the north facing T-Bar bowls and down Dakine and Glacier Drive to the base of Jersey Cream. There is still time to head to Whistler-Blackcomb for their spring ski season which ends on May, 26. Its a great time to ski with temperatures in the valley in the mid teens and corn snow in the alpine. For more information see: and for more of what is happening at Whistler see:
Kristie on Hugh`s Heaven

Eric skiing some fresh snow on the T-bars

Family photo at the base of Whistler-Blackcomb

Visiting UBC's Gardens in Vancouver, B.C.

by Keith and Heather Nicol
The Nitobe Gardens is well worth seeing
    On Friday, May 9 we decided to see 2 well known gardens at the University of British Columbia. We were joined by our daughter Kristie and we started with the Nitobe Garden which is one of the best traditional Japanese gardens in North America. The cherry trees were in bloom and be sure to pick up a guide to the garden which suggests various interpretations for the why the garden is laid out the way it is. The garden may be envisioned to span a day, a year or a lifetime and the waterfalls, bridges and stone lanterns all have special meaning. After enjoying the Nitobe Gardens we then decided to head to the UBC Botanical Gardens which was about a 20 minute walk away.  At the UBC Botanical Gardens, many rhododendrons were still in bloom and we especially enjoyed the physic garden which showcase traditional medicine plants from medieval Europe. We also recommend doing the elevated canopy walkway which is reaches heights of 18 meters above the forest floor. You can easily spend a several hours visiting these 2 gardens on a sunny spring or summer day.For more information see: which has information on both gardens.

The UBC Botanical Gardens has different highlights
Don't miss the canopy walkway

Monday, 5 May 2014

A Whale of a Backcountry Ski Trip to the Tablelands

by Keith and Heather Nicol
     We decided to get in another backcountry ski trip to the Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park and combine it with a trip to see a huge Blue Whale that had washed ashore in the community of Trout River. This past winter was particularly cold and with more sea ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence many whales got trapped by changing ice conditions and ended up dying. These whales are now washing ashore along the west coast of Newfoundland and one ended up on the beach in Trout River. When we arrived at 10:45 am Sunday, May 4 there were throngs of people and we counted over 30 people at one point in our short visit.
The large Blue Whale is attracting lots of people to Trout River
Watch for glide cracks !
     From Trout River we backtracked to the Tablelands parking lot and began to skin up into the bowl. Quite abit of snow had disappeared since our last visit on Friday, April 18 th but we were pleased to see a continuous line of snow from the parking lot to the top of stream. From there we had to walk about 40-50 meters across rock at the base of the bowl and then we continued on skis up the western side of the bowl to "lunch rocks". On this trip we were joined by  Rick Lichtenauer and his dog Molly and it was his first visit to the bowl. We made runs on either side of the bowl and the corn snow was superb. Just enough to get an edge in but not heavy and slushy. There appeared to have been no avalanches since our last trip but there are still lots of cornices to come down so watch out for those very warm days which will likely bring them down. We also saw lots of glide cracks both at the top of the bowl and along the stream bed so watch out if you head up after a new snow fall which might bridge these cracks. A thin layer of new snow may be covering deep cracks that could catch the unwary dog or skier. There is still good skiing to be had at the Tablelands Bowl but it won't last long.
Rick with Molly in pursuit (note large cornices still to come down)

Skiing off the top of the Eastern side of the bowl