Thursday, 31 March 2016

Great spring cross country skiing at Cypress Mountain

by Keith and Heather Nicol
   We started the year with excellent cross country skiing at Cypress Mountain on December 31,2015 and we were able to get in another great spring skiing day on the last day of March, 2016. The last week of March in Vancouver has provided great spring weather with lots of sun and temperatures hitting well into the double digits in the afternoon. This meant that to avoid skiing heavy wet snow that you had to be skiing when the trails opened at 9:00am. On this trip we were joined by our daughter Kristie and had an amazing ski on corn snow that was still abit fast in the shade but gave good grip where ever the sun was on the trail. We explored trails on many parts of the mountain and skied some trails we hadn’t skied before. We tried the Triangle Lake trail above upper warming hut and we always like heading down the roller coaster descent of Unknown Lake trail. From there we skied down Russel and Brothers Canyon West which were also trails that we hadn’t skied before.  We returned to the base via Sitzmark which is a favourite trail due to its twisting – flowing nature. We found the grooming to be first rate with firm classic tracks and smooth corduroy for skating. 
Kristie skiing on the Unknown Lake trail

     Cypress Nordic has 19 km of cross country ski trails groomed for both classic and skating as well as 10 km of snowshoe trails.  The ski trails are very wide and the popular lower trails are relatively flat.  Cypress staff told us that they have had an “awesome year” and that they plan to be open until April 17 if weather permits. If you are visiting Vancouver and want to cross country ski you couldn’t do any better than visiting Cypress Mountain. They offer a wide range of activities from alpine and cross country skiing and snowshoeing. With good weather still in the forecast be sure to take advantage of the great skiing out there. For more information see:  
We liked the firm classic tracks

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Amazing Birding at the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary

by Keith and Heather Nicol

On a recent visit to Vancouver in late March we visited The George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary near the community of Ladner.  For anyone interested in bird watching this is a must see location due to the large variety of birds that can be seen. We were most interested in seeing the sandhill cranes and a variety of ducks and geese and we weren’t disappointed. The Sanctuary consists of nearly 300 hectares (850 acres) of managed wetlands, natural marshes and low dykes in the heart of the Fraser River Estuary on Westham Island. The Sanctuary is well located for millions of birds seeking feeding and resting areas during their annual migrations along the Pacific Coast. 

We saw many colourful wood ducks

 The Sanctuary is now over 50 years old and is now one of the more popular nature viewing areas in the Greater Vancouver metropolitan area in southwestern British Columbia and is ranked as one of the top ten bird-watching sites in Canada. Each year, visitor use numbers over 70,000, and is a mix of birdwatchers, birding and sight-seeing groups, photographers and students participating in school programs. Allow about 45 minutes depending on traffic to get to the Sanctuary from downtown Vancouver.  We certainly plan to visit again since we saw just a portion of the Sanctuary while we were there and bird life changes with the season. For more information see:
We loved watching the Sandhill Cranes

Many children were having a great time feeding the ducks