Mike's photo adventure weblog

Mike's photo adventure weblog: June 2005

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Wells Gray Provincial Park hiking

On June 17th, Chris, Fletcher, Karen, Jill, Mike Mah and I set out for Wells Gray Provincial Park. We intended to hike the Pyramid Mountain trail right to Horseshoe Falls, about 30km round trip. At the info center we got tipped off about a better hike that featured more interesting volcanic structures, the Flatiron trail to Green Mountain. So we were off to hike that trail and happy that we stopped for advice.

We got to the trailhead, and noticed the sign regarding the closure of a bridge over the Hemp Creek, but decided it must have been an old sign if the info centre didn't mention it. After driving the second car to the other end of the trail and coming back ready to start, a Park Ranger stopped by to tell us the bridge is closed and the river unpassable. We couldn't do more than 4km of the trail before we'd have to turn back. Stupid info center people! After talking with the Ranger, his suggestion was to do the Pyramid Mountain trail to Horseshoe Falls. Arg! The original plan!
So after wasting a few hours, but glad not to have gone all the way to the washed out bridge, we set out on the original trail around 2pm.

The weather was good hiking weather, overcast with slight rain to cool us down. We made the 15km to the end of the trail just after 7pm, hiking the whole distance because a campsite was marked at the end. Well guess what? No campsite, just a horrible swamp and billions of mosquitoes. And Horseshoe Falls at the very end of the trail wasn't even that great. (However, Majerus Falls along the way was great). So we had to backtrack a little bit, and improvise a campsite up on a hill. It was a sweet campsite we created after a little landscaping work, and the fire was awesome and just what we needed to help dry our soaking wet boots (however, they didn't dry - it was still raining during the fire and they were very wet boots to begin with). The fire-roasted hot dogs and marshmallows hit the spot too, mmm mmm. I'll also never forget when Mike Mah and I went at about 11pm to hang the food bag; he stopped 10 steps short of the tree I had rigged up, to tie his boots, and let the food bag roll about 10m down the hill and into the darkness. We got it back, but I had the rest of the gang quite worried as I told them the story upon our arrival back at the tents. Oh, and Jill thought she was about to be attacked by the British Columbian Hissing Panther when she sat down in the tent. But it turned out only to be a Thermarest.

We hiked out the next day and stayed Saturday night at a car camping site on Clearwater Lake. Lots of tear-jerking laughs were had, and slacklining was introduced briefly before it poured rain.

Sunday had the best weather, sunny and beautiful for our hike to Helmcken Falls - the 4th highest waterfall in Canada at 465 feet! It was spectacular, and we got up close and personal by not going to the touristy drive-in viewpoint. There are no fences and we made sure to get lots of wacky photos as we sat on the edge of the cliff marvelling at the Falls before hiking back and heading home. We were too close to get any wide photos of the falls, so check out this one. We were sitting just to the left of that misty cloud in the photo.

Wow this post was a lot longer than the usual "here's some photos" approach. If you missed the link to the gallery in the thumbnail, click here.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Drumheller, Alberta

On June 11th Megan and I headed down to Drumheller to visit the Badlands and the dinosaurs of the Royal Tyrrell Museum. (by the way our friend Tyrrell is named after the same person this museum is named after, Joseph B. Tyrrell). On the way there we had to cross the Red Deer River on a tiny little ferry ride that's almost part of the road. If anyone is in this area I suggest the trip because the scenery is quite remarkable and the museum has all sorts of interesting information, not just about dinosaurs either. They had some very old animals I got movies of like this strange lizardy thing and this fun (but ugly) turtle. By "very old" I mean the species, not the individual animals themselves.

After the museum we drove out to see the Hoodoos, which are very neat natural structures formed by water and wind erosion over thousands of years. I attempted to capture a photo of one by stepping one foot off the path, and ended up sliding down a muddy slope on my feet, hands, and butt. Megan laughed her face off.

There was also a wicked electrical storm which completely surrounded us as we watched from the van, late that evening.

For the gallery of photos taken by both Megan and I, click on the thumbnail above or here.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

An Eventful Week at the Mine

This week at the mine featured a few significant events. There was a fire in the pebble crusher that the Mine Rescue team handled easily. Another day, we had an electrical storm that blew out all the power for the whole mine with a wicked explosion right behind the tool crib. When the power cut out, hundreds of liters of water and concentrate just puked out onto the floor of the mill, flooding the place. Gravity-fed water into the mill, without the powered pumps to get the water out of the mill, means water has nowhere to go but onto the floor when a sudden power failure occurs.

Thursday was by far the most exciting day - Kelsey and I were assigned to help the Mine Rescue Team train for their upcoming competition. "Helping" them consists of letting them practise tying their harnesses on us, but more importantly by playing a victim in different scenarios. These guys are so much fun, the laughs never ended. Our day was interrupted by the third significant event of the week - a water main burst underneath the road leading into the security gate. This road also happens to lie next to the parking lot, and carnage ensued. (movie here - it had died down by this point) More than 40 cars were damaged. Kozak and McCann were stranded at the welcome trailer. The parking spots closest to the entrance (ironically the "good" spots) were hit the hardest. Because we were with the Mine Rescue team, we had VIP access to the parking lot to assess the damage and make sure nobody was hurt.

Afterwards we went to play on the ropes. We got to practise ascending with prussiks, switching ourselves to a different rope at the top, and repelling down on the new rope. Then Gerry threw a new scenario at the team and they had to rescue Pete from the top of the rope. Meanwhile, Pete was just relaxing. Neal went up to rescue Pete, and they became very familiar.

This past week was one that will not be soon forgotton.
(If you missed the link from the thumbnail above, you can get to the gallery here.)