Friday, December 28, 2012

2012: Mountains and roofs ... oh my!

Another year gone and I think I can safely say that Mike and I are starting to feel our age! A few new creaks and groans – it is just like that old rouĂ© Leonard Cohen says “I ache in the places I used to play”. But, the wheels haven’t come off the Mike and Mary wagon yet. We still manage to get out into the hills for a hike and scramble among the peaks and glens, or hop on the bikes for a ride into the great outdoors.

Admittedly, this year was long on mountains and short on multi-day bike trips, but roads and bike trails are calling too. We are not sure yet what 2013 will bring, but I’m certain it will involve out-walking or out-riding the furthest city lights!

Alan, Mike, Mary, Jan:
Quadra Island

Some of our outdoor highlights for 2012 included a February stay on Quadra Island with friends Jan and Alan. Hiking, hot-tubbing, and beachcombing were the order of the day. Quadra, which is on the north east side of Vancouver Island, is usually busy with visitors in the summer, but in the winter we had the place to ourselves – as you can see from Alan’s picture of Mike and me on Wa Wa Kie Beach.

Mike, Roxanne, and Dave on Mt. Klitsa. The view
is southwest to Nahmint Mountain and the West Coast.
Mike and I enjoy our association with the Alpine Club of Canada. Mike especially has been out on lots of mountaineering adventures with Roxanne and Dave, friends from the ACC. Indeed, I think Mike knows more about the hills, peaks, lakes, and valleys of southern Vancouver Island’s Sooke Hills Wilderness area than anyone. Not content to rest on Sooke Wilderness laurels, Mike and company have been out in the mountains towards Port Alberni and the West Coast of Vancouver Island too.

I spent a good portion of the summer working with The Mountain Legacy Project ( MLP is a research project out of UVic that seeks to re-photograph 100+ year old survey photos of the mountain environment in Western Canada. We find the exact spot that the original surveyors stood and re-take the same image. Then, back in the lab, we overlay the new image on the old and look for signs of landscape change. The results are amazing – especially in showing dramatic evidence of ecosystem and climate change.
King Creek Ridge - Opal Range
Mary on Mt. Shatch: amazed
this spruce tree is alive at
9000 ft.
The work was as exciting and as fun as anything I have ever done. I spent July and August in Alberta on the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains travelling from Kananaskis Country (a bit south and west of Calgary) to the Willmore Wilderness west of Grande Cache. We also made a stop in BC’s Mt. Robson Provincial Park. I was part of an all-woman team of three and we always got our photo – even if it involved jumping out of hovering helicopters, epic bushwhacking in the dark of night, and scrambling along high-mountain ledges.

Mike on Richard and Melanie's
While I was gallivanting in the Rockies, Mike was working as a roofer back in Victoria. He helped our friends Richard and Melanie re-roof their home. It was difficult work, but did Mike ever look buff and tanned when I got back! I guess hoisting those huge sheets of plywood around was better than spending time in the gym.

Fritz in Janice's garden.
On the family front Mike’s Mom Marion and brother Dave became temporary residents of Victoria when they moved here for five months over the summer. As well as spending time with Mike, Marion also got to spend time with Eoin, her youngest son who also lives in town. I paid a flying visit to my sister Janice this summer – just time for lunch, a quick catch up on all things Revelstoke, and a chance to play with Fritz and Amy, Janice’s adorable pug-dogs. Janice’s home and garden are her pride and joy, and so they should be: her place is a classic mountain chalet – cosy and comfortable with stunning mountain views

Fall was glorious this year with late September and early October presenting some outstanding light. I made it to Banff for a photography workshop.

Lake Louise - across the lake
Lake Louise
Moraine Lake scenic
Moraine Lake - Larch Madness in Sept.
Smooth seas and warm sunsets
Oak Bay waterfront - October, 2012

John, Lisa, Mary, Mike: East Sooke Park

Back in Victoria Mike and I got out with friends Lisa and John for some local rambles. We walked in the Sooke Hills and hiked the Coastal Trail in East Sooke Park. 

The new year is here in a few days. Mike and I hope it holds health, happiness, and heaps of adventure for you and yours. Here’s to 2013 – and another chance for us to get it right!

All the best
Mary and Mike