Counting down the days until the official opening of the ski hill on Hudson Bay Mountain is made a little easier by remembering all the past fun they’d had exploring the terrain on the slopes.
As the Canadian Ski Cross Championships were once again held on Hudson Bay Mountain, it was another day of excitement watching skiers compete against each other. The crowds were thrilled at the level of competitiveness on the course and camaraderie off of it.
In between heats, there was ample time to take in the splendour of their surroundings. Paragliders above the valley and skiers above Crater Lake were the highlights.
Waiting in the lift line for the first ride up was a whole lot of fun today. Jezebel, the trail manager’s dog, was there to entertain herself with whomever was waiting for the lift to start turning. Her toy this day was a green tennis ball. They lost count of how many times they threw it and she brought it back before they started up the ski hill. Several hours later, they warmed their bones by the fire and basked in the glow of another incredible day up on the mountain.
The day ended with a tour up Cinderella to Lower Prairie Road. Looking first over the valley, then the ridge above Crater Lake and finally up into the sky at the setting sun, they were reminded in so many ways of the beauty and wonder that surrounded them.
They were most thankful today that their skis were tuned properly. Who knows what would have transpired had their edges not been sharp?
A beauty Sunday started out with breakfast by the woodstove. The rest of the day was taken up with a little on-piste skiing, and then an afternoon of touring over to Crater Lake.
Their parents drove up from town for a light dinner of buns, ham and sliced veggies after which they took a little trip to an outcropping on the mountain from which they could watch the sun set on the other side of the valley.
As I walked around the prairie tonight on Hudson Bay Mountain, I allowed my mind to wander. Being in such a beautiful place, I could hardly help myself.
So I found myself thinking of how many times over the past couple of years that I have traversed this ground with and without the cover of snow (but mostly with). I was filled with emotion at how elemental it is for me to be able to experience this place in the ways that I do.
Whether or not people wonder why I do what I do, I simply say this: I have to ski, I have to hike, I have to wander, and perhaps most importantly, I have to capture scenes like these to share with you.
I share them with the hope that you can get out and be amazed at all this world has to offer.
After a weekend at a friend’s on-hill cabin, it was time to pack up and head home. The views from the deck were inspiring and reminded them how fortunate they were to live in such a beautiful place.
It was a race day on Hudson Bay Mountain. Skiers and snowboarders from near and far came to the snowcross course to compete against each other on the beautiful course laid out to the side of the Prairie T-Bar.
While standing on the side of the course next to the photographer who was covering the race, they watched clouds come and go over the south peak on Hudson Bay Mountain, proud parents cheer on their children and kids play on the incline beneath the inukshuk that stood proudly above the t-bar.
After the event was over for the day, they found a nice big stash of snow and made a few turns before heading home.
It was a busy, fun-filled day on the mountain. Their camera was busy as they photographed a light-saber battle between snowboarders, a sit-skier flying down a run, pie-eating contest participants and face painting. Then to cap off the day, the annual Schnai Dai Slush Cup took place at the bottom of the Panorama T-Bar. Watching costumed snowboarders and skiers skim over and crash into the water was the most excitement they’d seen in a long time.
After watching a fight between two groups of hockey players that had been skiing around all day and then the winning team drink from the best group costume trophy, it was time to head home.
They warmed their bones in front of the fire before calling it a day.
No matter what the weather is like, no matter how much or how little the sun shines, there is joy in experiencing the elements. Today’s experience of a tour up to Crater Lake was highlighted by a few moments of conversation with a cabin owner and the joy that comes from watching dogs play in the snow.
There is a singular pleasure that comes from being alone in nature, appreciating the details both big and small that help to make this world a wondrous place.
This was a late start. The days were getting longer and they didn’t get up to the hill until just before 6pm. Thankfully there were a few hours left before the sun went to sleep for the night…still plenty of time to enjoy the mountain.
With another beautiful blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds above them. it was a perfect opportunity to go for another ski tour above Crater Lake. If there was any word to describe their ascent it would be details. Beautifully isolated clouds against the sky, delicate forms of the melting snowdrifts, evidence of the melting of Crater Lake and the cornice above it and tiny waterfalls…these were the highlights.
As they stood above the lake, looking out over the Bulkley Valley, they were reminded again of how much they loved their home and the freedom they had to get out. To be able to play in such natural beauty was a gift they did not want to ever take for granted.
Part of the fun of ski-touring is sometimes beginning without a firm concept of where the destination will be. This certainly was true as our intrepid explorers began from the bottom of the Prairie T-Bar on Hudson Bay Mountain. Step after step after glorious stride and a couple hours later, they found themselves on the ridgeline above Crater Lake. It was there they met a couple of skiers from Terrace, BC who were attempting the summit. After chatting for a little while, the Terrace couple continued their ascent by themselves.
There were so many beautiful scenes to enjoy and photograph that it was quite a while before our skiers turned back and headed down the mountain. In days past, the mountains brought peace and contentment and today was no different. The best part was enjoying nature with people who had a shared affinity for sliding around on snow.
It was 1 pm when the hike up through the trees began. The day was clear, thankfully, which meant the only burden was the weight of the skis and boots on their backpacks. An hour and a half later, they started across the snow that still covered the scree. After another hour’s worth of hiking, the exhausted pair stood on Kathlyn Glacier, towering above Twin Falls.
They put on their skis and made a few slippery turns before stopping for a portrait by some rocks.
The hike down was made a little sweeter for having successfully ticked off a bucket list item.
The sun made the hike over to Little Simpsons all the more enjoyable. Blue sky, snow…it could hardly get any better. That their dog Susie came along for the stroll was just perfect.
The only way it could get better was to start making turns…and so they did down the hard-pack snow that covered the upper portion of Little Simpsons.
In the glow of the now late afternoon sun, they slowly made their way back up to the prairie along a snow-covered ridgeline. Their uptrack shone as the sun set against the horizon.
They stopped to look up from the parking lot at the Twin Falls parking lot. The view of the left-most waterfall as it made its way down from the glacier, over the rocks and then thundering down through the trees was equal parts humbling and awe-inspiring.
To know that in a matter of a few hours, their little legs would take them along the path to the scree-covered slopes above the trees was a welcome thought and it encouraged them to begin hiking.
Reaching the glacier and ski touring up a bit was very fulfilling. Most of their touring experience had been on the other side of Hudson Bay Mountain, but this was the very first time they had their skis on the snow below Kathlyn Glacier.
They stopped for a few photos of the valley below before they made their turns, and being in such a beautiful spot knowing they couldn’t stay forever, always made them feel a little wistful. But return home they must.
The late-afternoon hike up the mountain was filled with streams they jumped over, pretty flowers they stopped and smelled and a marmot they were lucky enough to see (albeit briefly). Reaching the apex of their hike, they looked out over the top of the peak and enjoyed the beautiful cloud-filled sky. 16 minutes later, after reaching the bottom of their run, they walked back across the prairie and said goodbye to the marmot who was still hanging out by the treeline. Then it was just a few minutes of hiking back down through the trees to the bottom of the t-bar where their chariot was waiting for them.
The day began with another hike up a snow-less trail through the trees, across the prairie to the slopes of Hudson Bay Mountain beside The Big Simpson and above Little Simpson. After clicking into the bindings it was another fun day skiing down snow with scree all around.
After the fun on the snow was over, it was time to head back. On the way down to the vehicle, there was time for a few more technical turns, making sure to stop before falling into the water.
It was a beautiful day for hike on the 18th of June. With little snow on the ski hill proper, it meant a-framing boots and skis for the route up to and above Crater Lake. Finding a few remaining patches of snow afforded the two hikers the opportunity to link turns high in the alpine.
With time quickly passing, it was soon time to start the hike back down to the spot from whence they started. As they made their way across the edge of Crater Lake, they paused for a portrait out on the quickly-melting ice. It was a nice reminder of the natural beauty that they were fortunate be outside in on this day.
With sore knees and aching shoulders they slowly made their way across the prairie and down through the trees to their vehicle. As they drove down the mountain a few minutes later with tired bodies, their minds thrilled at the amazing adventure of the day.
p.s. 127 days until Hudson Bay Mountain opens for the 2016/17 ski season. But hey, who’s counting?
I gazed into the future (which really means I looked at my calendar) and counted back from the 26th of November to figure out how many days until the ski hill officially opens. Turns out the magic number is 128. So in conjunction with my ongoing book project, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share a photo a day of my little skiing friends until the lifts start turning at Hudson Bay Mountain.
This past week I was at Shawnigan Lake School attending Image Explorations, a photography-based professional development course. Spread out over 4 1/2 days, I took a series of classes that helped to refocus and reenergize my photography business. One of the takeaways for me was the idea to create a book featuring my Lego Minifigure ski photos that I’ve taken over the past couple of seasons. So one of my main goals over the coming months is to research publishing options and to consider the myriad of other details that go into the production of a large-scale coffee table book.
So to start things off, I want to share the first image I made in the 2014/15 ski season. I had gone ski touring with a friend up to Crater Lake on November 1. It was the first day of our season and I was anxious to get some practice days in before the formal on-hill season started later in the month. We made our way up to and across the prairie and eventually found ourselves above Crater Lake on the edge of the crater. After stopping and enjoying a good first trip up the mountain, we took our skins off and prepared for the trip back.
Before we left, I made a photo my two Lego skiers (James and Jane) enjoying the view.
In the coming days, I will be sharing more images of the adventures that James and Jane got into over the past couple of seasons. Stay tuned for more exciting images.
This past week I was down at Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island for some photography classes. The Sunday morning before I headed up to the school for the week of training, I spent a few hours walking around the inner harbour enjoying Deuce Days. Not having enough time for all the vehicles, I spent a few hours enjoying a few of them with my camera. I set myself a challenge of only one close-up photo per vehicle, highlighting whatever artistic aspect struck my eye first.
I found that form, colour and intriguing details were the key things that caught my attention.
I added a couple new image galleries today:
- Lego Minifigure Skiers: selected images from the past couple of ski seasons where I take my two Lego minifigure skiers out with me and photograph them in different situations.
- Skiing Adventures: selected images from the past four ski seasons that help to tell the story of the places I go and things that I do.
You can also view my most recent Instagram photos as well.