The Province

The Province newspaper just published a great article by Jane Mundy on travel highlights of the Sunshine Coast, including the Sunshine Coast Trail, geocaching, and nature photography workshops.

Thank you to the Province and to Jane for helping us expose the beauty of the Sunshine Coast!

Please enjoy these other Sunshine Coast images.

Rushing creek found in the Mud Lake/Duck Lake trail system

The Sunshine Coast is blessed with ocean and freshwater lakes, including Haslam Lake in Powell River.

The Sunshine Coast is surrounded by coastal rainforest.

Quarry lake on Texada Island

Photo workshop participant awaits the perfect sunset moment. Palm Beach near Powell River.

See things differently

See things differently. This was our theme for the Fall Photography Workshop which happened over the past weekend. Technical and artistic knowledge aside, I really wanted to stress to my workshop participants the importance of seeing things differently. With so many images in the world and so little time to appreciate them all, as a budding photographer, this is how you best get your images noticed. Start seeing things that others might have missed. Look at your subject from a different angle. Climb a tree for a bird’s eye view. Hit the ground and compose upwards. Shoot that stunning mountain meadow through a pair of mirrored sunglasses. Challenge yourself to constantly see things differently. By doing so, you will become a better photographer, blowing your audience away with your fresh perspectives on subjects they have likely seen time and time again.

Looking up into the towering trees at Haslam Lake

Zooming into the eye of a bighorn sheep

Sir Donald through the sunglasses

Contrary to the Coast in Focus workshop earlier in the year, the weather that we experienced this past weekend was outstanding. Dramatic clouds, vibrant early fall colours and flat lighting only when we needed it – shooting the many waterfalls of Appleton Creek. This was the ideal workshop setting and I had the ideal group of participants.

I was instructing a very geared and excited group of individuals. After some “inside time”, covering topics ranging from camera basics, exposure, lighting techniques and the rules of composition we hit some of the most amazing locales where participants were able to put what they just learned into action.

And did they ever.

What I love most about these weekend warrior workshops is that I get to witness some very amazing transformations in my students in a very short period of time. During the first few field shoots, most participants tend to stick close by me, ask a ton of questions and timidly wait for subject matter to smack them in the face. But as the weekend goes on, their confidence levels increase dramatically as they take in knowledge and they become unstoppable image hunters in the field. This group was very much the same. By the time Sunday’s Appleton Creek waterfall shoot came around, my students were self-sufficient, waterfall shooting maniacs. I was excited to see them climbing waterfalls (safely of course), shooting low, shooting high, eagerly attacking the beautiful scenes from all angles. I actually had to pull them out of the field against their will so we could cover post-production techniques before the weekend ended. I love creating monsters.

My students, no…friends, are now well-armed with the knowledge and confidence to take their respective photo sectors by storm. I had an amazing time with each of them and wish them all the best in their future photographic endeavors.

Participant Carolee Penner's shot of Gorge Falls

My view of participant Candace Roadknight getting low and shooting the creek

A shot of Appleton anyone?

Up until this point, the word Appleton has meant nothing more to me than as the brand name of a certain Jamaican rum. A very YUMMY brand of rum indeed. Little did I realize that it is also the name of a very yummy two kilometer (or so) trail just north of Powell River, along BC’s infamous Sunshine Coast. The trail is vastly rich in rewards and challenging enough to justify mixing the night’s tea with an ounce (or two) of the finer liqueur.

Finding the trail head wasn’t easy. Driving up to it almost cost me my Hyundai. Overstatement? Yes. But it could easily had happened if I had been going fast enough. Glad I wasn’t.

The road was great until the first of two washouts jumped out at me like sniper ninjas, my poor Santa Fe catching its first taste of air, at least since we’ve owned it anyways. It shouldn’t be too difficult to remember those hazards on the way back.

And then there’s the signage. Or rather, the lackthereof. Oh wait, there is one sign, it’s just doesn’t offer any clarity or definitive direction. It’s standing well away from the trail head and doesn’t point anywhere. I know. Where do you sign up for this hike, right?

But hey, it’s all an adventure and the best is still to come.

Yes, I’m kind of weird about waterfalls. There are worse things to be weird about. I don’t know, they just move me. They make me happy. And this trail is chalked full of them.

The Appleton Canyon trail head is marked by aging pink ribbons waving mysteriously over a narrow trail in the gravel pit parking lot just before the less-than-helpful trail sign that sits on the main road. All things good are worth hunting for. I recommend adopting this mentality if finding the trail doesn’t come easily for you either.

The trail begins as a gradual climb beside the torrent Appleton Creek. The creek remains unseen for the first ten to twelve minutes of the hike, but you can definitely hear it. I found it difficult to resist sliding down the embankment in anticipation of what I have heard about this trail. But I knew easier views would soon come my way. As the climb continues on, the rainforest becomes more beautiful, if that is at all possible. A dense green carpet of moss blankets the ground while the giant ceders tower above, acting as nature’s umbrella from the sun, or in my case the spring rain.

Fifteen minutes into the trail comes the first accessible waterfall. A narrow trail to the left guides hikers down to the creek for a view of the top of the waterfall. If you are hiking with kids, watch them closely as a fall into the creek from this vantage point would likely warrant unfavourable circumstances. The image here is of the headwaters leading up to the fifteen foot falls.

Appleton Creek - First Falls

Back on the main trail the silence of the forest on the right is harmoniously in sync with the rushing creek on the left. Carry onward and upward another eight or so minutes until you descend down towards the creek. I chose this opportunity for a glug of water and a photo. No waterfall here, but beautiful nonetheless.

Appleton Creek Pit Stop

The awaiting waterfalls are now screaming. Their sound is unmistakeable. A brief uphill climb along the main trail introduces the next waterfall trail on the left. Unlike most of the other later falls along this trail, this one appears to be nameless. My three year old daughter has since named it Gold Falls. The yellow/golden hues of the tannin-rich water is what I am guessing was the inspiration behind the name.

Gold Falls

 The trail then begins a solid climb upward for a good several minutes until you reach one the bigger falls along the trail. Again, hold on to your kids tightly here as you soak in the amazing views from high atop the canyon walls. The falls seem to get more impressive as this hike goes on.

Wide Angle of Falls

Close up of Falls

As the trail continues, each waterfall vantage point is separated by incredible forest tranquility. Unlike getting to the falls, it’s pretty difficult to get lost once on this trail. The only lead away trails are the ones that guide you to each set of waterfalls for viewing pleasure. But, much like any trail system in rugged BC back country, take caution, you never know when an encounter with a waking black bear or cougar could possibly occur. Be alert and prepared.

Sylph Falls, Bandit Falls and Gorge Falls round out the waterfalls awaiting discovery along this remarkable trail. The headwaters to Bandit Falls are literally straight out of a fairytale. One could almost expect to see Hansel and Gretel frolicking amidst the vibrant greens and earthy browns surrounding the rest bench provided by PRPAWS, a local trail group that deserves national recognition for their contribution to the area’s trails and treasures.

Headwaters to Bandit Falls

Touching Gorge Falls

The end of the trail is marked by a recreation campsite eagerly awaiting its next spring inhabitants. Maybe it will be you?

For more information on the Appleton Creek trail, or any of Powell River’s extraordinary trail systems, visit www.discoverpowellriver.com or call the Visitors Centre at (604) 485-4701. Happy trekking.

Confessions of a Waterfall Junkie

Anybody else feel incredibly moved by the power of a waterfall? Anybody feel more connected, whether it’s to nature, to a partner or loved one, or perhaps to something bigger than us when in the midst of water crashing to the ground right before your eyes? If you are familiar with, and yearn for this connection, then Powell River should be your destination of choice in 2010.

Eagle Falls

It was this passion for falling water that fuelled my love for photography. Shooting waterfalls can be fun, challenging and rewarding, but arguably the best part of the mission for me is getting there. The fresh smells of the rainforest trail, the sound of plunging water getting louder by the second, the anticipation of that connection I spoke of earlier, each moment contributes to the overall journey. I’ve seen, and shot, many waterfalls in my time, from iconic ones like Athabasca Falls in the Canadian Rockies, to some lesser-known gems like Saltery Falls right here in Powell River.

Athabasca Falls Winter Dance

Upper Eagle Falls

No matter the waterfall, the connection is always the desired end-result. And in some cases, it is these lesser-known waterfalls that offer the more enriching experience. Although Athabasca Falls is thunderously captivating, with its blue-green hues and towering mountains as its backdrop, the journey is not much more than a 5-minute walk from the parking lot. You certainly feel the falls when you get to it, just don’t expect to feel it in privacy.

Waterfall in Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park

In my many treks to the iconic falls of Jasper, I have never seen it stark of tourists, not even in the winter. This is where those less iconic waterfalls fill the emotional gap, and they do it extremely well here on the upper Sunshine Coast.

Saltery Falls along the Sunshine Coast Trail in Powell River

The Blackwater Trail, in rural Powell River is a prime example of how the experience effectively works as a whole, how a perfect connection is achieved. As part of an awe-inspiring circuit of interconnected trails that make up the Duck Lake/Mud Lake Trail system, the Blackwater Trail is a 4-km loop that offers some of the best rugged rainforest terrain, climaxing with not one breathtaking waterfall, but two. This hike is so diverse that even the drive up to the trailhead is rewarding, passing through aspen groves, alongside beautiful lakes and powerful rivers. Once at the trail head, the trek begins with an unmistakable attack on your senses. Every turn reminds you that you are in the heart of BC’s west coast rainforest. The rich greens and browns provide a wild sense of peace and tranquility. As the trail continues along the Blackwater Creek, the anticipation continues to build as the terrain becomes slightly steeper and the sound of the creek begins to intensify. At about 1.5 km, the trail delivers its first stunning waterfall; Kelly Falls.

Taking in Kelly Falls along the Blackwater Trail

Although it’s easy to mistake the waterfall site with the rainforest oasis found in the Endor Village, home of George Lucas’ Ewoks, make no mistake this is Powell River. The twenty (ish) foot waterfall plunges through open terrain, offering many inspiring vistas and perspectives to consider.

Best of all, hikers are led straight to the heart of the waterfall by a rustic, yet immaculately built boardwalk that crosses the creek. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Powell River’s own BOMB (Bloody Old Men’s Brigade) Squad, these boardwalks are common to this trail system and greatly enhance the enjoyment of, and accessibility to trail highlights. Complete with a walk-in campsite and picnic table, Kelly Falls is a must-see for those that enjoy experiencing the unmistakable pulse offered by such rugged nature. But your day of discovery does not end here, time to get back on the trail and ascend towards the second waterfall, David Lam Falls.

Spectacular David Lam Falls along Blackwater Trail

Standing at an impressive sixty (ish) feet tall, David Lam Falls is considered one of the tallest of its kind on the upper Sunshine Coast. The trail winds down towards the base of the falls complete with a standing platform for optimal viewing (and feeling). The invigorating spray of this falls is a reminder of just how powerful this wilderness is and how nature can rock the very foundation of one’s soul, at least the soul of an admitted waterfall geek anyways.

For more information on the Duck Lake/Mud Lake Trail System and for an online map, visit http://www.discoverpowellriver.com and click the maps tab. The Coast in Focus photography workshop is now half full, so be sure to contact me today to secure your spot for the May 28-30 event. We’ll definitely get out to one, if not several of these Sunshine Coast waterfalls to shoot!

Flooded River near Duck Lake Trails