All posts filed under: North America

Hiking Al’s Habrich Trail in Squamish, British Columbia (PHOTOS)

Location: Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish Distance: 4.2 km one-way; 8.4 round-trip Trail type: Out-and-back Difficulty: Moderate Elevation gain: 354 m If this summer had a theme, it’d be “Sea to Sky”. Greg and I have spent a few weekends now, tracing the trails through the Pemberton Valley and Coast Mountains. Al’s Habrich Trail has been on my radar for a while. I had attempted it with a friend last September, though we arrived atop the gondola a little late in the day. Unsure, and apprehensive about the 5-hour duration and “challenging” designation, we opted to stick to the trails skirting Summit Lodge. What a disappointment. You could push a shopping cart along these tourist-laden pathways. Chatting with the lift attendant on the way down, he admitted that the conservative signage is warranted because the site is promoted as a cruise ship excursion. Damn. Al’s Habrich Trail This half-day excursion begins with a scenic 10-12 minute gondola ride. Exiting the lodge, hikers walk past the “dog parking area”, down a hill, past some mechanical equipment and a …

Gypset Digs: Ellerie’s River Cottages, Darrington WA (Review & Photos)

Location: 31420 365th Dr NE, Darrington Telephone: 206-362-9200 TripAdvisor: Click here Until we checked into Ellerie’s River Cottages, I thought cabin couture was flannel and wool socks. I was wrong. A Seattle transplant, interior and landscape designer Ellerie Cain has a knack for sniffing out antiques, which she uses to decorate (curate, really) her haute-rustic cabins. Admittedly, ‘cottage’ is a bit of a misnomer. Ellerie’s lodgings are spacious and elegant; a marriage of European flair and rustic charm. “I love texture, and obviously lamps and chairs. The glass is so old and it’s broken, but you know what? We’re kind of rusty.” In fact, the number of doors and windows Ellerie has salvaged would lead one to believe Seattle’s antiques suffer a major abandonment problem; I suspect it’s her well-trained eye. “That’s why I have a van. You should see how fast I can load up and toss into reverse” she laughs. There are three proper cottages for rent on her tree-lined, riverside property. Each comfortably accommodates five people on two double/queen-sized beds and a single. River …

Weekend Getaway: I Went to Washington for a Cabin Stay and It Was Cozy AF

In late January, five Vancouverites made a city break. But this time they took a road less travelled. Weekend escapes from Vancity often take three forms: east into the Interior (“Oh haaay Wine Country“), over the Georgia Straight to Victoria (home to my favourite restaurant), or down the I-5 to Seattle (“Go Hawks!”). In a departure from the norm, we went south, swung east at Arlington, and made for the Cascade Mountains. Destination: Darrington. If you’re thinking, “Darring-what?” it’s okay. I had never heard of it until we went. How’d we end up there? Us gals were after a woodsy weekend away and the Stillaguamish River Valley came recommended to us by the folks at the tourism office. Up the Stilly, they assured, we’d find mountains, crisp air, wood stoves, tall trees, and plenty of quiet. For a place that doesn’t show up on your mobile map until you’re pretty zoomed in, Darrington is quite a remarkable place. Fun fact, it’s the birthplace of Bob Barker. It sits on the Sauk River, just below the largest hanging …

How Have I Never Heard of This Massive Washington Ice Cave Until Now?

I mean – hell – it’s literally a hop, skip and a jump over the border; basically on my doorstep and I had never heard of it until just last month. What are the Big Four Ice Caves? They’re naturally formed caves located on the north face of Big Four Mountain. Snow sloughs off the mountain in the colder months (aka an avalanche chute) and spring temperatures yield snow-melt streams which emerge from carved-out tunnels. Warm summer air further melts the ice but the shadow of the mountain prevents the caves from fully melting. So…just as soon as summer comes and the caves are accessible, let’s get in a car and go explore. Who’s with me? Images by the very talented photographer Michael Matti, via Flickr: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 How to get to Washington’s Big Four Ice Caves From Vancouver, head south across the border and continue along I-5. Then, go east on Mountain Highway Loop via Granite Falls. Drive 34-km east of Granite Falls. The trailhead is just past Silverton. At just 2.2 miles, the trail to …

If there’s only one craft brewery you visit in Darrington, make it THIS one

Okay, okay. I tricked you. Darrington, WA only has one craft brewery. But I promise, even if there was a choice, I’d still pick River Time Brewing. It’s got laid-back vibes, easy going patrons and two, two IPAs on tap. And after all, hops are happiness. The beer business in Darrington is good, but part-owner Neil shares a laugh about humbler beginnings. “I took equity instead of payment for like, the first eight months. Now, I have a hard enough time keeping up with demand in here. We normally have a really great jalapeno kolsch.” It’s a good problem to have. River Time brews were born in a garage, raised in a cabin, and perfected on the Stilly. Well, almost. “Our stout is terrible. It’s back before I really knew what I was doing. There were a lot of growing pains” Neil admits. He nods at a pair of regulars shored up at the tap room’s handsome live-edge bar. “I’m lucky I have faithful locals who will drink terrible beer no matter what!” he teases. “It’s …

The Snowshoe Grind Isn’t the Hell-Hath-Frozen-Over Workout It Sounds Like

I had seen the Snowshoe Grind advertised on Grouse Mountain’s website. My immediate reaction was, “As if hiking the Grouse Grind isn’t torture enough.” Now, factor in the awkwardness of snowshoes. Sounds. Awful. Well, I’m here to debunk the Snowshoe Grind myth because my gal pal and I unintentionally did the damn thing last Saturday. And I was wrong. It isn’t the hell-hath-frozen-over workout it sounds like. It was awesome and it made me so grateful to live in Vancouver. First, the Snowshoe Grind is completely independent of the Grouse Grind. The trailhead starts atop the gondola, near the ice rink. Second, where the Grouse Grind is a 2.9 km, one-way trail, the Snowshoe Grind is 4.3 kilometres out-and-back. It starts as a groomed path, which keeps up for maybe a quarter of the way. Walking this bit, you’ll wonder whether you should have bothered with snowshoes at all. Soon enough, the trail narrows and leads grinders uphill through a pretty forest. Snow falls from overburdened tree boughs. The sunshine illuminates the diamond dust that blankets …

Why I Want to Pack My Bags and Move to Sayulita

Guys, I drank the Sayulita Kool-Aid and I don’t think there’s any going back. It was love at first sight…for me anyway. Sayulita probably wasn’t so enamored with us. In fact, she’d tell you we were a goddam hot mess when we first met. In our defence, it kind of, wasn’t, totally our fault. It was Booey’s fault. But blaming Booey is like blaming a chef for your food baby. Let me explain… 12/23/16 Greg, Peter, Laina and I started our day watching the sunrise over Marina La Cuz before setting out on a full-day excursion with Ally Cat Sailing Adventure. (I’ll review the fully Ally Cat experience in another post.) We cast off shortly after 9 a.m., setting sail for Las Marietas Islands. Shortly after 9 a.m. Booey brought us our first beers. And then our first margaritas. The rest of the sun (and tequila) soaked day involved snorkeling, swimming, whale watching, and plenty of quasi-awkward-awesome dancing. (I’m on a boat!) Sometime during the afternoon I went below deck for water, because hydration. The bartender was pouring a …

How to Visit Monument Valley for Sunrise (PHOTOS)

  The sun peeks over the horizon in Monument Valley, Arizona; it is a sunrise that needs no caption: Accessing Monument Valley from Utah: If you’ve been following along on my road trip, you’ll know that we spent the night in Mexican Hat, which is 24 miles from Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Much to my relief, an October 14th sunrise in Monument Valley happens at a kind hour: 7:28 a.m. We set our alarm for 5:45 a.m. the following morning, allowing us plenty of time for the drive. Why so early? Well, the information I found online was a bit confusing. Mostly it boiled down to this: Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Visitor Center  Peak Season (5/1 – 9/30) 6 a.m. – 8 p.m., 7 days/week Off Season (10/1 -4/30) 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., 7 days/week  Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Scenic Drive Peak Season (5/1 – 9/30) 6 a.m. – 8 p.m. Off Season (Oct – Apr) 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. So, with sunrise occurring half an hour before everything opens, how were …

Hiking Treasure Loop Trail in Lost Dutchman State Park (PHOTOS)

Greg and I were in Scottsdale and Mesa (Arizona) earlier this month and I couldn’t leave town without squeezing in some hiking at Lost Dutchman State Park. Why? The Superstition Mountains; I mean…they’re iconic to the Mesa-area. Treasure Loop Trail: 2.3 miles (3.8 km) Rating: Easy Elevation gain: 500-ft + then – 500-ft Location: Lost Dutchman State Park Trail notes: A well-maintained trail that winds through the low scrub of Tonto National Forest. This hike is not demanding for those who are physically fit. If you’re after a workout, opt for Siphon Draw Trail which involves some scrambling. “Standing in a parking lot at the ominously named Lost Dutchman State Park, I’m far from winter’s reach. But will Arizona’s heat will dry my running nose? I stuff a litre of water into my backpack and think what a cruel irony it is to suffer a cold in the desert.” Continue reading about our hike here: http://www.explore-mag.com/Go-Here-Hiking-Below-the-Superstition-Mountains-in-Lost-Dutchman-State-Park-PHOTOS  Otherwise, enjoy the photos! Have you hiked beneath the mighty Superstition Mountains? Let me know: comment below!  

5 Trails You Definitely Need to Hike in Zion National Park

Spending one short day in Zion National Park was an absolute tease; I’m already keen to return. I dream of spending a whole week camped out in the canyon, waking each day to wade the Virgin River, scramble precarious ridges and catch golden sunsets. Here are four trails I’m raring to hike and one I’ve already completed. Happy trails x 1. The Narrows – Bottom Up Length: As far as you want to go; up to 8 km (5 miles) one-way. This is an out-and-back trail. How hard is it? Easy – as long as you don’t roll an ankle and don’t mind cold water. Elevation gained/lost: Negligible, mostly flat. How long will it take? Up to 4.5 hours one way. Again, it depends how far you go. Where is the Bottom Up trailhead? Stop 9 – Temple of Sinawava. Follow the paved Riverside Walk one mile to the end. If you are taking the Zion Canyon Shuttle, you should budget 30-60 minutes from park entrance to the trailhead. Equipment: Wear footwear you’re okay fully submerging underwater …