Mount Erskine

There are two paths up the mountain and that made all the difference. Winding switchbacks, a meandering through trees, soft green moss, tinkles of a winter brook, robin trills and the high-pitched tweaking of the kinglets high above. Glimpses of blue overhead and the occasional amber leaf of a Garry Oak mark the path below my feet.

Trail_erskine2

 

Trail_erskine

At the summit are blue skies above and blue water below. The far islands curve in an optical illusion and I can see the friendly shapes of the mountains that guard Vancouver on the mainland.

Trail_erskine3

There are, the locals say, small faerie doors marking the entrance ways to trees and undercrops of rocks. This adventure will be for another time.

 

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Scotland again...

Scotland2

Another little painting of somewhere in Scotland as we drove up to Oban. Oban is a nice little town, very picturesque, even in winter, as it overlooks a bay and beyond lie the inner Hebrides. The port was fairly busy with ferries coming in and out and along the shore were boats on their side sitting in the mud on the low tide. This was all glimpsed as I kept my head down trying not to slip on the icy sidewalks. No one grits or salts there so everyone was mincing along the town, occasionally clutching at walls or lamp posts.

Sadly, oh-so-sadly, the Oban distillery was closed for the holidays. The big wooden door was shut. There is no god.

 

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Scotland

So, a cold Scottish wind blowing down your neck is pretty much the same as a cold Canadian wind blowing down your neck. Don't let anyone try to tell you otherwise. Scotland was beautiful despite the snow and the cold for the light plays differently when there is a break in the clouds. I think it is because the winter sun is so low on the horizon that shadows are always more dramatic, and really, that is what light is all about.

Scotland

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Zion National Park

In Zion, the campsites are located right in the park, on the floor of the canyon itself and the view all around you is one of magnificent cliffs that soar straight up for thousands of feet.

Fortunately the canyon floor is not a narrow one so the campsites are quite sunny and cheerful with the Virgin River that cut the canyon (and still cuts it) running through the length of the park. There are many black poplars that grow throughout the canyon floor, irrigated by drainage ditches and pump systems, providing shade. It is a busy campground but worth it to be in the heart of the matter. A fantastic backdrop to our campsite in Zion is the picture I painted here of "The Watchman". This is a huge chunk of sandstone, the highest elevation point being 4419 feet. At sunset it would catch the golden rays and look very majestic.

TheWatchman

To get a quick idea of what Zion National Park is like, check out this link which has a good representation of views you would see in any area of the park.

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Grouse Mountain

It is still chilly and snowy today. The yard is peeping through with green patches in places, but overall, it is still white. The mountain view out of my living room window is very wintry. From my angle, I can see both of the ski cuts on the mountain and if I train my binoculars on the cuts, I can see tiny specs zigzagging their way down.
Grouse Mountain is one of the many mountains on the North Shore. Their steepness prevents the neighbourhood from outright dominating the landscape, though you can make out new subdivisions crawling up their flanks. (Then the tears come when there is a windstorm and trees crash onto roofs and let us not forget the moral outrage when bears show up in the backyard. The local newspaper is a-flutter I tell you.)

Grousemountain

The North Shore Mountain range is a bit deceiving. It is heavily forested and because it isn't extremely high, it looks capable of "doing". From a distance, the mountains have a soft, rolling look and they hide the gorges, sheer drops, ravines and sudden cliffs.
The famous bit, apart from the ski runs, is the Grouse Grind, a vertical hike of 2,800 feet. I can appreciate exercise, but that's just not for me. Folks have told me that it is like hiking in a mall, but vertical; it is that busy and that boring. According to their website, 100 000 people hike that trail each year. Yep, so not for me.

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