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Mount Apps

PureOutside - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 07:00

I slammed on the brakes and the truck barely slowed before we hit.

We found the first drainage ditch in the logging road on the way up to Mount Apps on a sunny Sunday in February 2015.

The snow was nowhere to be found so we took advantage and hiked up to somewhere that should be covered in the white stuff.

We nearly hit the ceiling of the truck when we hit the first drainage ditch in the logging road. The sun was coming straight in the front window. I couldn’t see much. The drainage ditches are a small ditch followed by a small bump dug in the roads by the logging companies to direct the water out the other side instead of washing away the road. They’re good for preserving the roads. Not so good to hit driving 40.

“Oh, there’s a bump there!”


The logging road winds up the hill until it washes out. We parked and hiked up the road.




15 minutes later a nice sign told us to go into the bush to get to Mount Apps and Zella Lake. Convenient. That’s where we wanted to go.


Some nice moss getting a tan.


Odd dead trees at the end of a clearcut. Didn’t look like they had any burn marks but there was an entire line of them at the edge of a clear cut. Do they die at the edge?


Views back into the valley.


Before the summit, a plateau extends south with a small lake on it. Even the plateau offers great views east to the straight and west into the valley.


This might be my favorite photo of the day with the fog in the valley and the painting-like mountains in the background. I didn’t even notice it until I was noodling around on the computer with the photos and saw the layers of mountains in the background.


A cairn. We’re on the right track.


South over the small lake on the plateau pointing south to Mount Joan on the right and Mount Curran on the left.


Facing east out to the straight over Denman and Hornby.


Zella Lake.


Mount Joan again through the trees.


Comox Glacier and other mountains to the north. 


Back down over Zella Lake. The ridge off to the left in the photo heads over to another route up from Buckley Bay.


Heading back down into the valley.

Categories: Hiking

Icebreaker teams up with Simon Beck for new base layer designs

PureOutside - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 07:00

November 2014, teamed up with Icebreaker Canada for a giveaway of a few of their newest long sleeve shirts from their Simon Beck collection.

I threw in an entry because I can’t resist the chance to win some new merino wool base layers. And it just looked so cool. I ate something lucky that day because I received one of the shirts in the mail a few weeks later. Stoked!

Two questions you probably have right now; Who’s Simon Beck and what’s merino wool? Valid questions.

Merino wool is a soft, fine wool from the merino sheep. Icebreaker and other outdoor clothing manufacturers have exploded onto the scene in the last few years with comfy, warm-when-wet base layer and insulation pieces that don’t smell. Unlike polypropylene or other synthetics, the wool naturally resists the bacteria that leads to the smell. No bacteria. No smell.

Now on to Simon Beck.

After mucking about with some designs in the snow after ski touring and orienteering, Simon started sharing his designs online. It took a while to take off but no he’s travelling the world stomping out beautiful, massive snow designs in the mountains.

He recently teamed up with Icebreaker to make designs for a line of shirts with them. The shirts are Icebreaker quality with Simon’s cool designs on them.

Icebreaker is donating $20,000 from the sale of the Simon Beck line to Protect Our Winters, a world-wide non-profit dedicated to keeping our winters around for the next generations.

Here’s Simon doing his thing.

You can find more about Simon and his artwork on Simon’s Facebook page

Categories: Hiking

Beta Testing: Free early access to PureOutside Guides

PureOutside - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 07:00

Looking for free access to the latest guides we put out here on PureOutside?

If you’re willing to help us review brand new guides we put out you can have access for free. The new Beta Testing program allows you free access to the latest and greatest guides we put up on the site. We’ve already got 2 great guides for sale and lots more coming on the way.

What guides can you help test and review? 

Epic Hiking: Mount Benson

Epic Hiking: Juan de Fuca Marine Trail

Epic Gear: Backpacking Stoves (coming soon)


What do I have to do to get free access?

All you need to do is email, answer a few questions, and you’ll be on your way to being an expert on trails and gear.


Categories: Hiking

Nothing but Melt: Lake Helen Mackenzie Snowshoe Trip Report

PureOutside - Tue, 02/10/2015 - 07:00

I haven’t been able to get out for a ski yet. The snow on the island is getting lower and lower.

We did get out for a snowshoe in January up to Helen McKenzie Lake in Paradise Meadows. We left from the Raven Lodge at Mount Washington. Here’s a few photos.

Categories: Hiking

Stocking Lake Loop from Ladysmith

PureOutside - Tue, 02/03/2015 - 07:00

I couldn’t resist the warm temperatures and bit of sunshine and had to get out hiking.  My little furry hiking companion and I ventured out to Stocking Lake in Ladysmith January 25th. It felt summer like with the warm breeze but the temperatures were still cool. Good thing as the wide trail to get up to the lake is a grunt. Here are some photos.


The official trail starts at Ryan Place Gate and then forks to go up to Heart Lake via a connector trail or over to Stocking Lake. I turned left to go to Stocking Lake. That lead along the power lines for a few hundred metres. You can cut out this section by going further down Davis Road in Ladysmith then up Hall Road and Thetis Drive. You’ll find the trailhead in the next photo and get to skip the powerline walking.


The actual trailhead to Stocking Lake with some interesting houses next door.


A wet day. Even the ditches next to to the road were lush and full of water for photos.


The access road ends and turns into rough double track at a Ladysmith water supply pond.


The old pipes coming out of the ground are wood wrapped in wire. They aren’t used any more but a lot of old water supply pipe is still in the ground.



Not sure what these were sticking out of the ground. I think they are vents or access points to the water pipes that run along here.


A steep section.


And a convenient bench right after to rest.


Favorite spot of the day. I could have sat here for hours and watched the stream run by. The ferns hanging into the water and the wide shallow stream made me think of a place I spent a lot of time as a kid.


The dam. The access road comes up to this point and forks to go both ways around the lake.


Hard to miss these signs.


Some days I can’t wait to see the end of the rain. Others I appreciate it to no end because it creates places like this.


Della waiting for me. She’ll wait if I’m standing but if I crouch down then she comes running.


Perfectly still water. You could see the tiny leaves of the plants in the reflections.


Our other hiking buddy we found near the end of the hike.


Another view of the lake before heading back down.



Categories: Hiking

Can I have a Spine Trail for my Birthday?

PureOutside - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 07:00

You’re probably thinking that’s a weird title for a blog post. It is kind of.

But that’s what I want. It’s my birthday this weekend. Birthday’s aren’t what they used to be when I was a kid, but they’re still fun. On the other hand, I can ask for bigger things now.

And this birthday I’m asking for a big one. 700km of trail to be exact.

I’ve been helping out the Vancouver Island Spine Trail project recently. They’re building a trail from Victoria to Cape Scott. 700km of awesomeness. I love the idea and I can’t wait until it’s finished but it needs more money to keep moving. It’s completely donation based so far and the more money it gets the faster trail gets built. Can you help out?

I would love to raise $1000 for the Spine Trail for my birthday. Before the end of January donate to the Spine Trail and we can help this awesome project move that much faster.

It’s quick and easy to donate at Canada Helps to the Spine Trail.

Categories: Hiking

What adventures are you going to do in 2015?

PureOutside - Tue, 01/20/2015 - 07:00

Getting outside can be tough. It feels so good when you do it but it just seems like there are so many obstacles in between work and laundry and dishes and cutting the lawn and actually getting out there.

Some days I can get outside without even thinking about it. Some days, I feel like I’m imprisoned inside drowning in a todo list and might be able to see outside if I can just swim through all these pages of items to check off.

The last couple of years have changed getting outside from an optional thing to a required thing for me. It’s not just nice, it’s a must-have. If I’m stuck inside too long I feel like I have cabin-fever. I start going squirrelly. At first I had no idea what was wrong with me. I just happened to feel good the weeks I got outside. But then I wouldn’t feel great the weeks I didn’t and couldn’t figure out why.

Once I figured it out I started planning out every adventure I could. I’d have lists of adventures to do and places to go. I could mountain bike here, trail run there, hike that day and sail on this day. I just replaced my indoor todo list items with outdoor todo list items. Not ideal but it’s better.

I’ve been following the british adventurer Alastair Humphrey’s for a while now. I love his down to earth style with everything, even though he’s been on some huge expeditions. And he’s got a good solution to actually getting outside on a regular basis.

The microadventure. 

I’m sure many other people have thought of this before but no I’ve seen has written about it so much. Lots of people get out of microadventure all the time, they just don’t call it that.

What is a microadventure?

Not a huge adventure but a small one. The best part of the microadventure is that they are intentionally small. They are easy to do because they don’t take much time, can be done anywhere in the world and don’t take much gear. You can go overnight if you want but you don’t have to. Even a couple hours is enough for a microadventure. Trying to plan that huge perfect adventure and failing? Just do a microadventure instead. They fit much better into a busy lifestyle.

He’s running a microadventure challenge right now. Your Year of Microadventure digs into microadventures and challenges you to do more. Go small and go more often.

A couple other tips to get outside

Schedule it

I like things on a schedule. I don’t have to think about them as much. If I have a scheduled time and day that I get outside, then it just happens. There are no questions. It doesn’t get pushed around by other things on my calendar. If time is already booked off in the calendar, that’s precious time and never gets bumped.

Make a trigger

Habits start with a trigger. You can make going outside a habit by starting it with a trigger. Days of the week can be a trigger. So if it’s Saturday then you go outside. Or time on the clock. It’s 12pm on a weekday so I go for a microadventure away from the office.

Change your environment

Habits are like elephants and you are the rider. If the elephant is going to sit on the couch and watch TV then you are too, there is no dragging it around. The trick with the elephant is to force it outside with changes in your environment. If you change your routine so that you walk home from work then you’ve forcing the elephant to go outside. If you schedule time with friends outside on a microadventure, then the elephant has no choice, it’s going outside. Don’t let it choose. Force it outside.

What adventures are you going to do this year? Are you going to break out some microadventures?

Categories: Hiking

Garmin Basecamp Series: Everything you need to know about Garmin’s GPS Software

PureOutside - Tue, 01/06/2015 - 07:00

GPS are becoming so popular these days with avid outdoors people and folks cruising around cities. If you own a smartphone, you already have a gps in your pocket. Knowing which streets to take to an address is great if you’re driving but how do you follow the maze of logging roads and trail networks through the woods to exactly the spot you want to go? Trail GPS and the software that comes with it can help you there. Garmin is one company that makes excellent GPS and they have a great piece of software to help you get the most of that hi-tec little gadget in your pocket.

This is the first post in a series on the features of Garmin Basecamp and how to use them. Follow these and you’ll spend less time fiddling around with Basecamp on the computer and more time outside hiking.

What’s Garmin Basecamp?

Garmin’s GPS software is called Basecamp. If you’ve had a Garmin for a while you might remember MapSource, a clunky program for loading maps and tracks onto Garmin GPS.

MapSource is still around but you probably don’t want to download it since a much nicer program has replaced it. Garmin Basecamp is far easier to use, nicer on the eyes and has better features.

Anything you want to do with your GPS software you can probably do with Basecamp. There are some limitations and things you’ll need to pay for but if you use your GPS regularly it’s worth it.


What’s in the rest of this series?

The rest of the series will include (eventually) everything you can do with Basecamp. They will come out with new versions and (hopefully)  more features to make our lives easier. I’ll link to all the posts below when they come out.

Here’s what we’re going to start with:

How to view a track from your GPS

How to create a track in Basecamp and send it to your GPS

How to view photos in Basecamp

How to create waypoints in Basecamp and send to your GPS

How to edit and clean a track from your GPS

How to export GPS tracks from Basecamp


Categories: Hiking

Trans Canada Trail: Haslam Creek to Christie Falls

PureOutside - Tue, 12/30/2014 - 07:00

I had one section left to complete the Spruston Road to Christie Falls portion of the Trans Canada Trail near Nanaimo. Naturally I’m a list checker offer and hiking all the portions of a large trail is just a big checklist so I had to do it.

I’ve been north from Haslam Creek before, along the suspension bridge then on to Timberland Lake but I had never made the hike south to connect to Christie Falls near Ladysmith. If you haven’t, you’re not missing much. The hike is all logging road but if you end at Christie Falls then it’s a worthwhile adventure. I got a few photos out of it anyways.

I had to start walking at an orange gate. I drove the truck to this point along the potholed logging road. The dirt road had some deep holes up to this point but it didn’t require a 4×4.

It looks like the road is deactivated and not used much. It’s still a logging road though.

The brush on either side is quite thick and pretty. The sun was trying to shine through when I was out.

Logging road walking.

The sun cut out and left us in the fog.

The first bridge you cross heading south. After the bridge head left to Christie Falls and the final bridge. If you turn right, it heads up to an abandoned mine. I’ll try and post some directions to that one soon.

The final bridge (or first if you are heading north from Christie Falls) has a Trans Canada Trail sign near it. You can see where to go and what else is in the area.


One note on signage, I didn’t see any. The best I could see was at Haslam Creek and then one random trail marker on a fence post heading south from there. That was it until the sign near Christie Falls said that was the Trans Canada Trail. Not sure why the other sections are so well marked and this one isn’t. It makes it a bit confusing. I had to drive in a few circles near the Haslam Creek entrance just to make sure there were no other roads for options to take. I recommend grabbing the GPS track to follow so you don’t get turned around.

If you don’t mind some dirty puddles you can from Haslam Creek and the powerlines south along the dirt road until you hit the orange gate. The woods are pretty around the road south of the powerlines so you could walk these. I just drove as far as I could and then started the hike.

Have you been along this stretch of the Trans Canada Trail? What did you think?


Categories: Hiking

White Pine Trail

PureOutside - Tue, 12/23/2014 - 07:00

I recently hiked the White Pine Trail near Nanaimo. It’s part of the Trans Canada Trail near Nanaimo. You can grab directions to the trailhead on the White Pine Trail page.


Years ago, I hiked from Haslam Creek up to Timberland Lake, a section of the Trans Canada trail. It was an easy hike, not a ton of interesting trail as most of it was on logging road. Timberland Lake at the end was beautiful. A bit of trash around from offroaders but the sun was out and reflecting off the water just right.

Around the corner from Timberland Lake is the White Pine Trail that continues up to Spruston Road. I left the lake after seeing one of the White Pine Trail signs and that was the last I saw of it.

In searching around for trails to hike next for MapVI, I stumbled on the Trans Canada Trails again. I’ve been coming back from an ankle injury and needed some easy trails to wander. I headed out to check on the White Pine Trail.

The White Pine Trail

At the end of Spruston Road (check out the map on the trail page to see where the trail starts) the trail signs start. The road is rough but there’s a bit of a pullout where you can park your car.

The trail starts out beautiful single track through the woods. It’s marked with orange markers on the trees with the odd “Trans Canada Trail” marker that was a bit bigger. Any major forks had a big blue signpost.


I spent most of the hike just taking in all the green around me. I’ve been healing up an ankle injury lately and was just happy to be on the trail at all, nevermind on a nice day like this. It was a bit cold though. Hard to operate the camera too much when you can’t feel your fingers.


The trail pops out onto the logging roads and continues to Timberland Lake.


The trail was well signed. At points the signs were off in the trees. I’m sure they were once very visible but now they’re off in the brush a bit. Any time I needed to know the direction though there was a sign right there. Just need to look. 


Timberland Lake was pretty as usual.


I had the feeling we were being watched. Then out popped this little guy from the woods. The funny thing was that Della (my dog) was going crazy at a tree in the other direction because she thought she heard a squirrel. Not so much a hunter. I had plenty of time to capture some shots of the squirrel munching on something sitting on a log.


The Verdict

Would I recommend the White Pine Trail? The south end of the trail just before Timberland Lake is just logging road which isn’t very pretty but the single track on the north end was beautiful. Easy walking over well-maintained trail made for a good hike. The trail was well-signed aside from the few in the trees.

The Nanaimo River

I took a quick look down the trail that goes down to the Nanaimo River as well. It’s easy double track to hike. We didn’t get very far though. It turns into rough single track and heads back up into the woods. There were a couple of trail forks that probably head down to the river but I didn’t have time to follow them.





Get directions to on the White Pine Trail page.

Categories: Hiking

Wandering to Christie Falls

PureOutside - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 17:10

I’ve been hiking of the Trans Canada Trail lately. Christie Falls is along the trail just north of Ladysmith. I hiked out there last year but never got the chance to post the photos. Over the next 2 weeks I’ll be posting of the Trans Canada Trail.

For now, here’s Christie Falls from September 2013.


Christie Falls is a great little trail to get outside and see a beautiful set of falls on a mostly sunny day. The forecast called for rain and it threatened all day, even going so far as sending a couple drops our way. We never saw more than a few. The warm sun kept them at bay while we explored the falls.

The first gate was open when we went on a Saturday. There weren’t any posted hours aside from the sign on the gate about it being closed during extreme fire risk.

The smaller second gate on the right.



For a deactivated logging road is was actually pretty nice. I’m assuming it gets maintained because of the Trans Canada trail and the fish hatchery at the end of the road.


Follow the fish hatchery signs.


There’s not much signage on the road for the Trans Canada Trail before the bridge. This section connects to the Haslam Creek Suspension Bridge trail.

The fish hatchery.


Across from the fish hatchery a big clearing leads up to the single track trail leading to the falls.


Small trails up into the single track on the side or end of the clear area.


It’s not flat any more. The single track leads up into the woods beside the stream.


The trail sticks close to the stream, you can see out over the stream at a few points.


You can actually see the stream at a few points.


Not quite jungle but nice single track to walk through.


A slippery log bridge. The stream wasn’t flowing through this section so we just walked through the stream bed. The stream must split above Christie Falls because this section was dry but Christie was flowing.


Christie Falls.



There was a nice pool below the falls. Not enough to swim in but plenty for a nice picture.


Logs and well placed rock in front of the falls made great stadium seating. 


Get directions to Christie Falls.




Categories: Hiking

Ka-boom or the reason you shouldn’t use a windscreen around a canister stove

PureOutside - Tue, 11/25/2014 - 07:00

So why can’t you use a windscreen on a canister stove?

Imagine this story.

You’ve just found camp after a long day hiking. The weather is miserable, it’s raining, the wind is blowing it sideways. You’re cold and wet and hungry.

You get camp set up and some food on the stove. You have a canister stove and the wind is blowing all the heat straight out the side. You’ll have to do something about this or the water is going to take forever to boil. It will take hours to make food and waste all of your fuel. What can you do?

A windscreen!

You grab the windscreen you have and wrap it around the canister stove blocking the wind. Almost instantly the water starts to heat up.

And then… boom.

The canister heats up and explodes, throwing a fireball 3 metres across into the air and sending shards of metal flying in all directions.

That would suck.

That’s what might happen if you put a heat shield around a canister of gas and heat it up. I actually have no idea how big the explosion would be since I haven’t heated one up myself but all the warnings say don’t do it.

Adding the windscreen around the canister and the stove blocks the wind from the stove but it also traps the heat around the canister and makes it hot. If that gets hot enough, it explodes. Not really what you want to happen on the trail. Or anywhere really.

What can you do?

Wind is a real problem for all stoves. If the wind is blowing all the heat out the side and not up to your pot, then it’s going to take longer to cook anything. You’ll have to wait longer and will waste fuel.

There are 3 options you’ve got, 2 of them require different stoves. I’ll start with the option if you already have a canister stove that attaches directly to the canister.

Build a wind block
Not the same as a wind screen. If you can block the wind from one side of the stove then it won’t get hot and explode. Figure out which way the wind is coming from and then put up some logs, branches, sand or dirt in front of it so the stove is hidden behind your block. Rocks, trees or even your hiking buddy can act as a good wind blocker. Watch your shoes and pants if you are the wind block. Those stoves are hot!

Get a remote canister stove
This is an option if you don’t already have a stove or if you are getting a new one. Some canister stoves have a fuel line to the canister instead of attaching directly to it. Something like the MSR Pocket Rocket attaches directly to the stove whereas the WindPro has a fuel line to the remote canister so it can be kept outside the windscreen. This is good for wind conditions.

Get a liquid fuel stove
Liquid fuel stoves tend to have fuel lines to remote canisters anyways, so they don’t really suffer from this problem. Liquid fuel stoves are great in the winter as well so you might consider just getting one of these.

Best of both worlds?
A new option that’s come out recently is the Whisperlite Universal. It’s got parts for both canister and liquid fuel connections so you can use either. It uses a remote canister system if you’ve got a canister attached so it’s not bothered by this exploding canister windscreen problem.

Categories: Hiking