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Extension Ridge from Extension Road, Nanaimo [Trip Report]

PureOutside - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 07:00

The Trans Canada Trail sections on Vancouver Island offer so much variety. I’m always keen on new trails that are different than anything I’ve experienced before. Yes, most of the sections around Nanaimo are still dirt single track with trees around. Most trails are like that. But the views and twists and turns and connections to other trails are always different. I get a kick out of all the different trail connections along the way.

I was roaming farther and farther down the island, hiking parts of the Trans Canada Trail but hadn’t seen on section right in my own backyard, in Extension. The Extension Ridge trail connects the Abyss trails off Harewood Mines road south to the Extension Area. From there, it continues to Nanaimo Lakes Road.

Extension Ridge is a beautiful part of the trail with single track winding all the way up and along the ridge. A power line crossing offers some mixed views, nice to see the neighbouring hills but for that you get to see the powerlines and towers as well.

Some photos below are from the last trip I had out there. It was an overcast, wet day, perfect for keeping the heat down while hiking.

Categories: Hiking

Backpacking Stove Glossary

PureOutside - Thu, 04/16/2015 - 07:00

Backpacking stoves can be complicated little beasts. There are many different types each type, each with their own wide variety of specs, pros and cons. You’ll need to know some of the lingo before you go anywhere. Here’s a glossary to get you started.

Alcohol – Alcohol stoves are popular in the lightweight backpacking community. They can be easily made and just require a bit of alcohol to burn which can be purchased at many hardware  or drug stores. Alcohol stoves take longer to boil water than liquid fuel stoves and iso-butane stoves.

CrunchIt – A tool from JetBoil used to punch a hole in iso-butane canisters so they can be recycled. They cannot be recycled if they still have iso-butane in them. You can also do this with a screwdriver through the side of the canister.

Drip-feed – Using a remote iso-butane canister upside down and using the liquid from the canister. The liquid is used to burn instead of the the pressurized gas. When the liquid is used, it’s a lot less temperature dependent. The gas reduces to a liquid at a low temperatures and if you don’t use the liquid from the start then the liquid won’t work in your stove.

Esbit – A brand of Hexamine tablets.

Fuel jets – The jets spray the vaporized fuel out to be burnt. They can get plugged if you are using a dirty kind of fuel. The jets might also have to be changed out if you are using a different type of fuel like iso-butane or kerosene compared to naphtha.

Hexamine – A type of solid fuel that’s often sold in tablets. You place the tablet in a holder under your pot and light it. The tablets were originally used to heat military rations. Can be expensive.

Iso-butane – the mixture of butane that canisters use for canister stoves. It’s pressurized in the stove. It’s a lot less volatile than propane and doesn’t have to be in as thick of containers.

Kerosene – A type of fuel that can be used in some liquid fuel stoves. It’s available widely outside of North America and can be used as an alternative fuel while travelling. The stove jets often have to be changed to use Kerosene and might have to be cleaned more often.

Multi-fuel – Stoves that can use different types of fuel. It used to mean different types of liquid fuel like white gas, kerosene, gasoline or jet fuel. Some new stoves can burn iso-butane canisters as well as liquid fuel.

Naptha – The liquid fuel that comes with a lot of camp stoves these days. It’s often called Coleman gas.

Priming – The process of heating up the tubes on the stove so that the liquid fuel can be turned into a gas and burned in the stove.

Remote – Remote stoves are not attached directly to the fuel canister or bottle their fuel is from. There is a fuel tube that connects the stove to the fuel bottle. Non-remote iso-butane stoves attached directly to the top of the fuel canister. Remote canister stoves can be used upside down with a drip feed attachment that makes them work better in cold temperatures.

Trioxane – A type of solid fuel that’s often solid in tablets. Often cheaper than Hexamine. Gives off many different chemicals when burned so keep away from fumes.

Categories: Hiking

Nanaimo Lakes Road to Whisky Lake

PureOutside - Thu, 04/09/2015 - 12:27

Being part of hiking groups online is a mixed blessing. On the one hand there’s a constant supply of assistance, inspiration and motivation to get outside. On the the other hand, there’s a steady stream of beautiful trail pictures streaming by making it difficult to focus on anything other than… going outside.

A last minute change to plans this past weekend meant I had some time to hike but not as much as I originally though. Driving a couple hours to hike was out of the question so I quickly searched for some trails closer to home to try. The benefit to having that constant stream of trail information means I’m never without a long list of places near home to see.

Whisky Lake near Nanaimo River Road had come up a few times in my feed and new trails around there. I had never seen the idea and liked it’s likely 5km route out and back from the power lines on Nanaimo Lakes Road.

Off we go.


I parked on Nanaimo Lakes Road just before it forks into a dirt road and start hiking along the power lines. I was using one of Phil’s Maps of Nanaimo mountain biking trails to find the ones I was looking for and see what’s there. I knew there might be some new ones around Whisky Lake and possibly some on the way that weren’t mapped yet. Follow along with the map of Nanaimo and you’ll see the route I used.

Trail: Tangerine

A short connector trail from road to road, Tangerine was a better route than rocky logging road.


Unnamed trail? to FNG

I’m sure this trail has a name somewhere but it starts just up the road from Tangerine. It’s mostly through reforested clearcut but would be a nice ride or run.

It crosses a logging road, goes through some recent slash and into the woods to start what I think is FNG, or so the sign said.

FNG pops out near the logging roads near Whiskey Lake. This just drops down right beside the lake.


Walking around the lake to the west, I bumped into the the end of Riparian and Schadenfreude. I took Schadenfreude until I had to turn around near the south end and then came back up and started Riparian back towards the lake. 

Turning around before Wonderwall starts. The trail continues down to the right of the photo below. Another day.

Riparian and Whisky Lake

Compared to all the other trails in the area Riparian is right around the lake and is thick and green. 

Some of the trail runs the cliffs along the lake. Great views through the trees from the mossy ledges. 

Logging road, and garbage

Riparian spit me out on the logging roads near where FNG ended and I walked down towards the Magic Carpet start and looked for a better view of the lake.

Of course, you give access to a beautiful place by 4×4 and ATV and they leave their garbage everywhere. Clean up your garbage when you go.

Magic Carpet to Hot Tamale to Samba to Black Jade

Next to the lake Magic Carpet leaves the logging road and heads up the ridge back toward the powerless. The trails all blended together and finally spit me out on the logging road near where I started.

Sad to see the trees left on the boundary of a clear cut all being pushed over by the wind and rain with no protection left. A few arbutus knocked down just the same as the others.


Trail: Coal Pile

A bit of time to kill before I had to be home, sent me looking for one last short trail near the care. Coal Pile is short but green trail through the woods near the powerlines. It runs over a pile of coal along the way.


Della waiting patiently.


Categories: Hiking

Albert Inlet Trail north from Franklin River [Trip Report]

PureOutside - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 07:00

In my ongoing search for sections of the VI Spine Trail to hike, I wanted to find out more about the south end of the Alberni Inlet trail. It’s being built in 3 stages and while all the stages are there for the trail, they aren’t all used the same amount. Some parts are easier to find than others. This weekend I headed out to find the section that heads north from Franklin River.


To the Franklin River Alberni Inlet Trail Parking Lot

The trailhead has a brand new parking lot and an information sign about the 3 stages of the trail. Stage 1 ends at China Creek 11 km south of Port Alberni (measured from where Ship Creek Road and Anderson Ave turn into Franklin River Road near the entrance to the Inlet trail).

The turn off to the parking lot down Franklin Creek is 16.2 km from Ship Creek Road, and then another 3.4 km down the spur to the trail parking lot.

Starting the trail

There are two entrances to the Alberni Inlet Trail heading north from this Franklin River parking lot. You can walk 380 m down the road from the parking lot to find the single track start to the trail. Alternatively you can walk 650m up the small logging road that starts beside the parking lot and enter the single track there.


The single track is a little rough but will be cleaned up soon I’m sure.

Fork to the logging road entrance to the trail.

A watery crossing on the trail. Had to hop a few rocks to get across this one.

Chain on one of the harder sections to get up.

Serious water coming down onto the trail. The rocks were easy to hop over.

The trail is tucked in the trees and follows the coastline north.

A whole range of ground cover on this one bit of trail.


I had lunch on a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the water. When I realized I had cell reception, I couldn’t resist posting something on instagram.



Exit to the logging road

I started the trail on the single track down the road from the parking lot. To finish, I exited out onto the logging road and walked down from there. I recommend taking the single track. It’s more scenic.


With it’s many trailheads and beautiful scenery, the Alberni Inlet trail is going to become a popular destination in the years to come. The China Creek entrance to the trail is already seeing many new visitors. The trailheads further south will undoubtedly see fewer hikers because of the longer drive if you do make the trek, you’ll probably get the trail all to yourself (hopefully not everyone will read this post and go out to hike at the same time!).

Categories: Hiking

Wading through Nitinat River on the Spine Trail

PureOutside - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 07:00

I paced up and down the river trying to find a shallower spot the cross. The water wasn’t moving quickly but it was deeper, and colder, than I wanted to wade through. Turn back? Wade through?

I was on the shores of the Nitinat River this past weekend wanting to continue my hike but the Nitinat River was in the way. The sun was out but the river was cold. Swimming wasn’t in today’s agenda.

My goal was only a kilometre away. I decided to get on with it. Boots off. Pants rolled. Into the water.

50 feet later my feet were numb but finally out of the frigid water onto the warm rocks on the other side. Boots on. Pants unrolled. Hike on.


Since helping a trailbuilding project near Tuck Lake for the Vancouver Island Spine Trail a couple years ago, I haven’t been able to shake the idea. A 700km trail up Vancouver Island. I got myself on the board and am starting to hike the completed sections (we’ll have a map up on the Spine Trail site soon!).  I started near Tuck Lake last weekend. A few photos from the bright sunny day:


Start to the trail section

Where’s Waldo? I mean where’s the trail? It’s there.

This little umbrella isn’t providing much shade.

The Nitinat River crossing. The water was frigid.

Stand of trees in the sand along the river.


Sign on the other side of the river. Easy to follow with the markers.

Spot the marker.

Something about this tree.

The white bark stood out so much from all the green.

Categories: Hiking

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