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Iceland Challenge 2017 – Royal LePage


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This is my second trek with Royal LePage.  The first took me to Peru and the amazing Machu Picchu.  This time we took on Iceland, and to be honest, I wasn’t prepared for the awesomeness it had to offer.  I’m pretty sure I said “wow” a million freaking times.  One of my travel mates, Cory and I kept joking about why we even attempted to put our cameras away because every step there was something new to shoot.  Below I want to take some time and go through each day and share some of the photos a took.

Day one we were in Landmannalaugar and this was my absolute favourite location of the whole trip.  I had seen pictures of these mountains so many times and I couldn’t wait to see them in person….and thankful they didn’t disappoint.  We were so blessed to have clear skies the whole trip and in Landmannalaugar the mountains exploded with colour.  On our first warm up hike we explored this area and saw a giant impact crater, a glacier lake and of course some of the famous Landmannalaugar mountains.

Day 2 we were onto the first of 2 big hikes during the trek…approx 24km and 1100m elevation gain.  We would travel from these painted mountains to Alftvatn <—- these places are hard to spell.  This day was pretty incredible.  I flew my drone for the first time on this day and captured some amazing footage of my team climbing the most incredible mountains I have ever seen.  Even now when I watch the video back I’m blown away from the beauty.  I spent a lot of time soaking in the view because I know the odds are I won’t be coming back…well maybe 😉

During this hike we made our way across some ice bridges, snowy patches and past a few hot springs.  When we got to the peak of our journey it was perfectly clear at the top.  Jason asked our guide, Fannie, how often she had seen it this clear and she responded this was a first for her.

This was a pretty solid hike, however with amazing views in every direction I almost forgot we were walking.  When we came over the ridge and had a chance to look down on the valley of Alftvatn, again we were blessed with an amazing, clear view.  The hike down the hill was a little sketchy…pretty sure everyone slipped at least once.  At the bottom our first river crossing awaited.   Freezing cold water actually felt pretty awesome on hot sweaty feet.  Josh was rockin flipflops instead of rolling with a solid pair of water shoes but tackled the water like a pro.  To my surprise we all dominated the water…no one fell in.

Our campsite was beautiful, with a glacier lake as our backdrop.  Setting up my tent I came in contact with the one thing I hated about Iceland…freaking black mother F..ing flies.  Not just a couple here and there…more like 4 billion flying around my head the whole time I set up my tent.  And not shy…not shy at all…these little buggers were going up my nose, directly in my eyes and ears.  I thought I was smart bringing some OFF bug spray but I swear as I was spraying it on my face I heard them laughing at me.  Needless to say the spray did jack all and my tent went up super quick.

 

Day 3 we went from Alftvatn to Emstrur and I’m gonna nip this in the bud…this day sucked.  Literally all I remember is sand.  Sand in the air, sand under my feet and sand in my lunch.  The only thing I liked about this day is I got my favourite shot of the whole trip.  An amazing little water spot with a little hill behind made for a perfect location to rock a ND filter on my 10mm-20mm lens.  Typical of Iceland, this little oasis was in the middle of rocky desert, but still stands out as my favourite picture of the trip.  Other than that we saw a lot of sand…and ate sand in our lunches….did I mention there was a lot of sand?  Really don’t want to leave out the sand comment…because there was a LOT OF SAND!!!  One of the pictures below you can see a sand storm.  F U Iceland sand!

Now at the end of the hike our guides asked if anyone would like to go for a 1/2 hour hike to see a canyon.  At first I declined because I was told I would see it on the following day…and to be honest I had enough sand for one day.  Anyway I was guilted into going (Fannie) but was happy I was.   So Matt and our 3 guides (yes the ratio of guides to hikers was definitely in our favour) set out to capture the canyon.  It was spectacular.  Again, tons of colour, rugged and in the middle of desert and sand.  It was a great ending to the long, sorta crappy, day….you know….filled with sand.

 

Day 4 was another short day from Emstrur to Thorsmork but saw some crazy landscape changes.  We went from being on the moon to a lush Iceland “forest”.  I put forest in air quote because I come from British Columbia so really it’s not a forest, but…you know.  I really enjoyed this day because the hiking was pretty minimal but the landscape was always changing and awesome.  We started by crossing a small bridge over the Markarfjot gorge which was the location for my second drone.  It made for a great location to fly.  I think my favourite part of this day was stopping and watching everyone climb up a ridge and take in the view of an amazing glacier in the distance.  What a great reward for all the hiking.  The ridge with the glacier in the background made for some fantastic photos.

Day 5 was the tiny little hike from Thorsmork to Skogar…approx 23 km and 1078 elevation gain 🙂  This hike started out freaking awesome, kinda sucked in the middle and then rocked at the end.  The beginning we were walking across tiny paths with death on both sides, some major elevation gain and stunning views.  When we got to to the top we had a chance to see some 7 year old lava, which was really dark, black and sharp.  However crossing the glacier was fine but the first couple hours on the other side was just a lot of freaking rock/boulders.  I’m pretty sure I twisted my ankle at least 3 times.  Paula sprained her ankle…yet still hiked 15 km down (amazing!!).  Someone…not to mention names…but rhymes with Abanda tossed her cookies a few times and then dropped trou directly in front of the president of Royal LePage to take a pee.  That’s family folks…president of Royal LePage…no biggy, I gots to pee.

This was the third and final time I had to fly my drone.  I think there were like 79 waterfalls on the way down so I decided to grab a couple vids.  I think I captured more than I bargained for though.  I’m pretty sure I got Jason about to take a wild poo and a couple cougars (Fionna) peeing on a rock.  Next time I think I need to send up a warning flare before take off.  Anyway the drone also captured some pretty amazing waterfalls and lush green hills on our descent.

Overall this was a great hike and I think a lot of different emotions were left on the mountain and maybe a bit on Phil’s shoe (thanks Abanda).  The highlight, to be honest, was coming to a campsite with already set up tents curtesy of Kim, Becky and Ron.  I had my second shower at this campsite and it was close to the best 5 minutes of my life.

 

Well that’s it.  Approx 115 km in 5 days seeing some of the best sites Iceland has to offer.  I highly recommend doing this hike.  Well worth it, amazing views and you see something different than the average tourist.  And bring a friend.  I was lucky to hike with 20+ amazing friends which made the journey all the better.

 

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Elk Thurston Trail – Chilliwack BC


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Such a great day to get out and enjoy Elk, and apparently I wasn’t the only one with that idea as the trail was packed.  Fun to see so many people out enjoying the excellent trails that Chilliwack has to offer.  Click this link if you need directions on getting to the trail head.  DIRECTIONS TO ELK  It’s about a ten minute drive from the Bailey/Prest intersection.  Easy to find, just park at the clearing on the left and look for the Elk Thurston Trail sign which is on the far right side of the parking area.

The trail for the most part is easy…and I saw a lot of people on the trail who had different levels of fitness.  The info in the link above says it takes 4 hours which I think is pretty generous…I was up and down in 3 and that’s with a long relaxing stop at the top.  Most of the trail is very basic hiking with some average grade and it really isn’t until the last 20 minutes or so that it gets a little more aggressive.  As soon as you come out of the tree line you get a great view of the Chilliwack River Valley on your right.  It actually surprises you how high you have climbed.  From there it is another couple minutes to the first lookout.  This spot gives you a great view of Cultus Lake and Chilliwack through to the Fraser River.  Seems like a lot of people stop here but going up just a few minutes further is worth it.  I took the narrow south side to the top which is pretty steep and wouldn’t recommend for everyone.  There is a short patch that makes you feel like you are gonna fall off  the side of the mountain 🙂  The trail to the right is the one most people take.  Again coming out of the trees you get an even better view.  This is the spot where a lot of people paraglide off of the mountain.  Sort of a steep grassy area where they launch themselves over the edge.

If you are looking for a good workout and amazing views of the valley give Elk a try…you won’t be disappointed.

Hiking, Uncategorized

Mt. Thom Hike


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I took my 2 youngest kids (5 and 9) up Mt. Thom, which should give you an indication of the difficulty.  Very easy, casual hike.  There are a few different ways to access the trail.  We parked our car on Sylvan Road, just off of Thom Creek Drive, and you can see a set up stairs heading up into the hill.  This is the second easiest location to start from.  If you travel into Ryder Lake and head to Churchill Parkway you can access the peak the quickest from that location.  If you want a bit more of a challenge than either start on Jinkerson Road and take the trail right beside Thom Creek Drive or even better, start at the bottom of Promontory on Teskey Way and Bailey Rd.

Mt. Thom has received a lot of attention over the past few years and has been turned into a really pretty hike.  It used to have a daunting set of stairs in the middle of the trail which has been taken out and replaced by a longer, less steep trail.  You can still walk up where the stairs used to be and I have a picture of that below, but its pretty slippery.  They also widened the trail, and brought in some rock retaining walls, which give it a bit of a pampered hike look, but with the amount of people on the trail, you will appreciate the extra space.

Overall the hike (from Sylvan) starts on a wide gravel path and quickly turns into a more narrow dirt path that goes up and down.  Unlike most hikes where you continue to go up the whole time, Mt. Thom has a lot of random elevation changes during the hike.  This makes the hike longer than it should, but it does give your legs a break and makes for an easier hike.  Most of the way up you will have some nice views of Chilliwack, especially in the winter when the trees haven’t filled in.  The final leg, heading along the ridge the views are gone until it opens up at the top.  There is a wooden fence and the trees are cleared away which give you a great view of Promontory, Chilliwack, Fraser River and Cultus Lake.  The day we were there, we saw a bunch of hawks and bald eagles flying around.

I took a couple pics from the Promontory store showing where the hike ends and how high you are going.  Overall, it’s a great local hike especially for less experienced hikers.

Hiking, Uncategorized

Abby Grind Hike


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Took some pictures from the Abby Grind today AKA the Glen Ryder Trail on the way to Taggart Peak.  I stopped at the lookout which I highlighted in the first few pictures so you can see how high you actually get.  In the 3rd picture you can actually see some people at the lookout wearing white.  Picture 16 shows the spot from the lookout looking down.  It’s been a while since I’ve hiked and can’t really say what fitness level I’m currently at, but I found the hike pretty easy.  It’s slippery and a few sections are fairly steep but I think most people wouldn’t have too much trouble as long as they take their time.  Most websites I’ve looked at say it takes approx. 1 hour to climb.  I was up in 40 and that’s taking some breaks to snap some photos.

It’s an easy hike to find.  “Coming from the East on Highway #401 take No.3 Road exit, (Exit 104), and turn right onto No.3 Road and in a very short distance turn left onto North Parallel Road going west. Follow it to No.4 Road and turn right. Follow No.4 Road and turn right onto Lakemont Lodge Road. It will go over a bridge and go right heading east ward after the bridge and soon you will drive beside a school fence for the Gun Club on your left. Just past the end of the fence is a open pit. Park on the east side of it and the trail goes up that side of the pit.” Taken from ClubTread.com site.  Basically 10 minutes from Chilliwack.  Parking and finding the start of the trail is easy.  Picture 5 shows the start.

The trail for the most part has a steady incline with a bunch of small switchbacks.  No stairs and very little rocks makes it a bit slippery especially today because we have had a lot of rain over the past few days.  You will never get lost, very well marked and even has a 1/2 way tag which you will see in Picture 13 and 14.  Coming down I found I had to be a lot more careful…again slippery.

The lookout is great.  When I first got there it was really cloudy and I couldn’t see a thing but then the sun came out and I finally could see the valley.  Similar view you will get from Sumas Mountain.  Farms, highway, valley, mountains etc.  While I was hiking there must have been at least 25+ people on the hill.  It was never over crowded and hikers are always polite and will let you pass.  I find the Grouse Grind is the opposite…packed…and people never let you pass.

Overall I’d say it’s a good little hike.  My only complaint is I like to hike without earbuds in.  I enjoy the quiet, peaceful sounds of a hike.  Because the hill is right beside a gun range it’s not that peaceful 🙂  Wouldn’t stop me from going back but I think Chilliwack has better hikes and I won’t feel like I’m in the middle of a Los Angeles gun battle.

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Video of Sardis Park from the sky.


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It was such a beautiful March 1st day that I decided to shoot some video of Sardis Park in Chilliwack BC.  I almost feel guilty with all the pictures of the crappy weather on the east coast…but then again…no one forces people to live there 🙂  The video is only a couple of minutes long.  Make sure to turn on the sound and hit HD.  And yes we do actually have a Sesame Street…it’s between Silver and Lake with only a couple houses on it.

Sardis Park is one of my favourite areas of Chilliwack.  Of course I live here, so maybe I’m a bit bias.  It’s such a great area to raise a family.  We can walk to tons of parks, golfing, shopping, schools.  Most streets are really quiet so you never have to worry about riding bikes or playing road hockey.

Real estate in the area is very diverse.  There are condos which range from $130K to over $200K.  Townhouses from $230K to over $330K.  The single family home market is very unique because there are still a lot of older homes on large city lots but we are seeing many older homes being torn down and new construction in it’s place.  Occasionally you can buy a small single family home for under $300K but that’s pretty rare.  The median home price is $357K and the highest sale this past year was $700K.  There are also a few age restricted rancher communities which usually start in the $340K range and can go up to over $400K.  Average time to sell a home in Sardis Park is 135 days.  That number is a bit skewed because it takes into consideration the condo market…which is still fairly slow.  Usually a detached home in Sardis Park, if priced properly, will sell in 60 days or less.

Everything is within walking distance.  Tim Horton’s, Shoppers Drug Mart, BMO, Sushi, Kinkora Golf Course, Sardis Elementary, Sardis Park.  The actual Sardis Park has a good size pond with a walking path that goes around.  There are a couple play parks for the kids to use and a lot of ducks and Canadian geese call the park home.  If you have any questions about Sardis Park let me know…I’m just a phone call away 604-795-1616.

About Chilliwack, Uncategorized

Moon and Mt. Cheam


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The moon beside Mt. CheamI took Dean Small with me to my open house in Rosedale and while he showed off the house I snapped a few photos of this beautiful Feb 28th day.  The only one I’m posting is this shot of the moon beside Mt. Cheam….which I’m pretty sure every single person in Chilliwack has captured at some point or another.  However if you look really close….really…..really close, you will notice a big difference between this one and all the others.  Again, you have to look very close  –  you see this picture was taken by me 🙂  Not worth the build up??

About Chilliwack, Uncategorized

Birdhouse


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Birdhouse.1I was taking pictures of a new listing for one of my Royal LePage colleagues and the owner had a couple of these hand made birdhouses outside.  Couldn’t help but snap a photo looking towards the forest beside her house.  Whatever bird occupies this bad boy is pretty lucky.  Custom built 2 storey log home would fetch a pretty penny in this market…especially with the private backyard.

About Chilliwack, Uncategorized

Starbucks


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Starbucks.1This is a shot I took this morning of the Starbucks where I donate so much of my income.  This is the one by VanCity in the mall parking lot.  It’s a typical rainy day in Chilliwack and I thought a shot of the umbrella with no one under it looked kinda fun.

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First blog post


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Well I’ve finally decided to create a new website.  I used a company called Ubertor out of Vancouver since I started selling real estate in 2005.  They are a great company, with great services but I wanted to switch things up a little and have more control over my site.  I took a lot of time and put together this site.  I feel like it works very well for what I was looking for.  Something that was appealing to look at, simple to navigate and a bit unique.  Hope you like it.  Feel free to send me your opinions.