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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Illecillewaet Glacier, Glacier National Park, BC

 Illecillewaet Glacier, British Columbia
Little Hikers: Tabs and Pip
Mountain Orb Spider
Meeting of the Glacier Waters
At the Bank of Meeting of the Waters
Finding Glacier Stones: They are Blue When Wet and Turn White When Dry
The Glacier Hikers: Tabs
Papa Ganoosh (the girl's name for their dad)
Peter Running Up a Large Rock

Illecillewaet Glacier, Columbia Mountains, Canada

We decided to go on an early morning hike to the base of Illecillewaet Glacier and the meeting of the waters. We were ready to try and raise our core temperatures after one chilly night in the tent. I'd forgotten how !@#$%! cold it gets at night in the mountains. The hike was wonderous and especially so because the girls just loved it--they were so interested in every moss covered nook and cranny and every magical looking entrance to the forest.
The forest is one of the only interior rain forests in the world. The rain from the coast of the Pacific Ocean and coastal mountains, floats over the dry Okanagan plateau (where I live) and dumps itself onto the Columbia Mountains. The forest is teaming with old growth cedars and hemlocks and lots of deliciously green moss--and a magical, fairy tale forest it is. There are so many hikes to choose from in this rain forest. I am ready to go back again only this time we'll have mummy bags for everyone and toques to boot!

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Monday, August 29, 2011


Walking with Wolves

Apparently this was a rare event: the male lying at my feet. I think he liked me.
What a wild weekend. Who knew what adventures awaited me amongst the glaciers of the Columbia Mountain range. I have been having the most wondrous life it seems. It is all amazing to me. It is also terrifying and difficult but so beautiful and exciting.

I will start with our second stop along our weekend road trip east towards the Rocky Mountains. The first stop early Saturday morn was to procure a camp site in Glacier National Park at Illecillewaet camp ground. We found the most picturesque tent site right beside a fresh glacier fed river--with a view of the glacier that fed it! The river was spectacularly rough with huge rapids. Thus, the sound of the rushing river drowned out any and all sounds for us--falling asleep to such a loud river was an unusual experience--but our campground adventure will take several more blogs to discuss.

I will stick to our second stop, just west of Golden, BC--The Northern Lights Wolf Centre. I had booked myself in to hike in the mountain wilderness (crown land) with two wolves and their two handlers. I lucked out--I was the sole hiker signed up for Saturday afternoon. It was an amazing trip. We hiked with a large male and a smaller female grey wolf.

At first I thought I might find the wolves just like large dogs--I was raised with a giant Bouvier Des Flanders as a child and adored him like a brother. But it was soon very apparent to me that wolves are not dogs. Not dogs at all. Wolves can't bark. Wolves howl and wolves growl--a deep-throat growl that sounds like a very big cat (lion or tiger). Wolves feet are big. There is no way  that a wolf foot is a dog foot. The feet are unmistakably wolf.
Wolf packs have been documented as large as containing 36 members. The alpha male and female are the head of the pack and the only breeding pair. All of the wolves in their pack are their descendants. Also, all wolves in the pack help raise the puppies.

The handlers "safety" talk was the first thing to take me by surprise and send a wee shiver down my unsuspecting spine. If the male sniffed my butt/crotch I was to place my hands in front. say 'NO!' sternly and turn to the side. I was not to turn all the way around. I was never to crouch down. It still sounded pretty basic, but still, I was a tad nervous: crouching down made me appear like prey.

We traveled by truck into the wilderness, just myself, and the woman handler. Her husband and the wolves led in their own truck.

I was relieved when the wolves were first unloaded and we all started to hike on a trail. The wolves seemed relaxed and ignored us but kept very close to us. Wolves are not like dogs, they seldom bolt unless they find a strong intriguing scent--they like to stay close to the pack. I relaxed and started photographing them. It was a very hot day and the wolves and I were all hot. Their tongues hung out as they explored the trail and marked their territory.

The male stiffed at me a few times. I did as instructed, turning and sternly saying, "No!". The handlers encouraged him to move on and become interested in something else. I was a little nervous by his interest but fine.

The wolves were beautiful creatures. The female especially seeming very gentle yet, more aloof than the male. She had intense eyes that always looked beyond the humans, as though we were of little interest to her. Most likely it was wolf pack etiquette.

Suddenly, the male seemed to take more interest in me again, sniffing and head butting me. I was stern but he was persistent. His handlers were stern and determined to make him loose interest in me. They instructed me to stand very still. He then grabbed my jacket in his teeth and pulled at it, doing one of his growls. His playful growl sounded like a lion--much deeper than any dog could imitate. The handlers were again very serious and stern, putting themselves physically between me and the wolf, encouraging him to move on to something else of interest. He was a very big wolf. His size was intimidating. Also, I had just read that their jaws have the pressure of 500 lbs per square inch.
Having my clothing grabbed and tugged on by a wolf was frightening, I cannot lie.

I learned much about wolves. Wolves are at the top of the food chain, they have no natural enemies. Wolves and humans are the 2 top mammals to populate the earth with equal force. Everywhere humans lived, so did wolves. But sadly, due to humans hunting, trapping, and refusing to share the earth with any other wild species, they are extinct in many parts of the world and near extinction in most. Why are there so many coyotes and deer invading our cities? No wolves left to control their populations. The wolf is the keystone to the survival of all species. If the wolves die, soon the natural balance is out of control and other species die soon after.
In Yellowstone Park, there were so many hoofed creatures living permanently by the water supplies that the riverbanks were eroding and no water birds could survive. It was because in nature, hoofed creatures never live by water-they are fair game for wolves. When wolves are gone, they have nothing to fear and never leave the fresh grass on the water's edges. Reintroducing Canadian wolves to the park rectified this problem.

Most importantly for Canadians is the insane law in BC: year-round open season on shooting and trapping wolves. Why? Without wild wolves we have no wild creatures. They are the keystone mammals of our ecosystem. We must change this law to protect our wolves before they are extinct.

I found the experience unbelievable. I never dreamed I'd walk through the mountains with wolves beside me. I took 600 pictures. I cannot publish them yet as they are all for my art work (paintings) and I may sell some of them as photographs as well.
I will however, publish the pics of the wolves and I, taken by the owners of Northern Lights Wolf Centre.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

For the Love of Dance

Looks like I'll be teaching 2 adult Zumba classes for UBC Campus Rec in the fall. A little nervous as all of those 20 year old students will need to be physically challenged. I am very excited about all of my dance classes in general. So, of course that brings a nervousness as well until I actually have taught my first week.
A very hectic month ahead. My daughters are taking so many lessons: piano x3, dance x3, voice lessons, fencing (Mist), skating lessons--not to mention skiing weekends this year.
 Also, I am starting my new job which is professional artist (painter). This involves joining so many artist groups, promoting myself non-stop as well as the actual work: trips to photograph vanishing wildlife cultures, and then painting back at my studio. Possibly a studio change as well. Once I can afford it, I'll move to a downtown studio. I also must study to hone my skills even more. That looks like a 2 month course in France in the spring. Not to mention I will be promoting the books I have written as well and taking a course on e-book publishing this fall.
The dance is my passion--teaching Zumba will support my art career in its early stages until my first art shows.
 This weekend is my first trip to photograph wildlife: wolves. We're camping as a family at Yoho National Park Saturday night--we leave tomorrow, must pack up the tent today! I am paying big $ to walk with the wolves (with a guide) for an hour and a half, so I can photograph them.

Wish me luck--I will now be dancing both my Atomics and Zumba routines each day, until the classes start. I have to know all of the 25 songs inside out!

These are a few stills from a dancing video I made. I had fun creating them--I love photography. Hope you enjoy them

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fairies of Knox Forest

Little fairies of the forest:
I captured these lovely fairies on the mountain where I live. The pictures were taken a few years ago (little Pip is now 5). They are from a series I took of my girls. I asked them to choose their own fairy clothes. The outfits are entirely their own fairy designs--Pip had a little help, of course. The photos are from one of my all time favorite series, taken before I was on Facebook and this blog. Thus, I thought I'd share them with you now. I hope you enjoy them:
The Forest Fairies: Tabs, Pip and Mist


My Beautiful little forest fairies: Tabitha, Penelope and Mistaya

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

El Amor, El Amor!

Pippi and Artemis
The Tabs and I--she's going in!
Pippi, Me and Tabs
Artemis, Anemone and Miranda

Beach day with Miranda and her girls--they're back from a summer on the N.E. coast of the USA. My girls are thrilled to have their cousins home again. Pip and Artemis were so delighted to be reunited that they immediately held hands at the airport on Artemis' arrival. Tabs and Nem have already begun to choreograph their own ZumbAtomic songs together (they'll be taking my class and I guess they're determined to be guest instructors!).
Mist has been at the lake camping with friends. The Mist and I now share the same pant size and can trade clothes. She is about an inch or 2 taller than I am but we still can share the same jeans :)

I am in love with the song El Amor, El Amor--I am dancing to it for a  Zumba class I will teach to adults. I can't stop singing the melody, a lot.

The other night Fernando would not stop barking in the living room. He never barks in the house. I put him out, checked him out, nothing seemed to be wrong. But as soon as I left him, the barking started up. I put him in his pen in the living room for the night (where he sleeps) and the barking continued.
 I had been watching a French movie in bed He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, so,  I paused my movie to check on him again. Finally, I asked Tabs and Pip to come upstairs and see if they could understand why he was so upset. I left them to their work.
 Within a minute I heard Tabs exclaim, "Oh, now I understand what's wrong!" I asked her what it was. She said that there was a large bug on its back, beside his pen and he thought it was a wasp and was afraid. I rushed in to check. Sure enough, a long beetle like creature, on its back, leg waving in the air--it looked a lot like a wasp on its back. I picked it up and put it outside. As soon as I had removed the bug, Fernando rushed over to make sure that it was indeed gone. That was that. He settled right down. I had no idea Tabs spoke dog. She is a genius dog whisperer.

The girls are on a month long trial of being super attentive to Fernando. If they pass the test, we will adopt a little girl pup to be Fernando's friend. We're thinking a bugg. The test is Peter's idea as he is not a a lover of pets and anyway to stall us adopting another dog works for him. I think they'll pass the test though. I LOVE pets. I've never been without a pet--either a cat(s), a dog or both, my entire life. That's how I like it :) When I was a kid we had so many animals: cats, dog, horses, cattle, geese, chickens, fish, rabbits, magpie, rats...To name a few.
I have had a pet mole for about eight years too. It lives in my backyard and digs and digs all summer long. It's a Townsend Mole--they're very cute and large for a mole. I don't mind the mounds of soil everywhere--I love animals.

Watched The Help this weekend. Entertaining but very Hollywood which, I call Disneyesque.
Fall will be upon me soon--making plans...will update you later with the details...

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