Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Balancing on a flat ski is key to better roller skiing.

 by Keith and Heather Nicol
You can create a line by spraying a water mister
    Balancing on a flat ski is the key to solid roller skiing. One way to ensure a flat ski is to be sure to bring your feet under your body before you commit weight to each roller ski. Many new skiers have their feet wide apart when they roller ski and this doesn’t allow them to balance on each ski. One drill that I use for new roller skiers is to have them step on a line down the middle of the road or roller ski path. If there is no line you can create one by spraying water using a plant mister. Another drill to ensure good weight shift is to make sure your knee is over your toe when you glide. In this case I have used tape which helps me align my knee and toe.  For a video that shows these drills in action click on this link- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCyh_hIGsBs   Thanks to my sponsors: Rossignol clothing and ski boots , Rudy Project Sunglasses, and Jenex Roller skis.
Many skiers skate with their feet wide apart

Here I am placing my roller ski on the line which brings my foot under my body
You can also use tape to help you align your knee and toe

Monday, 22 October 2018

Hornby Island is magical in the Fall- Part 2

By Keith and Heather Nicol
 On Saturday, October 20 we were pleasantly surprised to see the sun glinting off the Chrome Island Lighthouse from the waterfront deck of our  Ford’s Cove Cottage (http://fordscove.com/) .  The forecast of fog for Saturday morning had thankfully been wrong and so we decided to make this a mountain biking day. Mount Geoffrey Regional Nature park is laced with mountain biking trails which are suited to a wide range of riders.  
Heather looking toward Denman Island and Chrome Island Lighthouse from the cottage deck
       Heather prefers pavement cycling so I decided to explore some trails I hadn’t ridden before. We had only brought bikes on one other short trip to Hornby Island 2 years prior and so had just cycled a few of the 40 or so trails that the Hornby Island Mountain Bike Association has created on the island. Before you head out be sure to get a copy of the trail map (check them out on line at http://www.hibike.ca/ )
Keith on the Outer Ridge trail with views of Lambert Channel, Denman Island and the Mountains beyond

      Since I knew from past experience that the views from Outer Ridge were amazing I rode and walked up that route from my starting point off of Euston Rd. I then passed the summit cairn on Devil’s Kitchen before heading to Purgatory. These 2 trails are rated as advanced so I rode parts of them and walked the very steep sections.  Route finding is fairly easy with a map since most trail junctions are sign posted. The plan was to meet Heather at Slade Road while she hiked the Beulah Trail so I picked several connecting trails that brought me to that point. I chose to ride Washing Machine which proved to be  great trail with smooth banked turns.  What I appreciated about these trails is that many are well suited to entry level riders and I could see many others to do on our next trip to Hornby. 
At lower tides the sloping bedrock at Sandpiper Beach makes for an interesting surface to explore
      We lunched at Little Tribune Bay and decided to also check out the Sandpiper Beach which has the added bonus of wave washed tilted bedrock platforms at lower tides.  We finished our trip with a return to the Middle Bench trail (at the top of Mount Rd) which had been foggy the day before. Now it was in bright sun and it was a perfect place to sit on a cliff side bench to await our 4:00 pm ferry. An ideal way to end a trip our autumn trip to Hornby Island.  
Heather at along the Middle Bench Trail overlooking Lambert Channel

Hornby Island is magical in the Fall- Part 1

By Keith and Heather Nicol
     We decided with the good weather continuing that we should get to one of our favourite places for a mid autumn visit. Hornby Island is just a stones throw from Courtenay but we hadn’t been there for many months so decided at the last minute to plan a quick 2 day trip. We phoned Ford’s Cove Cottages (http://fordscove.com/) and they told us they were booked for Saturday, October 20 but that if we could come on Friday we could get into a waterfront cabin for the night. So we headed off from Courtenay to catch the 9:00 am sailing on Friday with our car piled high with hiking boots, mountain bikes and sea kayaks. From past experience we knew Hornby Island was a great place to do all three. But as we drove down we could see fog forming and breaking up over the water so hoped that the forecast for “fog lifting” would hold true. 

The fog lifted about noon making for a great afternoon paddle
    Although we sailed to Denman Island in clear weather as we drove across Denman enroute to the Hornby Island ferry terminal the fog reappeared and it got thicker as we crossed to Hornby Island. Since we planned so hike and bike the Middle Bench trail we carried on with our plan but instead of great views we had to content ourselves with simply walking/biking through the forest. But around noon the fog did start to lift and so we decided that with the flat calm seas that we should put in at Whaling Station Beach for a paddle to Flora Island off the eastern tip of Hornby Island. 
There were lots of sea lions on Flora Island
       In past sea kayak trips to Flora Island we had seen orcas but on this trip we were surprised to see big populations of seals and sea lions hauled out on the rocky islands. The loud barking of the sea lions could be heard just as we rounded Cape Gurney but we had no idea there were so many. We gave them a wide berth since many of the sea lions appeared to be huge stellar sea lions with many California sea lions also in the mix. Stellar sea lions may be over 3 meters long and males can weigh up to 2500 lbs whereas California sea lions weigh in at about 1/3 of that!   I just wish I had brought my telephoto lens!!  

Heather walking along the Helliwell Park Coastal trail
   After looping around Flora Island we paddled back to Whaling Station beach since we also wanted to get in the 5 km hike around Helliwell Provincial Park. With the sun glinting off a flat sea we couldn’t have had a better day for one of our favourite walks in the Comox Valley. By the time we finished it was 5:00 pm so we decided to head over to Ford’s Cove and our cozy fully equipped cottage for the night.  The cottage was ideal for our purposes and its large west facing deck would normally get a great sunset except that with cooling late afternoon temperatures, fog had reappeared along the water.  We headed to bed hoping it would clear up by morning!

Our cozy waterfront cottage at Ford's Cove


Sunday, 14 October 2018

The walking trail between Salmon Point and the Oyster River is perfect right now

By Keith and Heather Nicol

The trail near Salmon Point veers inland

With the great fall hiking weather continuing we took advantage of it to hike one of our preferred coastal treks in this area – the trail between Salmon Point and the Oyster River. This ocean walk is one of our favourites and is located roughly ½ between Comox and Campbell River. This hike is sometimes known as the “Pub to Pub” walk since it happens to connect 2 nearby pubs. We like this walk since it offers scenic views across Georgia Strait and to the mountains beyond. Also the backshore consists of open fields with some trees which is also aesthetically pleasing. We usually do the walk from the Oyster River Nature Park but this time opted to start at the Salmon Point RV park (watch for signs off the highway 19A). There is a prominent sign that points to the nature trail and there is a small parking area nearby at 49 53.307N, 125 07.565W. On Sunday, October 14 we were hard pressed to find a parking spot along the road since it looked like many people had the same idea as we did.
The mulch makes an ideal walking surface
Not surprisingly we saw many people on the trail including several families and the trail is easy to follow. The trail is well marked and surfaced with mulch with makes it easy walking. It winds through shore line trees and in some places you can get down to the stony shoreline if you want. The trail is about 3.5 km one way so you can either drop a car at each end or return via the way you walked to return to your car. We opted for the later. Once you reach the Oyster River estuary the trail leaves the ocean and winds through the trees to the Oyster River Nature Park parking lot. The parking lot coordinates are 49. 52.232 N and 125 07.616 W. Please respect the private land which the trail crosses. Allow about 1.5 to 2 hours if you return along the full trail (total distance 7 km). 
You also walk along the beach in many places 

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Wine Tasting at the Gray Monk Estate Winery near Vernon, BC

by Keith and Heather Nicol
Sampling wines in the Visitor Centre
   While on a tour through BC’s Okanagan Valley we decided to check out some wineries near Vernon and one we can fully recommend is the Gray Monk Estate Winery.  This award winning winery was started in the mid 1970’s and the Heiss family is proud to remain as British Columbia's oldest family owned and operated winery.  They were the first in BC to plant grapes for making Pinot Gris wines which are just one of many celebrated wines from this winery. We were with friends from Vernon (Jill and Kim Harker) and a roommate from university days and we enjoyed tasting the wines at their scenic visitor centre.  We were especially appreciative of our server that afternoon who guided us through the extensive tastings with good humour and lots of laughs. She even suggested we head out to the expansive deck so we she could take our picture. The deck overlooks Okanagan Lake as well as part of the 75 acres of vineyards that Gray Monk Estate Winery now owns.  We ended up buying several of their wines but if you don’t buy a bottle then tastings are a standard $5 per person.  You can also have a bite to eat at the Grapevine Restaurant which we will have to check out next time. For more information and to see their upcoming events visit : http://www.graymonk.com/  
Jill (middle) and Heather (right) chat to our server who treated us royally