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Jean Liu

Through Twitter I have traveled to  Shanghai, the financial hub of China and met a very business savy travel guide, Jean Liu. Jean states that Shanghai is known for urban tourism. You will find quick urban developments, history of the past and cultural legacy. Passion for sharing the Chinese culture and heritage has led Jean to become one of the founding parners in a dynamic travel business service called will allow a website visitor to select a guide in almost any major Asian city and embark on a sightseeing tour for as little as an hour or two or for more time if you have it. This service will be great for anyone traveling to Asia and China and if  someone has a flight layover, they will be able to get outdoors and see some sights that may not have been included in their itinerary!

The 2010 World Expo in Shanghai is almost ready for the world to visit.  Jean Liu welcome’s you to the event! If you have any questions about Shanghai, China, or OurExplorer, your welcome to contact Jean Liu. Jean’s interview is below

Happy exploring! Have fun.





How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

By the friend who works as tour leader for hiking. In China.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

Seeing the scenery along the way.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

When hiking in Tiger Leap Gorge, we went down to the Jinsha River and then up to the ladder to heaven. Always along the Jinsha River, but different feeling and views when we were down close to it, or watching it from high above.

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

We usually join outdoor activities with professional leaders, so that no extreme occasions so far.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

Fireflies? Guess they are not that wild. It was a very enjoyable encounter though. We stayed overnight in the village rooms during a hiking in Chiang Mai. There were great trees and a river running by (reminded me of the scenes in “A river runs through it”). Chatting and singing after dinner, and we saw fireflies here and there.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

2 day hiking in Yubeng village, in the mountains of Yunnan province, southwest of China. Amazing scenery and nice local Tibetan people. Trust and follow your team leader, as they know the place and possibly your strength and limitations.

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Your Favourite Hike or Backpacking Trip.

Is your favourite hike a short walk in the city park, a stroll in the regional park or a adventure multi-day backpacking trip?

Share your favourite hike, walk, backpacking thoughts in the comments below.

My favourite local hike is on the Mt. Hayman bluffs.  The Hayman point juts out over the Rose Valley Resevoir and gives you views that take your breath away. Literally!

World's Largest Cave - still being discovered!

One of the reasons I love to hike is because it seems that I always find some unique natural feature that amazes me. Could you imagine finding a cave over 6 Km long and in some places200 m high?

Cavers find an exit in 6.5 km long cave in the Jungles of Vietnam.

This world’s largest cave was first discovered in 1991 when a Vietnamese Jungle man named Ho Khanh. No one had entered it prior because the loud noise from the wind and under ground river freaked everyone out.


In mid April 2009, after hiking for six hours, negotiating a deep chamber and 2 underground rivers, a British – Vietnamese expedition reached the chamber of the amazing hang Son Doong cave.

For more pictures and details of the trip go to this news site.

World Reknown Okanagan Mountain Biking Trails!

Mountain bike trails seem to be everywhere I hike in the Okanagan.  I like to mountian bike but I would never take these crazy jumps and ramps that seem to be built in many hiking areas.  I admire the passion that mountain bikers have for the sport.  It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to accomplish what has been done in the Okanagan.

I was emailed this mountain biking question recently;

Q) I am interested in visiting Kelowna for the long weekend and doing some mtn biking. I really liked your website and found it very informative. What are the best maps for the area? What are the primo areas? Is it possible to ride around Okanagan Mountain Park in a day?
Any advice you can give me regarding mtn biking in Kelowna would be appreciated.

A) Thanks for visiting Tracks And Trails and emailing your question.  Being that I am not crazy enough to take the extreme single tracks and crazy ramps and jumps that are out there, I have put together a Mountain Biking Resource for the Okanagan that you can view via this link. It includes where to get trail map info as well as fourums to get up to date mtn biking  intel.

My thoughts on Primo areas are;  (Okanagan Park does not have the jumps built)

1) Gillard Forest Service Road.  Dude you just gotta be there.  This place is alive bikes! (motor and non)

2) Powers Creek! Holy Smokes – you aint seen nothing till you been here.  I think I noticed a forum (on PinkBike) that said there was a world class competition here at some point.

3) Glenmore Hills has lots to offer.  Enter the hills at many points from Clifton to the Dog park just past the Kelowna Land Fill on Glenmore Road.

4) Okanagan Mountain Park could probably be seen in a day by ….maybe Phil, or someone else who bikes 400 km just for kicks so they can enjoy the feeling of thier lungs coming alive in agony and pain!

What you want to do here is enjoy the park.  Start with a ride through Wild Horse Canyon, camp at one of the backcountry campsites, continue way up to any one of the several lakes and then loop back to Kelowna by taking the Old CN Trail or exit to the KVR along Mountain Goat Trail (you will have to carry your bike some parts) and ride down to the Kettle Valley Trestles.  Please comment here when you are complete!  I would love to hear about it.

I would have mentioned the Crawford Trail area but I have heard that mountian bikes are not allowed anymore???  Anyone care to comment.

Wonders await in Blue Hawk Mine (abandoned and dangerous)


A low elevation hike, bike or car ride that is fun and interesting as well as easy to get to when all of the hills are still covered in snow is Blue Hawk Mine on Blue Grouse Mountain.

Blue Hawk mine is located on the East slope of Blue Grouse Mountain on the West side of Okanagan Lake. The mine shaft is approximately 90 metres long. It’s now inactive, but at one time 5 metric tonnes of ore was mined yielding 560 grams of silver and 156 grams of gold.

If you want to check out the mine make sure you bring a good flashlight. You may also need some good waterproof shoes or boots. There’s normally quite a bit of water pooled at the entrance. The rest of the mine is relatively dry. The mine contains many undisturbed geological formations.

Here is a link to Blue Hawk details Wikipedia.  Directions are below.

If you geocache, you will find a cache there as well.

Blue Hawk Mine Directions;

From Westside Road take Bear Lake Main Road AKA Lambly Creek Road (Across the road from Traders Cover Park.)
Just past the timber yard, and the 7km marker turn right onto the road leading to the motocross lower pits. There are signs posted.
When you reach the parking lot turn right and go up the hill.
Keep on the same road the rest of the way but there is one turn that goes north to Terrace Mountain, it looks like a main road but don’t take it.

When you see the swamp on your right;

Continue for 0.9km past it and keep straight at the old cabin and continue for 0.5km into the clearcut area.

Keep straight at the intersection (there is now a small trail sign that says Blue Grouse and points at the road going to the top of Blue Grouse I presume.  Continue for 0.2km past the clearcut area

When you see a small road to the right that is quite steep, park and hike for a few meters,

the Blue Hawk mine is on your left going into the hillside.

Track from GPS:
Blue Hawk Mine GPS Track

Wolf Man - a bare foot hiker

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

I grew up on a farm in Niagara-on-the-lake and spent most of my time outdoors. My grandfather was a World War II vet and believed that young people needed to learn about the outdoors and how to survive.

What has been your favourite hiking trail or outdoor area?

I love the desolation of the mountains. I spent Halloween in the Adirondack Mountains near Mt. Marcy last year and it was spectacular. There is a certain awe that I feel in the presence of mountains that makes you feel very spiritual and close to nature.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

I spent June and July of 2009 hiking the entire Bruce trail barefoot from Niagara to Tobermory. In Boyne Valley there is a place called Murphy’s Pinnacle. I arrived there late one evening and made the short trip to the summit. Although being only 500m tall, it was so beautiful and moving. I sat there and watched the sun set with my dog.

Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

I have learned good directions and have never been lost for more than an hour or so in wilderness. It’s surprising how when you step off trail to camp or relax how quickly the trail disappears into the woods and is difficult to find. Always use landmarks or temporary marking tape to not get lost.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

During my Bruce Trail Hike, I awoke to hear a noise outside my tent. I gently unzipped the tent to find a huge buck staring at me. He breathed out and I saw the mist from his nose. It was a mind blowingly beautiful reminder of the wild place I was visiting.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

I’ve spent most of my life in the outdoors. Each year I spend most of my free time in the wilderness. I’ve hiked through Algonquin park, Killarney park, and Frontenac park as well as travelled through the United States and walked barefoot on the Salt Flats of Utah, and the floor of Death Valley. From all those trips I’ve learned how beautiful Canada and the United States really is. I also learned that shoes are not as necessary as people may belive if you are tough enough to handle it. I’ve also learned that if nothing goes wrong, it’s not an adventure

What is your favourite outdoor website?

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

I always love military surplus stores, gears designed for our troops who are often called professional campers and of course Mountain Equipment Co-Op

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Windfall demolishes Hardy Falls bridge along popular hiking trail.

Hardy Falls, a scenic but short hiking trail just South of Peachland, B.C., was hit hard by strong winds and one of several short trail bridges that allowed hikers to view the falls was demolished.

Image supplied via Kelowna Capital News.

This sad event has happened just a few weeks after the falls themselves took a turn as mother nature let a number of boulders tumble down the surrounding cliffs into the gorgeous pool at the foot of the falls.  More details of the slide can be found in the Kelowna Daily Courier news.


Hardy Falls South of Peachland, B.C.

Hardy Falls South of Peachland, B.C.

Follow this link for map directions.

Wilma Lake - Aberdeen Plateau Survival Camp

On Saturday May 16 2009 3 or 4 teenagers and 3 preteens and I (Clayton) will head out to Wilma Lake on the Aberdeen Plateau.

We will have a short hike and then enjoy learning and using survival skills to build a fire,  shelter and if time permits, a raft!

View Hiking Trails and Camping at Wilma Lake –  BC, Canada in a larger map
On Sunday morning, after a fun night of campfire stories, we will break camp, remove any trace of our being there, and head out for a hike to check out Doreen Lake then take a scenic bushwacking hike back to our vehicles.


Have room for one more adult or teen in the second vehicle.  Leave a comment or send an email if your interested in coming along and practicing some survival skills.

Wild Backpacker

The Wasatch Range, nor the Unita, La Salle, Bear River or Boulder Mountains could keep a wild backpacker from hiking an outdoor adventure. While loving all that Utah has to offer for an outdoorsman, Colton Gardner could not let the Utah Grand Canyon or any other barrier stop him from trekking around home in Utah and far away. He now features backpacking gear, food, exotic destinatinations and much more at his outdoor website, Following is an entertaining and educational interview with a Wild Backpacker; Colton Gardner.

*How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?
For as long as I can remember, my family was teaching me to enjoy the outdoors. We have explored all around the country with motorized vehicles and on foot. I’ve especially grown to love backpacking and hiking. I’ve been hiking all over, exploring my local mountain ranges near home in Utah and Colorado, and also traveling far to experience exotic places like the gorgeous coastal views of Kauai, the breathtaking waterfalls of Havasupai, or the luscious forests of Alaska. My parents taught me to enjoy, respect, and protect all that nature has for us. My purpose in starting Wild Backpacker has been to share my experience, to give backpackers tips that I’ve had to learn, report on hikes I’ve been on, and share recipes I’ve enjoyed.

*What has been your favorite outdoor recreational area?
My favorite outdoor recreational area… I would say a tie between Zion National Park in Utah or the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Both are magnificent in their own way. Zion National Park has handfuls of diverse hiking trails and breathtaking sights. Their trails range in difficulty from week-long backpacking trips through the Narrows to quick day hikes up Angels Landing. If you haven’t been able to experience the beauty of Zion National Park, I strongly encourage you to visit. My other favorite area is Kauai. As the “world’s wettest place,” the Hawaiian island is full of lush jungle and greenery. I love exploring the island – finding waterfalls, caves, and other hidden wonders. It is also home to my favorite backpacking trail, the Kalalau Trail!

*Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.
As I said, the Kalalau Trail in Kauai, Hawaii, is my all-time favorite trail. The Kalalau Trail is a 22-mile trek, not counting detours to the waterfalls, along the Na Pali Coast of Kauai. Pictures of the valley, beach, and cathedrals are very popular and even more spectacular in person. It is a rigorous hike, but the sights are well worth it. You hike right along the coast, seeing whales in the ocean and waterfalls in the valleys. We spent two days backpacking in to take our time and enjoy it, spending the night at the Hanakapai and Kalalau beaches. I can’t even explain how amazing it was to fall asleep to crashing waves and wake up and look out of your tent into the Pacific Ocean. From eating wild mangoes to meeting crazy natives to having giant killer cockroaches crawling through our backpacks and carrying our dinner away into the jungle, it was an experience I will never forget. If you would like more information about the Kalalau Trail, check out the trail guide on Wild Backpacker.

*Have you ever experienced a wilderness emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.
I have not had any medical emergencies myself, but I have encountered others who have. While hiking in the Zion Narrows, we came upon a group that was planning on making it a simple day hike, but ended up having to stay the night with us in our camp. They weren’t prepared for something like this, but we were. We had extra food and dry clothes for them. We lent them our tent and our 4-person group squeezed into one 3-person tent. It was tight quarters in there, but the other group was able to have a place to sleep that night. This is just one of the times that being extra prepared came in handy.

*Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?
I am a bit embarrassed about this story, but I will tell it anyway. My brother, then 18 years old, decided that he would take me, then 12 years old, one a night-time hike. Even from the beginning, everything that could go wrong went wrong. We forgot important items, I lost my map, and the batteries in our flashlight went out. Luckily, my brother was prepared and had extras. But while replacing them, all our batteries rolled down the trail and off the mountain side. So we continued our trek with one dim headlamp. While still hiking in the dark, my brother stopped me suddenly. He told me to be quiet. He whispered to me that there was a moose up ahead and that we need to wait for it to move. I asked why we couldn’t just scare it off and he explained that they can charge and be dangerous. Don’t ask me why we didn’t think about going around him or turning back, but we stood there in the middle of the trail for a good hour and a half waiting for the moose to move. By the time my brother finally was convinced that it had left, it was light enough we didn’t need our headlamp anymore. That was the longest hour and a half of my life. I specifically remember being so bored I taught myself the ABCs backwards in my head.

*What nuggets of wisdom have you learned from your multi-day backpacking trips?
Go light. The first principle in enjoying backpacking is a light pack. Even if you can’t achieve ‘ultralight’ all at once, just do what you can. Figure out what is the heaviest thing in your pack and determine if you can substitute it with a light solution. It may be that bulky heavy sleeping bag that goes first or dehydrating your food instead of packing MREs. Another common way to lighten up is to acquire a micro-sized stove and filter water instead of carrying large amounts.

*What is your favourite outdoor website?
Of course, I love my own website,! It is a one-stop resource for any information a backpacker or hiker could need. But other than my own, I love the Backpacker Magazine’s website You can spend countless hours exploring and learning with trip reports from around the world, backpacking how-to videos, and outdoor skill articles. The forum is also an amazing resource, as it has thousands of other backpackers from experienced outdoors-men to first-time hikers.

*What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?
Most of my online outdoor gear purchases are through REI and Wilderness Dining. REI, Recreational Equipment Incorporated, has any gear you want in any brand. They have very reasonable prices and fantastic customer service. Be sure to check them out. Wilderness Dining is where I buy most of my backpacking food and cookware. I discovered them in 2008 and have been addicted since. Have any questions to ask about their products or services? Feel free to call them – they are open to talk!

What is the meaning to life? Let outdoor guru and innovator, Jeff Walker guide you…

I met Jeff on Twitter and was intrigued by his product that keeps your food stored safe from small animals when in the backcountry.  After speaking with him, I quickly learned that GrubPack is made for the outdoors by a real outdoorsman! His product is great and his stories and outdoor advice is even better. Enjoy your journey with Jeff Walker…

Q: How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

A: I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s.  As kids we played outdoors, not by our choice, but by the choice of our parents.  At some point in life, I just started to prefer the freedom of the outdoors over the stale indoors.  That preference stands today.  We road our bikes, played ball, fished, swam, roamed the neighborhood, climbed trees, packed lunches and took hikes.  All of this was done with zero adult supervision and no organized teams or uniforms!  We walked out the door in the morning and were often missing until supper time.  Sadly, parents today might be arrested for such child neglect.

Q: What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

A: People not familiar with Iowa think we all run through endless flat corn fields chasing hogs while we wear our straw hats.  In reality this area is perhaps one of America’s best kept secrets.  In our immediate area we kayak, canoe and boat on the Mississippi River and hike in the hilly forests of the upper Mississippi River valley bluffs. It’s beautiful all year ’round, but especially stunning in the fall months.

On a larger geographic scale, I’ve never met a National Park I haven’t liked.  We have visited, hiked and backpacked most every big name park west of the Mississippi, and a few to the East.  I do enjoy the West very much, with a special attraction to the Southwest.  No place on planet Earth can equal the Grand Canyon.

Jeff Walker and his son Tim Walker Near the End of a Rim-to-Rim Grand Canyon Trek

Q: Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

A: Iowa is a state that feels the full force of all four seasons.  Boating and swimming the Mississippi offers relief from stuffy summer heat and humidity.  In the fall, hiking the river bluffs is a warm walk through endless brilliant colors.  In the dead of winter, when many may sit depressed indoors, we clear a spot of ice on the shallow river backwaters and enjoy playing hockey the way it’s meant to be played, under wide open skies!  When spring comes around, you smell the Earth again and it brings the promise of the beautiful wild flowers, freshly plowed fields, the sounds of lawn mowers and flocks of awakening mosquitoes.

Q: Some outdoor folks are very innovative. Please share your product story for the GrubPack.

A: It was built from necessity I guess.  Protecting backpacking food from wilderness animals is essential, but I can’t take credit for inventing the concept.  There was a well respected similar product available and I attempted to buy one for an upcoming Western backpacking trip.  After leaving unanswered phone messages and  emails with the company, I decided to do some checking around.  At the time, no one else was making a light-weight stainless steel mesh food bag to protect against small rodents, animals and birds.  I visited several on-line hiking and backpacking forums and found others were having problems placing and receiving orders too.

I’ve been self-employed for over 30 years, so I decided to start investigating what it would take to make and distribute such a product.  After much research into various materials and sewing procedures the GrubPack was born.  We added some very innovative improvements and options and started selling on-line. We’ve have since decided to keep our sales on-line only to avoid retail mark-ups.  This keeps the price of our quality GrubPack low.  I invite your readers to visit:

Q: Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

A: No medical emergencies, but I spend as much time lost as possible.  Being lost and getting yourself un-lost is a great confidence builder.  Being lost makes you feel so stupid.  Getting yourself back in one piece makes you feels like Isaac Newton.

Q: Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

A: I have a year-old yellow lab named Rabies.  (He’s the official mascot of  He hikes with me daily… or I guess I actually hike with him.  A few weeks ago I noticed him acting strange… jumping around in circles, moving in and out and yelping a weird tune I hadn’t heard before.  I made my way to him only to find he had his nose directly in the face of a coiled rattlesnake.  I’ve met up with rattlesnakes in various parts of the West and Midwest before, but never with a dog.  Staying behind him, I grabbed his collar and pulled him through thorns and thickets to make a wide detour around his new little friend.  I later learned that veterinarians charge upwards of $1500 for rattlesnake treatment.  That’s enough money for a very nice trip to the Grand Canyon!

RABIES Official Mascot of GrubPack

RABIES Official Mascot of GrubPack

Q: If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

A: I’ve done numerous multi-day trips… Zion, Glacier Park, Grand Canyon, the Ozark Trail, Yosemite and others.  When you are clomping through a multi-day trek you sometimes wonder why the hell you’re doing it, but those thoughts vanish when you reach the end and immediately start planning the next trip in your head.  Many life lessons are learned on seemingly meaningless trails.  I feel sorry for people who just don’t get it.

Ryan and Tim Walker on Zion West Rim

Ryan and Tim Walker on Zion West Rim

Q: What is your favourite outdoor website?

A: I visit many hiking sites, forums and on-line gear stores.  I can’t say I have a single favorite, but I most enjoy the ones that focus on backpacking in the lightest manner possible.  It’s amazing how much “essential” stuff can be left at home.

Q: What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

A: or course! (:    Actually,  I do enjoy walking through any retail outdoor gear store, but almost always buy on-line.  I have visited dozens and dozens of on-line stores and have bought from way too many of them.

Q: Any future journeys planned?

A: You bet.  I have plans for a 4-5 day backpack along the Tonto Trail (Grand Canyon) in 2010.  I’ll be the old guy hawking GrubPacks in the 110 degree heat.  I’d also like to get to the Colorado Rockies for a few days of wilderness gold panning next year.

Q: What is the meaning of life?

A: Life is short.  Every single day is a gift. Your family is your past, present and future.  Spend as much time with them as possible.  The great outdoors is the perfect place to share frivolous fun as well as your deepest thoughts.  You can find many answers to real-life problems in the time you spend exploring and enjoying quiet places together.  Oh, and if you’re searching for God… He’s out there searching for you too.

A few links worth posting: and

Wells Gray Provincial Park Hiking Trails

I am planning for a 3 day kayaking trip in Wells Gray Provincial Park this coming weekend.  Just wanted to share some great hiking trail info about the area.

This site provides Wells Gray route information and is defined by the type of activity. Kayaking, Hiking, Camping etc.

This site is built by one of the park rangers and gives information about what you can enjoy on the way to Clearwater Lake.  It is called The Corridor Part 1 and the Corridor Part 2

Here is the Wells Gray Provincial Park website.

A map of the Clearwater Lake Area and Campground.

What’s a good short hike I can take (2 hours or less)?

Foot Lake

Placid Lake

Helmcken Rim Trail

Ray Farm-Alice Lake-Ray Mineral Spring

Bailey’s Chute-West Lake

Sticta Falls/Dragons Tongue

Osprey Falls Viewpoint

What’s a good medium hike I can take (1-3 hours)?

Placid Lake (Green Mountain) to Whitehorse bluffs

Pyramid Mountain –Majerus Falls

Clearwater Lake Lookout

What’s a good long hike I can take (3-8 hours)?

Battle Mountain

Flat Iron

Chain Meadows

Majerus Loop (bug spray please!)

Trails only for the very experienced and well equipped

The trail to be base of Helmcken Falls-steep and rocky

via corridor2.

Wells Gray Provincial Park - Clearwater Lake Kayaking and Hiking

I was asked to help find a good kayaking trip and join a friend for 3 days and two nights of outdoor adventure. After a lot of research we decided to head for Clearwater Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park. The clear waters surrounded by the pristine wilderness in the Cariboo Mountain Range did not disappoint!

Clearwater Lake is in Wells Gray Provincial Park. To get there from Kelowna we drove to Kamloops and took Highway 5 North past McLure, Barriere (where the damaged forests from the 2003 fires were still very evident) until we reached Clearwater and then turned off the highway and onto Clearwater Valley Road. View the map here. The Clearwater Valley Road is referred to as the “Corridor Area” of Wells Gray Provincial Park. It is just one section of this amazing park.

Along the 67 km corridor, numerous sidetrips will attract your attention.  Several examples are:
Spahats Creek Park and Spahats Falls
Trophy Mountain Hike and Trophy Mountain Flower Meadows
Moul Falls
Green Mountain and Placid Lake Hiking Trails
Dawson Falls
Helmcken Falls and Helmcken Falls Rim Trail
The Mushbowl

The drive to the lake took roughly 4 hours from Kelowna. Since we wanted kayak farther up the lake to set up our camp , we didn’t have the time to take in side trips, except for one.  With Helmcken Falls being Canada’s fourth tallest waterfall at 462 feet, we could not drive by without taking the 3 km sidetrip to the Helmcken Falls Viewpoint. The falls are incredible to see, next time I go I will stop at the Helmcken Falls Rim Trail and hike the four kilometers to view them.

I believe a natural wonder like the Helmcken Falls will leave a deep appreciation and warm your soul if you have to work a bit to get there. I am thankful that we could save time and drive right to the falls but after leaving the fenced off viewpoints and groups of tourists, I likened the experience to having a fast food meal as opposed to the fine dining that was just next door.

At the South end of Clearwater Lake you can camp at the Clearwater Lake Provincial Park campground with the Clearwater River running from the lake past the campground and over Osprey Falls right at the end of the campground or you park overnight at the boat launch overnight while you kayak or canoe down the lake to one of the four wilderness campsites. We of course chose the latter.

After kayaking for approx. 10 km, we came to the “boat access only” Bar View campsite. The site was a paradise.  We enjoyed the long sandy beach on the pristine wilderness shoreline too much so for the second day we took the kayaks to Divers Bluff campsite and Eagles Lookout Trail across the lake. Divers Bluff is a fantastic site but does not have the nice sand to enjoy.

Eagles Lookout Trail Head was easy to find.  The 1.3 km trail began with lush moss covered ground and large cedars, fir and birch trees in a spacious forest and ended with a steep gruelling hike that brought you to appropriately named Eagles Lookout. With an elevation gain of 250 meters, the view was great and the rocky lookout that jutted out over the edge of an enormous cliff made for a perfect hike!

For more Wells Gray Information see these Tracks And Trails posts:

Helmcken Falls

Majesty and Tragedy

Hiking Trails in Wells Gray Provincial Park

Valley of Ghosts- Ainsworth Hotsprings

Valley of Ghosts in the Kootenays is listed in this hiking site because you have to hike to get to some of the Ghost Towns in British Columbia and because my home town is not too far away from the few that I have listed. 🙂 The ghost towns of the Valley of the Ghosts are located along the route from New Denver to Kaslo and include;

Galena Trail
New Denver
Idaho Peak Lookout
K & S Historic Railway

Ainsworth was a great way to end our trip. The pool admission was included with our room (total with tax was less than $200). The room was excellent but the pool was better. My camera is not usable underwater but I can tell you that the caves / tunnell were excellent. The main tunnel that takes you into the mountain engulfs you with waist deep hot mineral water pouring in after being forced up from the center of the Earth and relaxes you with enchanting soft echos of other hot springs enthusiasts while any aches from hiking around the ghost towns melt away in the clouds of steam.

Ainsworth Hotsprings Caves

Ainsworth Hotsprings Caves

Ainsworth Hotel

Ainsworth Hotel

The winding road to Ainsworth

The winding road to Ainsworth

Kootenay Lake view from Ainsworth Hot Springs

Kootenay Lake view from Ainsworth Hot Springs

Hiking Trail and outdoor areas of interest near Ainsworth Hotsprings are:
Fletcher Falls
Cody Caves
Sandon and Idaho Peak
Mt. Buchanan Lookout
Whitewater Creek
Keen Creek
Fry Creek Canyon
Other Secret Places!
You can find out more information on these outdoor experiences by going to or calling 1-800-759-2456a

British Columbia has birthed many small towns that died in infancy and are now part of our colourful history. Pictures and words cannot express the feelings I have when surrounded by crumbling ruins of a forgotten time. So I suggest you drive through the valley of Ghosts as it will be well worth your time.

Hiking Trail and outdoor areas of interest near Ainsworth Hotsprings are:
Fletcher Falls
Cody Caves
Sandon and Idaho Peak
Mt. Buchanan Lookout
Whitewater Creek
Keen Creek
Fry Creek Canyon
Other Secret Places!
You can find out more information on these outdoor experiences by going to or calling 1-800-759-2456

Barkerville, near Quesnel may be the most famous and best restored ghost town of BC. But the Valley of Ghosts in the Kootenays between New Denver and Kaslo has so much to offer….for FREE!

UPLB Trail of Mt. Makiling in the Philippines

Mt. Makiling
Major Jump-off: Station 1, UP College of Forestry
LLA: 14.13°N 121.20°E, 1090 MASL (Peak 2)

Mt. Makiling is mainly protected by the University of the Philippines Los Baños. Because of the location, just 1.5 hours away from Manila, the capital of the Philippines, Makiling has been one of the mainstay destinations of local mountaineers, as well as scientists and tourists. The trails are well preserved making the hike easier even without a guide. While on your way to the peak, one can take some turns going to Flat Rocks, a river with huge stabs of rocks and Mudsprings, the so-called crater of Makiling where one can see boiling mud.

There is another trail, a more challenging one for advanced hikers. It is the the Sto. Tomas trail or the so called Makiling Traverse.  This will be tackled on the coming days.

Coming from Manila (from LRT Buendia or Cubao) one can ride a bus going to Sta. Cruz, then upon arriving at Los Baños crossing walk to Robinson’s Place and take a jeepney to College of Forestry and register there. It is also important to give your contact number to anyone at the Ranger Station.


Climbing notes. During the rainy season, Mt. Makiling is infested with limatik, especially between 600-1000 MASL. See the Limatik article for details. Be careful also with the plants and trees, some of them, such as the poison ivy varieties, have pruritic (itch-causing) substances, or thorns. There are reported sightings of snakes but these have become rare nowadays. There are no water sources beyond the Nursery, it is advisable to bring at 2 liters up. Trails can get very slippery on the final 200 meters. But there are station signs from 1-30 (yellow metal cards) — if you do not see one for 30 minutes, review your tracks. Cellphone signal, for its part, is ample in the mountain. Sun cover is so complete there’s no need to wear sunblock. Rain protection is more important, since sudden showers are common in Mt. Makiling.

See map trail provided by
Map courtesy of the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems.

Mt. Makiling