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From Vancouver to Banff and Back

Having a wedding to shoot in Banff late October, I found myself with multiple choices: flying to Calgary in and out for the wedding or; leaving earlier and driving up there from Vancouver.

I left Thursday morning from the rainy Vancouver and started my journey driving east towards the Canadian Rockies.

Quite the extensive drive but I stopped a few times before reaching Banff. I chose the northern road, staying overnight in the little town of Clearwater south of the beautiful Provincial Park of Wells Gray. That evening, I was welcomed by the most apocalyptic light. Rain was still pouring from the sky but eventually, the sky cleared out. Black and orange clouds formed, and a rainbow appeared on the other side of the field. What a perfect way to start this trip. After rainy autumn on the Pacific Northwest Coast, the time had come to travel east in search of the first snow of the season…

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Places visited:



There are some of these days when you open a map, look for a point of interest and drive there. That is what happened with Chilliwack Park. I wanted to see a lake so I looked at which lake nearby we could go to (nearby meant, reachable within the day). In this case it was through Google Maps since I have yet to find a printed map of the Vancouver area that I actually like.  

Once reached Abbotsford, the road takes you between fields and woods and then follow the river that leads to Chilliwack Lake. Late March, the access by car to the park was closed so we all parked on the side of the road. To access the lake, we walked on the new campground (still in construction). It is supposed to open for the long weekend in May.

The lake is surrounded by mountains. At this time of the year peaks are still under the snow. Probably another great lake to explore on a canoe. There are also few hikes around the lake that leads in the mountains.

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Shot on iPhone X

Shot on iPhone X

Nikon F3T with 105mm f/2.5 | Fuji Pro 400H +1

Nikon F3T with 105mm f/2.5 | Fuji Pro 400H +1

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1 hour and half heading east from Vancouver Metrotown. Campgrounds need to be booked in advance. During the off season, the gate is closed so you can parked on the side of the road (it’s the end of the road so you are not blocking traffic) and you then need to walk to the lake for 10-15min passing by the campground.

  • Shot on Canon 5D Mark III with 16-35mm f/2.8L II - 50mm f/1.4 - 85mm f/.18

  • Shot on Nikon F3T with 28mm f/2.8 - 50mm f/2 - 105mm f/2.5

  • Shot on iPhone X - Moment Wide Lens - Portrait Mode

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We got snow that morning, so I thought I would be nice to hike somewhere in Cypress Mountain. I decided to try the Baden-Powell trail from Horseshoe Bay and follow it to reach Black Mountain. However, I started quite a bit late and I stalled on the first part, taking pictures and walking around Whyte Lake. The sun was already setting behind the trees. That’s was my clue to turn around.

The second day we drove back to the Baden-Powell trail. The hike looked very promising so we thought we would start earlier to try to get to Black Mountain in the Cypress Mountain Ski area. And we didn’t finish it, as we started … too late, once again! We could have reached the top but the night would have been on us. For a while I thought of doing it, getting up there for the sunset and then go to the Cypress Resort. From there, maybe grabbing a cab or a bus and get the car later on. However, the small parking of the Baden-Powell trail above Horseshoe Bay doesn’t allow overnight parking and I did not feel like being towed…

I never visited Horseshoe Bay before and since I was in the area with time on my hand, I finally stopped there and walked around. The night was so clear, blue hour was about to end and the stars were slowly coming out. It was pretty quiet that night. I had to switch to the Sigma Art 24mm at f/1.4, 1/15s and iso 6400 to get the next shots which, later on, front of the computer was quite happy about. Of course the iso was a bit pushed on the 5D Mark III but It got pretty well denoised with DxO Optics. 

I became quite fond of Horseshoe Bay (Went back maybe 5 times over the month). That night, I ended with a small break at the Starbucks. One thing I do love about the Starbucks located on the North Shores; most of them are displaying old photographs of North Vancouver which show how much it changed. 

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  • Baden Powell trail

  • Sea to Sky Highway

  • Horseshoe Bay Village

The trail to Black Mountain is around 14km mostly through the woods with some steep climbs. The trail is, however, very well marked. Perfect for a day hike.

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