miagordon89

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Top places to visit for fall hiking

Now that the smoke from the wildfires has cleared,  it is time to get back outside and enjoy the beautiful outdoors before the rain starts. The fall weather is already in the air and before we know it, the leaves will start changing colours and create a whole different kind of beauty in B.C.

My absolute favourite thing to do outdoors is go for a hike. There is nothing in this world that can compare to looking out over the top of a mountain, seeing beautiful glacier lakes, and breathing in the fresh air. Now add in the changing fall colours, and you have a picture perfect outdoor activity. 

Don’t know where to start when it comes to your fall hike? Well I have a few ideas for you,  especially since I have officially reached my one year mark living out in B.C.

Top 5 day hikes near Vancouver

Here are my favourite five hikes that also aren’t too far from Vancouver that I have discovered so far.

1) Garibaldi Lake

 This one is my absolute favourite hike in B.C. because it holds a pretty special place in my heart. This is where I got engaged and let me tell you, with the beautiful lake and greenery at the top, it was the perfect spot. When you get to the top you can opt to pass through Taylor Meadows, which I highly recommend. Stop and smell the trees and the beautiful flowers on the path before making your way over to the lake. When you see the lake for the first time, you will stop in your tracks. It is a beautiful deep blue. The colour will stun you, even on a cloudy day.  Take a walk around, there are plenty of benches that look out on to the lake and scenery.

Difficulty: This hike was a little more difficult than I thought it would be. It is 9KM up to the lake and it is all slightly uphill switchbacks so be prepared for a bit of a burn.

Pro tip: Go early! A lot of people know about this beautiful gem and so it can get pretty crowded. We started our hike at around 6am and it was perfect.

2) Joffre Lakes

 If beautiful glacier lakes, endless trees, and waterfalls are your thing, then make your way out to Pemberton for a day of hiking Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. The first lake is  an easy 5 minute walk and its crystal blue colours and mountain views will truly be spectacular. Guess what? Somehow it only gets better from here. Each lake sparkles in the light, and the hike to the top has you twisting through all of the colours of fall. 

Difficulty: This hike has moments were it is a really steep climb but over all pretty balanced. It is long so prepare to spend all day but I would say it would be medium difficulty.

Pro tip: Just like Garibaldi, it can get really crowded so go early. Also, while I found the second lake the prettiest of them all, I would highly recommend taking the time to explore all three. Each one of them is slightly different but absolutely beautiful.

3) Dog Mountain

Looking for an easy hike really close to Vancouver but also offers spectacular views? Then Dog Mountain is the spot for you.  This hike is located on Mt. Seymour. It will take somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half to make it to the top. Don’t let the short hike fool you though, the views from the top are spectacular. You get the full city on one side and the mountains on the other. There are plenty of picture perfect spots along the way, included a cute little lake.

Difficulty: This hike can get a little muddy since it is a pretty narrow path, but it isn’t too difficult. If you love hiking, you will make it to the top no problem.

Pro tip: pack a little picnic for the top of the mountain and stay to enjoy the views from one of the rocks at the top.

4) St. Mark’s Summit

St. Mark’s Summit is also pretty close to downtown and on the Howe Sound Crest Trail. I love this hike because it truly offers a little bit of everything. There is a beautiful meadow about half way up the hike. Once you get to the summit you are in for a real treat. It is a pretty steep hike, making the vertical views from the top both frightening and majestic. It is amazing to look down at the blue ocean. You will honestly feel like you are on top of the world.

Difficulty: This hike once again has its moments. Be prepared for a fairly steep hike and quite a few switch backs near the top. Again another medium hike.

Pro tip: This is an awesome hike because it isn’t too crowded and offers some amazing views. It is also a dog friendly hike so it is a great date for you and your pup.

5) Lynn Loop 

For those that really want an easier hike with beautiful views then this is the spot for you, especially in the fall months. Take moments to breathe in the fresh air and marvel at the beautiful large cedar and hemlock trees. Just be careful of aggressive bears along the trail. It seems to be an issue lately.

Difficulty: This 5km hike is quite easy (there is just one little steep part that will get your heart pumping). It is a great hike if you don’t have the full day.

Pro tip: Since the hike is a pretty short one, put some time aside for the other beautiful spots in the area. One of my favourite stops is the suspension bridge. Less busy than the Capilano bridge and definitely worth the views.

There you have it, some of my favourite hikes to discover this fall. I would love to hear if your top hikes made the list or if you have some others that I should give a try. In the meantime I hope you all get outside to enjoy the beautiful fall weather.

xo,

Mia

My first Women Who Explore getaway fuelled by Hippie Snacks

This summer, I was able to experience one of the most amazing, gratifying, and incredible experiences of my life. I was able to host my first getaway for Women Who Explore. Let’s take a step back real quick and find out more about the Women Who Explore community. The group was founded by two sisters and was created for women to feel comfortable and safe while exploring the great outdoors.

Women Who Explore Getaways 

Recently, the team started to great getaways all across North America. The getaways are for amazing women to get together and check things off their bucket list in a non-judgemental and affordable atmosphere. The getaways have included everything from dog sledding in Alberta to a week long road trip around Iceland. Not only do these getaways allow you to experience a once in a life time opportunity, but they also allow you to meet eight strangers that soon become life long friends.

My bucket list getaway this summer was a surfing trip to Tofino B.C. I arrived in Tofino and greeted by a room full of amazing women ready to have an amazing weekend. We spent the first day of our trip getting to known each other a little bit better, went for a delicious dinner, and then had an early night to get ready for the adventurous that awaited us the next day.

Starting the day with delicious breakfast provided by Hippie Snacks 

We started the day with our delicious Hippie Snacks Granola. Hippie Snacks is a local BC company made with whole food ingredients and taste delicious. The company got its idea in 2005 and came up with the name Hippie in celebration of the 1960’s movement of eating natural foods and keeping real foods in our diets. They have several tortilla chips, granola, and snacks.

Their Maple Quinoa was the perfect start to the morning to get us set for our fun filled day. You can really taste the natural ingredients in the crunch in the ancient grain granola filled food. After a breakfast fill of delicious food and great conversation we were ready for our adventure.

Stop #1: A secret hike 

The first stop of our day was searching for a hidden plane wreck on a hike in the Pacific Rim National Park. The Royal Canadian Air Force Canso crashed shortly after takeoff on February 12th 1945. The remains of the plane still sit on the side of the hill in Tofino. The plane was amazing, still main intact despite the crash. We stopped for plenty of pictures before making our way back to the house.

Snack time with Hippie Snacks 

At the house, we grabbed some organic Hippie Sesame Snacks. Don’t be fooled by the size of these snacks. They are full of flavour and will definitely get your energy up again. They are made with crunchy white and black organic sesame seeds and sweetened with coconut sugar. Satisfying and nutrient packed we were ready for the next stage of our adventure weekend.

Surfing the waves in Tofino 

Our next stop of the day was to the beach where we met with the team from Tofino Surf Adventure. We went through a quick on land lesson with the girls before hitting the waves. It was amazing because it was such a mix of experience, but every single one of the girls had a smile on their face and got up on the board. It was amazing to be on the water and take in the beauty of the beach around us. By the end of the day I must say all the ladies were pretty darn good surfers. 

From strangers to friends 

The whole weekend was amazing. From going on beautiful hikes in the Pacific National Rim to trying our hand at surfing some of the best waves in Canada we had so much fun. Yet the best part of the whole weekend was getting to meet 8 strong, beautiful, and incredible women. These women come from all backgrounds, ages, and stories and what started off as a room full of strangers quickly became a room full of friends.

I am so thankful for my Women Who Explore family who have taught me not to be afraid of the outdoors. They have taught me not to be uncomfortable in unfamiliar territories. They have taught me to open up my heart, and soul, and go out and explore.

Why Sooke is Vancouver Island’s Hidden Gem

I have visited Vancouver Island on several occasions, but most of my trips have taken me to shorelines of Victoria or Tofino. I had never hard of a town called Sooke, that is until my boyfriend planned a surprise getaway for the two of us. Not knowing much about the town, I didn’t really know what to expect on the trip.

About Sooke 

Photo credit; Connor McCardle

If I did have any expectations, they would of been blown right out of the water. Sooke turned out to be the most quaint, beautiful, and relax place I had ever visited. Known as the place where the rainforest meets the sea it offers so many hidden gems just waiting to be explored. From beautiful hiking trails like the Juan De Fuca trail and ocean front homes it is where you go for ultimate tranquility, and with few hotels it is a lot less busy then some of the other spots on the island.

Where to stay

photo credit; Connor McCardle

As mentioned, there are very few hotels and motels in the area so we turned to airbnb to find the perfect spot to stay for our trip. I highly recommend this because you never know what adorable spot you will find. We stayed in a cute cottage right on the ocean. We ate all of our meals right above the water, searched for whales right from the window, gazed up at the milky way, and fell asleep listening to the waves crashing against the rocks below. It was truly a little slice of heaven.

What to do

Day 1: Potholes, Markets and Stars 

Day one of our trip took us to the Sooke Potholes, a very easy hike that takes you alongside the Sooke River. Gaze at the rivers unique rock formation that was formed from the last ice age millions of years ago. The park has several trails and all of them are beautiful. We followed the river to  a secluded rock pool and beach. We daringly jumped in to the freezing water and hung out on the beach.

On the way home form the potholes, we saw signs pointing to the Country Market. The market located at Otter Point Road runs every Saturday from May to October and it is absolutely adorable. Explore the local artists and taste some delicious fresh local fruits. Pick up a homemade piece of jewellery as a souvenir.

Living in the city, I sometimes forget that stars even exist in the sky. Away from the lights and pollution, the Sooke sky offered a perfect canvas to star gaze. We stayed up well past my bed time and gazed at the Milky Way. We even caught a glimpse of Mars.

Day 2: Rainforest hikes and river floats 

The second day of our trip took us on a little drive to explore some of the beautiful rainforests hikes in the area. We made our way through the trees of the Juan De Fuca trail down to Mystic Beach. On the beach you will find beautiful rock formations, forests on either corner, and a small water fall in the centre of it all. It truly fit its name, mystic to say the least.

A little bonus, about an hour and a half from Sooke on the way to catch the ferry in Nanaimo we discovered floating on Lake Cowichan. Hundreds of people cooling off in the water on their floaties. While we didn’t have our donuts on us, we did jump in. Definitely plan to come back to get the full experience.

Just a few weeks ago I had no idea Sooke existed, now it has become one of my favourite spots in B.C. It is calming and beautiful and truly a small hidden gem on a giant island.

 

 

 

 

 

Why KeteKoha is the must have subscription box

Travelling has been a part of my life ever since I was a baby. My family is from South Africa, and I took my first flight before my first birthday. Since then, I have travelled around the world as a professional tennis player and now as a travel blogger. What inspires me about travel is learning more about the different lifestyles and culture from around the world. Wherever I travel to, I love to bring a piece of that country home with me. Unfortunately though, I don’t get to travel to every city and country, so I was pretty excited when I got a piece of the South Pacific dropped off right to my door with the help of KeteKoha.

What is KeteKoha?

What is KeteKoha you ask? It is a premium luxury subscription box with brands from a group of destination islands in the South Pacific. Inside the box I found homemade goodies and classic treats from places like New Zealand to Fiji.

Inside the box I found a variety of delicious and unique artisan products that I could never find on the shelves here in Canada. They are from small producers made with local products and really offer that pacific flavour and tradition. I  wanted to share some of my favourite products with you.

My Favourite Products

Viberi Ruby

straight from New Zealand these organic crispy blackcurrant berries are topped with white chocolate and are actually addicting. A guilt free and unique treat that offers the perfect combination of sweet and sour. The product actually comes from the soils of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, which gives the blackcurrant rich nutrients and taste. I pretty much ate them all in one sitting

Solomons Gold Smooth Dark Chocolate

I am a chocoholic and so I was very excited to find this dairy gluten and nut free treat. Basically the perfect chocolate since everyone can enjoy it. Solomons Gold is made with organic cacao beans directly grown on the Solomon Islands. You can truly taste how pure and smooth this chocolate is.

Hand Crafted Aroha Sauvignon Blanc

This none alcohol drink is so tasty and made with natural ingredients. The drink is made with famous Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc grapes and blended with saffron you will be sipping it until there isn’t a drop left.

Strawberry and Beetroot Chutney

Made in New Zealand this is a truly traditional and delicious treat from Artisan Vinegar. The sweet and savoury taste makes for the perfect breakfast or snack. Learning more about this product I realize how passionate this team is about their product. They keep their fruits in different areas of the house and produce it in everything from steel to glass to give it the unique taste.

I could go on and on and share about every product in this box because they are all so amazing, but I wouldn’t want to give all the amazing surprises inside away. I love that all of these products are from small artisan brands that make their product with such precision, tradition, expertise, and love that you can taste it in their food. From sweet to savoury the box offers something to please every single taste bud.

Environmentally Friendly 

Aside from the delicious treats, even the packaging is made right in New Zealand and they really care not just about their products, but about helping the environment which I really loved. They use a small ingredients list and minimal plastic to keep the products green.

 

Win one of your own! 

I honestly couldn’t be happier with my KeteKoha box and cannot wait to find out what goodies will be arriving at my door next month. I want you to be able to try and enjoy this amazing new subscription box as much as I do. By using the code “MIAWGORDON” at check out, you can receive $10 off your first purchase. On top of that, if you head over to the KeteKoha social media page right now, they are offering a giveaway to one lucky winner.

Now excuse me while I go and devour all the other products inside this box and pretend that I am on a magical beach in the South Pacific.

A Beginners Guide to Back Country Camping

It has been nearly a year since I moved from Toronto to Vancouver and during that time, I have tried to explore as much of the B.C. as possible.

They don’t call it beautiful B.C. out here for nothing. From the mountains, to the ocean this place is filled with such beauty.

Since moving here I have experienced the mountains through hiking and camping, the ocean through paddle boards and kayaks. I have seen whales and bears. Every inch offering some spectacular view. It is hard to believe that this is now home.

Over Canada Day long weekend though, I decided to experience something I have never done before; back country hiking and camping at Elfin Lakes.

The Experience 

We left early Sunday morning and made our way up to Squamish. Squamish is abut 45 minutes from downtown Vancouver. You really feel like you have left the city and entered a fairy tale. So much greenery and nature.

We then started our hike. 11KM up the first day, and part of me wanted to turn back for the first 5KM. It was extremely steep and pretty difficult with my backpack, but trust me it is worth it. During the first half of the hike we observed hundred year old trees and waterfalls. The air was so fresh, the views stunning. It wasn’t like any experience I have ever had.

The second half of the hike was gruelling in a different way. I don’t think I was quite prepared for the amount of snow we would have in July. My shoes weren’t quite as waterproof as I had hoped and navigating through the snow while rolling over hills was difficult, but again the views from here were magnificent. Snow capped peaks in the distances, clear blue water peaking out through the iced lakes.

 

We eventually made it to the top, and were lucky that we were one of the first ones there because they only had a few uncovered sleeping decks. We set up our tent with an open view of the endless mountain range. I couldn’t believe that would be my morning wake up.

Then we opened up the grill and started cooking outside in the wilderness while playing card games, drinking from the lake, and cracking open our boxed wine.

We watched the sunset while dancing to some music. Watching the colour disappear behind the mountains was magical. A sense of accomplishment came over me.

An early wake up call, some oatmeal and coffee, and then we started our decent back down. 11KM to go, and again plenty of snow stuck in my shoes.

This was one of the greatest experiences of my life to date. Back Country hiking really puts you out in nature, really forces you to put your phone down and appreciate the beauty that is all around you. I cannot wait to experience more hikes and camps like this.

 

Preparation 

As a relatively new hiker, I wanted to make sure that I was as prepared as possible. I knew that I wanted to make sure I had all of the necessities, but also wanted to pack light because I had a 22KM hike ahead of me. It was difficult finding the balance and hard to know exactly what to bring and what to leave at home. Here is a list of some of the essentials that I found helpful if you are hoping to try Back Country hiking and camping yourself;

  • A good backpack: I went with the MEC Mistral 55 Backpack. It was lightweight but had plenty of room to fit my needs. I loved the padded straps to make for comfortable hiking. I also loved the cross wind back, so that it doesn’t rest directly on your back and allows air to flow while hiking.
  • An all season lightweight tent: It is important to have a tent that can withstand the elements, but one that isn’t going to be too heavy during a hike.
  • A sleeping mat: You are going to be sleeping on the ground, so to make the experience as comfortable as possible, you may want a mat to lie on. Having that extra layer also makes for warmer conditions. I went with the MEC Deluxe Sleeping Pad. Light weight, but also extremely comfortable. Easy to inflate and deflate.
  • A sleeping bag: I used my Topquilt sleeping bag. You can find more info on what makes this the perfect sleeping bag in my previous blog post.
  • Layers: Canadian weather can change in an instant and so it is important to bring minimal amount of clothes, but clothes that can be used in the elements. Make sure you have warm socks and layers in case it gets cold at night. Also make sure you have enough dry socks. I learned that lesson the hard way.
  • Bear Spray: You definitely want to be prepared in case you run into any trouble.
  • A whistle: Again, a great way to be prepared in case of a dangerous situation.
  • Food: I packed some instant food from MEC. All you have to do is add water and you have a delicious meal that is easy and light to carry. Way easier than trying to bring a ton of different ingredients.
  • Matches: No matter what kind of hiking trip you are going on, you are going to want to have something that can light a fire.
  • Flashlight
  • Swiss army knife

For a full list of hiking essentials check out MEC’s awesome list. It really helped me prepare for my trip.

 

Safety first

I cannot wait to experience more of B.C. through these excursions and trips, but a reminder if you are going to go hiking and camping be prepared. Know the area, know the route, and let someone know where you are going. Because while the wilderness is beautiful but dangerous all at the same time.

You hear stories of people getting lost and hurt and you never think it can happen to you, but trust me if you aren’t prepared it most definitely can.

Have you every been back country hiking? I would love for you to comment below and share your experience!

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia