A three day itinerary in Cranbook B.C.

I am so lucky that I have had the chance lately to explore more of the beautiful province of B.C. My most recent trip took me out to Cranbrook. Cranbrook is located on the west side of the Kootenay River. It is nestled in the open valley between the beautiful Rocky Mountains to the east and the Purcell Mountains to the west. Basically, you are surrounded by towering, beautiful mountain ranges.

The beauty of Cranbrook was evident before I even landed on the ground. I could see the peaks of the mountains through the clouds from the airplane. I landed at the Canadian Rockies International Airport, a short 20 minute drive to downtown Cranbrook and just minutes from Powder Highway. Powder Highway has become famous because of how it makes so many large ski resorts easily accessible.

I had three days exploring the beauty of this small city, learning about the local culture, and tasting some of the delicious food and local brews. I really fell in love with Cranbrook and wanted to share my trip itinerary with you so that hopefully you too will have a chance to fall in love with this beautiful spot.

A weekend itinerary in Cranbrook 

Day 1: Cultural learning experiences and brewery tours

 

Ktunuxa Learning Centre

Once I landed in Cranbrook it was straight to St. Eugene’s Resort and Casino. As we pulled up to the building I was mesmerized by the beautiful red brick contrasting with the deep brown tree vines that hugged it from all angles.

Inside we had a delicious lunch, and then I had a chance to meet with Margoret and Jared, who run the Ktunuxa Learning Centre. I had the chance to learn their Creation Story, look over old artifacts, and even learn how to make moccasins.

What impressed me the most though, was hearing the story of the Residential Schools. Margoret actually attended the school that was once here when she was younger. She told me about some of the terrible stories, but also told me the reason they didn’t want to destroy the building was because they wanted to turn the negative experience of the school into a positive place.

Hideout 

After our time at St. Eugene it was already time for dinner. We made our way to downtown Cranbrook. A very quaint spot with some local bars and restaurants that lined the street. We made our way to the Hideout. The Hideout is the local brewery that is also home to fresh food and ales made right in the Kootenay’s. I love that the brewery doesn’t sell the beer outside of the city, which makes it a true destination spot.

We had a tour of the brewery and found out what makes the beer here so unique. We had a few tasters and even got a flight of some of their season brews (which were so tasty). We then sat down for dinner.

I loved the variety. The restaurant offered everything from bar food to more creative fine dining plates. As someone who loves Indian food, I loved that one of their top chefs, Raj, used his upbringing as inspiration for several dishes. I tried the Masala Poutine and it was to die for.

Day 2: coffees and skiing 

Hotshots 

I started the day at Hotshots. This quaint coffee shop has an amazing selection of coffees and breakfast options. I loved the community feel of the restaurant and their breakfast hash was delicious.

Skiing in Fernie 

After breakfast we drove about an hour outside of town to Fernie Alpine Resort. Fernie is nestled deep in the Canadian Rockies. I have always wanted to visit this spot because of the amazing snow pack it gets year after year. In fact, Fernie regularly tops the list for deepest snow pack in the Canadian Rockies.

The views from the top of the mountain were stunning, the snow was incredible, and there were so many different options for ski runs. It was an amazing experience.

Fire Hall Kitchen and Tap

We then made our way to dinner at Fire Hall Kitchen and Tap for dinner. This is one of the newest downtown spots. It is actually located in a 1929 heritage building that is a former fire hall. I loved the old charm of the building, complete with roll up truck doors and even a fire pole and bell.

Aside from the adorable building look, this family friendly pub had an amazing food options and delicious craft beers. I loved the fact that their flights came in ladders and their fish and chips were incredible.

Day 3: Heritage tours and bike rides 

Fort Steele Historic Site 

We started the day with some delicious warm cinnabons at Fort Steele Heritage Site. Fort Steele is a living history museum. Many of the buildings here are from the 1800s. The museum offers horse drawn wagon rides around town. We got to explore the beautiful and colourful buildings. We had a chance to step inside the newly renovated hotel, where you can actually stay.

We also had a chance to visit some of the farm animals and take in the beautiful views of both the Rocky and Purcell Mountains. I loved learning about the history and seeing all the beauty of this spot.

Fat biking 

After Fort Steele we made our way over the forests to learn more about fat biking in Cranbrook. Last winter the entire town came together for a crowdfunding project to raise money for a trail groomer. Thanks to that funding, the city of Cranbrook was able to create more than 40km of beautiful groomed trails.

I loved learning how to ride a fat bike, and it was such gorgeous terrain. The perfect way to enjoy the beauty of Cranbrook while getting some exercise.

Cranbrook History Centre 

The last stop of the trip was to the Cranbrook History Centre. The museum is a collection 0f 28 railway cars, and you can actually tour 13 of them. We had a chance to see the 1929 Trans Canada Limited train as well as the executive car “Strathcona”, which housed gusts like Sir Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth II.

Where to stay?

Cranbrook is a very quaint town, and I liked the fact that there weren’t hotels on every corner, however there are definitely some hidden gems in the city.

During my trip I stayed at the Elizabeth Lake Lodge. This alpine style hotel had a full kitchen and the most comfortable beds.

I also loved that the hotel room backed on to Elizabeth Lake Bird Sanctuary. I was able to go on some hikes and walks with the beautiful Rockies as my backdrop

I fell in love with this adorable town, from the beauty of the mountains to the incredible history, to the amazing outdoor adventures Crambrook is a must visit. It is the perfect escape for a weekend away.

Here are a few more shots from my getaway too Cranbrook.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

There’s No Place Like Home: Pemberton

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Beautiful mountains? Check 

Crystal clear lakes? Check 

Picturesque views? Check 

Outdoor activities? Check 

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Pemberton sure has a lot of check marks making it the perfect place to escape for a weekend. It is a beautiful town located just 20 minutes North of Whistler and is nestled at the foot of the majestic Mt Currie. The town offers everything from summertime hikes and bike rides to winter skiing and snowshoeing.

 

I had a chance to explore beautiful Pemberton this fall. The leaves were changing colour while the sun was still shining bright. It made for breathtaking views and plenty of fun.

I think Pemberton is the perfect getaway for a weekend adventure outside of Vancouver and here are some tips to make sure you have the best time there.

 

Where to Stay

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On our trip we stayed at Sweetwater Lane Farm B&B and I honestly cannot say enough good things about this adorable spot. This B&B is located on secluded 7 acre farm just outside of Pemberton. Inside there are four large bedrooms that offer incredible views of Mount Currie. A dinning place and open kitchen made for the perfect spot to relax. The B&B also offers fresh daily breakfast picked straight from the garden outside.

 

The farm itself offers so much to do and see. It is home to pastured poultry (there was even a fresh chicken for us to eat upon arrival), pigs, a milk cow, and two miniature donkey’s called Leroy and Lilly. They were basically like giant dogs. There is also a vegetable farm and fruit trees, and of course stunning views.

 

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Day 1: Exploring, walking, and biking 

Exploring: I started the day off just walking around the farm. There was so much to see right in the backyard, literally. From picking some of my own vegetables to playing with the Lilly and Leory, it was hard to even get off the property

Walking: Alas, I finally set off to explore outside. I was told there was a beautiful river not too far from the property so I started walking to find out more. The river is part of Lillooet Lake. To access we had to walk through a forest area, with Mount Currie constantly the view point. The river was truly beautiful and a little bonus it was the salmon crossing season so we saw a ton of fish.

Biking: What happens when you put mountains and breathtaking views together? You get the perfect combination for some mountain biking. Pemberton has plenty of biking trails, even for beginners like myself. You are basically riding right on the Sea to Sky corridor so you really are in for a treat when it comes to the views.

Day 2: go on the most epic hike 

The main reason I wanted to come to Pemberton in the first place was to hike Joffre Lakes. I had seen pictures of this amazing spot, but needed to experience it for myself. I was totally unprepared for the hike ( I didn’t even have a water bottle so please make sure you are more prepared for me). But it was so worth the struggles.

Know before you go: Like I mentioned I was really unprepared and Joffre Lakes is a pretty strenuous hike. It is 11km total and it took us about 3 hours round trip. So make sure you got your 10 essentials 

As for the actual hike, it includes three stages. Stage one is the first lake, which is located on the lower level and is a beautiful spot, but just wait until you get to the second lake. The water was crystal clear, the trees were a mixture of red, orange, yellow, and green, and the sun was beating down. I have never seen something so beautiful in my entire life.

We thought about going down after the second lake, but we kept pushing ourselves and I am so thankful we did. We stumbled upon a waterfall on the way up to the third lake. Once we arrived at the final lake we were greeted by deep blue water, rocks, trees, and above it all a glacier that was streaming downwards. We spent about 20 minutes at the top just taking in the sights and the fresh air. It was magical.

I can honestly tell you this was the most incredible hike I have ever done, and that the views were the most beautiful I have seen in my whole life. It was one of those places that you don’t truly believe in the magic until you have expierneced it for yourself and even when it is right in front of your eyes, it is hard to believe that this beauty is real.
Joffre Lakes is a must do, and definietely a hike that I will be doing again, over and over, and over again.

 

Well there you have it. Your guide to a weekend getaway in Pemberton. I cannot wait to explore this amazing spot again and would love any recommendations of what else I should see and do when I am there.

In the meantime happy exploring my friends.

xo

Mia

Pemberton in pictures 

 

Mia goes M.I.A: Why you should visit Canada this Summer Part 1

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Because Canada is so large, it was hard to write just one blog on it, and so I have broken it down into two parts. Today I am going to share with you why you should visit Canada this summer, and tomorrow I will tell you where you should visit ( since this blog will convince you that you have to visit). Full disclosure I am also stealing (kindly using) a lot of my dad’s photography in this blog since he just knows how to capture the beauty of this country a lot better than me.

Why should you visit Canada this summer?

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With summer right around the corner, it is time to start planning those summer vacations and there is plenty of reason why Canada should be making your summer to do list. From the country’s natural beauty and outdoor activities, to cosmopolitan cities the Country has something for everyone. This year is actually the perfect year to make your way down to Canada because the country will be celebrating it’s 150th birthday meaning plenty of events and celebrations country wide.

Affordability

Especially right now the Canadian dollar is struggling making it a much more affordable destination spot than the US. Even Toronto which is considered the priciest Canadian city only sits at number 82 out of 100 most expensive cities. You won’t blow your budget on this trip.

The Natural Beauty

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To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in style, all of the national parks are offering free entry. That means you can explore the countries natural wonders without dropping a penny. In fact did you know Canada has more coastlines than any other country. It is also full of mountain ranges, lakes, forests, arctic, and even small deserts. Canada’s diverse landscapes are full of surprise that are waiting to be discovered.

Cool Cities

Nature isn’t your thing? Don’t worry, Canada has some of the biggest cities in the world to visit and each one has plenty of cool and unique spots to check out. Like the business of New York? Take a trip to Toronto. A fan of french cuisine and culture? Make a stop in Montreal. Want to find out why Vancouver was named the best city to live in the world? Now is your chance. Each city has its own diverse cuisine, culture, and atmosphere perfect to discover this summer.

Celebration

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As I have already mentioned, Canada will be celebrating a big milestone this year, its 150th birthday. With the big birthday comes big celebrations nation-wide. Get ready for incredible firework displays, parties, and entertainment across the country this summer.

Canada is Safe

Canadians are considered some of the nicest people in the world ( I am not just saying that because I am Canadian it is a fact) and along with a really nice population, it is also considered very safe. Canada is considered one of the safest countries in the world, and police crime has been on the decline for more than two decades

Now that you know why you should visit Canada, the next question is where. With so much to offer it could be difficult to pin point the exact location to put on the list. So I am here to help with a few ideas of what each province has to offer, plus must check out parks since they are free and all, but like I mentioned, that is just going to have to wait until tomorrow.

Until then, happy exploring my friends,

xo

Mia