Elk Mountain – Chilliwack

DCIM100GOPRO(This is why you hike up mountains!!)

 

This will be the first post in a series highlighting all the hikes that I have done around the Lower Mainland and other parts of my home province of British Columbia, Canada.

You will find the trailhead to this hike about  an hour 45-minute drive from downtown Vancouver along Highway 1. Once you leave the highway at Prest Road you have a lovely 16km drive along Elk View Road that takes you around to the backside of the mountain through a picturesque countryside. On a nice day, the parking can be packed as it’s really just a dirt pull out near the trailhead. There are always lots of people parking along the side of the dirt road but be prepared for  a pretty dusty car when you get back!

The Details:

Round Trip – 2.5-3 Hours

Distance – 7 Kilometres /4,35 Miles

Elevation Gain – 800 Metres / 2625 Feet

Difficulty – Intermediate (This ain’t no walk in the park)

The hike starts out on a steady incline that is sure to get the pulse rate going. The spacious and easy to navigate pathway takes you through a dense forest . There are not too many flat spots on this trail. It’s either a steady rise or super steep but if you pace yourself, the reward at the 1 hour and 20-minute mark will be totally worth it. This is where you emerge from the forest and start to realise why you worked so hard to get here.

DCIM100GOPRO(Family GoPro selfie!)

The reward is a sweeping panoramic view of the entire Fraser Valley with Cultus Lake and the city of Chilliwack below. We took some time to snap some photos and get a little GoPro footage and then continued on to find the second viewpoint. After only 10 more minutes or so we arrived at our lunch spot. This clearing near the top faces due south towards the US and has gorgeous views of the neighbouring mountains that tower above the Chilliwack River below. Take note that the last climb to the top has a lot of loose gravel and can be a bit slick on your decent. Take your time!

DCIM100GOPRO(View to the south from the second view point)

For a quick video of our hike CLICK HERE

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My 5-Star Beer

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I started tracking my craft beer consumption using the Untappd app back in 2012. Now, I definitely don’t log every beer that I have, but I do log every “new” beer that I have. At each “Check-in” You are given an opportunity to give your beer a rating out of 5, enter the location or establishment where you drank it and include a comment. It could be tasting notes or a little story about what you were doing when you indulged. I figured that at the time of this post I have just reached 1100 unique check -ins so I thought it would be worth while to g0 back though my beers and list all of the ones that I have given a 5-star rating. There are currently 60 beer on that list, so that means that I only give out a 5-star rating 5.45% of the time. In looking over those 60, my beer preferences can be summed up by saying that I love my IPAs. The higher the alcohol percentage, the higher the IBU the better chance it will be highly rated! Imperial Russian Stouts are definitely up there too.

The beer at the top of my list when sorting my check-ins by “top rated” is arguably one of the best IPA’s available in the Province of British Columbia. It is none other than Fat Tug by Driftwood Brewing made in our capital city of Victoria on Vancouver Island. This isn’t the only time this brewery will appear on my list but I felt it needed to be acknowledged separately!

In no particular order, here are the other beer that I have given a 5-Star rating;

Total Eclipse of the Hop – Howe Sound Brewing, Squamish BC – 8% Imperial IPA – 90 IBU

King Heffy – Howe Sound Brewing, Squamish BC – 7.7% Imperial Hefeweisen – 20 IBU

Lord of the Hops – Parallel 49, Vancouver, BC – 7.2% Imperial IPA – 70 IBU

Singularity – Driftwood Brewing, Victoria BC – 11% to 14% Russian Imperial Stout – Annual small batch release. IBU – N/A

The Immortal IPA – Elysian Brewing Co.- Seattle WA – 6.3% IPA – 54 IBU

Lucky 13 – Lagunitas Brewing Co. – Petaluma, CA – 8.9% – American Strong Ale – 55 IBU

Space Dust – Elysian Brewing Co. – Seattle, WA – 8.2% Ipa – 62 IBU

Hop Therapy – Russell Brewing Co. – Surrey, BC – 9% Imperial IPA – 100 IBU

Hop Manna – Schmaltz Brewing Co. – Clifton Park, NY – 6.8% IPA – 65 IBU

A Little Sumpin’ Wild – Lagunitas Brewing Co. – Petaluma, CA – 8.9% Belgian IPA – 73 IBU

Scotch Ale – Boundary Bay Brewery  – Bellingham, WA – 6.4% Wee Heavy – 31 IBU

Hopworks IPA – Hopworks Urban Brewery – Portland, OR – 6.6% IPA – 75 IBU

Ruination – Stone Brewing – Escondido, CA – 8.2% Imperial IPA – 100 IBU

Sartori Harvest – Driftwood Brewery – Victoria, BC – 7% Fresh Hop IPA – 75 IBU est. – Annual small batch release shortly after the hop harvest. Check the link.

Burton Baton – Dogfish Head Craft Brewery – Milton, DE – 10% Imperial IPA – 70 IBU

Gigantic IPA – Gigantic Brewing Co. – Portland OR – 7.3% Imperial IPA – 85 IBU

West Coast IPA – Green Flash Brewing Co. – San Diego, CA – 7.3% IPA – 95 IBU

Brooklyn Local 2 – Brooklyn Brewery – Brooklyn, NY – 9% Belgian Strong Dark Ale – 21 IBU

Inversion IPA – Deschutes Brewery – Bend, OR – 6.8% IPA – 80 IBU

Stone 16th Anniversary IPA – Escondido, CA – 10% Imperial IPA – 85 IBU

Twenty Pounder – Driftwood Brewery – Victoria, BC – 9% Imperial IPA – IBU n/a

From East Van With Love – Parallel 49 – Vancouver, BC – 11.5% Imperial Maple Bourbon Stout – 50 IBU

Delirium Tremens – Brouwerji Huyghe – Melle, BEL – 8.7% Belgian Strong Ale – 25 IBU

Chasin’ Freshies -Deschutes Brewery – Bend, OR – 7.4% Fresh Hop IPA – 65 IBU

7 Hop IPA – Rogue Ales & Spirit – New Port, OR – 7.77% Imperial IPA – 76 IBU

Juxtapose – Four Winds Brewing – Delta, BC – 6.5% Wild IPA – 50 IBU

187 On An Undercover Hop – Parallel 49 – Vancouver, BC – 10% Imperial IPA – 187 IBU

What Cheer Brett IPA – Trading Post Brewing – Langley, BC – 6.6% Brett IPA – 56 IBU

Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale – McMenamins – Portland, OR – 6.19% Fresh Hop IPA  – 54 IBU

Dead Guy Ale -Rogue Ales & Spirit – New Port, OR – 6.5% Helles Bock – 40 IBU

Maximus – Lagunitas Brewing Co. – Petaluma, CA – 8.2% Imperial IPA – 72 IBU

Palate Wrecker – Green Flash Brewing Co. – San Diego, CA – 9.5% Imperial IPA – 149 IBU

Seven – Upright Brewing Co. – Portland, OR – 8% Farmhouse Saison – 23 IBU

The Royale – Gigantic Brewing Co. – Portland, OR – 6.3% Belgian Pale Ale – IBU n/a

Hop Zombie – Epic Brewing – Aukland, NZ – 8.5% Imperial IPA – 90 IBU Continue reading

Portland, OR

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portland-header1We first experienced what Downtown Portland had to offer over the course of a short weekend back in October 2014. My wife Theresa and I took the train down from Bellingham and stayed in the heart of the entertainment district. We spent our entire stay traveling on foot, exploring the Pearl District and walking along the river all the way to South Waterfront. We had such an amazing time that we knew the day would come that we would have the chance to venture back again and experience more of what Portland has to offer. It’s Quirky, Weird and FULL of delicious craft beer!

We decided to stretch this trip into an extended long weekend from October 7th-11th. The first thing we needed to do was find somewhere to say at a reasonable price. We had decided to drive down this time. Having a car would allow us a little more freedom to explore beyond the city. We had our good friends Doug and Shelly travelling with us too so our costs for travel and accommodations would be split.  After many hours on the Home Away app we decided on a classic Portland home in the Brooklyn Neighbourhood. It is on the east side of the Willamette River adjacent to South Waterfront but still walking distance to Downtown. It was the perfect launching pad for our daily adventures.

The drive from where we live to Portland is 475 kilometres  or 295 miles and according to Google Maps it was going to take us 5.5 hours plus the wait time at the border so I did a little Yelp research to find somewhere to stop along the way for lunch. I chose a place called the Tiki Tap House in historic Centralia, WA as it was half way between Seattle and Portland. That would leave us only about an hour drive to complete after lunch. It’s a Hawaiian themed restaurant with glowing reviews on their pizza and a solid craft list. We arrived just as they were opening for the day and settled in for a nice lunch and a flight. The owner Jordan was a super nice guy and we chatted about his “must sees” while in Portland. He told us of the McMenamin’s chain of restaurants and brewpubs and their unconventional building choices. One specifically, called Edgefield in Troutdale, about 30 minutes outside of town, sounded pretty cool. More on that later. With our bellies full, we set out to finish off our drive.14721522_10154380109930751_6236598250778920738_n

We arrived at our rental house, AKA The Green Gate City Retreat  and got settled in.

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It was really cool and had all the amenities you could possibly need. With our bags unpacked, it was time to get out and explore the neighbourhood and find some PDX beer. A two minute walk from our place was the Aladdin Theatre and a small pub called The Lamp Tavern. We popped in there and it was empty but we sat down for a quick pint and some happy hour appies to get our bearings. A quick search on Yelp (you’ll read this a lot as I find it a vital tool in discovering and previewing all the great spots!) turned up a massive list of options but one stood out that I had previously bookmarked, Beer Mongers!  Off we went. 

Beer Mongers is a craft beer store that also has draft beer, so you can not only walk up and order a pint or a flight but you can also walk over to a fridge, grab a beer and for $1.00 over the retail price, you can pop the top and enjoy it on premise. They don’t have any food available that I saw but many of the places here allow you to bring in your own if you’re drinking. Being early in October, it was Fresh Hop Beer mania so Doug and I lined up a flight and the wives enjoyed their pear cider. We were starting to get hungry again so we asked one of the staff where they recommended we go for dinner. He told us of a place across the street called Double Dragon that had great food and a cool atmosphere and we were sold.

We got there at about 8pm and the place was packed. We lucked out and got a seat at the bar right away. Timing is everything! I had a pork belly rice bowl as my meal and for $9.00, it was outstanding. Everyone else was super impressed with their food too but the attitude from the bartender was not very inviting so we decided to head back, hit the gas station and grab a few more beer to throw in the fridge.

BEER: Day One

  • Huckleberry Ale – River City Brewing
  • Dark O’The Moon Pumpkin StoutThundercon
  • Funkadelicious Fresh Hop Ale – River City Brewing
  • Proletariat Red – Lompoc Brewing
  • Born Yesterday W/Simcoe + Citra – Lagunitas Brewing
  • Rye’n FitzPICKtrick Pale – StormBreaker
  • Helldorado – Firestone Walker
  • Fukton Fresh Hop – 10 Barrell Brewing Co.
  • Chai-Spiced Imperial Russian Stout – Stone Brewing
  • Gull Harbor Gose – Three Magnets Brewing
  • Vortex IPA – Fort George Brewery

Saturday was the best forecasted weather day so it was time to put on the hiking shoes and head out for a drive east through the Columbia River Valley. I had mapped out a couple waterfalls (again using Yelp) and figured we would spend the day in the great outdoors. With fall upon us, I figured the colours would be spectacular and they didn’t disappoint. The waterfalls that I put on the list were Multnomah Falls and Latourell Falls.

The drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway is very peaceful but might not be popular with those that get car sick. The road is a little windy and gains a fair amount of elevation. I loved the tree lined roads where the foliage creates a canopy over the street A sure sign that you aren’t in the city any more. Along the way we discovered the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and a place called The Vista House that sits perched on a cliff high above the valley. It was a nice place to stop and take in some panoramic views of the valley and read up on the history of the area. It really was fascinating. We continued a bit further along and came upon the trail head to Latourell Falls. You can see the Lower Falls from the parking lot but there is a 2 mile loop trail here that takes you in to the Upper Falls. This was to be our workout for the day.

The hike was very manageable and all though it had some sections of decent incline, I would only give it a 3/10 for difficulty. The colours of the trees, the sound of the babbling stream and the moist chill in the air were a delight on my senses. We got to the Upper Falls in about 30 minutes and it was certainly worth the effort. With the recent rains, it had a pretty good flow going. We took it in for a couple minutes and then continued along the loop back to the car.

We continued along the windy road and it came back out on the Main Highway. I realized then that we stumbled upon the Vista House because I took a wrong turn on the way to the Multnomah Falls but we had had our fill and were content to head back to the house and get ready for a night on the town. That was until we saw a sign that said Troutdale, next exit!

Hmmm… didn’t Jordan at Tiki Tap House tell us something about a McMenamin’s in Troutdale? I took the exit and pulled over to look it up. Edgefield was only a short drive away.  Now I’m telling you, if you only click on one link on this entire blog post, click the link to Edgefield. All four of us were blown away by this place. It actually deserves its own blog post! The Cole’s notes here is that it is a 74 acre plantation with a hotel, a golf course, a pool hall, a theater, a spa, a winery, a brewery, a distillery, multiple restaurants and bars, an outdoor concert amphitheater, a garden that supplies the restaurants with herbs and vegetables and the entire place is licensed, so you can walk from place to place with your drink in hand! The property is steep in history. It was built is 1911 and still to this day its decked out in turn of the century decor and whimsical features and artwork. It’s like nothing I have ever experienced. Oh, did I mention that at one point in it’s history it was known as Edgefield Manor, a hospital that treated tuberculosis and then became Edgefield Lodge, a place for emotionally disturbed children!?! That would explain the creepy painting of the young girl with the rabbit on the door behind the counter in the winery tasting room (that used to be an infirmary!) You get the idea. It’s cool and is a definite must on any trip to Portland. I feel we barely scratched the surface in our couple hours there so I am planning on a one night stay there next time we go to Portland.

While we were there we ate at The Power Station where we were served by a guy that I swear looked just like Eddie Vedder from the band Pearl Jam when he recorded their first album ‘Ten’. Doug and I enjoyed a flight of fresh beer while the ladies had a glass of wine and helped me sample my beers as I was the driver. We ordered up some appies too. The Scooby Snacks (mini corn dogs) were a big hit as were the  truffle oil fries. Doug and I toured around the property trying to take it all in while the wives parked themselves at the wine tasting room. An hour or so later we headed back to our base camp to get ready for our night out.

Our final destination for the night was a place called The Barrel Room. It is a bar with dueling pianos and all I knew was that from my research, we would be finishing our night off singing at the top of our lungs and enjoying a great show. We decided to walk the 2.6 miles to get there (because I thought it said kilometers and didn’t think that was too far!) It took us nearly an hour but the walk along the East Boardwalk of the Willamette at night was a beauty  with the lights of the Downtown reflecting off the calm waters. Plus, crossing the Burnside Bridge and seeing the famous Portland Oregon sign was a bonus. The evening didn’t disappoint. The two guy that play the pianos were not only phenomenal singers but absolutely hilarious too. It was the perfect end to one of my best vacation days ever!

Beer: Day two

  • Thunder Cone Fresh Hop – McMenamin’s Brewing
  • Boom Gose The Dynamite – McMenamin’s Brewing
  • Hammerhead Pale Ale – McMenamin’s Brewing
  • Ruby (Raspberry) – McMenamin’s Brewing
  • Terminator Stout – McMenamin’s Brewing
  • India Pale Ale – McMenamin’s Brewing
  • Union Jack IPA – Firestone Walker Brewing
  • Hopworks IPA – Hopworks Urban Brewery

To be continued…