Archive for rain


Photo courtesy John Reid.

Photo courtesy Patrick Hutchison.

Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Hoody [rating=4]

Reviewer: Patrick Hutchison

$545 CAD

My Gear Style:

Hand-Me-Down Hero

Best-Bang-for-Your-Buck Buccaneer

Use It ‘Til It Disintegrates



There are two types of jackets in this world: the kind you grab when you’re headed out to happy hour and the kind you grab when the world has ended and everything is a frozen wasteland. For the past half-century, Canada Goose has always produced the latter, but with the Hybridge Lite Hoody, they are aiming to change that. For what it’s intended to be, the Lite Hoody is extremely successful. It’s so light, (8 ounces) as to feel nearly buoyant. The world’s best down helps keep the weight down and breathability high, while Polartec inserts add extreme flexibility and comfort so you don’t have to take it off…ever.

When matched against the elements, it does as well as you would expect. On a recent trip to the San Juan Islands near the Washington/Canada border, it kept me warm on the deck of a ferry with near freezing temperatures and average wind speeds of around 50 km/hr. The point is, it does its job and it does it well. However, as someone who values, well, value, I’m not sure it’s worth it. At nearly $600, there are plenty of cheaper jackets that would offer similar performance. But, if you’ve got the dough, this goose is mighty fine.

Big Ups

You cannot deny the craftsmanship of this jacket. Every stitch, every zipper tooth, every feather has been meticulously chosen which leads me to believe this is the sort of jacket you could enjoy for years on end without worry.


Here in the Pacific Northwest, if your go-to jacket isn’t waterproof, it’s because you’re either a tourist or a drenched hipster. While the Lite Hoody is water-resistant, it won’t suffice for service in a place where rain is a constant problem.

Two Biologists and a Boy: Road Swimming

June in the Rockies was beyond rainy, but some people still found fun amidst the floods. Highline columnist, Niki Wilson, captures a particularly unique activity that only a kid, or kid-at-heart could enjoy. -Highline

Photo courtesy Niki Wilson.

“”My nuts are freezing!”” says Dylan as he strips down beside me. I know I am supposed to say something like “the correct term is testicles, and please don’’t yell stuff like that at the top of your lungs.” Unfortunately, I am laughing too hard, and the damage is done. This is the schoolyard vocabulary Dylan has picked up in grade one, and coming from his seven-year-old mouth, it’’s damn funny.

We’re standing on the edge of the floodwater that has engulfed Snaring Road. Our gaze follows the watery, yellow centerline for 30 meters or so before it disappears into the deeper water at a dip in the road.

Dylan braves the water. Photo courtesy Niki Wilson.

“You coming, Mom?” The water is frigid, the kind of cold that makes you do the freezing foot dance after five seconds. A charging grizzly would have difficulty getting me to go in. Thankfully, on the other side of me, Dylan’s friend Skylar also begins stripping down. The two of them wade in together, eastbound.

The June Monsoons have meant little sun, and even less swimming. Like many areas we have been hit with record flooding here in Jasper, the likes of which caused a centuries-old dyke to blow out and allow Swift Creek to reclaim its original route, now a road to Snaring Campground.

When Dylan and I met up with the Shepherd family this morning, we had reluctantly ripped ourselves away from a living-room-floor-ninja-battle and forced ourselves out on another rainy day activity. Armored in fleece and rain gear, we were equipped for the wet underbrush of the east park, in search of orchid species that were rumored to be thriving in the rain. To our collective delight we found four species and, in addition, a carnivorous plant to which the kids cathartically fed black flies.

Photo courtesy Niki Wilson.

The Snaring Road was an afterthought, a quick stop on our way home. However, as we piled out of the Shepherd’’s van, something unexpected happened. The sun came out. THE SUN CAME OUT! Suddenly we were shedding layers and turning our faces like waterlogged sunflowers toward the light. The kids adopted a sandy ditch-side as a beach, we threw out some snacks, and in one wispy shift of the clouds, it was summer.

My friend Brenda and I put our arms around each other, watching the kids cartwheel through the sand and shriek as they submerge themselves. In the distance, Brenda’s husband streaks from the bush and plunges into the watery ditch farther down. He pulls off a couple of front crawl strokes before the cold forces him out. At least he can say he’’s done it. He’’s been road swimming.


Still Life: Jasper in June

This is a collection of photos taken in Jasper National Park, around Patricia Lake and along the Athabasca River. Spring this year in Jasper had a beautiful start with sunshine and clear skies before the inevitable June rain arrived. Flora and fauna sprouted up with the sunshine and welcomed the rain. The rivers and lakes swelled with spring runoff, but Patricia Lake always seems to manage to stay a beautiful clear blue.

The winding channels of the Athabasca flow smoothly beneath Pyramid Mountain. The speedy current causes it to appear smooth in this long exposure photograph. Photo by Brian Van Tighem.

A grove of Wolf Willow shoots up from the ground with mixed grasses along the shores of Patricia Lake. Photo by Brian Van Tighem.

The sunlight glints off of sparkling blue water, fishing boats and snow capped peaks at Patricia Lake in Jasper. Photo by Brian Van Tighem.

A willow opens its leaves to the spring sunshine in a Montane forest. Photo by Brian Van Tighem.

Always a Silver Lining

Wood Lily found along the Bow Valley Parkway. Photo by Meghan Ward.

In case you’’ve been too busy grumpily looking at the sky to notice, the wildflowers are really strutting their stuff this year.  I’’m no botanist, but my theory is that the combination of an underwhelming bloom last year and the recent hot weather we’ve had, interspersed with plenty of rain, has produced scenes that would put a Bambi cartoon to shame.

I can already hear the chorus of lumberjacks and -jills out there, chiming: “Wildflowers? Who cares about wildflowers? I’m usually going way too fast to notice sissy things like that!”

Whether you are an elite tanner or extreme athlete, it has not been the most amazing summer season so far. And among other things, I seem to have an exchange every day that leaves me feeling like I’’m stuck in a scene from Groundhog Day.

I recently had the pleasure of running into a member of Canada’s elite sun bathing team, who won gold in Beijing for her perfectly tanned back. This is how our conversation went:

Me: “How’’s your summer been so far?”

Olympic Sun Worshiper: “What summer? (scoff) It’s been raining every day! My coach is having a fit! Look at these pale arms. I’’m going to get kicked off the Canadian team! It feels like March; there’s a foot of new snow on Tunnel Mountain… ”

Good old Indian Paintbrush. Photo Meghan Ward.

Sound familiar?

Here’’s the thing, we all found our way to the Bow Valley so that we could “be in nature” more, whether that takes the form of climbing up rocks or wailing down hills. We take up sports to better enjoy and celebrate our lives and our home, and if all this rain has turned you into a pale ball of misery, you’’ve missed the point.  Recreating is supposed to enhance our lives, not give us an excuse to complain.

So next time your plans are foiled because frogs are falling from the sky, take a look around and enjoy the short-lived beauty of the wildflowers.

Here are a few places where the flowers have been truly awe-inspiring this week:

Yamnuska:  No need to grind all the way to the top!  Just getting your butt up to the aspen forests will unfold fields of wood lilies.

Benchlands: Seriously, the air smells like strawberries. Yes, strawberries.

Sunshine Meadows: Probably getting to be past their prime, but the avalanche lilies have been spectacular. There are acres of yellow flowers in bloom!

To use the old adage: there is a silver lining to every cloud, unless you’’re working on a tan worthy of a gold medal, in which case your summer may be better spent in Toronto.

Beat the Drizzle: 8 Tips for Taking Pics in the Rain

Silverton Falls on a Rainy Day.

Rockies dwellers are hoping for a dry, warm summer. But, although Environment Canada has forecasted plenty of sunshine for the mountains, chances are we will get our fair share of the wet stuff again this year. Rain equals poor opportunities in the mind of many photographers. Yet, it offers great potential if one has the right attitude and a little creativity. Here are a few tips that will help you make the most of whatever fickle weather comes our way this summer.

1. Go Waterproof. Nothing blurs images like a photographer shaking from hypothermia. Put those rubber boots and two dollar poncho to use.

2. Beat the Rain. Approaching rain clouds add a lot of drama to a scene. Use a long exposure to capture cloud motion.

3. Shoot Waterfalls. Overcast days even out the light and allow for longer exposures, making for great waterfall shooting opportunities. Head over to Johnston Canyon or Silverton Falls on the Bow Valley Parkway, or make a day of it and visit Panther Falls, Tangle Falls and the Weeping Wall along the Icefields Parkway.

Post-Rain Magic Over Mt. Inglismaldie.

4. Go Abstract. Rainy days are not usually great for those iconic Rockies shots. Get in creative mode and play with shapes, look for textures and pay attention to the details of the landscape.

Mt. Rundle After a Passing Storm.

5. Think Black and White. Your scene may be close to monochrome anyways, so it is worth considering converting your image to black and white, either in camera or during the editing process.

6. Capture the Aftermath. Unique conditions may occur following a downpour, but they are short-lived. Get out and shoot the reflections, rainbows, glistening drops and the peaks emerging from the clouds.

7. Protect Your Gear. Not all cameras and lenses are watertight. Consider bringing an umbrella or a homemade camera cover (Ziploc bag) to protect your gear. Also, keep silica gel (you can use the little packs that come in the bottom of a box of new shoes) in your camera bag to absorb humidity and be sure to use your lens hood.

8. Stop the Rain! Adjust your shutter speed to 1/320 of a second or faster to “freeze” the falling rain drops in your shot.