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Visiting an Ancient Forest

Although I have just began living in Interior BC, I find there is no shortage of adventures to be had as we explore forests, mountains, waterfalls, lakes, and rivers all around us. Each weekend we find ourselves surrounded by more beauty than my eyes can behold, and often I try and capture it through a camera lens.

One of the very first forests I visited here is called Chun T’oh Wudujut, and it is an ancient red cedar old growth forest. It was discovered just over 10 years ago by a young environmental graduate who was hiking through the area. He stumbled upon a fresh forest creek and tumbling waterfall, but most importantly, he discovered the massive cedar trees that had been growing in that area for thousands of years. He also noticed that many of these wonderful elders had markings and paint on them and soon realized that this area had been selected for tree harvesting. The company responsible was planning to harvest in secret, without permission, because they too realized the importance of protecting old growth forests, but greedily wanted the profit regardless. Being an environmental student, the young adventurer knew that protecting old growth forests is important in order to ensure that future germination of the surrounding area comes from the genes of the strong trees that survived for so long. He quickly took the story to the media, the area was saved from cutting, and quickly became a protected park.

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Walking through the park, you can see the special care that took place in creating trails and paths to respect these ancient beings, and the wildlife that share their home. The area is largely wet and riparian with sensitive creeks running through that give life to a multitude of micro environments with brightly coloured with flowers, shrubs, mosses, and lichen that only grow under the protection of these great time warriors. In these sensitive spots, the trail is raised off the ground on a boardwalk , and signs are displayed asking not to disturb the area and its plant life. Once rare species of lichen that can be found here is called Gold Dust Lichen (Chrysothrix candelaris) and it only grows on ancient trees, making this area even more spectacular to see.

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Raised boardwalk has less impact on the trail below
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Ferns that are beginning to wake within the cedar forest
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Gold Dust Lichen (Chrysothrix candelaris) on the base of the trees
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Respect the trail

The trail twists, turns, goes up, and down, and even under the forest. As you walk up into the trail, you see a small creek running along side you in the opposite direction, and the landscape changes slightly. Huge boulders and rocks covered in thick lush moss emerge beside the trail, and it is clear that this area has been washed out for so long that only few statuesque boulders could withstand the weathering. At one point in time, the trail turns into a bridge leading up to a breathtaking waterfall. The nearby plants that thrive on the moisture in the air are thick and brightly coloured, making for a magnificent sight to behold.

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Grab a hold of your hats as we crawl through the forest
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Large boulders that survived the weathering covered in mosses and trees
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Rain forest view
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Walking on water

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Beautiful waterfall from a rain forest paradise
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Thriving riparian forest

The cedar trees are magnificent in size; our group of 5 people would not be able to hug the base of most of the trees in the park, and it truly is breathtaking to stand in their presence. Knowing that the species and trees surrounding you have lived for so long is a humbling experience and awe inspiring to say the least. One of the only ways to truly capture and understand the tremendous size and stature of the trees is to stand alongside them for comparison. As we walk along, you notice the mountainous view peak out from within the trees, at this time of year, still white capped and snowy.

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A fallen giant
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Protector Tree

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Although the walk was relatively short, the experience was a great one, and I can’t wait to go back so that I can see the ferns and shrubs cover the ground with lush green vibrant colours.

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Until next time, be safe and Happy Trails!

Catherine

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From Wide Open Spaces to Rocky Mountain Ranges

I always knew that I wanted to move to British Columbia, Canada; The environment is so diverse and beautiful, it feels like you can find a private piece of paradise anywhere. Every new environment has its own small climate to live and learn, from the heated peaks of the rocky mountain ranges, to the thick interior coniferous rain forests, and of course, the damp ocean coast lines.

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Heated Rocky Mountain Valleys
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Thick Interior Brush Forest

Living in Saskatchewan definitely gave me a positive experience of prairie life. I was lucky enough to see the Aurora Borealis for the first time with my own eyes from my very doorstep. I felt loved when meeting new family members who were sweet, caring, and compassionate. I was shown a deep country culture, where food such as deer, elk, and moose were hunted and prepared for dinner instead of my usual chicken or beef grocery store diet. I rescued a small short haired street kitty from the animal shelter to take home and love forever. Although I did love SK for many different reasons, after a long harsh winter in the prairies, I decided it was time to head west to the place that I love, BC.

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Reflections of SK
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Colorful Graffiti of the City
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Family Time at the Tree Farm
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Gorgeous Antler Chandelier

We drove the 18 hours from SK to BC within a week, making sure to stop by in Alberta to visit family, and introduce our newest member, Reginald Noble the house cat. It was incredible to see so many different environments by travelling through part of western Canada. To see the landscape shape change from vast dessert ranges, to tall mountain ridges, and finally thick rain forest brush was an incredible experience. Even the difference in scent is amazing; opening a window to the smell of farmers fields changed to the smell of heated pine tree bark, and blooming wildflowers.

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Reginald Noble
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Landscape transitioning from flat to mountainous
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Our new Backyard

The location that we moved to is largely successful due to the natural resource forestry industry. This area of interior BC is highly logged, and most of the larger cities and towns are based around lumber or pulp mills. The air quality of this location is less than ideal, as companies are constantly struggling to combat air pollutants such as sulfide, which is a byproduct of the pulp making process. Often times you will go outside and smell a strange odor, similar to that of broccoli. People who have grown up in this area often grow to have respiratory problems, and so although we just arrived, our time here is projected to be relatively short.

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Natural Resource industry
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Forester in the making

Here in Quesnel, it feels like we took a step back in time. The grocery stores are connected to the quiet shopping malls, and you can even buy your tobacco products with your potatoes. The houses are powered by electricity as opposed to coal and gas, and the water is free. Even the housing market value is much less than any other places within BC. My street extends up into a provincial park, and there are others located within 20 minutes of this area. So far, I love living in this quaint little lumber town. I am even able to update my product photography to represent the close relationship I have with jewelry creation and mother nature.

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Tigers Eye Hanging Out with Blossoms
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Prickly Rose Leaf Ring Among a Rose Bush

Until next time, you can catch me outside soaking up the beautiful BC weather.

Happy Trails!

Catherine

Alberta Badlands : Writing on Stone

In Alberta Canada, we have one of the best eco-tones to study and learn. To the west there are the breathtaking rocky mountains, to the north are rich bog-lands, and to the east we have vast range-land. The geology and bedrock of Alberta shows a deep history of the land, and many complex structures are formed by land that was once covered with ice and snow that is now exposed to the elements such as rain or wind.

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Beautiful Eco-tone
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Hoodoos slowly uncovered by weather

These earthly elements carve the land, weathering away at the rich emerging geology. The Albertan badlands are home to some of the most amazing geological structures, such as the Hoodoos. Sculpted by the wind, strange porous rock formations can be found scattered throughout the land, and one of the places that I go to explore this amazing site is called Writing on Stone.

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Stone carved by Mother Nature
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Formation defying gravity
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The longer I look, the more faces I see
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Stone look like droplets compounded
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River edge undercutting the Hoodoos

Many many years ago, a small battle between indigenous tribes and settlers took place at this location. The tribes who were native to this land and knew the lay used the many hidden areas and the complex maze like hoodoos to their advantage against invading settler folk. The name writing on stone comes from the various etchings made into the sides of these hoodoos by these historic tribesmen that explain the battle that once took place here.

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Stone etching are behind bars to deter vandalism
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Writing on Stone
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Watch your back!
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Many corners to hide behind

Along with the incredible geologic formations, there also grows beautiful wildflowers and various grass species. Seeing the vast grasslands and desert prairies during the spring is a breathtaking sight.

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Along with the beautiful wildflowers and plants come the variety of wildlife.

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Pronghorns enjoying fresh spring grass

When we were following the path looking along the river, I stopped to lean against a formation and take a wide shot of the scenery. I didn’t look where I was stepping and I felt something against my toe, before I could even look to see what I kicked, I heard the rattle of a snake. Turns out, I bumped him with my toe and scared him awake. My heart was pounding out of my chest, and I knew that I was lucky to have surprised this creature as much as he surprised me. On the way back from the battle grounds, I saw him once again, this time with his head facing the pathway and coiled up, ready to strike. This has to be one of the most terrifying moments of my life, and I know in an alternate universe, I would not have been so lucky.

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“Try that again, I dare you!”

The day was beautiful, and the geology was mesmerizing. The wildlife and native plant species were incredible to see, and I am happy to say that I am here to travel another day!

Happy trails, and watch your stepping ALWAYS!

Catherine

Beauvais Lake in Winter

During the holidays I had the chance to take a hike in the ecotone area of Beauvais Lake in Alberta Canada. I visit this location often as the environment here represents a halfway point between the vast desert prairies, and the beautiful rocky mountains.

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The Rocky Mountain View from the top of Beauvais Lake

On the Northern side of the lake, there exists deep lush forests where the sun can only be seen when its risen high in the sky. On the Southern side lies bare hills that are subject to intense amounts of sunlight everyday, making it difficult for larger species of trees and plants to settle and grow.

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Limber Pine; One of the only tree species able to survive in intense southern sunlight

When I was learning about Canadian environments, this area was one of the easiest places to witness a multitude of micro climates all within a 20 minute walking distance.

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A rose hip hanging on for the winter, waiting for spring to bloom!

One thing I will say is that it is definitely useful to spend some money on snowshoes! We were post hole walking the whole time. The wind takes away most of the snow that builds up, but many areas are non-serviced trails, and you can fall deep in the snow and tall grasses. If you look closely enough, you can see small field mouse trails beneath the snows surface.

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The snow may not look deep, but it definitely is!

Many people took advantage of the cold icy weather and headed out onto the lake for some ice fishing! We walked a little ways onto the ice, but soon realized that it is not frozen solid  in all areas as we quickly fell through to the lakes muddy edges. All for a picture, but well worth it!

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Cattails along the edge of Beauvais Lake

As always, I had an amazing time with Mother Nature, and I can’t wait to see her again soon. Happy trails!

Catherine

A lover of Shine

I really love working with iridescent crystals. They always break up so easily, and come out of the mould looking fantastic. In honour of them, I am holding a sale for $5 off all LepidoliteLabradorite, and Blue Kyanite rings. Just like a magpie collecting shiny objects, collect the savings using the coupon code MAGPIE . Find them all on Etsy or Myshopify 

Labradorite Resin Ring
Blue Kyanite Resin Ring
Lepidolite Resin Ring

Heated Mountain Peaks

I should have worn sunscreen

This is the first thing that I thought of the next morning after hiking high elevation in British Columbia Canada over the weekend. I made sure that I had my bells attached, so I wouldn’t scare any critters as we had when we were in Berry Territory, and I suppose it makes sense that I would learn in the same manner as before in regards to the sun on my tender skin ; Hindsight is always 20/20.

Beginning at the base of the mountain, we had to buy a pass to take a chairlift halfway up. There we parted ways, as I continued upward and onward!

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See you soon!

The view up was steep, and I found myself stopping every minute or so to catch my breathe. No need to worry about excersize when you hike vertical.

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Very Vertical!

I wanted to reach the sweet spot of the mountain, where the trees stop growing, the rocks show themselves, and the air gets thinner. I knew I had limited time if I wanted to catch the chairlift back down, so I boogied!

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The view I saw every 30 seconds behind me

The path I chose had vertical sections, snowmobile trails, and switch backs.

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A nice shaded break from the hot hot heat

As I got closer to the peak, rocky outcroppings became more common, which is perfect habitat for wildflower species such as the Indian Paintbrush.

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Common Indian Paintbrush Wildflower

Another native species home to these rocky mountains are a small rodent species called the Pika. Pikachu, a main character from Pokemon, was named after these small animals who love to hide in rocky slopes. They are considered endangered, but I have seen a few around BC.

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Perfect for the Pika!

On the way up the chairlift, another couple told us about the prevalence of bears within this area, and of an especially high risk spot called the “cedar bowl”. I thought for sure with the amount of time I had that I wouldn’t reach so far into the mountain. But alas..

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There is even a little snow up yonder!

I ended up making it up the mountain, nearly to the peak, and I made sure that when I saw this sign, I jingled my bells. But, with the weather as intense as it was, I needed’t worry too much until later in the evening when things began to cool and animals like to move.

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The view from behind

I walked around and enjoyed the serenity, as well as some much needed shade.

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Wildflower Ox-Eye Daisy
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A view from the cliff
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Beautiful geologic striations of the mountain
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Faded peaks from hot and heavy air

After having a small munch on an apple and granola bars, I headed back down the mountain, eager to catch the chairlift after such an exhausting hike.

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A small chairlift found along the way
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Did the mountain get steeper on the way down??

I was excited to find some Wolf Lichen on my trip so that I could add it to my collection of Wolf Lichen Resin Rings. This moss only grows in areas where the air is clean, and the colour is just amazing!

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What a Beauty!!

And so, sweaty and sticky, I made it from the top of the mountain, down the chairlift and back home safely. I suffered from heatstroke for a few days afterwards with a headache that just wouldn’t quit. So I learned my lesson! Stay out of the heat and don’t push it if you don’t have the proper equipment =)

Until the next adventure, Blessed be,

Catherine

New Beginnings

Here is to the start of something new!

In addition to my Etsy site, I now have a Shopify website, dedicated entirely to my rings. I am excited to fine tune this site of mine, but for now, its perfectly imperfect and up and running.

Please enjoy all of my new creations. I will be sure to keep them coming so that everyone can find a little piece of paradise.

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Half band Chrome Diopside Ring
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Rainbow Sequence Resin Ring
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Galaxy Resin Ring
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“You are my World” Engagement Crystal Resin Ring Set
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Custom Ordered Jade, Lepidolite, and Blue Kyanite Resin Ring
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An old favorite: Black Tourmaline

Happy shopping and blessed be to all!

Catherine

Berry Territory

“We are definitely in bear country now”

This was one of the first things that came to mind as we started our hike on Castle Mountain in Alberta Canada this last week. Walking off the trail for even 5 minutes led to lush underbrush, and even more luscious, bright, juicy berries!

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Saskatoon, Thimble-Berry, and Raspberries

This area is one that is perfect for wildlife and vegetation. Micro-climates give a cool break to the deserted rocky caps, and provide enough humidity for tasty pickings. If I were a bear, this would be my home.

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Cool getaway from heated rocky mountains

So we knew walking into this area that we had to keep our wits about us. Castle mountain has been used as a mountain resort for many years; a place where animals and humans must share the mountain landscape, giving plenty of chances for wildlife encounters.

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This hiking trail is used in the winter as a ski trail

As we hiked closer up to the peaks, the weather changed, getting hot fast! These southern facing mountain slopes see a lot of sun during the day, and they make for a great picture.

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Lots of sun to help weather and break away the shale bedrock!

Being that this area is on crown land, I was able to collect a few different colours of shale for my ring making. The colours and variations are all so beautiful and unique. It’s fun imagining what kind of geological process could have taken place in these beautiful landscapes to create such incredible stones..

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We began to wind up and around as we made our way for the top of the mountain. We appreciated every shadow and piece of shade along the way, as I am sure most animals do when they are hiking on a hot summers day.

The time when the sun begins to set is when wildlife like to make their move across the landscape. It is much easier to travel when you don’t need to fight with the heat of the sun.

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The view from the side of the mountain across the valley

Once we were close to the peak, we had a decision to make, one that most hikers face each time they go out; Do I turn back now, or is it safe to keep going? A few minutes into contemplation and a few weary steps ahead, we began to hear loud movement from the deep forest, next to our trail, and remembered all the instances that day where we saw scat that could have been from a bear.. It had seemed as though the universe had answered our question, and it was safe to say it was time to go! So we hurried back down the mountain, making sure we made plenty of sound as we went.

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The hike down was not an easy one with such high elevation

And now I am stocked up on beautifully coloured shale, ready to create my next piece of paradise, in honor of my visit here in the exquisite Alberta rockies.

Until the next adventure, blessed be, and be berry aware!!

Catherine Sera

The Lady of the rings

Lately I have been working really hard at filling orders and trying out a couple of new molds I recently received in the mail. I have also been practicing on my picture taking and am really happy with the progress! Here are some of my favorite rings as of late.

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Find all of these and much more in my shop =)

http://www.etsy.com/shop/serasbeach

Please enjoy! I hope you are able to find a piece of paradise.

Surveyors Calm before the Storm

If you don’t like the weather, wait 5  minutes.

I grew up with this saying. Living on the edge of an ecotone, separating the mountain range from prairie landscape, the environment is constantly changing. In Alberta, the winds blow strong, coming west from British Columbia, and gaining speed down the mountain range into the east. The weather is always changing, flash floods and thunderstorms sneak up on us and blow over in a matter of hours. We have seen snow in the morning, hail in the afternoon, and heat in the evening all within the same day many times.

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Another intense cloudscape

This last week I was lucky enough to spend some time in my favorite place; BC Canada. We packed up our new kayak and hit Surveyors lake for some exploration! I once again grabbed my underwater camera and got my hands on some amazing shots.

This lake is a bit deeper than NorthStar lake, but we still had to make sure we dodged fallen logs and debris.

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Dodging Driftwood

There are two sides to this lake, one is unseen from the main beach, hidden off to the side behind a small marshy area which can only be accessed through a small channel leading underneath a bridge.

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Its a game of wits

But once you reach the other side, it seems less occupied, helping to connect more personally with nature. Of course I just had to get to the middle of the lake so I could take a quick dip. The water was much warmer than most mountain lakes. I felt completely at bliss!

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Don’t forget about me!

We were having so much fun we didn’t notice the approaching storm until we saw the ominous clouds and began to see lightning. I started to get a little nervous. Being in the middle of a lake during a thunderstorm is not my idea of safe fun!

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Calm before the storm

So we quickly paddled back to shore as fast as we could, to try and outrun the storm, or at least get a head start on it heading back to the campground. Of course the rain caught up eventually..

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Water droplets on Snowberry leaves

But that would never stop us from having an amazing fire to end off an awesome day!

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Feel the flame

 

Stay dry fellow campers, and until the next adventure, blessed be =)

Catherine