Pitt Polder Dike Trail Walk Part 1

Raven Peak with fall foliage from the Pitt Polder Dike near Heron Cove and the Smohk’wa Marsh in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, Canada.

raven peak and fall foliage along the pitt river

Raven Peak And Fall Foliage in Pitt Meadows (Purchase)

This is the first part of a series of posts about the Pitt River and Pitt Lake area where I photographed this fall. 2021 was a relatively spectacular year for fall foliage in this part of British Columbia, giving me a lot of potential opportunity to try to photograph in my favourite fall foliage conditions – sunshine. I like fall leaves in almost any weather aside from a downpour, but when they are hit by some sunshine they can really light up in great ways. It was fortunate the Maple tree fall foliage was good this year, and was followed by many weeks of great foliage in the Cottonwoods and Birches, because the weather was very very wet. The southern part of British Columbia had an endless string of rain storms starting in October and ending (so far) just last week. More than one of these were quite damaging and caused record flooding and highway damage. So finding time to get out and photograph when it wasn’t pouring rain was difficult, and doing so with a rare sunny break even more so.

On this particular day, I had planned to do some photography closer to Vancouver but instead headed straight north to the Pitt Lake area in Pitt Meadows. The clouds made an early appearance on what was supposed to be full day of sun. So I managed to outrun the cloud advances from the south, and had over an hour to photograph with some sunny breaks. Some of the place names for this area can get confusing with multiple names being used, some official, some not. I made the photograph above next to the Smohk’wa Marsh from the Pitt Polder Dike (as per the city of Pitt Meadows) between Heron Cove and the boat launch area at Pitt Lake/Grant Narrows. I liked those two colourful Paper Birch trees (Betula papyrifera) and walked a bit to line then up on either side of Raven Peak above. This image is the September photograph in my 2022 Nature Calendar.

golden ears edge peak and fall foliage along the pitt river

The Golden Ears (Evans Peak), Raven Peak and Fall Leaves in Pitt Meadows (Purchase)

My plan before this moment had been to walk up onto the Pitt Polder dike and take a quick look at one of my favourite views looking north. I stayed for longer than that, and made the photo above looking east towards the Mount Blanshard’s Edge Peak (The Golden Ears). I believe the yellow trees in the foreground are Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) which I don’t recall having as nice foliage in the fall in previous years. One doesn’t need to walk far (or at all) to see great scenery in this location though. I made the panorama below to show why this is one of my favourite views in the area, and this is just 45° of a 360° view. The wetland in the foreground here is the Smohk’wa Marsh. The Golden Ears are on the right, followed by Raven Peak, Osprey Mountain (in the Golden Ears Ranges), and Gloomy Peak/Widgeon Peak on the left (Coquitlam Ranges). The Pitt River can be seen in the left hand side of the photograph between the marsh and the mountains to the north.

panorama of the view from pitt polder dike in pitt meadows

Panorama of the scenic view from the Pitt Polder Dike (Purchase)

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I had never walked along this dike before, and this became a fruitful afternoon of “what is around that corner?” which drew me further and further from where I’d left the car on Rannie Road (and my rain gear). The photo below shows the view mountain peaks I’m most familiar with along this stretch. Gloomy Peak here is hiding behind a colorful Birch tree. Widgeon Peak is hiding off to the left, but I’ve always thought the peak in the middle should be named. If it is named, even unofficially, I’ve yet to find it. I guess I’d just like a result from a 20 minute search through maps sometimes!

gloomy peak birch fall foliage pitt river

Gloomy Peak Hides behind Some Fall Birch leaves (Purchase)

I had continued to walk the dike heading east, going around interesting corners and finding new compositions with fall foliage and mountains. Near the end of this section of the dike I photographed the scene below with some more Birch and Cottonwood tree fall leaves with Osprey Mountain in the background. Osprey Mountain is fairly prominent when one reaches Grant Narrows and travels further along the dike next to Katzie Marsh. I look forward to photographing it and the surrounding mountains soon when they are covered in snow.

pitt polder dike trail osprey mountain

View of Osprey Mountain along the Pitt Polder Dike Trail (Purchase)

Part 2 of the “Pitt Polder Dike Trail Walk” will have photos I made near the Grant Narrows boat launch area at Pitt Lake as well as some from the “Pitt Lake Dike Trail” that heads east from there towards the Golden Ears peaks.

For more photographs from Pitt Meadows visit my Pitt Meadows Gallery in my Image Library.

Pitt Marsh Sunset Redux

Sunset at the Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area on the shore of the Pitt River in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, Canada

sunset at the pitt river marsh

Sunset at the Pitt River (Purchase)

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   I am always learning new techniques in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop, and often a consequence of this is the desire to revisit older photographs and reprocess them. A lot of my older photos were processed using methods that were time consuming and sometimes not that effective. Finally learning to use masks was a gamechanger, for example. There are a lot of these photos where I am happy with the processing, but others that I have started to revisit in order to process them with my current vision of how they should appear. Thankfully my new methods are a lot faster, and the occasional revisit to an older photograph doesn’t take me nearly the time it used to.

   This photograph is a good example of one where I wasn’t happy with the initial processing. I like this photo – but the initial version has a foreground that was too dark, the colours were slightly reddish, and there were a few other brightness issues I wanted to fix. I think this processing balances the colours much more faithfully to the original scene as I remember it, and deals with the darker foreground. You can read a bit more about the things I learned while actually photographing this scene in the original post.

Pitt River Sunset Reflection

Widgeon Peak is reflected in a pond at the Pitt Marsh Wildlife Management Area on the shore of the Pitt River in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia.

sunset at the pitt river/addington marsh

Pitt River Sunset Reflections

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   A few weeks ago I shared another photograph from this location – the Pitt Addington Marsh near the Pitt River. I made this photograph and a few others of the great reflection in the pond in front of me. When the great light showed up in the sky later on, I tried to get back to this spot to make some more photographs of the reflection with the better light but it was not to be. I am hoping to get back to this location when it snows. Fresh snow on the mountains and the ground with a reflection would be pretty cool I think.

2017 edit: We had a ton of snow this last winter (by our standards) but this meant that there was too much for me to drive to this location. I’m still waiting for an opportunity for the snow photo in this location!

Mosquitopalooza at the Pitt River

sunset at the pitt river/addington marsh
Pitt River Sunset
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   Even though it is nearing the end of July, Summer has not yet reached Southwestern British Columbia. Normally we have had a warmer July than this, and we are just starting at least about 3 weeks with no rain and warm temperatures. Not this year. As I generally do not like hot weather anyway, I have not been too disappointed with this. No sunburns, no “heat domes”, no drought. The other side of this coin is we had a much cooler, wetter spring/early summer than usual. While that is nice weather for being outside a lot of the time, it can also mean mosquitoes.

   I have never purchased bug spray. I used it once, but it gave me a rash so I’ve just put it out of my mind for the last few years. With the exception of one evening up at Artist Point near Mount Baker, I have had very few run ins with mosquitoes. At worst an evening in the bush or near a lake meant a bite or two at the very worst. Returning last week to the Pitt-Addington Marsh I was in for a very different experience. Luckily, the light ultimately did turn some of the clouds a nice pink color, so I got the sort of shot I was looking for. What I was not looking for were the 45 mosquito bites I suffered while making this and other photographs of the area. The back of my neck was like bubble wrap the next morning, but the majority of the bites were actually through my shirt on my back. I will be buying bug spray soon!

   I have learned from previous experience that “stay until all the light is gone” is wise advice. I made this photograph after I had completely packed up my equipment having had decent but not awesome colour in the sky. I stayed in the location though, and the image above shows what ultimately showed up in the sky. I quickly setup my tripod again, got out the GND filters, and tried to take advantage of this light. From start to finish I had 4.5 minutes before it was completely gone, for good this time.

I made this image with my Canon 7D, EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens, B+W Polarizing filter, and my Sing-Ray 2-stop graduated neutral density filter.

Pitt Marsh Sunset

sundown at pit-addington marsh wildlife management area near pitt lake
Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area
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   This photo was taken 2 days ago just outside the gates to Grant Narrows Regional Park. Well, it used to be a regional park, it is now in limbo and under the jurisdiction of the Province. I suppose the overall area can be labelled the Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area for now.

   I have long had my eye on this area because it is so close to where I live and seems capable of great scenery at sunset. I’ve never quite managed to be there at these times though, the area loves to gather the first clouds coming into the Lower Mainland around Vancouver. I still have a lot of shots developing in my head that I wish to take in the future – but new ones always come to mind as soon as I am there and in conditions I hadn’t planned for! Each time I am there, regardless of weather conditions I am always rewarded with either great scenery or a lot of wildlife, mostly waterfowl.

   This scene is not really a “sunset” as the sunset was actually somewhat to my back as I took this – but I like how the clouds opened up and let in some colour over the mountains (probably the area around Raven Peak). I will have more images from this location posted soon.

Sunset behind Burke Mountain

sunset behind burke mountain

Sometimes the shots you think you will like from a trip fall to the bottom of the pile pretty quickly. A few weeks ago I was out near Pitt Lake hoping for some good sunset alpenglow on Mt. Blandshard (aka the ‘Golden Ears’). Burke Mountain ate up a lot of the direct light when the sun went low in the sky, and clouds obscured the top of the Mt. Blandshard peaks. What resulted was a rather bland panorama. Two years ago I would have been happy with it, but now I know it is a throwaway more or less – not bad but nothing special about it.

This was one of those times when suddenly the light just goes away. Turning around I saw the scene above – dark clouds with nice orange colours underneath. Thankfully I have just enough zoom in the 70-200 to show the detail of the treetops which I think adds extra dimension to the shot.