Snowshoeing to Alexander Falls

Hi everyone!

We have finally decided to start blogging as part of our photography activities. We feel like it will really help us connect with you all on a more personal level and it will also give us a chance to better describe the thought process and techniques behind our photo outings. We usually end a good day of shooting with quite a few shots that we would like to share, but we feel like it wouldn't be fair to flood our social media feeds with too many shots from the same location all at once. So instead, we thought that this blog is a good way to share the shots that 'didn't make the cut'.

While Instagram has its downsides (something we will get into on a later date), it definitely makes up with features such as geo-tagging. This has helped us greatly with discovering new locations and hikes to visit. One such spot is Alexander Falls which is located in the Callaghan Valley just a few kilometres before Whistler village.

While B.C. is home to plenty of beautiful waterfalls, many are not easily accessible, especially if you are looking to get down to the base. We decided to visit Alexander Falls to do some snowshoeing and hopefully get a chance to see the Falls partially frozen. Family Day long weekend was the perfect opportunity as we both had time off work and thankfully the weather co-operated!


We left the house about an hour before sunrise, hoping to catch the morning light from one of the many viewpoints along the Sea to Sky. Our timing worked perfectly as we were able to reach the Tantalus Viewpoint (our favourite along the highway) just as the sun was hitting the mountains. We used our Nikon 70-200 f/4.0 to snap a few shots of Tantalus range which never disappoints as the mountains look fantastic all year round.

As we were preparing to leave, we noticed a beautiful layer of morning fog creeping over the valley just beneath the mountain range. We decided to try our Nikon 20mm f/1.8 to capture the whole scene. However, the 20mm was just too wide to showcase the fog and the mountains appeared too far away. At this point we decided to use the 70-200mm lens and do a vertical 10 shot panorama. This seemed to do the trick and we were both quite happy with the result seen above. 


After enjoying the views, we jumped back in the car and headed straight to Alexander Falls. This was actually the first time we had gone to Callaghan Valley as we usually go to Whistler or Pemberton. We paid $15 for our entry and another $40 for the snowshoe and poll rentals. The staff were all extremely helpful and provided us with a trail map and a good description of the various trail options. We decided to take the steeper Express trail down and the more scenic loop trail back up to the base. 


The hike down was straight forward, with a few steep areas. While there wasn't too much to see on the way down, what grabbed our attention along the side of the trail were the beautiful, marshmallow like snow domes that were completely untouched and surrounded by trees. The photo above was taken with the 70-200mm lens to really show the domes in detail and the holes that have a bright blue/turquoise colour. Snow can be a tough subject to photograph as the photos can be overexposed and the snow can look more blue or yellow if the white balance is not set correctly. However, adjusting the white balance manually in post-processing usually does the trick to correct these colour imbalances.  


Remember how we mentioned that the Express trail had some steep parts because of the back country element of the hike? Yea, we weren't exaggerating when we wrote steep. While we were warned by the manager at the rental hut that there would be some sliding involved, we didn't expect it to be so slippery! After a broken walking pole and a cartoon like tumble down the final hill by Amir, we made it to the falls and thankfully, it didn't disappoint. We were sad to see that all of the ice had melted and that we couldn't get too close to the base unless we risked going knee deep in ice cold water without proper equipment - which is obviously a bad idea. We walked around the area and tried to find the best composition of the falls with the least amount of twigs and branches in the way.

We settled on a location and after a few test shots, we decided to use our LEE 10 stop ND filter. While this filter can sometimes be too strong for sunsets, it was perfect for this situation to both negate the light bouncing off of the snow and to create a smooth water effect of the falls. We usually don't include ourselves or other people in our shots unless they can help convey a sense of scale, and this shot was a good candidate for adding a human element. The shot above is a 90 second exposure taken with our Nikon D750 and the Nikon 20mm f/1.8 lens. 


After taking our last waterfall shot, we turned around and immediately behind us were these beautiful snow capped peaks that were glowing in the late morning sun. We took a couple of quick shots with our 200mm lens. The snow packed mountains looked too perfect to pass up! 

We finally decided to make our way back up the trail. At this point the sun was beginning to melt the snow on the branches throughout the forest. This made for a beautiful combination of rain-like mist and rays of sunlight streaking through the trees. The hike back was around 45 minutes (including some stops to enjoy the sun and snow). We made a stop at Whistler village and then headed down to Porteau Cove just in time for the sunset. We really enjoyed our day trip up to Alexander Falls and we'll definitely visit the area again in the Summer months.

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