The Next Hike

Check here every week for details on the next Trekker hike!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 23rd September.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week we drove south past Bobs Lake and Angel Lake and parked where the  Anderson Bay Road runs next to the natural gas pipeline for a short distance.  Parking there we then followed the pipeline right of way uphill to the point where the start of the Twin Peaks trail is marked by a couple of cairns. We did the usual thing and visited the side trail to the north viewpoint before taking the steeper trail to the south peak where we ate lunch.  The weather was near perfect with great views in all directions and the sun still strong enough we made use of the shade under the branches of the small trees.

For a few weeks in summer you can often see a fairly large swallow-like bird darting about high in the sky as they "hawk" after high flying insects.  If they happen to be lower down you may be able to see the white bars on the wings, but few people ever get a chance to see one on the ground although I have seen them resting in the middle of our quieter roads after dark.  We have Candi to thank for her excellent photo of a Common Nighthawk resting on the ground. 
JD.

 
The Common Nighthawk is a summer visitor to Texada that we see in flight quite often, but rarely when it's on the ground.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 16th September.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am

Last week we drove not far south on the road to Davies Bay and parked at the first red gate on the right.  From there the old logging road has some places where the TIFR logging company has replanted the forest with a variety of tree species that are not common on Texada.  Of special interest are a cluster of the giant Sequoia redwoods that are native to the mountains of eastern California, the Sierra Nevada.  To see some of the worlds largest and oldest giant specimens of this species try to visit the Sequoia National Park sometime.
I also noticed they had planted a few deciduous trees that I did not recognize at first, but could see that they looked very similar to the Silver Birch I know from the British Isles. When I checked out the  photos later at home I figured they were actually a native BC birch called Paper Birch, Betula papyrifera.  This species has male and female catkins that are open before the leaves come out and the female ones develop into these green cones you can see in my photo.  Eventually the cones ripen and break up to shed many small seeds with thin paper like wings attached and these get dispersed by the wind.
JD. 
Betula papyrifera - the paper or canoe birch tree leaves with immature green cones. The trunk of this young tree is already quite white.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 9th September.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am

Last week we decided to start our hike right at the Sunday Marketplace next to the Ballpark, with no driving and a longer time for walking.  Actually we spent so much time looking at things in the forest that the distance we covered was much the same as usual.  Very quickly we were in the area of old growth forest that runs parallel to and on the north side of the large swamp that extends west almost to the Community Hall. The largest trees here are real old timers with several firs and cedars that are many hundreds of years old.  One common understorey shrub in this patch of forest is Devils Club and we were slowed down when we found it had spread over the trail we were trying to follow.  This plant is so totally covered with spines that one has to take great care to avoid getting a sudden and painful experience should you accidentally come into close contact with any part of the plant.   It very seldom flowers, but I have noticed that sometimes when it gets a bit more sunlight exposure after living in deep shade, which it prefers to do, and only then the odd flower spike appears.  The scientific name, Oplopanax horridus, is a good one and you can see in my photo for this week just how nasty it really is.

Our lunch spot was a bluff high above Gillies Bay and it was a memorable day being able to watch for a few minutes some humpback whales actually in the bay not far from shore behaving in quite a frisky fashion for such large creatures.
JD.

Oplopanax horridus or Devil's Club with the seldom seen bright red berries.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 1st September.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week we had another very pleasant day and did the very popular Mt. Grant circular trail route.   There are several viewpoints on this hike and more than one spot where we can sit and enjoy  interesting views in different directions — to the west towards Mt. Davies and Vancouver Island, to the north and to the east looking towards Powell River and the distant Coast Mountains. Now that the prevailing winds have kept the forest fire smoke away from the coast for a while it's well worth climbing again to some of our higher viewpoints.

My photo this week is of a very fresh specimen of a butterfly that is fairly common in the summer on the higher parts of the island. The Pine White lays it's eggs on the needles of conifers and the adults are especially attracted to flowers with some yellow colour in them.  
JD.

Pine White butterfly, [Neophasia menapia] feeding from a roadside daisy near Mt. Davies. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Next Hike.

The next hike will be on Saturday, 26th August.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am

Last week we drove south along Bell Rd. and parked at the junction soon after crossing under the Vancouver Island Hydro lines.  The hike starts by taking the right fork and after a short distance  branching off onto the gas pipeline right of way heading south,  This is quite a pleasant section of the pipeline as the route twists and turns and undulates through a forested area.  We usually leave the pipeline just before it runs up a short but very steep hill.  An old overgrown logging road soon takes us to the Bobs Lake Rd. and we follow that just for the short distance to the picnic tables at the north end of the lake. There a newer flagged hiking trail runs along the east side of the lake and eventually reaches a perfect spot for swimming and lunching in the sun or shade close to the very southern tip of the lake.

Not far from our lunch spot we passed by a dead Douglas Fir tree with a most unusual large fungus growing from the thick bark.  It looked familiar, but it's not at all common on Texada.  It has several names, but the one I like best is Chicken of the Woods.  I don't remember eating it, but I understand it must be soft and still young and has to be cooked well to be entirely safe to eat. 

I don't have any plans to offer a swim on this week's hike.
JD.
     

Chicken of the Woods, Laetiporus sulphureus, is edible when young and cooked well.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 18th August.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

As the chance to swim at Mystery Lake was such a popular option last week and the good weather seems likely to continue there may be another warm lake to swim in again this week. 

Last week we ran into problems before we even got close to the parking place.  We needed to reach the road junction where Thompson Rd. meets the steep road that climbs up from the Shingle Beach Rd and past the Stromberg Falls, but Forestry had been busy on it since the last time we had used it.  This road has been in very good condition for very many years with never any tendency to get washed out.  However, we found we were faced with crossing a series of "water bars", steep sided ditches cut across the road that make it very difficult for even high clearance 4 by 4's to cross them without being damaged underneath.
JD.
   
A happy group of hikers at the secluded Mystery Lake after a picnic lunch and for some a chance to swim in delightfully warm fresh water.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 12th August.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Special Feature:  There may be a chance hikers will be able, if they wish, to go for a lake swim at lunchtime on the upcoming hike on Saturday.  To get to the lake I have in mind we need to have vehicles that can handle a fairly steep section of road — so 4x4 with decent road clearance.  A shuttle arrangement is a possible alternative solution.

Last week we hiked along the beach from Sandbanks to Cox Lagoon and the Airport.  At lunchtime on the beach we were lucky enough to have a pod of Orcas coming past heading south some way offshore.  The smoke from the forest fires was quite bad so without binoculars it was difficult to see the whales properly.  I had hoped to see some Harbour Porpoise so that I could report on them to the Vancouver Aquarium who were conducting a "Cetacean Census"  during the long weekend in our northern part of the Salish Sea. However, porpoises are sometimes killed and eaten by transient Orcas so that may the reason we did not get to see any.  I did return on Monday to see if any cetaceans were around, but saw no marine mammals apart from a single seal.

The tide was very low so a very good time to introduce a young visitor to some interesting sea life.  There were crabs, and sea anemones, a few starfish, and even a rarely seen ghost shrimp someone had found.  The grey area on the right In my photo is part of a waste dump at the Lafarge quarry. 
JD.

Hiking over the rocks on the beach at Sandbanks. At low tide much of the beach is sand rather than rocks and a great area to wander around in.