The Next Hike

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

Friday, December 27, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 28th of December.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week the weather was quite dull with very low cloud everywhere.  It made no sense hiking up so we decided to stay down near the water and drove south towards Davie Bay.  We explored some side trails along the shoreline and did find one that we could use to reach a small headland, but branches need clearing and so that will be for another day.  For lunch we sat on a low cliff just south of where Eagle Creek reaches the sea. This is a spot we have visited quite a few times now, and we have found there is no easy way to get down just here to the tiny beaches that are good spots to find a multitude of attractive pebbles.  The pocket beaches we also often visit are not far from here, but they are north of Eagle Creek and reached via different trails.   It was just a very small number of hikers, three people and two friendly dogs, but I expect most hikers are either off island for the holidays or busy at home making preparations for Christmas.
JD.

      
         On a bluff not far south of Eagle Creek. Just to the left of my picture the ground drops off very steeply down to the sea. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Next hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 21st December.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10.00am.

Last Saturday I was busy all day with the annual Christmas birdcount so could not be on the hike.  The destination was the beach at Mouat Point not far south of Gillies Bay.

My photo is one I took earlier this year when we visited the coastline on the northwest end of Texada. This is the only stretch of coastline where I sometimes find the beautiful remains of Sea Urchins.  When they're alive they are covered with sharp spines and have tube feet that come out through the tiny holes clearly visible in my photo.  The type in my picture are a close relative of the Sand Dollar which is so abundant in Gillies Bay.  The reason the shell is flat in one and spherical in the other is related to the habit they live in — the Sand Dollar needs to be thin so that it can burrow for safety into soft sandy beaches, while the other kind live on rocky shores and can shelter in between the rocks, and never need to burrow.
 
On 1st January there will be a Potluck Lunch at Shingle Beach Campground at 12:00 noon. Please bring chairs and a dish of your choice. Talk to Diana if you want more information.  Be green and carpool if you can.
JD.
   
   A Sea Urchin shell at Big Beach near Favada Rocks. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 14th December.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am

Last week we had a very fine day for our hike — clear blue sky, cool and calm.  We headed up onto the high ground and were pleased to find very little snow on the ground even at the start of the Hydro East road.  Parking not far along from the juction at Bell Farm we headed east swinging north towards Black Mountain then up the steep trail to the summit.  Eating lunch in open areas high up on the south side we looked in vain for any sign of Mt. Baker in Washington State.  While the view to the east, as you can see from my photo, was clear for a great distance, to the south there must have been some smog over the Lower Mainland. 

My photo shows the entrance to Jarvis Inlet with low Hardy Island in the centre and the snow topped Coast Mountains in the far distance.  Just a steep hillside on the right is the only part of Nelson Island visible in this view.
JD.

View of Jervis Inlet from Black Mountain.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 7th December,
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am

Last week we hiked from the Oasis west through the forest on the trail that heads down the east side of Paxton Lake to the Airport. From there we headed down to Cox Lagoon and along the beach stopping from lunch not far from Sandbanks.  We looked in vain for Harbour Porpoise that are in this for most of the summer months and sometimes in the winter too. It was not the best day for spotting this very small marine mammal because the sea was rather choppy and it their tiny dorsal fins just get lost in the contant movement of the sea surface.

My photo this month has nothing to do with hiking, but it's a bird photo first for me so I wanted to share it with you.  Last winter and again this winter Gillies Bay has had some Annas Hummingbird that have decided to stay here as long as they can depend on a few feeders that are regularly replenished with extra concentrated sugar water.  I tried to get a good photo of one last year, but without any luck, but this week I managed to get several nice pictures of one that has been hanging around in my yard for much of the day. I don't often see it, but I do hear it's noisy wings and high pitched voice. It always astonishes me that such a tiny bird can survive this kind of weather — not much above 0 C during the day and dropping to below freezing throughout the long nights.

It looks as if Friday and Saturday are going to be especially cold so if you decide to come on the hike do be well prepared.
JD

   
An Annas hummingbird at my feeder a few days ago — a sunny afternoon in early December   

Friday, November 29, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 30th November.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week we had quite a nice day for the hike for a change.  As we have not been to Davie Bay for a long time we decided to choose that as our destination.  It was a very good choice as the tide was down just enough for us to wander along one stretch of the beach at the north end of the bay and the sunshine made sitting on the grassy bluff for lunch at the UREP (an area that the Province has designated to be reserved for the Use, Recreation and Enjoyment of the Public) very pleasant indeed.  We saw a seal, an otter and then a bit later on a passing sealion.  

My photo was taken at the spot where we lunched and in the distance the mountains on Vancouver Island are just visible above a thin belt of low cloud.
JD.

   Davie Bay on a calm November day.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Next Hike

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

Last week we had a cool day for our hike.  There was a strong north-west wind and the prospect of some nice views so we headed south towards Bobs Lake and parked at the start of the Mt. Grant Trail.  Taking the longer route to the summit to avoid the wet and muddy patches on the shorter northern route we found there were very few fallen trees to deal with along the way, but many sections were beginning to close in with recent vigorous branch growth. I did notice that some of the Ponderosa Pine trees that were planted on the dry mountain slopes about 35 years ago after a major forest fire were starting to die off.  Many others are showing signs of stress, have lost a lot of their needles and look like they may not live very much longer.  A government forester told me this species is prone to a disease that only affects this species in damp summer climates and not in the interior where summers are hotter and drier.

My photo is one I took a few weeks ago when I noticed a low cliff beside one of our hiking trails that had some lovely green clusters of tiny plantsgrowing on the almost vertical rock face.  The fern is a tiny spleenwort with fronds like maidenhair fern, mosses, liverworts and the crusty grey plant on the rock is a species of lichen.
JD.

        A miniature garden of tiny plants on the vertical face of a cliff in the forest.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Next Hike

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

Last week we had another rainy day for hiking, but with the strong winds mainly out over the open sea it was quite pleasant wandering around in the lower Sromberg Creek area on the south west coast of Texada Island.  First we parked on the road below the falls and then hiked up through the forest to see if there was much water flowing down Grow Op Creek [translation 'cannabis growing operation creek' for those not familiar with the local dialect].  There was a fair amount, but still not enough to fill the sinkhole under the bank and none going on down the rapids towards the main road bridge.  Then we headed back down the trail to take a look at the vertical sink hole and Stromberg Falls.  This is such a lovely spot with the water rushing out of the cave and maidenhair fern leaves all over the cliffs.  Sadly not a drop of water falling from the cliff top, which means we need to have a very heavy rainfall before it will be worth another visit.
Driving down and back across the road bridge we took the side road and parked under the Hydro lines.  By the time we had wandered down to the beach at the mouth of Stomberg Creek it was time for lunch — under our umbrellas!  My photo this week shows the nicely built rustic footbridge over the creek.
JD.


                The rustic bridge where Stromberg Creek flows out onto the beach.  The water flow is really quite low for this time of year.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Next Hike

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

Last week we did the hike that we quite often do on days with a good chance of rain, from Stromberg Creek bridge down to the campground at Shingle Beach.  We didn't go up to see the waterfalls but there was probably quite a lot of water coming down after the heavy rain and the flow may still be good this week too.  We had lunch at a picnic table where there was no wind and the rain held off for a while.  My photo shows the view of the beach from the headland.
JD.


         
         A deserted Shingle Beach on a calm and rather dull fall day.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 2nd November.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am

Last week at the start of the hike the weather was still and on the dull side with low clouds covering the high ground.  There was not much point going in search of high viewpoints on a day like this so instead we chose to hike in the forest along logging roads, new and old.  We parked at the top of the first hill on Davie Bay Road and headed north back towards Mouat Creek on a side road then turned west followed the south bank back towards the main road.  When it came time for lunch we were close to the road bridge and sat beside the creek at the fish tank hut.  Such a pleasant spot with the sound of the water splashing over the rocks and the massive fern and moss covered maple trees towering above us.

Another mushroom photo for this week, not an edible variety, but of interest for the striking purple gills on the underside of the cap.
JD.

An unusual mushroom with purple gills growing on the hillside above Stromberg Falls.  I believe it's not edible  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Next Hike

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

Last week we gathered at the meeting place with the base of the persistent marine fog sitting at tree top height above us.  The light was so dim it was obvious the fog that morning was extra thick so we knew we would have to drive quite a way to have any hope of getting above it into the sunshine.  We set off, heading up and to the south along Bell Road, past First Lake and only came out into the sunshine at the Vancouver Island Hydro line.  Parking on the gas line we walked south and soon started to find the abundant mushrooms of so many different types that make 2013 a record year for those who go on fungus forays.  Lunch was close to Bloody Mountain viewpoint on the south side of Mt. Davies, the low sun warming our backs and the air so still and clear it was such a contrast to the gloomy world down below.
I took the photo as we headed back down to our vehicles to show just how thick the fog was even in the early afternoon.  In the distance to the north the fog reaches almost to the bottom of the bare grassy area on the upper slopes of Black Mountain, so roughly 1,600 ft (500m) above sea level.  This sea fog is still with us so I expect we will be climbing in search of the sun again this week.
JD.
  

As the hikers walk back towards the vehicles the top of Black Mountain is visible above the thick blanket of fog.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 19th October.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am

This year has been the best year we have had for a long time for gathering edible mushrooms.  The weather conditions at the end of summer and into early fall must have been near perfect for the fungus species we love to collect as the abundance and size of specimens we are finding is exceptional.  Last week we drove down towards Shingle Beach, then turning off after the bridge over Stromberg Creek we headed uphill past the waterfalls and parked halfway up to Thompson Road. It was dull and foggy for most of the morning, but not long after settling down for lunch on a small bluff    with a view the clouds began to break up nicely.  In my photo this week some of the mushrooms collected along the way are being checked out in one of the mushroom books that are so useful when collecting the edible kinds.  
JD.

Hikers keen to check the mushroom book to get tips on identification and cooking options.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Next Hike

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

Last week we had a cool cloudy day for the hike, again we had quite a few hikers that were interested in mushrooms, some wanting to pick more of their favourite edible ones, others just keen to learn more about them. We drove up to the Masyk Farm turnoff and parked, then carried on along the road checking in the woods for interesting fungi. We met up with a hunter who wanted to be sure that he and his friends knew where we would likely be going and clearly intended to hunt somewhere else — unusual in my experience, but much appreciated by us. We headed east into a logged off area that proved to be very windy, but I knew we would be out of the wind on the far side where we had lunch on the edge of some old growth forest.

My photo this week is of a mushroom we found that is related to some edible species that are called toothed fungi because they have very distinctive tiny teeth like projections on the underside of the cap. This one is called the Bleeding Tooth Fungus because of the drops of bright red liquid on the upperside of the cap when it's still young and otherwise vivid white. The one in my photo is older, and will eventually become black or grey or brown all over. It's not poisonous, it just tastes really bad I believe. Checkout the pictures on this site:—

http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/plants/news-gruesome-bleeding-mushrooms

JD.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 5th October.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am

Last week the weather was not the best for hiking. However, a combination of strong wind and light rain showers did not deter everyone and we had an interesting time checking out the great numbers of different fungus species in the Bobs Lake area. I don't ever remember having seen so many large fresh specimens of the common edible Lactarious species, and the chanterelles seem larger than usual although not all that abundant.
My photo this week is of a fungus that is not an edible variety, and as I have not been able to get a name for it yet I would certainly not collect it. It looks somewhat similar to a poisonous kind and the only reason I post it this week is to show it's striking deep red colour.
We have not had any frost yet, even on the high ground probably, so there should still be lots of interesting mushrooms in the forest this weekend.
JD.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 28th September.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week we drove down the Pocahontas Bay road and then part way up the road that leads to the radio towers on Mt Pocahontas. The rains in late summer have given the mushroom hunters a lot more fungi than usual this year, and the hike route was chosen to put us in an area quite suitable for many of the edible varieties.  As soon as we started to walk we found an abundance of different species and quickly discovered some nice fresh chanterelles.  We made good time as there were not so many mushrooms as we gained altitude and soon reached the end of the logging road at Bladderwort Lake.  One of the Trekker's old hiking trails runs steeply up the slope on the east side of the lake to a viewpoint where we ate lunch in the warm sunshine.  Afterwards we pushed on beyond the end of the trail and soon reached the northern edge of the secluded Loon Lake.  This we usually approach from the south so it was interesting to see the lake from a completely new angle. 
JD. 

 A nice large specimen of the edible Golden Chanterelle, Cantharellus formosus, collected on the hike.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 21st September.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am

Last week we met in Van Anda and carpooled over to James Mack's place near Favada Point on the north-west coast of the island. The sea fog was extensive over the higher ground and it did not look like clearing off for some time, so we hiked south on the main trail not sure if we would be able to climb up onto the bluffs for the great views at lunch time.  Eventually we reached the turnoff down to Big Beach, the fog was still not far above us and the only thing to do was to head down to the beach.  The trail was in good shape and it was pleasant enough though not sunny.  It seemed odd, but there were no birds to be seen out on the water and only a single seal which soon decided to dive and was not seen again.  Someone said it would be nice to have some of the larger marine mammals show up to entertain us and I said something about how there have been many more sightings than usual in the last few weeks, including some whales. But the bay remained quiet, the sea flat calm all through lunch.  Then just as we started packing up someone saw fins out of the water some distance offshore and we soon realised a group of Orcas were headed south, some of them very close to shore. What a treat!

My photo is of two of the orcas, one male adult plus a very much younger individual follow along behind it. I'm hoping to put a name or ID to this very tall dorsal fin which seems to be quite a distinct shape and may belong to one of the Transient or Bigg's orcas. 
JD.

The dorsal fins of two orcas heading south past Big Beach near Favada Point on the north-west coast of Texada Island.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Next hike from Van Anda.

The next hike will be on Saturday, 14th September.
We meet at the Royal Canadian Legion in Van Anda at 10:00am.

On this upcoming hike we will be visiting some of the most beautiful coastline on Texada, a stretch of the north-west coast to the south of Cresent Bay. There are many trails in this area and they extend long distances along the shoreline and up to viewpoints high on a mountain side.

Last week we started off wondering if we should even bother to pick a hike on the high ground as this seemed to be entirely shrouded in fog. We decided instead to do a beach hike and headed off south past Davie Bay towards Shingle Beach, parking where the new logging road heads off to the left not far before the campground. Although there was no rain in the forecast we found ourselves in a very wet mist and for the first part of the hike umbrellas were quite useful. Taking the trail that swings up through the forest before heading back down to the beach again near the old Brown cottage we found the mist was drying out and gradually clearing. In the afternoon the sun came out as we walked back along the beach to the Shingle Beach forestry campground. In my photo I tried to capture the ethereal atmosphere of the abandoned cottage, the old fruit trees and the ancient arbutus tree.
JD.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 7th September.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am

Last week there was low cloud and fog around and the chances of getting a good view from a high lunch spot seemed pretty slim.  However, we decided to head for some high ground and hope for the best.  Parking on the High Road near the last house heading north we were pleased to see the fog was quickly lifting. We hiked to the Pocahontas turnoff, then towards the bay just as far as the first side road then followed that to the top of the first steep section.  It's getting hard to see now because it's so overgrown, but a side road heads uphill again on the right and eventually reaches some open bluffs with good views.  A couple of Turkey Vultures took an interest in us for a while, coming close enough for us to see that one of them had grey on the head rather than vivid red indictating that it was an imature bird.  This species nests on Texada and probably chooses to raise it's young on grassy bluffs like the one where we ate lunch.   
JD.

     
A couple of Turkey Vultures soaring above us at lunchtime on a bluff not far from the fire lookout peak on Pocahontas.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 31st August.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am

Last week we drove south towards Davie Bay, turned off at Eagle Creek and parked at the start of the steep hill about half way up to Thompson Road.  The hike up to Mystery Lake is fairly long from this starting point, but it was comfortable cooler weather for hiking.  Lunch was at the rocky outcrop at the north end and it was interesting to see a few stickleback in the shallow water as wel as the tiny white shells of freshwater Fingernail or Toenail Clams.  

My photo this time is from a hike we did earlier in the month near Pocahontas Bay.  This old piece of logging equipment was at the side of a new logging road so it may have only been found recently when the area was relogged.  When it was in use it would have been standing vertically with the upper part filled with water and a wood fire burning in the lower part which at the open end in my photo.  The small oval opening in the side was where the firewood was added to the fire and the hinge and latch are still in place on each side. I think the door is sitting on top of the boiler The pipes were there to increase the area where the heat from the fire was transferred to the water in the pressurised part of the boiler.  You can read about these engines at this web site.          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_donkey
It has a photo of a complete engine at a UBC museum in the Lower Mainland. 
JD.

An old vertical steam boiler for a donkey engine that would have been used in the logging industry. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 24th August.
We meet at the Ballpark at Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week we decided to explore a new route for hiking that would start from Pocahontas Bay and head east along the old Pocahontas Main logging road to where a new logging road branches off into an extensive cutblock.  Eventually after passing through many hectares of fresh slash this road drops down and swings shaply to the left ending close enough to the beach to hear the waves beyond a thick stand of trees.  We soon found a deer trail that made it fairly easy to get past piles of branches and debris into the welcome shade of an old growth forest.  From there on down to the beach was easy going with open forest floor in every direction. From the beach logs where we sat for lunch the view of the mainland side was quite extensive and we have named the spot Tower View Beach as the tall, white Stillwater Hydro Station surge tower was prominent on the far side of the strait. 
   
My photo this week is a lucky shot of a small grasshopper that posed for me on a stone at the road side.  As far as I can tell it's a Red-legged Grasshopper in the genus Melanoplus, perhaps M. femurrubrum.  I understand it takes a grasshopper expert to identify most kinds of grasshoppers, but mine fits a photo I found on  www.bugguide.net.  What amazing patterns you find these insects have on their bodies when you get close enough to the insect to see them.  
JD.

A Red-legged Grasshopper at the roadside near Pocahontas Bay.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Next Hike.

The next hike will be on Saturday, 15th August.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week we decided to hike to the top of Mt. Davies as the weather was clear and the views from the top are always quite spectacular in these conditions.  We drove towards Bobs Lake and parked at the usual place where the gasline crosses the Cook Bay Road not very far past the Vancouver Island Hydro line. However, we dawdled through the forest and along the gravel road, stopping to cut branches and look at butterflies and other things so changed our destination to the closer Bloody Mountain viewpoint on the south slopes of Mt. Davies.  Not far off this trail are a couple of beaver ponds one of which had lots of the bright yellow flowers of Bladderwort. I don't have time to go into all the interesting details of this common native plant, but have to mention that while it's flowers are really quite attractive beneath the surface of the water it's stems are dotted with tiny animal traps, in this case bladders.  In fact it's a carnivorous plant like the above ground annual Sundew that is also quite common on Texada.  That catches insects with sticky hairs on the rounded pink leaves.

Go on the web to see more pictures and read about the trapping process.       http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utricularia    In my photo the large green leaves belong to the yellow flowered water lilies. These usually rest on the surface of the water, but the spell of dry weather has partially dried up the pond and left the stems exposed.
JD.


      
The bright yellow flowers of the pond plant Bladderwort are usually the only part of the plant that shows above the water surface.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Next Hike

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

Last week we drove south on Bell Road and circled around the east side of Bobs Lake to park on the gas line just past the entrance to the campground. Hiking south on the pipeline took us across the Anderson Bay Rd and on through the forest until we again met up with the Anderson Bay Rd near the start of the popular Twin Peaks trail.  At this point we were just south of Angel Lake so to reach our lunch spot on the north side of the lake we had to walk west along the good road then north until we reached the short access road in to the lake side.  This part of Texada has many wetlands and small lakes and it seems to have an above average number of resident beaver.  We saw a very well used beaver trail that crossed the main road at a point close to both Angel Lake and a large pond and at a different spot on the same road we saw where a medium sized pine tree had been cut and dragged over the road and into the beaver pond next to it. On the far side of the lake the large beaver lodge had had a couple of freshly debarked logs added to it very recently. 
JD.

At Angel Lake for lunch.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 3rd August.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am

Last week we drove south from Gillies Bay and parked on the Davie Bay road at the top of the last hill before the bay. The hike took us along the first part of the road to Ken's Place and then down through the forest to the pocket beaches near the mouth of Eagle Creek.  We had lunch at the first bay and then hiked over a grassy bluff to the beach at the mouth of the creek.  My photo this week was taken at the first pocket beach and is of an outcrop of ancient lava rock that has been smoothed by the sea.  I imagine the breaking waves are sweeping the fine shingle pebbles repeatedly against the surface of the rock and producing these lovely smooth bumps and hollows. 

This stretch of coastline has several very small bays [the pocket beaches] separated by steep rocky headlands with a mix of grassy and forested bluffs backing the coastline. Access is by old logging road and winding trails.  It's a very lovely area and not so easy to reach on foot or by boat.  
JD.

Wonderfully smooth rocks running out into the beach near Eagle Creek.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 27th July.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am

Last week we drove north for a change, parking near the end of Spragge Road the starting place for a hike to Raven Bay on the east coast of the island. The old logging road drops down quickly and crosses the outflow from Case Lake, a nature reserve with a small population of Western Painted Turtle. After a short uphill section the road heads steadily down through mostly young forest until coming out onto a flat section of the gravel High Road close to Slow Farm.  After going north on the road a short distance we turned right and headed down again on a logging road through more mature forest with Rumbottle Creek on our right.  At Raven Bay the extra low tide gave us an opportunity to check out the beach creatures that are usually well below the surface of the sea. There were exceptionally large clusters of starfish, and quite a few of them were colours other than the common purple.
JD.
 
Some of the different coloured starfish at Raven Bay.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 20th July.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Pinesap is one of these oddball plants that really catch the eye when their brightly coloured flowers have pushed up from the forest floor.  The scientific name is Montropa hypopitys and it's one of those plants that has no chlorophyl so it has no way to make the food it needs with the help of sunlight.  Instead it uses a particular fungus growing under the ground which in turn takes food from the roots of nearby trees, so you could say it's parasitic on a parasite!  On Texada the most common colour of Pinesap is the reddish brown of the one in my photo, but elsewhere in its geographic range the colour can vary a lot, sometimes yellow and even white.  We saw several clusters of flowers of this species on our hike last week which took us to a viewpoint overlooking the Malaspina Strait not far south of Black Mountain. 
JD.


          
         Pinesap flowers just starting to push up from the forest floor.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 13th July.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am

Last week we hiked very close to the meeting place for a change and with just yours truly and a couple of off island visitors from the Prairies it was a chance to see how the Gillies Bay Nature Trail had been affected by recent gales.  Fallen trees were not too difficult to get around, but the extra growth of the understorey vegetation, especially bracken fern and Devil's Club, made it very difficult to follow the trail in some places.  Eventually we reached School Road, but on a well used deer path and not on the eastern part of the flagged trail!  For lunch we sat on logs beside Gillies Bay Creek and watched salmon and trout fry jumping for flying insects.  One larger trout managed to swallow a large ant that had dropped into the water and could not make it to the shore in time.  It was a delight to see so much creek flow, and an above average number of coho in many of the pools.  Walking back towards the very busy ballpark, Sandcastle Days activities were in full swing, a very noisy robin alerted us to the presence of a Barred Owl on a low branch on one side of the road.  Barred Owls can be very trusting of people and we spent quite some time watching while it scanned the forest floor for potential prey. We didn't seem to bother it at all, and it was still sitting in the same place on the branch as we quietly walked on our way.  
JD

   
A Barred Owl on an Alder branch beside School Road.  

Friday, July 5, 2013

Next Hike — meet at the Community Hall, not Ballpark.

It's Sandcastle this weekend so we will meet at The Community Hall, Gillies Bay.

The Gillies Bay Ballpark area will be far too crowded for us to meet there.

JD.

   
The common Wood Nymph butterfly on evergreen huck.
 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 6th July.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week we drove south towards Davie Bay, then turned left just past Eagle Creek heading up hill almost to Thompson Road.  This is all familiar ground as we have several lakes and viewpoints in this area and can reach Thompson Road from several different directions.  For this hike we followed much of our usual route to Thompson Bluffs, but took a different fork on the Mystery Lake road and had lunch on a rocky bluff on the north side of Broken Logs Lake.  We first visited this lake, the south side that time, quite a few years ago and did not return until September last year when we found a way through the forest to reach the north shore.   We had a couple of very loud bullfrogs to serenade us while we ate lunch.
On the way back down to Thompson Road after lunch we disturbed a mother Blue Grouse with some very young chicks.  The mother flew up onto a nearby tree leaving the chicks on the ground to fend for themselves.  Their best protection from predators is probably to keep stock still and try to blend in with the vegetation, something their plumage helps them to do very well. I was able to slowly approach one of the chicks that had decided it was best to remain perfectly still while I photographed it several times.  Much to my surprise it suddenly opened out it's tiny wings and flew rapidly to a low branch where it made a less than perfect landing.  And I thought it was much too young to fly!
JD.

   
A very young baby grouse trying to blend in with it's surroundings. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 29th June.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week we drove up to Bell Rd and along to the Hydro East Junction, then left on to the Russ Creek road and left again at the the old Masck Farm road.  We parked at the top of the hill and headed north along some fairly recently built logging roads eventually reaching the fairly large forest lake we have been calling "No Name Lake".  After lunch we checked out the smaller lake not far to the east and saw lots of evidence of beaver activity including a well used trail connecting the two lakes over a low ridge.   Returning to the first lake I spotted a single loon quietly fishing out in the deeper water and we are now going to call it Loon Lake. 

I think I mentioned that we had run into a lot of fallen trees on the recent Twin Peaks so I thought I would illustrate the email today with this shot of the devastated forest. I've never ever seen this much wind damage to a piece of forest on Texada — it made finding our way through very difficult as parts of the two hiking trails were covered by masses of debris.  Some very large old trees had been broken off or rooted up on the west sides of both of the peaks and in the dip between them a multitude of younger trees had been snapped off.  I wonder what the wind speed would be to do this much damage.  
JD.    

Wind storm damage to our trail in the dip between the peaks at Twin Peaks.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 22nd June.
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 road runs alongside the gasline right of way. Hiking south along the gasline we turned off at the large cairn marking the start of the Twin Peaks Trail.  At first everything in the forest seemed quite normal, but then soon after the trail became much steeper we began to run into fallen trees which became more and more frequent as we progressed.  At the point where the trail levels off and divides, one branch going north to a viewpoint the other south towards the south viewpoint it soon became obvious that both trails were blocked by massive amounts of broken tree trunks and branches. Clearly a wind storm had hit the col with tremendous force not long ago and  it was quite a difficult task to find a route through the tangle of debris covering both trails.  We split into two groups before lunch and enjoyed the panoramic views from each of the two viewpoints 

My photo shows one group in an undamaged part of the south trail.  The giant trees behind the hikers were mostly undamaged by the winds, but the massive tree trunk on the ground in the centre of the image was part of one that had fallen and broken into several pieces.   
JD.


On the winding trail through old growth forest not far from the south viewpoint of Twin Peaks.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 15th June.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies bay at 10:00am.

Last week we drove along the Davie Bay road as far as Eagle Creek, then headed down to the coastline at Mouat Point the rocky headland at the south end of Mouat Bay.  We searched for a area in the forest where we knew we had seen lots of Giant Chain Fern, but the undergrowth has become thicker and higher over the years and we never managed to get close to this unusually large and beautiful fern. After lunch we wandered along the grassy bluffs, through a narrow strip of evergreen huckleberry and then reached one of several places on this part of the coast where the Prickly Pear Cactus grow.  Some of the clumps had many unopened flower buds on them, but we found just one clump that had five or six fully open flowers.  
JD.

Visit  www.gilliesbay.ca and select the "Texada Trekkers" tab to view many months of my hike notice emails. 

Yellow flowers of Monkey Flower, a species of Mimulus, quite common in places on rocky seaside bluffs.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 8th June.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week we drove to First Lake to start the hike which took us east on the old logging road that links with the Hydro East Rd.  Turning south we walked to where the road starts it long decent down to the sea, just far enough to check out the wonderful view over Malaspina Strait to Jervis Inlet and the mountains beyond.  Turning back and then taking an old logging road on the left that becomes a barely seen trail through vigorous young trees that were planted on top of the old road we soon reached Horseshoe Lake, our lunch spot.  As always it's interesting to see what the resident beaver have been up to, but we never do seem to see any swimming around although they are certainly living there. There is an old beaver lodge in the open water in front ot the lunch spot, but it appears to be unused.  Someone spotted a pile of branches on the shoreline in a different part of the lake and I used telephoto to get a few shots of it.  The branches do look typical of beaver lodges in the way thay are arranged, but it is a bit odd to find one apparently built more on the land than in the water.
JD.

A pile of branches on the far shore that may or may not be a beaver lodge — building on land is a bit unusual. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Next Hike

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

Last week we drove up to the High Road and parked near the start of the hydro line going to the towers at the top. Taking the more gradual route up through the forest we took the right turn just before reaching the hydro line right of way and started on the George Lechner Memorial Trail. Part way up the steepest section of the zig-zag trail we saw a couple of clusters of the young flower spikes of the leafless Candystick, Allotropa virgata. This not particularly common saprophytic plant depends on dead and dying organic material in the soil for nutriants and has no leaves with chlorophyll like most other flowering plants. We sat for lunch at the viewpoint close to the BC Hydro compound at the base of their massive tower.
JD.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 25th May.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10.00am

Last week we drove south to Eagle Creek and then turned left parking part way up the hill towards Thompson Road.  The destination was Balanced Rock Lake and the route does have some pretty steep uphill sections, but it was a pleasant day, a bit on the cool side and we made good progress.  Lunch was enjoyed sitting close to the balanced rock high above the calm water.  On the way back we did some exploring of the long clearcut that parallels our narrow trail through the forest and decided afterwards that it was easier to walk the clearcut than fighting past several fallen trees on the original route.   Once down to Thompson Road we turned right and then left getting down to the parked vehicles on different logging roads to the one we used in the morning.
JD.  

Hiking down from Balanced Rock Lake through a replanted clearcut towards Thompson Road.
 The islands off the north-west end of Lasqueti  are visible in the distance. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Next Hike

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

Last week we hiked through the forest from the Oasis to the Airport down to Coxs Lagoon and along the beach towards the Sandbanks. After lunch we returned via the Airport and Paxton Lake to the Oasis, although some of us more directly than others. I have found from personal experienc that on dull days it is easy to lose one's sense of direction when hiking through trail-less forest, and end up coming back to the place you started from. It does help to have a compass handy provided you know which direction you need to be heading in if you expect to get there.

My photo this week is of a fairly common, but poisonous, mushroom. This is Amanita muscaria, common name Fly Agaric, with an orange cap. The colour of the cap in this species is sometimes red with white warts and patches rather than yellow or orange with white scales and warts.
JD.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 11th May.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week we decided to return to Ladybird Bluffs, which we visited fot the very first time just a couple of weeks earlier. The weather that day was not great, very different to the lovely dry warm sunny weather we have been having for many days now. We took a different route to the start of the hike this time, driving from the High Road right down to Pocahontas Bay and then south along the old Pocahontas Main logging road. This gave us a little more time to explore the northern part of the Ladybug Bluffs ridge and we found a nice route up to the highest point where we had lunch. My photo shows the view looking south-east along the spine of Texada with Black Mountain the peak on the left. The road running down the side of the clearcut goes down past the White Pine Research area and over Russ Creek on the high old style loggers bridge. The low green shrub hugging the rocks in the foreground is one of several very healthy Manzanita [spanish for "little apple] bushes on the crest of the ridge.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 4th May.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week we were driving through a heavy rainshower on the way to the start of the hike at Hydro East and wondered if we would have a wet hike.  However, by the time we reached the parking place the rain had eased and after hiking a little way the clouds cleared and we had nice conditions for the rest of the hike. We took the lovely old logging road going north from the site of the logging camp just south of the big fenced Hydro compound and for lunch branched off down a steep ATV trail that ends at the beach. 

My photo this time is from our recent hike to a new viewpoint on Ladybug Bluffs.  The ridge has steep rocky slopes on the east side, but the approach from the south is by good logging roads that are just overgrown in a few places and only moderately steep.  The white building on the mainland in the upper left of my photo is an old hydro station fed by a massive penstock that can be seen from the main highway south of Powell River where it crosses a long bridge.    
JD.   

The view east from Ladybug Bluffs. At upper left is the Stillwater hydro station and white surge tower.  

Friday, April 26, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 27th April.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week the forecast for Saturday was very good, "sunny all day" it said, and it was that way when we set off. We decided to try to find an old logging road that we had hiked before on a mountain side to the north of Russ Creek. We knew it had been partly rebuilt by loggers, but were able to find a way to get back onto it part way along. It proved to be in pretty good shape and we made good progress eventually reaching a bluff much higher than we had reached before. By then some clouds had moved in and it even rained lightly for an hour or so, not quite what the forecast had predicted. The view from the bluff was great, extending from Scotch Fir Point well to the south of Pender Harbour, but some sunshine would have improved it a good deal.

My photo is of an insect we found in a cavity on a dead tree that inspired the name Ladybug Bluff Trail for this new hike route. Somehow I think the ladybug will still be there the next time we do the more than 1,000ft climb to the viewpoint.
JD.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 20th April.
We meet at the ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week the annual Trekkers beach potluck and clam bake was held at Raven Bay and was well attended.  I have just returned from my annual two week birdwatching trip to Vancouver Island and was not able to do the last two hikes, but I will be guide for this next one. 

I have problems sending out the weekly emails sometimes and the last two were affected in different ways.  I had to skip the one for last week and the one before it seems to have failed to reach some of the intended recipients including the website blog at www.gilliesbay.ca.  I'm not sure what the problem was and I hope things are working properly again this week.

On my last day on the island I was on a sandy beach at Kye Bay just south of the Little River ferry dock in Comox and saw a lone shorebird that I don't think I have ever seen before. It came quite close and I was pleased I managed to get a good photo of it as shorebirds can be so difficult to identify from memory.  This one is a Marbled Godwit, quite a large bird that nests in summer on the prairies in Canada and the northern states and spends the rest of the year on both east and west coasts mainly feeding on sandy beaches. This individual is an adult in breeding plumage.
JD.

A lone adult Marbled Godwit, a shorebird that nests on the Canadian prairies and the adjacent states.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Next Hike

The next hike will be on Saturday, 30th March.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week we had a larger group of hikers than usual and a sunny spring day with a cool wind. We drove just a short distance along the Airport Rd and parked on the roadside at the sandpit curve. Walking north past the Airport and then taking the logging road with the iron gate headed down through the trees to Cox Lagoon. The tide was coming in, but not yet high enough to prevent walking along the beach to the sandbanks. Often when we do this hike it's on a calm day so we can look out for the little Harbour Porpoise that seem to have adopted this short stretch of water as their favourite feeding area for the last few years. At first they were around only in the summer months, but now they are here all winter. We were sheltered from the wind on the beach at lunchtime and then it was the steep trail up the cliff and more logging roads through the forest and back to the sandpit by the Airport Road.

Black Brant Geese visit Gillies Bay beach between February and the end of April on their long migration along the Pacific coast to their nesting grounds in Alaska, and the northern coast of Canada. This year the numbers are a bit higher than usual, but I'm seeing fewer juveniles than I would expect to see. The three in my photo are all adults and the two with yellow leg bands are a male and female pair. Juveniles are similar in size and plumage to the adults, except for a few faint white lines on the wing feathers which they lose when they reach one year old.
JD.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Next Hike.

The next hike will be on Saturday, 223rd March.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am

Last Saturday was quite a decent day for hiking weather and I figured it would be a good idea to do some hiking in a part of the island where we might find the rare Red-legged Frog.  Last year on a hike not far from Angel Lake we had seen and photographed a specimen of this species and as they are active and spawning in March or earlier it seemed we had a good chance of seeing evidence of spawning in the wetlands up on the higher parts of the island around Angel Lake.  However, we ran into snow on the road not far past the Vancouver Island Hydro lines and decided to park and hike south from there.  The snow was mainly concentrated on the roads, and the forest was mainly bare of snow, but our route for the hike was on road or gasline and it was only when we used a trail through the forest that we were walking on the ground.  

The lunch stop was at the Bobs Lake campsite beside a totally frozen lake where any sensible frog would still be hibernating in the mud at the bottom.  Continuing our circular hike route around the lake we found we had the deepest snow to tackle, including some places where the snow had a tough crust that sometimes supported us, and sometimes gave way suddenly and stopped all forward motion. But it was fun, unexpected and really good exercise that helped to keep us warm on a pretty cool day!  
JD.

 
Snow on the road at Bobs Lake made walking quite difficult at times. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Next Hike

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

Last week we drove to First Lake and then hiked up through the forest going south towards Third Lake then branching off onto the narrow trail that leads to the top of Plateau Mountain. It was a lovely sunny day, quite mild with some patches of fog about here and there. The fairly flat area on top of the mountain is criss-crossed with flagged trails through the open forest and the hikers got split up, one group having lunch on one side where there was no fog and more view while the larger group had fog all around, but warm sunshine from above.
My photo this week is of a flock of Common Goldeneye ducks that were scooting around in Gillies Bay spending more time doing springtime mating displays than diving for fish. This group were a mix of colourful males and rather less distinctive females.
JD.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Next Hike

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

Last week we met in Van Anda and hiked along the shoreline at Blubber Bay.  The weather was rainy on and off with only a brief glimpse of the sun for a few minutes.  Most of the walk out to the headland on the east side of the bay is along a gravel road that passes entrances to disused limestone quarries.  Towards the end it swings to the right and ends on the floor of a wide quarry that was once the site of a local radio station serving Powell River. A rough track climbs out of the quarry, over a rocky ridge and down to a small log strewn beach which offers a pleasant enough spot for lunch. 

The Black Brant geese have returned for their annual visit to Gillies Bay in greater numbers than usual.  Most years just a few will show up in the last days of February, with the flock gradually increasing to a dozen or so in the first week of March.  This year I have been counting two to three dozen even before March 1st, and these are the highest counts I have had since 1994.  My photo this week was taken a few days ago with three of these neat little sea geese walking on the sand.  The one on the right has a plastic leg band with the code SS7 that allows me to say it was probably banded as a youngster in 2000 in Alaska and that it has certainly stopped by in Gillies Bay every year for the past thirteen years.  I know him well and can safely say it's the most bad-tempered male Brant I have ever seen, for ever picking fights with other males in the flock who almost never fight back.  It has had a mate for several years now and the pair have had youngsters in the past, but not this year. Another pair in the flock have managed to raise triplets, keeping them alive over the winter and now showing them the way back to their birthplace in Alaska 
JD.

   
Black Brant geese on the beach in Gillies Bay. The male on the right with ID leg band Black SS7 is a very regular visitor.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Next Hike will be from Van Anda

The next hike will be on Saturday, 2nd March.
We meet at the Credit Union parking in Van Anda at 10:00am.

Last Saturday we had quite nice weather for the hike and as much of the snow had been taken care of by the recent milder days and the rain we decided to head for a viewpoint on the higher ground.  I was a bit concerned that there might be snow still on the north side of the mountain, but we headed for Mt. Manzanita anyhow. We parked on Hydro East Rd. and started walking, but soon found that while snow was certainly not a problem the recent high winds had blown down so many trees in some places in the forest we had quite a number of detours to take to get past the obstacles.   It was still windy, but not noticable most of the time until we reached the open area at the top of the mountain, where a cold wind was gusting in from the north-west.  It was easy to find a sheltered spot and the view was, as usual, rather good.

When ever we do our Saturday hike within view of the sea on the west side of Texada we almost always get to see one or two of the big barges heading north to Alaska. The barges carry mainly shipping containers, but often they have trucks, cars, and sometimes even houses, items that can look odd sitting high above the water on several layers of containers.
JD.

       
       The regular Saturday barge to Alaska heading north near Favada Point on the west coast of Texada.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Next Hike

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

Last week we had a mild and pleasant day for our hike.  A short drive past Mouat Bay and over the creek bridge to the parking place, the first TIFR gate on the right going up the hill.  From there the logging road is fairly level going as was most of the hike through the forest and down to the small beach, a pocket beach, not far north of where Eagle Creek reaches the sea. The tide was too high to walk past the cliffs on the beach so we sat on the logs for lunch, and that view makes my photo of the week.  As usual several of the hikers took the opportunity to search the beach pebbles for unusually interesting and attractive specimens.
JD.

  
  Lunch on the beach not far north of where Eagle Creek reaches the sea. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Next Hike

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

Last week we went in search of the sunshine as it seemed likely that we would find some above the fog that had settled over Gillies Bay during the night.  We drove up to the end of the blacktop in the fog and carried on up Bell Road passing First Lake still in the fog.  At the Reactor Station turnoff it was still foggy so we swung to the left and continued to climb higher until our luck ran out — the road was covered by ice and snow and still no sun.  Turning back and then off to the left we parked by the gates of the Hydro compound.  There were still patches of snow in the shady parts of the trail heading west under the lines but it was fairly easy walking and we made good progress down to Thompson Rd, then south through the forest with the sound of rushing water below us.  For lunch we sat at the roadside, in the fog, but it was peaceful and pleasant enough and now below the snowline.  The winding trail through the forest took us east to the gas line and soon back to the vehicles again.  
My photo is a close shot of a harmless little amphibian, Rough-skinned Newt. But is it harmless?  I've picked them up and demonstrated their ability to right themselves when turned onto their backs in my hand. But I also warn people to be sure to not hurt them as they can exude poison through the skin.  Only Garter snakes have some degree of resiatance to the poison and can eat them safely.  Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the situation:—

"The mutations in the snake's genes that conferred resistance to the toxin have resulted in a selective pressure that favors newts which produce more potent levels of toxin. Increases in newt toxicity then apply a selective pressure favoring snakes with mutations conferring even greater resistance. This cycle of a predator and prey evolving to one another is sometimes termed an evolutionary arms race and has resulted in the newts producing levels of toxin far in excess of what is needed to kill any other conceivable predator."
They are harmless enough to us, sort of!  And cute too.
JD.
       
       A Rough-skinned newt out for a walk on a day when all the snakes are still safely hidden away until spring arrives.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Next Hike

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

Last week we had a good number of hikers and a dry mild day with very little fog for a change.  After meeting in Van Anda we car pooled over to James Mack's property south of Crescent Bay on the north-west coast of Texada.  Hiking south from the cottages we used the old logging road to Davis Bay until just before the Big Beach turnoff when we struggled up the narrow ravine side trail that offers one of the few routes up onto the high grassy bluffs that offer panoramic views of the snow-covered mountains of central Vancouver Island. After lunch we continued along the same trail and after some adventures with unmarked sections of the route eventually found our way back to the cottages without any serious problems.  The terrain in this area on the north side of the old logging road is really very rugged in places with some dangerous cliffs and tricky steep sections.
With the fog having cleared off I was able to get some better photos of the sea lions out on the rocks at the entrance to Maple Bay.  It also helped me having the tide low enough that I could get closer to them than on my visit in January. These animals seem to be mainly the less common Steller Sea Lions and the big one on the left in my photo is an older male.  
JD. 

Some of the resting sea lions at Maple Bay.  They usually feed at night and have to catch up on their sleep during the day.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Next Hike from Van Anda - meeting place change.

We will  meet at the First Credit Union parking on Legion Road [across from the gas station] on Saturday.  The Legion will be too busy in the afternoon.
JD.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Next Hike from Van Anda.

The next hike will be on Saturday, 2nd February.
We meet at the Canadian Legion in Van Anda at 10:00am.

Last week we again hiked the road to Pocahontas Bay, but this time we went right down to the water and then beyond the bay on the side road that ends close to  the sandy beach of the next quiet bay south along the coast. We again checked out the recently fallen trees around the edge of the big beaver pond and wondered what they had in mind for the massive tree trunks of the larger alders.  Perhaps they just want to eat the bark as the logs must surely be too large to use in dam construction and repair.

For this week we will be car pooling from the parking area at the Canadian Legion, Legion Road in Van Anda over to the west coast of Texada where I hope  we will have a chance to visit with the sea lions on the rocks at James Mack's property near Favada Point.  I was there last week and was rather surprised to see lots of the less common species, the Steller sea lions.  Normally I would expect to see many of the smaller, darker Californian sea lions there, but I only saw a few this time. If it's not foggy on Saturday we will probably hike south of the point and find a viewpoint on some grassy bluffs for lunch.
JD. 
  
Some of the Steller Sea Lions resting on rocks north of Favada Point, January 2013.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Next Hike

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

Last week we wanted to hike on the high ground for a change and drove up Bell Road towards First Lake.  All along the way the snow had been washed away by the recent heavy rains, but at the Bell Farm there was snow everywhere and the road surface very slippery.  We reluctantly headed back down the hill and started our hike on the High Road instead.  We took the Pocahontas Road on the right going down it as far as the big beaver pond where we found the hard-working mammals had been falling quite a few of the larger alders on the shore line close to the dam.  Beaver on Texada don't seem to cut down large trees very often and get most of their food from small fir trees, shrubs like salmonberry and water plants like bullrush.   My photo shows one of the trees that was partly cut close to the edge of the pond.  Lunch was beside another of the large beaver swamps in the area.  This one had flooded the old logging road a few years ago and we have yet to find an easy way round the obstacle to hike on down to the beach.
JD.

A good sized alder tree that is being worked on by a beaver close to the Pocahontas Bay road.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Next Hike,

The next hike will be on Saturday, 19th January.
We meet at the Ballpark in Gillies Bay at 10:00am.

Last week we drove south towards Davie Bay and parked on the main road at Eagle Creek.  Taking the side road that goes up to Thompson Road we climbed steadily uphill eventually taking the last short but very steep side road on the left that ends at the very top of Eagle Mountain.  The weather was cool, but pleasant enough with no wind and we enjoyed the view from the lunch spot looking out towards Vancouver Island.  This particular hike is a little less than 5km each way, so not especially long, but the gain in elevation of 360m or 1,187ft  does help to warm you up and burn a few extra calories!  A nice hike for a cooler day.
JD.
 

  
The bluffs on the west side of Eagle Mt. provide a great view looking north-west beyond Dick Island to the ski slopes
 of Mt. Washington on Vancouver Island. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Next Hike

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

Last week we decided to pick a low elevation hike to avoid running into problems with the snow on the high ground.  The tide was good for beach walking so we headed south towards Shingle Beach parking at the start of a new logging road at the top of the last hill down to the campground.  The road had been extended since our last hike in the area and it was fun to explore right to the end.  The unfinished last section proved to be very muddy and ended abruptly at a small creek.  We had noticed the original hiking route down to the beach cottages near the start of  the muddy section and used it to arrive at our intended lunch spot in good time.  One of the cottages provided a welcome windbreak and even had a useful folding camp chair for me to sit in comfort.  The return along the beach was uneventful as the tide was low enough to allow us to get past the odd fallen tree that would have been difficult to climb over had the waves been higher up the beach.

My photo is of the cut base of an old growth fir that had been growing close to the route of the new logging road.  It's a shame a tree of this age was not left standing for future generations to enjoy.  I took closeup photos and was able to count 300 growth rings.  This veteran of the forest was a sapling in 1710 when England was ruled by Queen Anne.  It was not till 50 years later in the seventeen sixties that the very first British colony was founded in Botany Bay in Australia. The tree was close to 100 years old when Capt Vancouver arrived to survey the coastline and islands of the Straits of Georgia.  We saw several old growth trees nearby and I certainly hope these will be conserved and not cut down for no valid reason. 
JD.
 
      
Counting the growth rings on an old growth Douglas Fir tree beside a new logging road at Shingle Beach.