Boats, bows, rods, reels and traps

Yup, the last long weekend was a busy weekend. About 40 youth and associated mentors heading out and away for a few days of camping, fishing, trail-building, archery and anything else that seemed like a good outdoor idea.

The larger vessel

We set off in two vessels, one a speedy affair with room for nine, and the other a larger, more sedate boat with room for all the gear and space to spread out above and below. Going out, I was in the smaller boat, coming back, I traveled in the larger. Both were fun, with the voyage out being busier. As the larger vessel was cruising slowly and steadily toward our destination, the smaller boat zipped about, looking for favourite (previously successful) spots to fish, and to pick up and drop prawn and crab traps.

Two traps contained many prawns, and these were a mainstay for an almost midnight feast later that day. We ended up eating so late because the zodiac and tin boat transfer from the tiny offshore dock to the beach near base camp took quite a few journeys. All that gear and all that youth – thank goodness for young people when it comes to pitching tents and stowing gear in the rain and near dark.

Very comfortable

The rods and reels proved far less successful over the weekend, with very little success in hooking a fish. A large sea cucumber got a bit of a surprise and was no doubt mightily relieved to be returned to the deep. The prawn and crab traps did not deliver either. Oh well.

“Nothing! You?”
“Nope…”

The rain fell from the moment we left Friday afternoon to just before dawn on Saturday, when the skies cleared and warm sunshine was an almost constant companion through Saturday and Sunday. A fair number of mosquitoes were also near constant companions, but not unbearably so.

Very bearable

The weekend was visibly bear-free, aside from frequent scat sightings, and some splashing in the early hours from across the narrow channel. Nothing to be alarmed about. I alarmed a bald eagle that was perched atop an old stump at the point of the spit – I think it may have been my early morning pee break that startled her, causing her to fly off somewhat sooner than she may have been planning. A magnificent sight (the eagle, not me peeing…)

The dry and near windless days allowed for perfect archery conditions, and it was good to see the young ones honing their technique and improving their accuracy. They were able to display their skills to a group of ten elders who visited for the day on Sunday.

Prior to the arrival of the elders, much effort was put into further improving the trail through the forest from the beach to the camp. And you’ve never seen a tidier base camp than how it looked for that afternoon – when grandmothers and grandfathers visit, it had better look right!

When the elders arrived on the beach, they were welcomed with a song sung by a young warrior. His voice was strong and steady, and his song echoed back from the low mountains surrounding the inlet. A memorable moment from a trip with many fine moments.

We awoke on Monday to low cloud and a threat of rain. After the warmth of the previous two days, it was something of a relief to be able to pack up and shift all the gear back to the beach and on to the boats in cool conditions. And would you believe it, once we cleared the inlet and headed out into wider waters, the clouds fell behind us and we sailed under blue skies. A certain OldPlaidCamper might have dozed off up on deck, lulled to sleep and pleasantly tired after a very good long weekend.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Departure

Look out, look out, the bridge is out

A few weeks back, we arranged to have another gourmet cookout with Wayne from Tofino Photography. Our destination was Second Bridge, and if you need to find it, go down that logging road after the junction, bounce and jolt up past First Bridge, and then…

…well, if I told you where precisely, then it might get crowded in the future. But rest assured it’s out there, and you’ll know you’re close when the road comes to an end because the bridge is out.

Look out, look out!

A quiet spot – we were told it can get busy, and certainly used to be a touch rowdy with party people on long weekends before the road was closed – it made a good place to have a fire and roast some hot dogs. The weekend had been warm and sunny the day before we went, but a change came, with grey skies, lower temperatures, and even a hint of rain. This seemed to have kept people away, and we only encountered a handful of visitors.

One couple had been camping overnight just down the beach. They chatted a bit, and Wayne shared a few stories, and some tips in the event of a cougar encounter (there had been some sightings elsewhere along the lake) and mere minutes after that, the young couple had packed up and disappeared. I don’t think it was the cougar info…

It left an empty beach for us to enjoy, and we had a fine time cooking and eating. Wayne brought high end hot dogs and slices of key lime pie from SoBo. Excellent choice, and we had to be quick about it, because Scout sure seemed to take to the pie.

“Pie?!”

We didn’t see a cougar, or a bear, and thankfully the black flies didn’t follow us down to the beach. They were lurking when we parked up, but there was enough breeze to keep bugs at bay.

A wildlife feature for the afternoon? The hundreds and hundreds of geese passing over in long skeins high above us. We honestly could not count them, but what a sight to see – and hear! Wave after wave after wave.

Wayne knows the area pretty well, and he told us about the great camping spots to be discovered along the shore, and how they can only be approached from the water. They sound rather wonderful, and a compelling reason to return, drop a canoe with camping gear into the water, and spend a little more time out by the bridge and beyond.

Further exploration required…

I don’t know when our next cookout adventure will be or where, but it’s something to look forward to, likely after the summer visitors have headed home and it’s a bit quieter. I do know Wayne has set the gourmet bar pretty high with that key lime pie!

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Scavenging

Last Friday turned into a pretty good Good Friday. Sunshine was promised and eventually made an appearance in the early afternoon. It seemed like a beach day, so that is where we went.

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This is where we went

We hadn’t been to Wick Beach in quite a while, and it was a very pleasant stroll we were having when we saw quite a crowd of ravens hopping about a clump of something in the distance. As we approached, the ravens flapped off, and we could see the sizeable remains of – I think – a sea lion. We skirted past swiftly, not wanting to enjoy the aroma any longer than necessary, and to give space back to the ravens.

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“Ooh, just a quick peck…”

A little way beyond the body we saw a juvenile eagle sitting on a stump, no doubt waiting for us to move on, and perhaps hoping the ravens would leave a little something.DSCF8062

As we wandered by, two adult bald eagles flew past us towards the remains. We thought it was starting to get rather crowded. If it hadn’t been dead, the sea lion could have become quite irritated with all the attention…DSCF8073

We kept going up the beach, and eventually hunkered down in front of the dunes, slightly elevated on a log and amongst the long grasses. From there, the cadaver commotion was almost out of sight, and we switched our attention to the ocean, looking out for and spotting many spouting whales.DSCF8064

Once we’d finished our coffee, after Scout had demolished a fair chunk of washed up log, and given up digging a deep hole in the sand for me to fall into as I stood, we set off back down the beach. As we drew closer to the corpse, we could see quite a crowd. Three adult bald eagles, two juveniles, and a smattering of ravens were figuring out how the goodies were going to be shared.

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“Save some for me – I’m still growing…”

We stuck to the dune side of the beach, not wanting to get involved, and anyway, after coffee and chocolate, we weren’t feeling the need to scavenge. I couldn’t believe Scout wasn’t more interested in the proceedings, but she wasn’t.

The photographs I took were at the outer limits of what my camera and shaky hands could handle, and really none too sharp, but I’ve used them here anyway, in case you’re a fan of partially consumed corpses…

When we got home, I got caught up on the blogs I enjoy, and one of them was a perfect piece to read after our earlier adventure. It made me stop and think about how vulnerable many species are. Living out here, one could (but I’m not) become a bit complacent about the numerous bald eagle sightings we are blessed with. If you have the time, I heartily recommend you head over to read Jet Eliot – you won’t be sorry!DSCF8083

If the weather holds – and it has turned warm and sunny this week – then perhaps we’ll head up Wick once again over the coming weekend, check out the state of the scavenged. I doubt there’ll be much left, maybe not much more than a few picked over and pecked clean bones. That’s life, and death.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Treacherous…

Sounds exciting, but it isn’t – still, you’ve read this far, so you might as well see it through – I’ll keep it brief!

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Sunday snow

The treacherous part? The roads on Wednesday morning! They were slick, and not in a good way. The previous two days, we had something approaching significant snowfall. So significant, Ucluelet schools were closed and students were delighted. Almost 5 cm coated the ground, and snow forts and snowmen communities were built all over. Out here, if there’s a snow day, children don’t waste any of it!

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Coastal snow

I had to drive over the bay on Wednesday morning, and had already enjoyed a quiet chuckle or two (to myself, not out loud) as I watched several cars and trucks try and fail to drive up a steep little incline just outside our building. I was full of the confidence that only a seasoned Alberta winter mountain driver armed with a Jeep has. Ha! I thought, that’s not a problem, barely any snow. Oh, I thought, a few minutes later, as the Jeep fishtailed and slipped, and eventually climbed to the top. Wet snow on top of a very thin layer of ice is a different kind of slippery compared to the powdery and heavily compacted snow over the provincial border there. Why, it’s treacherous.

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Barely snowing…

I made it to work on time, pretending I hadn’t had several slightly alarming snow/ice wobbles along the way, feigning nonchalance about the cooler temperatures and unusual snowfall.

On the way back down the Port Albion road close to midday, the scene was really something. On my left, the trees and embankment were covered in snow, and on my right, where the sun had melted the snow away, it looked like spring. I felt like the White Witch of Narnia in reverse, or Aslan had passed by, melting away the dark winter.

I did stop the car and take the photo below, but where I stopped the full divided effect wasn’t as sharp as a bit further back down the road, closer to Hitacu.

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Midday thaw, Wednesday

Well in truth, this short blast of real winter hasn’t been at all dark, and the snow shone and sparkled delightfully on Wednesday before melting away. A treacherous beauty, but only on the roads.

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Winter beauty

Keeping it brief this week, as I have to pack my bags and prepare myself for a trip to Mt. Washington on Thursday and Friday. By the time this is posted, I’ll have discovered if I can remember how to snowboard after a season or two off the snow. We are taking a group out for their first snowboard/ski experience, and it’ll be fun. More to follow.

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Friday night (an educated guess at the time of writing)

I’ve rediscovered a proper respect for winter, and I sure hope it isn’t too treacherous on the mountain…

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Falling on cedar

The snow, not me,  and thanks to David Guterson for the partial post heading.8DB864CE-7B5E-4F5E-81FA-B5319937F88F

Yes, snow really was falling on cedars out here on the coast last weekend. As much as one centimetre (!) fell where we are, and because the temperature was barely above freezing, a millimetre or two stuck around. It was quite the delight to watch young children scramble and scrabble to gather tiny amounts of poor quality snow and make a snowman. The ones they made may have been small, but they were loved.E183BBB4-F954-4C26-9CC4-1F585DFD13A1

We went out on Sunday morning, bundled up and bravely striding into the teeth of the blizzard. Oh, alright, there was barely a flurry, and skies even cleared somewhat. We slipped down the gangway and onto the Outer Harbour docks to take in the view of almost snow cloaked hills over the water. The gusts of wind did have some bite to them as they raced up the channel, promising more snow for later in the day.02610276-ABB8-4CAB-911E-14F5BE94ACBA

As excited, if not more so, as the children making mini snowmen, we wandered out again in the afternoon, expecting more snow according to the forecast. As we approached Big Beach (not so big, but bigger than Little Beach) proper snow began to fall – large flakes driven onto shore by an increasing wind. A mini blizzard!12B91662-1B2D-4F19-878A-3747490C90BA

On the beach, Scout was beside herself with winter happiness, jumping up to snap and catch snowflakes. Her inner husky was more than content. If dogs could laugh… It was quite something to be standing on a snowy beach when only the day before, we had been just up the coast enjoying warm(ish) sunshine sitting with our backs against a sun heated log.CDB48AB2-C715-407D-98A8-E3430CA769A9

Although the temperatures all this week have been about half what they normally are, it still feels mild, especially when compared to the Alberta winters we’ve enjoyed over the years. Yesterday afternoon, I managed to steal away for a pleasant half hour when an appointment got shifted to later, and I used the valuable time to get a small shot of Foggy Bean and sit down by Whiskey Landing. The sun was out, a bald eagle flew past, a harbour seal popped up, and gulls made their presence known. Not too bad for a February work day!

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Yesterday, getting work done/get back to work!

I’ll leave it here, as I’ve got things to do – I can see a small pile of snow the sun hasn’t reached just outside our door, and I’m certain there’s enough to make one more teeny snowman. Snow person? Snow teenager? Or snow child? Snow baby?

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

 

As easy as falling off a log…

If something is as easy as falling off a log, should you do it? Isn’t it easily avoided? Maybe it just happens, no effort at all. I’ve fallen – or at least slipped – off a log, and it hurts. Easy? Yup. But I’m not so sure it’s the thing to do. Why am I asking? It’s the nonsense that fills the gaps in my head when perched on a log.d5bf7b94-1ca3-4863-85e3-9ac083a8d245

Last weekend we were blessed with a day that seemed more like spring than winter. Blue skies, warm sunshine and very little breeze. It was a day made for the beach, so that is where we went. We found ourselves scrambling over the rocks and between the logs, searching for just the right spot to stop and take it all in.6d9d7bbb-30d3-4d9c-9912-c746c57332b4

Getting there, the tide was low, and the stretch of sand was wide. We couldn’t understand (but didn’t mind) why there were so few people about? We were out for several hours and saw only a handful of hikers and dog walkers. Oh well…ef3a9dfc-0af4-461d-bec4-f79371973933

When perching, I didn’t fall off a log this outing, but I did come close to tumbling a couple of times in my attempt to keep up with Scout – she was sure-footed along the trunks, and didn’t mind showing me up as she leapt from log to log.8ed9fab3-4241-4d7d-a871-682a139fe766

We spotted a few bald eagles, but our closest bird encounter was earlier in the morning. We were enjoying a fine cup of coffee from the recently opened Foggy Bean, admiring the view from Ucluelet across to Hitacu when the little fellow pictured below took a keen interest in our drinks. I suspect he was after something to eat rather than a caffeine hit, but what good taste he had…

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“Ooh, is that coffee? ‘Cos, yeah, we’re raven mad for caffeine…”

Not so sunny for us this coming weekend – the ravens will miss us sitting at our usual spot, and we will miss being there. Still, the very early spring day last weekend was easy to enjoy – as easy as falling off a log.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Short days and sunsets

A short post to go with the short days. I know the days aren’t shorter in hours and minutes, but the decreasing daylight is a disappointment this time of year. You’d think, after all these decades, I’d have come to an accommodation with less light by now…

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Sunday

What we have enjoyed is being out and about as the sun starts to set early afternoon. Oh alright, I’m exaggerating – not early afternoon, more like late afternoon. Given the fairly sunny spells we’ve mostly had the past few weeks, there have been some very colourful sunsets and I’ve included a few shots here. We’ve been fortunate to be on beaches and tramping trails in glorious weather, huffing and puffing to keep up with an enthusiastic canine hiker. Or is that jogger?

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“Keep up!”

Since last weekend it has been rather rainy in this little corner of the PNW – as it should be – and the wind got up quite a bit yesterday, so it is looking like too much of a risk this coming weekend to take a youth group out in boats to their remote camping spot. Like the young ones, I’m disappointed not to be camping, but also like the young ones, not entirely disappointed to be avoiding camping in what looks like a weekend of prolonged rainfall. Instead, we will be crabbing in a sheltered bay, and trail building more locally – plenty of outdoor time and, thankfully, no chance of swell-induced Salish seasickness.

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Thursday

Any suitable crustaceans will be distributed to elders in the community, and if firewood needs chopping and stacking, then the youngsters will get to that as well. It’s a delight to see them connected, community-minded and caring.

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Saturday

If you celebrate US Thanksgiving, I hope it’s been a happy holiday and continues to be so into the weekend. Thanks for reading, it’s always appreciated!

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Any day