Chilling

Short and chilled this week! Yes, chilling, because that’s what you do on the laid back West Coast. That, and it’s been very, very cold out here for the start of December. Not Alberta cold, but certainly chilly.C8CA636E-9E3C-4E72-A33B-38D9036F5EC9

I was on a field trip with a wrapped up and excited grade 5/6 class yesterday, out on the trail searching for mushrooms. Students had enjoyed a presentation about fungi, listening to a local scientist enthuse about the (for most mushrooms) symbiotic relationship mushrooms have with trees, and the wonderful array of mushrooms that can be found in the immediate rainforest area. Puffball, jelly, truffle – no luck, wrong season – bracket, gilled, veined, morel, bird nest, orange peel, blue chanterelle, we looked high and low (mostly low) for many amazing mushrooms. Students were so engrossed in the search, they forgot just how cold it was. Maybe because they were engrossed in the very best classroom…

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Is this the right way up? I’m really not too sure…

It’s not all mushroom mayhem for this fun guy. Earlier in the week I had to drive over to Port Alberni for a committee, and this time I messed up the timing and got caught in a long construction delay. How did I get this wrong? I realized parts of the Ucluelet Small Craft Harbour had a thin layer of ice and couldn’t help myself stopping, barely 30 seconds after setting off, to snap a shot or two on the phone. Yes, I mistimed the traffic, but when I made it through, thinking I’d be the last to arrive, I was the first person there. The morel (oh no) of this story? There isn’t one, just an excuse for a bad pun.

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A good place to chill 

The photos this week are from the early morning stop. The anchor and bench picture is of one of my favourite places to sit and drink coffee, but it’ll be a while before we’re sat back there in warmer weather, chilling.85B1282B-FC07-4D7B-8237-F2C6F5DA11E9

A short post – trying to keep it cool – thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

PS Is it fungi or funghi?

Stormy…

…Sunday, Monday, and maybe some other days.

We’ve been enjoying plenty of PNW precipitation the past week or two. So much so, camping was cancelled! Noooo. The high winds and big sea swell did prevent travel by boat last weekend, and given how strong the winds became on Sunday – the day we were due to travel back – a couple of mostly indoor gym days were safer and the students still had a pretty good time. Lots of touch football (nothing like rugby but I did my best) and plenty of kitchen activity preparing tacos for dinner and pancakes for breakfast kept everyone busy. Extended trips away have been put on hold for the next little while, but winter brings some time to learn how to carve paddles and clear local trails.

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Not too near the edge

Scout doesn’t love the rain, but still needs a couple of longish walks every day, so we tried to time walks with the forecast lighter spells of rain. The Wild Pacific trails meander through rainforest, and the trees offer quite a bit of shelter if the wind isn’t blowing the rain drops sideways. We are always cautious – life on the (ocean) edge, but not over it – taking extra care on these stormy, slippery days.

The cedar, moss and wet earth smells add a strong sensory dimension, very pleasant for us, and almost beyond exciting for Scout. She soon forgets the soaking she’s getting once she’s on the trail, tail wagging, darting left and right and stopping to sniff all the intriguing scents.

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Sunday

Logs were carried up the surge channels, crashing and thudding into the rocks, and it is a wonder to see wave upon wave pounding the little beaches where we were sitting in sunshine just a few days earlier. The next time it feels safe enough for us to clamber down to our favourite beach hideouts, it’ll look the same but different – newly washed up logs to sit (and chew) on, and different shelves of shells and sand to leave our prints in.

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Down in the same place as the photo above, one week earlier

It’s a blast to have wild and wooly weather followed by calm and sunny breaks. We hope the forecast for a bright and sunny weekend is accurate, but if it isn’t, so long as the wet weather gear holds up as well as it has so far, then we’ll keep heading out and about to enjoy a good soaking all through the coming winter! Stormy Sunday, Monday, Tuesday…

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“No, it won’t be raining here next week…”

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

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Yes it will!

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

Sunny spells, sunny spells…

I’ve been trying a new mantra, and with the power of positive thought, it’s going to work. Of course, it’ll have to be brief.D4225C4B-854F-4C3F-B956-43FB7509EA98

After a few days this week where the rain was heavy, we’ve been promised sunny spells for the coming weekend. I’ve quite enjoyed the rain, and the fog rolling in late afternoons after the deluge. Very atmospheric, apart from when I left my rain jacket in the car yesterday, and I got absolutely soaked in the thirty seconds it took to dash out and get my jacket because I didn’t want to get wet. Won’t be making that mistake again. It’s hard to look credible advising students that yes, they absolutely must have their rain coats on before heading out, because it is sensible to do so, when you’re dripping rainwater on the floor…

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“I always remember my coat!”

Sunny spells, sunny spells. As usual, I haven’t much enjoyed following the news. We’ve family in the US and UK, and the combined leadership deficits displayed by government in each place has left us quite despondent. All that noise and self serving nonsense. It’s exhausting to read about, and must be so much worse to experience. Throw in the recent dreadful antics on display from the nationalist visitor to France, and all I can say is what a relief it has been to get outdoors and take a few – many – deep breaths. Sunny spells, sunny spells.

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A sunny Indignant Cove

It was mostly dry and fairly warm last weekend, so we wandered out and about, including a pleasant couple of hours at Indignant Cove soaking up some sun. Sunshine and shirtsleeves in November? Very welcome, and we’re making the most of these days with sunny spells, because the rains are coming…but please, not before Monday! Actually, I’ll take time outside, including with heavy rain, because even if you’ve forgotten your coat, or you catch a chill (however that works) it’s still a sunnier prospect than catching the latest headlines.

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Casting a sunny spell

Sunny spells, sunny spells, even in the rain.

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Rain, later…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of sunny spells, sunny spells!

The storm after the calm

October was a pretty benign month, weather-wise, and I was happy about that, particularly for the recent trip spent camping in a remote location. Since the end of that weekend, temperatures have fallen slightly, and rainfall has increased a great deal.

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Oh, October sun, I’m missing you!

Ah, the rain! We kept a close eye on the sky last weekend, timing a walk out with Scout to the least rainy portion of the day. A wander along the Wild Pacific Trail revealed churning water and some scenic stops under trees.E632E49C-1F86-49C9-9F39-CB13440B10B9

Back to that bright and sunny trip. When we moored the boat, students were keen to get ashore and light a campfire. Armed with knives, a fire steel, a lighter and some backup matches, they couldn’t wait to try out their skills. Great focus and teamwork when they were lighting the fire, sticking with the task when the wood didn’t immediately ignite. They shaved feather sticks and small pieces, piling them carefully and aiming to start with the tiniest and feed the flame as it grew. A couple of unintended extinguishes later, and they soon realized patience was the key to success.

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We will make fire!

Yes, they used a match, but they know it is important to have more than one way to start a fire, and they’ll try again with the fire steel another time. I’m looking forward to how they’ll get a fire going when we return later this month. It has been very wet, so fire starting out there will be a challenge. The group spent quite a bit of time collecting and splitting firewood, stacking it in a dry location, with enough stacked for the next visit. Preparation and planning!

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I can see November on the horizon!

Those not setting the fire got busy with putting up tents and squaring away supplies –  it is amazing how much gear can be packed into a small boat, and even more amazing how much food is needed to keep teenagers fed and functioning!

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One PC tent – very tidy

One section of the weekend was a hunting trip to try and supplement the goods brought out. Being vegetarian for the past three decades, I wasn’t too sure about hunting, but the trip wasn’t about my sensibilities. A part of being out on tribal lands was for the youngsters to learn how to be a provider beyond going to the store. I’ll write about the hunting in a future post…

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I see feathers, but no duck. Hmm…

Hatchets, axes, chainsaws and machetes were wielded with intent and to great effect, and not just for firewood. Old trails were cleared and improved, the goal being to make the camp easier to navigate for visiting elders.

Did I mention the bears? We didn’t see any the entire time we were there, but judging by the fresh bear scat all over, I hope the bears continued to enjoy the cleared trails after we left. Light-coloured birch branches and stones were used to mark the edges of the trails, and larger obstacles like fallen logs were removed, or had chunks cut out to minimize the climbing and scrambling. For parts of the trip, I was the oldest participant (that changed when a chainsaw carrying elder in his seventh decade arrived to assist) and the consensus was if the old Plaid-wearing guy can traverse the new trails without incident, then it’ll be fine for everyone else. I have my outdoor uses…

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Calm – ten steps from the tent

I’ll leave it there for this week, with a happy PlaidCamper warmed by the fire and exertions from trail-clearing (don’t worry, most of the heavy lifting was done by those far younger than me – they enjoy it!)

We are expecting a bit more rain for the next few days (weeks and months) but we’ll keep out on the trails, whatever the weather. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

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“I think it is clearing – is that July on the horizon?”

A lake coffee break (LCB)

Taken early, on the way to a meeting yesterday morning.

I found myself on the road between Ucluelet and Port Alberni, heading to a committee meeting scheduled for a 10:00 start. The round trip is three hours on a good day, but those days are rare due to a large construction project on Kennedy Lake Hill.6CD30665-7293-49FF-8F20-A103D2AE1C39 The road is being made safer, widening it to prevent larger and taller vehicles on the cliff side moving across the dividing line and scaring oncoming traffic into a choice between a lakeside plunge or a head on collision. Currently, the road is often closed for a number of hours each day, and when it is open, it is single lane and flag controlled, potentially adding quite a delay to your journey.

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Coverage

All this is a long winded way of saying I’d left plenty of time to make my meeting, and the traffic gods were beaming down on me as I experienced the briefest of stoppages. This left me time to make a stop before Alberni at Sproat Lake, take a short wander under the trees and along the shore, sip my travel coffee (prepared in anticipation of a long flag stop!) and gather my thoughts, such as they were.

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Productive

I could tell you about the dozens of new education acronyms I’ve encountered but as yet have failed to decipher, or about some of the policy initiatives to be discussed, but I won’t. Was there cell coverage to check work messages? Nope! Instead, I’ll share that the parking lot was empty, as were the trails and shore. Rain was trying and failing to fall, with barely a patter to be heard on the turning leaves. The chattering squirrels and angry-sounding crows had the place to themselves, or they did once I finished my coffee and remembered I should be working, or at least on the way.

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Work stoppage

I made it to the meeting fashionably early, left with a head full of new and exciting information, and some more acronyms. I’m happy to report there were no chattering squirrels or angry crows on this committee, so that went well.

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The woods and the trees – an LCB stop

Best of all, I was back in time to join a homework zone and hear from a confident young man sharing his experience about becoming an outdoor leader to his peers. He was eloquent in his expression of how he wanted to further his outdoor leadership skills and continue to mentor younger students in wilderness and traditional activities.

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Stumped

The success he was sharing reminded me that a lengthy round trip, coffee stops (LCB) and all, is a worthwhile use of time. It is heartening to witness new policies being shaped by representatives from the communities searching for better ways to educate and engage their youth. As I wrote last week, and hope to write again and again, young people can and want to be engaged in their communities and in their natural surroundings. That’s pretty good news (and it’s real!)

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

 

Fall frolics…

…on Florencia beach. We hit the bay as the tide was falling, figuring that most surfers head in as the waves diminish, and this seemed to be the case last Saturday afternoon.

There is a small parking lot at the end of the road, and we squeezed into the last remaining space. Had we arrived even a few minutes later, we’d have parked up more easily judging by the steady stream of smiling surfers and paddle boarders returning to their vehicles.fullsizeoutput_6df

They’re a squelchy and happy bunch in shining wetsuits, an even mix of family and friends, young and old, girls and boys, and men and women. (I met a charming surf instructor at a community event last week, where we were supposed to be discussing education issues for Indigenous youth, but ended up with him almost – almost – convincing me he could teach me to surf. Maybe more to come later…)

We negotiated the rickety wooden staircase down to the beach – no easy task when an enthusiastic Scout has the sea scent in her nostrils – and tottered onto the wide expanse of sand. Fifteen minutes earlier, after a rainy morning, the skies were grey, and there was still a hint of moisture in the air. Now, looking out over the ocean, there was a distinct line of blue, and it seemed to be getting closer.fullsizeoutput_6de

By the time we had wandered down the beach a little, to get away from the “crowds” – maybe a half dozen other people – and found a log to perch on with an enormous array of chewable sticks nearby, the afternoon was turning warm. Yes! An autumnal day that still held a touch of summer. Jackets off, and sleeves rolled up, we set to the task of watching the remaining surfers try to catch waves, and a couple of paddle boarders beyond the surf racing in on the swell.DSCF7680

Soon enough, the promising patch of blue sky pushed back the clouds, and we were sitting in the sunnier half looking across to the cloudy and mistier half of the bay. Scout dug holes like her life depended on it, and we moved back and brushed ourselves off like we didn’t enjoy being showered with sand.fullsizeoutput_6d8

The receding waters defeated the final frolicking surfers, and uncovered a rock strewn area to our right. We strolled down to take a closer look, breathing in the fresh seaweed and wet sand smell. Scout chose to be a little braver than in previous beach visits, venturing into water nearly two centimetres deep. Not spectacular, but just enough to make certain we’d be enjoying extra wet dog aroma on the journey home.fullsizeoutput_6dc

We were there for almost three hours, stumbling and splashing about, fun on a fall afternoon. As we dragged ourselves away, the bay was empty of people, and briefly, we had the wild crescent all to ourselves. A single bald eagle flew over our heads and towards the rocky section. I like to think, as we heaved ourselves back up the steps, bears and wolves were nosing out onto the beach, ready to feed and frolic now they had the place back to themselves.fullsizeoutput_6d5

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

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“I’ll dip a toe, and then back to the car…”