Clambering and stumbling…

…but mostly sitting.

A contrast, weather-wise, with what was written last week. When will I learn not to mess with the weather gods? My delight at the sunshine and warmth we experienced (as most of North America shivered in far below seasonal temperatures) has since been tempered by more usual winter weather on the coast. It’s been raining almost non-stop ever since last Friday.

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A pretty good view?
A little rain, or a lot of rain, wasn’t going to prevent daily walks, but it has been interesting trying to spot a weather window, some gaps in the clouds to enjoy a dry(ish) ramble.

I like to walk for an hour or more – anything less makes the effort of tying bootlaces and doing up jacket buttons too much. Honestly, that’s true. A holdover from donning winter gear to go skiing, boarding or snowshoeing, I think. An inflexible attitude to match the physical lack of flexibility when putting on thermal socks, lacing winter boots, then reaching down and securing snowshoe fastenings. I get tired thinking about it…

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Clambering
Yesterday, I used my skill and judgement (there were fewer raindrops running down the windows) and chose the early afternoon to hit the Wild Pacific trail. There are several access points within a short walk from where we are in Ucluelet, and once you’re on the trail, if it is raining – and it was – you have some measure of shelter. I like to pretend it isn’t raining, it’s only the drops dripping down from earlier. Makes me think my judgement is good.

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Rainy stumbling
Not wishing to be the headline in a future news piece about being washed out to sea, I kept my clambering and stumbling far from the incoming waves, on the logs between the trees and the rocks. Oh, overcast but beautiful. Of course I’d forgotten my camera – all those distracting raincoat buttons – but snapped a few grainy shots on my phone.

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Above my perch
Remember that great weather judgement? So good that I was forced to stop and sit under a tree, because it wasn’t only drips, or ocean spray, it was rain. “It’ll pass,” I thought to myself, perching gracefully on a butt-sized tree root and leaning back gratefully against the trunk. I have to say, rain  or not, I had a pretty good view. The scent of sea, wet wood and sodden earth was heady. The rain on my jacket, and the rumble of the surf just below was a welcome soundtrack. “I could spend some time here,” I said to myself. So I did.

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Waiting it out
Time passed. I ate my apple. The steady dripping grew heavier. More time passed. I nibbled the apple core. More rain. The afternoon wore on. The woody, stalky bit of the apple wasn’t too bad. “I think it is clearing?” Nope. More rain, and I drew the line at munching the appleseeds.

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Taken from my perch
So it rained a bit, and then it did ease off, and grey skies grew a little lighter. I knew there’d be a break because the pattering was slightly less on my jacket, and I could hear, and then see, two bald eagles singing and circling on the rocks in the ocean in front of me. Not only had I forgotten my camera, I’d also forgotten binoculars. Never mind!

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There is a bald eagle on each side of the shallow “U” – honest!
It was fine to see one or other of the pair take off, circle, fly down and out of sight beyond the rocks and then reappear to land. They kept this up for quite a few minutes. Then one took off, flew towards where I was sitting, and veered to my right to alight on a tree over the little bay. Majestic!

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Was it lighter, then getting darker, or darker, and getting lighter?
The sky was changing back to a darker grey, and my inner forecaster decided it was time to head back. Sometimes slipping on the wet path, I tripped and stumbled but avoided a tumble through the rain and the trees, feeling slightly damp but delighted I’d stopped and seen the eagles on the rocks. What an afternoon for clambering and stumbling – but mostly sitting!

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Heading back
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

A little detour (waiting for winter)

I got all excited a few weeks ago because there was an early blast of winter at the start of November. Since then it has been somewhat disappointing (if you enjoy snow) with barely a flurry and higher than average temperatures. Several Chinooks have eaten what snow there was, and the forecast for the next couple of weeks doesn’t hold much promise. Still, being so close to the mountains, that could change…DSCF6034

Oh yes, the mountains, there’s snow out there! A few weeks ago we took a little detour in Mount Revelstoke National Park, and drove up the Meadows in the Sky Parkway, wondering if there’d be snow up top in early October, and looking for a place to eat a picnic lunch. We didn’t see snow, but we did have expansive views and fall colours to enjoy, and there was a hint of snow on higher peaks all around.DSCF6026

The Parkway is a very pleasant drive. In summer there are meadows of wildflowers, but I’m told there are also large crowds, so go early or late in the day. Or go in the shoulder seasons, when flowers aren’t likely, but it’ll be quiet, as it was on the day we were there. DSCF6029At midday, there were only a few other cars sharing the winding switchback road to the top. There is a change from cedar rainforest on the low slopes to alpine fir and spruce, and at the top you’ll find fragile high alpine growth. There are a few short loops and there and back trails to explore. The summit trail was closed due to a bear in the area. It’s lovely up there, and home to a few happy bears, not that we saw any.DSCF6019

A quick trip back to earlier this fall, and a time when we were anticipating snow. Let’s hope December delivers – once the fall colour is gone, it’s best to put on some snow!DSCF6030

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

A long stretch

Sounds like a prison sentence, but it wasn’t confining, far from it. A short piece this week, about a short walk taken a short distance from home.

We’ve had fluctuating temperatures and a few more bits and pieces of snow, so the freeze, slight thaw, and refreeze has made some of the back roads slightly slick already. I like the slip and slide of tires as the car searches for grip, it means winter is truly upon us.IMG_20171119_103534

We went to an open stretch of space, one of the nearest to where we live in the city, Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. Only a half hour trip by car, and we were treated to a long stretch, mentally, and a short stretch, physically. What a sight! Rolling foothills with a light dusting of snow, and beyond the hills, the mountains reaching up in the distance.

The day was windy to start, and even more blustery out of the city and on exposed hillsides, but the brisk cold and long views underneath blue skies were invigorating.fullsizeoutput_47c

Close up, under our noses, the view was pretty good, with patches of red berries, and clumps of golden grass poking through the snow. Small beauties to smile over. Then there was the big picture, with the snow both smoothing the landscape and highlighting the contours away and away and away. How can a view like this be contained in a camera phone image? I couldn’t do it!IMG_20171119_103323

Face west, reach out and stretch wide to the south, and the mountains recede into the distance, beyond fingertips. Do the same to the north, and the same thing.  So much to embrace, more than you can hold. What a range!fullsizeoutput_47f

There was a search and rescue team out in the park, wonderful people, training and honing their essential skills. They were stopping to study tracks, looking for signs of  their “missing” person, and asked if we’d seen anyone in difficulty? We hadn’t, although it was difficult to return to the car – it wouldn’t have been too bad to stay out a bit longer, be just a little bit lost.fullsizeoutput_47e

A short walk a short distance from home that provided long, long views – it’s no stretch to say we are lucky to be where we are.

Thanks for reading – I hope you get a chance to stretch outdoors – and have a wonderful weekend!

Yoho high

A short while ago, we made a brief trip into the mountains, our first for quite a while. Brief though it was, what a Yoho high we got!

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Feel the Yoho high
Late October, campgrounds closing, ski hills yet to open, and just before the real cold arrived, we weren’t expecting too many other visitors, and so it proved. On our hike around Emerald Lake, we encountered barely a handful of other hikers, and those we did were clearly pretty happy to be out there. They were experiencing a Yoho high – could be addictive…

The temperatures were brisk, just above freezing, and an encouragement to keep moving. Cloud cover increased as the day progressed, but there were little rays of sunshine that did enough to provide a jolt of warmth. This little ray of sunshine appreciated that.

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Moose country
At the trailhead, a notice had been posted warning of a moose out on the pathway. I was excited at the prospect of seeing a moose – from a decent distance – but we weren’t lucky with that. The largest mammal sightings, or hearings, involved chattering squirrels.

At the far end of the lake, I did spot some fish circling in the shallows. To my mind they seemed a decent size, about fifteen centimetres in length, a dun brown colour, as far as I could see in the bright reflecting light. Dolly Varden char perhaps, known to inhabit the frigid waters of Emerald Lake? All attempts at photographing a fish failed.

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The fish were a few feet from these submerged logs, honest.
Freezing rain and light snow from earlier in the week had turned the trail into quite a challenge. This was mostly true of the sections leading through the heavily forested and shaded areas. Semi-frozen slush mud and icy patches kept us on our toes, and that’s always better than landing on your backside. It’s hard to pay attention to your footing when you’re surrounded by silver, grey, blue and green distractions above and below.

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Above and below
It was good to be in the middle of mirrored mountains, seeing them rise above, and then looking into the lake and seeing them seemingly far below. You’re put in your place when caught like that, not that I felt trapped, far from it. Room to breathe, space to stretch, physically and mentally. What an enjoyable mountain high we had! Cloudscapes, landscapes and waterscapes, all adding up to an excellent city escape.

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

 

Logging some beach time…

A very brief post this week, looking back at what might have been the last warm days for a while.

As I write this, the rain is heavy and winds are high, reminding me it is well into fall now, and storm season is upon us. Big waves and high tides with large surges, best observed from a distance. Anyway, back to those warmer days…DSCF6139

Yes, those first few early October days were pleasantly bright and sunny, so we made the most of them by visiting Long Beach several times. Easy walking on long stretches of sand, with a fine choice of logs inviting us to sit and watch the surf.DSCF6163

I love being on this beach, with the dunes, then the trees facing the ocean, and the distant mountains to the north. It’s so unlike anywhere else we know and, rain or shine, is always a delight to visit. Each time we stay a little longer than we planned, surprised at how much time has passed when we pick ourselves up to leave. DSCF6155My theory is the wave action is slightly hypnotic, at least on a calmer day, and you end up forgetting to check the time. Soothing sounds, and I’ve been known to drop off, nodding and drooling. That’ll be the old in OldPlaidCamper. Nothing wrong with that, and with beaches this empty, no witnesses!

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“Is that the drooling guy again?”

Changing tack, I wanted to note a sad day we all knew was coming happened earlier this week, with the passing of Gord Downie. Musician, activist, actor, poet, Gord Downie chronicled Canada in words and music.  For the good, the bad, or the bizarre, he loved Canada, and sang from the heart in his quavering, growling, and sometimes slightly fragile voice.DSCF6161

We were lucky enough to catch The Tragically Hip in Calgary on their “We Are the Same” tour. Sometimes, it seemed they were always touring, and there would always be another time if you missed them. You had to see it to believe it watching the band perform – they gave everything. I’ll miss his “requisite strangeness” although he’s left a fine catalogue of work to remember him by, and his mission that Canada should aim high for all Canadians. I’ll leave you this week with one of their songs – and it was so difficult to settle on just one – Wheat Kings – The Tragically Hip

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Sea and sky…

…and a pop of colour! A short post this week, and mostly focused on…a lack of focus that has been very pleasant.

On our rambles around the coast, we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy warm weather and clear skies. So far, we’ve been caught in the rain just once, and that’s fine by us. When skies haven’t been clear, and the mist and fog has rolled in, or there’s a bank just offshore, it has been hard to see where the water stops and the sky starts.

Staring out into the ocean, it is all blurred, no precise definition. The horizon disappears from view, the visible world shrinks, and feels more immediate.

When we’re out in the mountains, the long views and far reaching vistas are one of the many delights of that particular geography. Here on the coast, the fog and mist limit your view, creating something shifting – and fun to photograph – a land and seascape that is captivating to experience.

The photographs this week were taken on different days, and all were an attempt to find the line between sea and sky. It is there, somewhere, but indistinct, and we enjoyed not seeing it. We took our eyes off the horizon, became unfocused and walked on the edge. Unfocused and on the edge – sounds dangerous?! Not really. Look at what’s in front of you. It’s alright, you won’t fall off.

Sometimes, there is too much attention paid to being sharp, defined, and having clarity. Those big ideas and far reaching vision. Not too much of that here this week (or most weeks) – let go, don’t zoom in, drift, dream, and be a bit wooly. Life can be all the better for that, from time to time, he says, somewhat vaguely…

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Tsawout Trails

A short piece about trails a short hike away from the Salt Spring cabin. We had to get out hiking before we forgot how, and staying near Tsawout Band lands meant we had some great trails to explore.

At the trailhead is a beautiful welcome and interpretive sign, inviting visitors to enjoy the land past the notice. If you follow this link, 13 Moon Calendar Sign, you’ll see a digital copy of the artwork and words – I have to say, the message is simple and clear, and more necessary than ever…

DSCF5328Our first afternoon in the woods was hot and humid, but under the canopy oh so green and lush. The trail was simple enough to pick out, sometimes rocky underfoot, sometimes grassy, and sometimes earthy, with changes in the terrain every few metres. Exposed slopes and clearings were bug free with a slight sea breeze. In these open areas, golden grass was almost like straw in the strong sun.IMG_20170720_174227Into the trees and away from the bluffs overlooking the sea, it was not as hot, the air was still and rather humid, with the whine of an occasional mosquito. I wasn’t bitten, so Mrs. PC was spared the whine of an old PlaidCamper.

IMG_20170722_164241Relative to steepness of slope, soil coverage and the presence of large rock outcrops, the trees were a mix of short and gnarled to tall and gnarled, growing in tight groups with dense undergrowth, or further apart with little brush beneath. Pacific Madrones, Garry Oaks, and Western Red Cedars – a wonderfully varied yet cohesive green, grey, rusty and yellow landscape to wander through (yup, I’ve been reading my tree books!)DSCF5333The Tsawout trails got us up and out in a series of wonderful hiking afternoons. Tramping through the woods, coming across little coves, stopping to admire views, tree shapes, and textures, it was a special place, and we had a very happy time exploring it.DSCF5339Salt Spring Island is a splendid location to be on holiday! One (or two?) more Salt Spring posts in the next week or so, and then we’ll have to leave, sniff.

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

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Hard to leave…