Green

And maybe a little blue – the colour, not my mood…

Early morning lake – a little blue

I was sat in my car the other day, enjoying the rain, having timed the top of the hour construction traffic opening to perfection. After waiting for thirty five minutes, I congratulated myself on being early and adjusted expectations accordingly.

Enjoying the rain

At least the views were good, and I found myself thinking about the survival show “Alone” I’ve been watching the last few weeks. As in most things, I’m about seven seasons behind, and knew nothing about the show, so imagine my pleasant surprise when I discovered that the first two seasons (possibly others, I’ve yet to find out) were filmed just up the island! Very exciting, and it added a little extra something to my viewing, being so familiar with the landscapes, if not the challenges, the participants faced.

“Straight ahead, then turn right, paddle a day or so, and after that you’re on your own!”

Not every participant enjoyed the density of the coastal forest they found themselves alone in. I’ve never been truly alone in the forest, or as deliberately lightly (for want of a better word) equipped as they were. I’ve always found the forest to be beautiful, slightly intimidating, but not downright frightening, although it is a dangerous place, as most places can be with or without proper preparation.

Green

Anyway, I was sitting in the car, staring (in a moody yet cinematic way) at the wall of green to my left and wondering how long I could survive alone in that particular forest? The answer? Not long enough to win. I think maybe a week or two, if I avoided injuries, and convinced myself to eat enough fish, crabs, and seaweed to supplement the squashed mouse diet. Even though I’m a confirmed introvert through and through, I could not be by myself for the fifty something days I think the first winner completed.

Fifty something days? No problem! Without beer, you say? Wait a minute…

As the top of the hour came and went, and the traffic didn’t move forward, I began to wonder, peering through the rain soaked windshield, “Is there anybody in the vehicle in front, and the ones behind?” “Am I alone out here?” “Is this the start of an elaborate reality TV show that Mrs PC signed me up for and she forgot to tell me?” “I’m getting hungry – is that a mouse?”

Green and blue

And then the lights on the car in front came on, and it inched forward, the gate having reopened at the same time the door closed on a budding reality TV career. Fifty something + days? Yeah, I could do that…

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

“You busy?”

A very short piece this week – I’ve been busy…

I was sat in my office yesterday morning, toiling away on reports no one was likely to read, and wondering where had it all gone so right for me to be indoors on an unexpectedly sunny day? The drive to work had been about perfect, with the sun breaking through light mists, illuminating the low mountain tops and giving the bay a silver-pink- blue glow. Even the usually tetchy kingfishers appeared happy, and ducks were splashing prettily in the shallows outside the door. Yes, poor me. Still, lucky ducks, hey?

Yesterday morning – too nice to be inside

As I began a scintillating paragraph to get page 578 rolling, my phone rang. Oh no! An interruption, and just when I was getting to the interesting bit. “Hey old man you busy?” “Yeah, got to finish these papers today, can’t miss a deadline, you know how it is!” “Oh, ok. We’re in R’s truck, a few of us are heading up Mt. Ozzard to check on the new mountain bike trails, and thought you’d like to see what the young ones have created. But if you’re busy…”

Ozzard on the right (picture taken Wednesday evening)

Fifteen minutes later, I was in the back of a pickup, bouncing along logging roads to the foot of Ozzard. What can I say, I’m dedicated. To getting out and seeing what our youthful charges have been up to. I was almost finished anyway…

Ride a bike down here? No thanks!

As we climbed the trail, slipping and sliding on a mix of mud and snow – yup, the snow had stuck under the trees and in the shade – I delighted in having the freedom to be able to slip away from the office, walk up a mountain, and call it work. Like I said at the top, where did it all go so right?

Hard at work…

Anyway, a short post as promised. Did I finish those reports? Do you really need to ask? Of course – hold on, let me finish – of course I can get them done by Monday. I’m not specifying any particular Monday…

Thursday morning. Easily distracted (silver-pink-blue? I think so…)

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

Thursday afternoon – sun setting on what turned out a pretty good day

A descent

We have been past the turning to Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park countless times in the last ten years. Little? Nah, not stopping for anything little, not when we’re surrounded by big western Canada. Well, weren’t we shown to be a little(?!) silly…

Before the drop

We had to be in Qualicum Beach for an afternoon appointment, and the combination of never wanting to be late and having to get through before the daily construction closures (completion Summer 2020, budget $30 million) around Kennedy Lake, meant we had time on our hands. Alright then, let’s check out the Little Qualicum Falls.

Fall at the falls

We parked in an almost empty lot and headed up the trail marked Upper Falls. I do like to let gravity do the work later in a hike whenever possible. The trail was muddy but not impassable after a week of heavy rain, and we could hear a distant roar of cascading water up ahead. Promising!

Promising

The falls were spectacular! Huge volumes of water crashing down narrow chutes, throwing up mist and spray glinting in the late morning sun. What a sight and what a sound, and not little at all! Cascades of water, churning and tumbling and completely exhilarating!

Delighted we saw the falls, our descent after was decent, as we smiled all the way down, wondering why we hadn’t stopped there sooner?!

Noisy!

When we got home, having been held up by construction closures (new completion date late Fall 2022, new budget $58 million) we decided we must try a bit harder to explore the little delights closer to home, and not to pass turnings signposted to “Little” anything unless we promise to visit inside ten years…

Exhilarating!

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

The rough with the smooth

A short and textured piece for a week where all went pretty well, whether it was rough or smooth.

Rrruff!

Our spring weather has jumped about, with some rain, some sun, some wind, plenty of grey, green and blue, and mostly feeling pretty warm, even under the grey skies.

We went to the black rock and shell beach below the Black Rock buildings – how did they come up with that name? – and if you scramble along a bit, there are many quiet little corners to sit and survey the sea. It was calm the day we went, with warm sun, blue skies and the gentle sound of waves over rocks. Soporific but not boring, and maybe my head nodded once or twice…

Why is the nearby hotel called the Black Rock?

Yesterday morning was a west coast special – misty, almost foggy, and through it you could feel the warmth of the sun, a hint of a sunny afternoon ahead. Sometimes, the mist and fog lingers, but yesterday it cleared, and it felt like a promise kept.

Learning is often better outdoors, or at the very least, indoors with doors and windows thrown open – and if we had to anchor wind blown paper-based assignments with a few rocks after chasing around the room, well, that’s okay. Smoothed them out…

7:30 smooth

Scout has a set Saturday afternoon routine I have to follow when we’re out. She’s persuaded Mrs. PC to visit a small pocket park that has a series of different height walls, and she (Scout, not Mrs. PC) has to leap up each step of wall and balance to the end before jumping off to great applause. This means now, when Scout is out with me, there’s no avoiding the left turn to the little park, and we have to visit and go through the same performance. My balance isn’t all that, but I’ve almost nailed the landing.

Same day, midday, still pretty smooth

After the park, Scout insists we head to a small section of the Wild Pacific Trail, where we check on what is currently our favourite tree, a tall beauty with a textured trunk that demands our admiration. So we do.

Rough – our current favourite

Enough for this week, keeping it brief, as promised. We’re hoping for more warm sunshine this weekend, and a longer beach hike or two. We’ll head out there, and rough or smooth, expect it’ll be great fun either way.

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

Space dragons

I don’t know about you, but I’m quite happy this year is drawing to a close. We’ve had to wait many months for positive news, and from early November on, it has felt like things have been slowly improving.

“What are we waiting for?”

The wait for reliable vaccines has been long, and it is good to see and hear there are options on the horizon, and an end to the pandemic is growing closer. A weight lifted – or is it? Brace yourselves, here come the space dragons…

Oh those conspiracy theorists are having a fine old time telling us that Bill Gates will be able to track us post-vaccine, with the aid of 5G unicorns, mini-robots, and space dragons. Bear with me, I’m warming up and a little hazy on the specifics.

Hazy? Space dragon brain beams will do that…

Don’t worry, we all know space dragon brain beams can’t penetrate your tinfoil hat to read your thoughts. Actually, I imagine that the thoughts of conspiracy minded folks aren’t worth the attention of most space dragons, but then I’ve been brainwashed by and under the mind control of the nurse who administered the measles jab I received many years ago. Remember the inoculations you got at school? And pre-school? Well, due to those, I am, like you (if you’ve had your vaccinations and choose to believe the anti-science conspiracy nut bars) an unwitting biddable agent of evil, presumably being forced against my will to be do bad things, all because the school nurse gave me booster jabs forty-something years ago. That nurse, and her malevolent hench nurses, are part of a giant plot to, to, well, I don’t know what the plot is exactly, but it is bad. Are you saying I’ve lost the plot here? Hold on. Gathering thoughts. Adjusting tin foil hat. Vaccinations! Developed by evil medical people to rig life against you. You don’t believe me? That you don’t believe me is obvious proof you’ve been got at by vaccine wielding deep state operatives. Is that clear?!

Phew! That’s a long time, long term conspiracy to be worried about – can a tin foil hat get rusty? I’ve enjoyed writing these last few paragraphs. There’s a strange freedom in not having to stick to annoyingly inconvenient stuff like science, facts, details, evidence, responsibility or common sense.

Keep your balance!

Back to reality! We enjoyed a long beach hike the other day. Sea air and salt water will rust things, but we felt quite the opposite of that last week. Buoyed by positive vaccine news, and feeling lighter with each passing day as January 20th approaches, we almost skipped down an empty beach. Scout was going full steam ahead, determined to get to a favourite spot of hers. Sticks, snacks, logs and rocks? That’s her kind of morning, and ours too. A second breakfast and extra coffee? Yes please!

For the time we were out, the weather got brighter as the morning wore on, with low cloud and grey skies clearing, and patches of blue appearing. I wouldn’t say it was warm, but it was warm enough. Shoulders back, deep breaths, longer strides, and goodness, can’t you just feel some of the mental weight drop away for a while?

Deep breaths!

Thanks for reading. Remember, there be space dragons, so stay safe, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Positives?

Well, wasn’t that quite the week?! As I write this, late in the day Thursday, it would appear that by January, there’ll be a change in White House occupancy – phew! Even if a blue wave didn’t quite appear, I’ll settle for being able to listen to a presidential press conference without wincing. That’s a positive.

A blue ripple

Bigger picture? More to be done, but please let’s enjoy the hope that steps are being taken towards repair, and an opportunity to build, not tear down. The restoration of a more civil political discourse? Maybe? That’s a positive. Instead of denial, working as a collective to arrest the worst of a looming climate disaster? You have to hope…

Things are looking up

I’m keeping it very brief this time. I’m exhausted, but enjoying the notion we can breathe a little easier, politically speaking, if only due to the reduction in noise that ought to happen as a result of the tight result. We can welcome a greater reliance on accepted facts and shared understandings, instead of alternate facts and divisive lies. Now wouldn’t that be nice?

Space

The photographs this time are all from our wilderness trip a couple of weeks back, and they were chosen for their sense of space, scale, and a pleasant bigger picture. Of course, given the way this year has offered up too many unwelcome surprises, maybe next week I’ll be writing about how the results all went the wrong way after Thursday evening, and the White House occupant remains the same after January 2021. No, surely not? Let’s stay positive!

Bigger

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

Go with the flow

A brief post this week, written in haste as I prepare for a Wilderness First Aid course. If I don’t post anything next week, you’ll know I muddled slings with knots, tarps with triangle bandages, and ended up tied to a tree. Hopefully without an impalement injury, and dressed for the weather to avoid hypothermia…

Ready for any weather and all adventures!

I’ve not done a 40 hour WFA course, so this will be an interesting experience. I’ve heard stories about participants getting injured, especially during nighttime scenarios, so given my ability to slip, trip and fall in daylight, I hope my fellow participants and I can limit the after dark damage.

Talking of dark damage, how about the debate earlier this week? My brain needed a splint after that. Mentally speaking, I’m still in the recovery position. I won’t even mention my first response…

The photos this week were taken from our visit to Long Beach last weekend. You can see the debris and channels carved from the strong winds and heavy rain run off. I’m glad we moved the training from last week to this for the course – what a fortunate decision that turned out to be. The program was running whatever the weather, and the weather this week has been dry. Phew. Let’s not make my slipping chances any higher.

We’re taking some positive minded youth along for this one, and their energy and willingness to go with the flow when it comes to learning is something I’ll enjoy. I’ve heard mutterings about who they want to immobilize and carry out on a stretcher. They’ll change their minds and volunteer someone else when they think about my deadweight. “Carry him? Let’s shelter in place, he’s fine to wait it out!” I guess if they “accidentally” drop me, by later in the week they will know how to patch me up?

Stay safe, stay well, thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

The forest

The past week has been the most enjoyable for quite some time. I’ve got bruises and scratches, I ache almost everywhere, and I’m writing this at the second attempt, having dozed off previously. Hmm. I’m awake now, drool wiped from chin, so let’s share a little of the last few days.

A group of youth and young adults have been learning from two trail-building teachers. They were so good, teaching us that how a trail is built is its own story, then trails are used to retell old stories and create new ones. Walking in places where the spirit of ancestors reside, and where predecessors walked in times past, certainly fired up the youth. They’re excited about creating community paths to allow easier access to the local lake. Improving and replacing sections of an old boardwalk, as well as building a couple of new trails is what they’ll be doing over the course of the summer.

A shovel didn’t go into the ground for the first day and a half. The time was spent bushwhacking, searching for likely routes and places to see, using the terrain and marking out possibilities. This was fun stuff, and somewhat harder for one or two of the older folks accompanying the young crew. Yup, me.

Old boardwalk, new tools

It turns out I’m not as nimble as I thought when it comes to jumping up on to (or off) a log. And gaps in dense thickets get smaller when I’m in them. At one point I got stuck pushing up and over an old log, completely caught in the tangle of smaller branches. Couldn’t go forward, couldn’t go back, and couldn’t lose (any more) face. I ended up using my COVID kilos, and simply let myself “fall” forward, counting on gravity and a heavy backpack (or those COVID kilos) to pull me through. It sort of worked. Probably not in any training manual…

Digging it

Anyway, older folks were recovered, plausible routes were marked out, and we’ve spent three sweat and mosquito filled days breaking new trail. The young ones are so strong, and so ready to learn. After months of mostly indoor time, the hours in the forest are wonderful. Purposeful activity, great company, lots of learning, kilos to lose, and all under the watchful eye of bears, spirits, leaders, and spirited leaders-in-making.

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

August already?

Well, this summer is flying by! We’re starting August with a sneak preview of autumn, expecting somewhere between 100-150mm of rain Thursday through Friday. By the time this piece is posted, the front will have blown through and gentle sunshine will reappear, enough to warm things up and kick start Fogust. It’s always meteorologically interesting on the west coast!August/Fogust

Last weekend saw the Ukee Days celebration, a fun acknowledgement of life at the end of the road. Saturday started with a parade – every vehicle with a siren seemed to participate, much to the delight of the children lining the route. There were some amusing sights to go with the sound. The parade went down Seaplane Base Road to the fairground and a field of tempting deep fried foods and a beer garden. As you know, I’m quite an avid gardener and did peruse the beer garden. The Tofino Blonde was thriving…

After an afternoon of logger sports – axe throwing – and a talent show, Saturday night ended with a more musical noise, four local-to-the-island bands entertaining the crowd. There were more kids and families and less marijuana than last year, and call me an old fuddyduddy, but this seemed better. Maybe it was too many visits to the beer garden, but for the life of me I couldn’t understand or hear the words being sung by Illvis Freshly – Back It Up – but they were energetic in their delivery.

We recovered from Saturday by taking a long beach hike and our dinner out to Wick Beach late afternoon/early evening, enjoying the long stretch of sand and all the quiet. Moderate Pacific waves rolling in at the turn of the tide, with sandpipers scurrying and bald eagles swooping and gliding. Best of all, an osprey dropped into the surf and came up with a fishy prize. As it turned back to shore, it had to evade a bald eagle intent on a share – or all – of the treasure. The osprey got away.

It’s not been all beach walks and loud music music the past week. We’ve also maintained our commitment to propping up the local coffee economy with fairly frequent stops at either the Gray Whale (maybe the best coffee in Ucluelet, so let’s keep that our little secret) or The Foggy Bean (possibly the best named coffee in Ucluelet or even the universe, but it’s ok to disagree!) I particularly enjoy going to The Foggy Bean because they are located in the renovated church that is also going to house the new Ucluelet Brewing Company. Opening Summer 2018! Nope, opening Summer 2019! Nope, opening October 2019. We’ll see. I like to press my nose up against the window pane to check on the progress inside. I can say they are currently a staircase short of a riser or two. No, really. October seems optimistic, but here’s hoping.Coffee stop – four coffee shops two minutes or less from here (but keep that quiet)

I’ll leave it here for this week. As I look out of the window, I can see the “atmospheric river” (thank you, Weather Network) is currently flowing over Ucluelet, and there’s a very pleasant drumming of raindrops on the roof. I can’t make out the words, but the rhythm is great.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Rain – The Cult

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?”