Trip Report – Ripple Rock Trail – 17 April 2019

Four of us were lucky to have a dry day between monsoon-like rains.  Everywhere we went there were signs of spring.  We started out from the trailhead on the wide trail down to a creek edged with big Sitka spruce and pink fawn lilies.  The trail narrows as it approaches Menzies Bay and then undulates through lovely, open-understory forest and bluffs with views of the Bay and Vancouver Island.  In between the array of spring flowers, we admired some great old-growth Douglas fir trees.  The wooden bridges and stairs were often in need of maintenance, and the trail is quite busy by our standards.  We climbed the big stairs to the overlook of Seymour Narrows and stopped there for lunch. It wasn’t a really big current, but we watched the flood increase before heading back the way we had come.  We were accompanied much of the way by a cheerful, high-energy dog, who we finally convinced to follow another group back to its owner.  9 km; 4 hours.


Thanks to Norris and Les for the photos

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Hiking – Ripple Rock Trail – 17 April 2019


Trip Report – Cowichan Valley – 7-11 Apr 2019

None of the 10 of us had spent much time in Cowichan Valley so this trip was exploratory. The weather was marginal, but we were lucky enough to never get wet. Some in the group had injuries, so not everyone was able to participate in the outings. We could see the evidence of the hugely destructive storm that hit the area in December 2018, but every trail we hiked had been well maintained. Spring was blooming out all over and the wildflowers were excellent.
Sunday – We met at the Duncan Market around noon before continuing to the vacation rental on Shawnigan Lake, where most of us were staying.  After settling in, we went for a hike at Cobble Hill mountain.  We hiked a loop (Squirrel, Frog, Buck, and Turtle) up to the summit ridge with great views in nearly all directions.  It was a good introduction to the area with views of the Saanich Peninsula, Cowichan Bay, Mt. Tzouhalem, and the agricultural land in the Valley. 5.4 km; 2¼ hours. Back at the house, we had a great meal, celebrated a birthday, and sang to the accompaniment of guitars.

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Monday – The weather was less promising as we set out from the rather obscure trailhead to Fern Grotto. We started on an old logging road that segued to a quite new trail through open forest with lots of maples, moss, and ferns. We reached the impressive Kinsol Trestle and had lunch before hiking out and back on the Jack Fleetwood trail. The Koksilah River and the fawn lilies were lovely. The group preferred to hike back to the house along the Cowichan Valley Trail, rather than retrace our route to the vehicles. We narrowly escaped heavy rain, returning to the vacation rental just in time. 14.7 km; 4¾ hours. We had another wonderful meal followed by games and reading.

Tuesday – We had a sunny day for our bike trip on the Cowichan Valley Trail/Great Trail from Glenora to the end of the trail toward Cowichan Lake and back. Les opted to hike the Cowichan River Footpath nearby. Those who didn’t own bikes rented e-bikes, which was entertaining and easy. We later learned that this is the roughest section of the Cowichan Valley Trail, so we spent more time looking where the tire was headed than at the scenery. The forest was lovely and open, with creeks, wetlands (even a turtle) and, of course, trestles and the Cowichan River. 46.0 km; 5¼ hours. We had yet another great dinner and more music.

Wednesday – The weather improved through the day. We hiked at Mt. Tzouhalem starting at the Kaspa parking lot and following the view trails at the edge of the escarpment. The meadows of shooting star wildflowers were a treat, as were the views of the Cowichan Valley. We stopped for lunch near the cross and then continued along the cliffs to the edge of the reserve before following logging roads, with a view of Salt Spring Island and Samson Narrows, back to the car. This area is a complex web of unmarked paths, and it’s good to go with a map, GPS or app to avoid getting lost. 9.9 km; 4¼ hours.  Although rather late in the day, a few people opted to continue on to the Koksilah Ancient Forest Reserve. After a bit of trouble finding the trailhead, the blue flagging got us to the grove of fine old trees along the river. We would have liked to have spent more time there. 4.3 km; 1 hour. For our last night, we went out to dinner at the Village Chippery, which was very popular with locals and very good.

Thursday – The dark skies only produced drizzle on the hike near Cedar, taking the Cable Bay Trail to Joan Point and Dodd Narrows. This is a popular trail with locals. It’s wide and smooth and trends down to the ocean. The trail along the coast is lovely with great views of the sandstone shoreline typical of the southern Gulf Islands. The spring flowers were excellent with lots of fawn lilies. The current was not running strongly in Dodd Narrows, but the low tide provided inter-tidal viewing. 6.5 km; 1¾ hours.


Multi-day Hiking – Cowichan Valley – 7-11 Apr 2019

Trip Report – Deadfish-Tripod Loop – 10 April 2019

Four hikers enjoyed a three and a half hour hike on the bike trails south of Morte Lake. It was raining when we carpooled at the Heriot Bay store parking lot, less so at the Morte Lake parking area and had stopped within a half hour of leaving the trailhead. We began on the Deadfish Trail and stopped on Deadfish Summit to view Beech’s Mountain and watch wispy clouds rising from Morte Lake. Descending the Seven Deadly Sins switchback trail, the group turned north on Nirvana to connect with the South Morte Lake trail. We followed this east along the mirror-calm lake and stopped for a snack at the sandy beach at the southwest corner of the lake. Before reaching the beach, the view down into the water in the little bay revealed an exquisite turquoise colour – who needs to go to a tropical isle? We proceeded along Tripod Connector (the tripod is still there at the stream crossing) and uphill to Ridge trail, which skirts the base of Deadfish Summit ridge and connects to Lost Rider. At the Lost Rider-Morning Beer Trail junction we headed up onto the open ridge which parallels Deadfish Trail. Along this ridge we had grand views of Chinese Mountains, Hyacinthe Bay and beyond to Cortes Island. This rugged trail proceeds along the open moss-covered bluffs, eventually dropping steeply downhill to the Morte Lake parking lot. Due to the recent rains, the mosses and hanging lichens along the route vibrated with a brilliant green, even more so when the sun made an occasional appearance.


Hiking – Deadfish-Tripod Loop – 10 April 2019

Trip Report – Stramberg Old Growth Grove – 2 April 2019

Nine of us hiked by Vic’s Marsh then on to the Stramberg big trees in Main Lakes Provincial Park.  The weather was a perfect and the trail was in good condition and well flagged. The journey offers lots of variety including open marsh, a homestead site, old corrals and a barn, undulating forest trail with rocky bluffs and fern wetlands, and old logging roads.  There has been some erosion this past year of dirt bridges over creeks, but conditions were very dry for early April.  We ate lunch in the swale leading into the grove and then wandered among the trees.   The trees are impressively big  — and old.  There was frequent wolf scat on the trail.  12 km; 5 hours.


Thanks to Norris, Les and Cyndy for the photos, and to Stephen and Carrie for the trail camera photo taken earlier.

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Hiking – Stramberg Old Growth Grove – 2 April 2019

Trip Report – Maud Island – 27 Mar 2019

After cancelling this trip in February due to icy conditions, the weather could not have been better. Fifteen hikers, including five guests, enjoyed the cool of the forest and then the warmth of the sun at the lookouts. Some chose to go up and take in the views from Mt. Lolo, giving themselves a wonderful, varied hiking loop, and others chose to do the lower route to the lookout over Seymour Narrows both ways. 

We met up at the Maud Island lookout where we were treated to a number of eagles flying below us and a least one sea lion frolicking in the eddies. Some hikers took the opportunity to lie back in the sun – pretty amazing for March 27.

A dock has been built just before the causeway which allows boats to get in and pick up debris that has washed up in the storms. The bay was extremely clean – many thanks to all who arranged that cleanup.

We had listed this as taking 5 hours with travel, but with such a large group, and many who were new to the hike, we were gone about 6 hours. 10.0 km; 4¼ hours (from trail head and back to trail head).  The drive is 12.8 km and ½ hour each way.


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Hiking – Maud Island – 27 March 2019

Trip Report – Mt. Washington – 20 Mar 2019

This was our last scheduled trip to Mt. Washington for the season.  On this first day of spring, the weather was very warm, up to 14°C on the hill.  Five of us snowshoed under absolutely clear skies and the snow was better than expected considering the heat.  Terry lead us up the Great Big View trail and on to Finger Glades, with wonderful views of the Vancouver Island mountains.  We stopped for lunch near the high point of the trail before making our way back down to the vehicles.  184m elevation gain;  5.6 km; about 3½ hours.  


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Snow – Mt. Washington – 20 Mar 2019

Trip Report – Haskin’s Farm Loop – 13 Mar 2019

Eight hikers arrived on such a magnificent day for the Haskin’s Farm hike.  We did a short hike through the woods to join the main trail and headed down to the beach. We enjoyed time to sit in the warm sunshine and take in the magnificent views of Sutil Channel and other islands. After leaving the beach we took the trail to the north, to view some old growth trees. Returned to the main trail and up the hill, kept right walking on a wood lot road to eventually reach the abandoned orchard of Haskin’s Farm. Continued on the trail arriving at Fir Road. Back tracked down the trail and returned to our starting point. We took two dogs with us and they loved the attention. It was a joy to hear the birds singing and chatting to each other. We were certainly blessed with a gorgeous day and a lovely, leisurely walk in the park. 4.7 km; 2 hours.

Margot Wood.

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Hiking – Haskin’s Farm Loop – 13 March 2019