Monday, June 12, 2023

Walking the Woods

Regis and I have been keeping up our walking routines while out here in British Columbia and we have discovered the beauty of the local wooded areas. The city of Courtney lies in the Comox valley where three rivers, the Puntledge, the Tsolum, and Brown’s converge to run into the Straight of Georgia, and these rivers have been used to effectively provide some beautiful recreational areas for local residents. Over the past week we have explored a couple of lovely trails along the Puntledge River. One day we started out by the Fish & Game Protective Association area and walked the River Trail. This one was a bit of a worry because a sign at the start of it also linked to the “Bear Bait” trail and we had been told stories of frequent black bear sighting in the area, but the bears never did make any appearance on our walks. A few days later we drove out to the other end of this trail where we walked through Nymph Falls Park to explore the falls and hiked the other end of the River Trail which follows the path of the Puntledge River. The second “hike” was done with my sister’s grandchildren, so not as much
distance was covered, because they were more interested in playing in the river than hiking.

These trails wander through beautiful second growth BC forests. The forests here in British Columbia are really much different from our lovely Nova Scotia forests which I am used to exploring back home. The first thing you notice is the size of the trees which are way taller than we get in Nova Scotia, stretching way up into the sky, and the dense green canopy of these giant cedar, douglas fir and hemlock, leave the forest floor open and easy to walk through. There are few trees growing in the undergrowth, and there were no hardwood evident at all, so it is mostly taken up by lush Spanish moss and old man’s beard hanging from the trees and ferns covering the floor, creating an almost rainforest environment. 

This forest is “second growth”, meaning the the area was heavily logged many many years ago and the large tall trees we walked through are surrounded by massive even bigger rotting stumps from the original old growth trees. As you walk by these huge remnants of the original forest giants it is possible to imagine what this forest must have looked like hundreds of years ago. 

The trail systems are extensive, and provide trails for hikers, bikers and equestrians, and are clearly marked as difficult, moderate and accessible, so anyone can enjoy the forests. We were able to wander along the river, or weave through the forest higher up the valley.

The actual Nymph Falls was a popular site and even though the water was still cold from the glacier run-off, brave folk were already enjoying the pools and rapids in the area. We watched a couple of children who found a slippery rock that allowed them to enjoy a natural water slide powered by the river. The falls also featured a fish ladder created to allow the salmon to make it past the falls, and a bald eagle waited patiently in a nearby tree for any fish who might try to use the ladder. 

My cape Breton Larchwood walking stick and I look forward to exploring more that British Columbia has to offer.