A walk in the woods, BC style

May 5, 2014

Yesterday morning we set out on a sightseeing tour, BC style: rented Prius, pouring rain, someone else driving, the only real destinations a park bench and a restaurant.

Deep Cove makes all of the lists as one of the most beautiful spots in Canada. It wasn’t at its best yesterday, with a cold wind blowing the rain in our faces. The camera didn’t seem to mind the weather all that much, though. We checked out the memorial benches, let Bet hug a tree on video, strolled the downtown scene in the hamlet, and ducked back into the car to escape a shower.

Then Charlie made a wrong turn. It looked as though he was counting expensive sports cars as he nosed through this residential community on the side of the mountain until he reached a gate which clearly wasn’t his destination. So he turned around, then drove back a couple of hundred yards and parked on a bridge over a little stream.

Apparently we were to get out here and walk. A disembodied voice coming from a front cup holder in the Prius had been dispensing the directions. Charlie lifted his phone out, checked a photograph of a private driveway, and then marched confidently across it and up a concealed set of stairs and into the darkness beyond.

Up we went into the heart of darkness. In twenty yards on the Quarry Rock Trail we were in the thick of the BC rainforest, and quite an experience it was. First, the rain and wind no longer bothered us. It was quiet, though this was temporary because a lot of people were going our way. The steep trail consisted of roots and rocks, interspersed with crude stair risers held by rebar to control erosion.

But the trees were magnificent. The colours run to rich shades of green and ocre, but the overwhelming impression I formed was that this would be a great place to shoot an action movie. Rambo was filmed near here.

Periodically we heard heavy breathing behind us as another large dog ran up the trail, followed by its owners. Dogs love the trail, easily outdistancing their masters, interacting with other mutts, running back down to check on things. The presence of the many dogs, coupled with a human traffic level which would put Hwy 42 to shame on a week day, ensured that we would not be bear bait today. But I did notice a suspicious burrow under the end of a fallen log.

Honest, I couldn’t believe the number of people running up the side of this mountain. A whole kid’s soccer team chugged by us, none over five feet high. One tall geezer blew past us on his way down, leaping from rock to rock. How do they get someone out of here when he breaks a leg on a slippery root?

We passed a couple letting their kids bathe in a pool at the edge of a pretty long drop-off. That water must have been cold, but it was very clear. By this point most of the climbers had stripped down to t-shirts, despite the cold.

Because this was an old-growth forest in the purest sense, plenty of fallen and decaying matter provided variety on the forest floor. Is a 45 degree slope a floor? Lines of sight were longer than I expected, and the light level was higher. I asked Roz if tropical rain forests are like this. She suggested that it might be a little darker in the tropics, though sight lines would be similar.

Roz was eager to get to the top of the mountain, so we split up, with Charlie and Bet returning to the base while I further tested my new hiking boots on the roots and rocks. Excellent performance here, BTW. What they lack in pavement comfort they more than make up in climbing ability.

She loped and I puffed along for another fifteen minutes or so until we came to a steep section of trail going down, down, down, and then up again to the same level on the other side of the ravine. I stopped and thought: You know, this rain forest all looks pretty much the same. Apart from a rainy, windy view at the top, is there any reason to walk down that hill and up again, then to turn around and repeat the process on the way back? I gasped a halt.

Roz made her way back up the hill, thought for a second, and then suggested there might be a way to reach the top, anyway. She pulled out her phone and called up a photo from the trail’s website. “Now take a picture of the image on the phone,” she grinned. I snapped away, but took care to include the lettering above and below the photo. Academic honesty is an illness, eh? Turned out the photo was so badly out of focus that it wouldn’t have mattered, though Charlie later did remark that the sun appeared to have broken through a cloud about the time we hit the summit.

Back down we went. At the halfway point we had to decide between two identical forks in the trail. It’s quite possible to get lost on a nearly vertical mountain trail. No kidding. We guessed, and soon after I recognized a muddy track of Kangaroo Man, so we found the bridge and the car without mishap. Bet and Charlie responded to Roz’s text and strolled in a few minutes later after a visit to a convenience store up the road.

Soaking wet, covered with mud (well, me, anyway) we headed off to Troll’s in Horseshoe Bay for perhaps the best fish and chips lunch we’ve ever eaten, followed by Baskin-Robbins ice cream for desert.

As I understand it, this is a leisurely walk in the woods, BC style.

The truly curious can find illustrations of this yarn at
https://www.flickr.com/photos/112002166@N06/

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