winter hike: beaver lake and port alice

We've had so many gloriously cold and sunny days! I don't know if that's unusual for January and February or if I was oversold on the rain, but I love it. The temperature will range from around -3C to +4C (mid-20s to about 40 F), which barely qualifies as cold, and combined with bright sunshine, is some of my favourite weather.

Last weekend, we hiked in the Beaver Lake Recreation Trail -- the first time I've ever hiked in winter. There was a dusting of snow and it was cold enough to wear a parka. The trail is full of interpretative signs about the forest, pointing out old growth, second growth, "managed", and other stages. The information is sponsored by the lumber company, so you have to translate the propaganda a bit, but it was still interesting to think about the woods this way. Plus because it was cold and dry, there were no (visible) mushrooms.

After the hike we drove to Port Alice, where one of my libraries is located. I had visited the library the previous week and I couldn't wait for Allan to see the location. The town is located on an inland lake (actually an inlet) surrounded by mountains, and it is breathtaking. I've never been to Scandinavia, but we saw fjords in Gros Morne Park in Newfoundland, and Port Alice has the same feel. Our photos don't do it justice.

The town of Port Alice was recently a bustling lumber mill town, but since the mill closed in 2015, it has really struggled. Along with the Legion Hall, our library is a lifeline for the residents. The teens bus to high school in Port McNeill, but the 45 students in grades K through 8 will soon have a lot more library time.

Another wonderful product of the cold, clear weather has been the night skies. We'll pop outside on our deck or driveway, and the stars are so bright, and so many are visible! It's spectacular. Light pours out of the moon -- and I realize I've seen the moon, but never seen moonlight.

Allan and I often remember an experience we had in Mexico, seeing the night sky from a road deep in the rainforest, the sky positively alive with light and motion. But I've never seen anything like that close to home (at least not as an adult). One of these nights Allan wants to drive down Rt. 19 a bit and pull off at a rest area, where even the few streetlights in our neighbourhood won't be visible.

Waiting for a treat.

We thought this graphic was amusing.

This is off the long, twisty road to Port Alice.
Note the bare spot from "harvesting". The area is dotted with those.

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