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.


The Mound of Sound said...

What do you mean "barely qualifies as cold"? Live out here a few more years and you'll adjust to a climate that's amazingly moderate, summer and winter. You'll quickly lose some of that tolerance for eastern extremes of cold and hot. And this mild climate is one of the truly great benefits of the west coast even if it is rainy. Besides, snow looks so much better when you gaze at it atop the local mountains.

laura k said...

We are definitely enjoying the weather here -- and will even more so in summer! Allan and I both hate summer heat and humidity. I can't wait to actually enjoy being outdoors in summer. That will be a huge change!

But I do enjoy cold weather, so this recent cold snap has been nice. I do NOT miss Ontario winters, especially given the mad cold and snow they're having right now.

Amy said...

Wow, it is so beautiful out there. I can see why you love it. Is there anything you miss about the Toronto area besides the friends you made there? Do you miss "city life" at all?

allan said...

Do you miss "city life" at all?

Generally, no.


I was quite interested in the tree above the picture of Diego, with the tangle of stuff all over its trunk. ... Also, the forest floor in many places up here is clogged with down trees, trunks, inverted roots, big rocks, etc. If you had to walk without a trail through these forests, it would take forever to cover any distance. These are not original growth forests, so I'm wondering if the stuff on the ground was left over from the cutting of the original forest?

With God's Help said...

Beautiful photos.

laura k said...

Thanks Amy and WGH. :)

When I lived in Mississauga, I often missed real city life. But other than friends and c0-workers, I never miss the suburban life we had in Mississauga.

laura k said...

There are only two things that aren't perfect about this small-town life.

One, it would be nice if the nearest big town for other needs was closer. Of course in reality, if it were closer, we'd be in danger of being eaten up by sprawl -- so it's actually great that it's so far away. But in some ideal world without compromises, we'd be maybe an hour from a more populous area, rather than 2.5 hours.

And two, I am going to miss sushi, and other types of food we don't have here. Apparently there used to be a sushi restaurant in Port McNeill, but the family moved away...

One of the other things that could be an issue in small towns, conservative politics, we don't have here. So awesome!

Of course, we've only been here 2.5 months. We'll see how we feel a year from now!

Amy said...

Since I live in the suburbs of a dying/dead city with the closest real city 90 miles away, I have neither the advantages of all that quiet and natural beauty (which I would love) nor the excitement and cultural opportunities of a big city. We do have sushi, but that's about it!

That doesn't mean I am not happy living here. I am. We have friends and a real sense of community, and we are close enough to NYC and Boston and the Cape and the countryside that we can be at one or the other within an hour to three hours. But day-to-day we live in a place that is just in between all those other places.

Maybe you can learn to make sushi? I assume there must be fresh fish available.

At any rate, enjoy!

laura k said...

I always said Mississauga was the worst of both. All the negatives of city life -- traffic, congestion, pollution -- with none of the advantages. I loved the diversity, which we don't have here, but other than that, there's nothing to miss. I don't know if you feel that way about where you live now.

Heh, no interest whatsoever in learning to make sushi. Everything's a trade-off, and we've traded sushi (and many different kinds of food) for a quiet, simple place surrounded by natural beauty. Sushi will be a priority when we travel. :)

Amy said...

I hear you on making sushi! For me any food that requires more than about ten minutes of preparation is just not going to happen.

If we were to leave the Springfield area, all I would miss are the people. As more and more of our friends move away---to warmer places or to be closer to grandchildren or whatever---that becomes less of a reason to stay here. If I had my druthers and the money, I would spend six months on the Cape, a month in Boston, a month in NYC, a month traveling, and the winter in Florida. But alas, for now it is three months on the Cape, a few weeks in Florida, day trips to Boston, weekends in NYC every 5-6 weeks, and one or two weeks of travel some other place. The other 8-9 months we are here in Springfield. Not that I can complain. But I would not miss Springfield itself for a minute.

laura k said...

Spending any amount of time in a second home in a beautiful place sounds heavenly. Meaning the Cape, not Florida. (Why do people go to Florida? There are many other warm places.)

I enjoy cooking, but have no interest in learning how to prepare time-consuming or complex dishes that I enjoy when we're out. I'm willing to do 30-45 minutes of preparation, but I expect several meals out of that.

Now I have to stop thinking of sushi!

Amy said...

Why Florida? I once swore I would NEVER go to Florida, but here I am, going to Florida. Why? Several reasons. It is much easier to get there than the Caribbean and there is better access to medical care (something that people worry about as they age). We have many friends and relatives who are there, and if we are going to make an extended stay somewhere, we want to have people to network and socialize with. We want to be near the beach (so AZ would not work). We want to be in the same timezone and not so far away (thus CA would not work). Flying to FL is relatively cheap and a relatively short flight without any layovers. It's not as exotic or warm or beautiful as places we've been in the Caribbean, but everything in life is a compromise. So Florida has become our winter escape and where at some point we will spend much of the winter.

laura k said...

Many good reasons! (And AZ is worse! Yuck!)

Jay Farquharson said...

Sorry for the late response Adam,

The rate of decay in the Rainforest, is limited by the depth of topsoil, natural resins in the woods, and a bunch of other factors.

A “messy” forest floor is natural. It can take 300+ years to consume a fallen tree. The soil is shallow, and below the canopy, the biodiversity is “thin”. Slash is marked by cutmarks, and with the Colonial ban on Indigenous First Nations forest management practices, the fuel load has magnified.


Not the best link.

When Europeans landed in North America, they lauded “the wilderness”.

In reality, it was the most managed ecosystem in the world, 60, 80’million people, larger than Europe at the time. It just wasn’t plowerd farms, but instead, permaculture mixed with limited farming.

laura k said...

When Europeans landed in North America, they lauded “the wilderness”.

In reality, it was the most managed ecosystem in the world, 60, 80’million people, larger than Europe at the time. It just wasn’t plowerd farms, but instead, permaculture mixed with limited farming.

I've been reading about this in several different contexts. There's this persistent belief that indigenous people just used the world around them as they found it, without altering or adapting their environment at all -- because, of course, they were primitive, lacking the intelligence and skills to do otherwise.

We might understand why the earliest European settlers thought this, but because of our societal lack of appreciation and understanding of ancient/original cultures, this perspective is still prevalent, maybe dominant.

I am always so in awe of what indigenous and ancient cultures created.

Stay tuned for a "what i'm reading" post that touches on this. :)

[PS Jay: I think you meant Allan, and I don't think he was specifically asking you, just wondering. Thanks for the info tho. :) ]