Saturday, February 13, 2016

It's all about Love!

Tuesday was a sunny spring day, so I took the opportunity to take some more photos of our friends at RASTA.  They were quite chatty.  But then they decided to take over the blog....

Why is that volunteer pointing her camera at us again?

We dunno - maybe because we are so adorable?

I hear it's because she has a blog 
and wants to share us with the world.  

Is that true, camera person?
[Me:  Well, sort of.  I want everyone to fall in love with you this Valentine's Day]

Well wait a sec, then.  I'm not quite ready....

Here's my coy look.

Hold on, hold on!
I haven't finished my bath yet!

I'd make a fine Valentine.
I won't even mind if your room is a pig sty! 

The ladies all love me -
I'm no male chauvinist pig!

 "Give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above...
Don't fence me in!

Can I be Valentines with my ball?
I love my ball! 

Duck, are you ready yet?
She's waiting for you.
I do wish they'd give us advance notice of these photo shoots.

I hope she'll remove this straw from my eye.
I'm too tired to move.

Thank you, camera lady.
Nice photoshop. 

Hey blog reader! Yes, you...
will YOU be my Valentine?
Psst...I think it's me they want.

I'd make a great Valentine!
I just hope the camera person  doesn't add any silly captions - 
we have feelings too, y'know.

Cool it, guys!
This is serious business. 
The world is watching!

How about YOU?
Will you be our Valentine?
Just click on over to the RASTA website and make a donation.
And if you sponsor us, we'll be your Valentines forever!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Holland Creek Loop Hike

Along the Holland Creek Trail

On Monday, Sally and I decided to hike the Holland Creek Loop in Ladysmith, about half way between Crofton and Nanaimo.  Before Christmas, we had hiked one side of the loop, which was designated 'easy' on our trail map.  That day, we had also taken a side trail out to a lookout point.  But due to time constraints and uncertainty about the ranking of 'difficult' for the west side of the loop, we had headed back the way we came. You'll find the description of that hike here.

This week, with perfect spring weather and no time restrictions except for sundown, we decided to go for it - to do the full loop.  We started with the 'difficult' side, reasoning that our energy at the start of the hike was good, and we knew just how long and how easy the return side would be. It was, I think, a wise decision. However, this overweight, out-of-shape senior was pleasantly surprised to find that the trail rating system must have been done with the novice hiker in mind, rather than the experienced twenty- or thirty-something jock.  While there were numerous stairs and hills on the 3 km trek up, none were so long or difficult as to become tedious, and there were lots of interesting things to see along the way.

Stairs and hills, but nothing unmanageable

The trail goes through rain-forest landscapes of heavy moss-covered rocks and logs and trees.  The moss and ferns and fungus everywhere was truly beautiful:

Ferns and moss atop rotted fallen trees

The fungus on the end of this log
made a beautiful design

Even the rocks were completely blanketed with mosses

This gnarled old stump at the edge of the creek
made me think of sea monsters and haunted forests in childhood books.

This 'chain' of little fungi along the side
of a dead tree had a unique beauty.

But I think this photo of a larger fungus under swordfern that hung over the sides of a rotted stump is perhaps one of my favourites of the hike:

Fungus under Fern

About three quarters of the way up the first side of the loop, we came to Crystal Falls, which is not visible from the side we'd done previously.  The photo doesn't do it justice - I couldn't get a good shot without risking life and limb on wet mossy ground.  The water fall was quite tall, culminating in a large multicoloured whirling vortex in which a small log swam around and around.

Crystal Falls

There were many beautiful spots to enjoy the creek - from lookouts above it, to places where one could scramble down a short trail, to spots where the trail ran right alongside the creek.

Sometimes narrow....

Sometimes wide....

And sometimes tumbling over human-made weirs. 

The trail, too, varied in width and roughness, as well as incline and elevation:

A narrow part of the trail....

leads to a higher elevation  amidst tall trees.

Coming back on the easier side of the loop, the sun was lower in the sky and illuminated the creek beautifully:

To my delight, a chance glance across the creek to a darker spot in the woods revealed a magical scene, in which the sun caught just the protruding edge of the moss along the tree trunks that quickly became mere silhouettes:
Shimmer of sunlight on moss-covered trees

The last of the sun backlights the now-silhouetted trees.

It was a great day for a hike, and a perfect choice for the day.

(Oh, and these photos were all taken with the new point-and-swear camera.  I'm still swearing at it, but I'm thinking I just might keep it.  When I get it right, I like the quality of the image). 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Spring has sprung!

Spring has Sprung!
Note how the crocus on the left has pushed its way
through the dried out maple leaf.  

One of the things I love most about island life is the early arrival of spring.  When I taught on the mainland, I used to visit the island every February midterm break just to see all the flowers in bloom in Victoria.  After all,  where else in Canada would they hold an annual flower count on the first weekend of March?

So around the first of February, I impatiently begin looking for signs of spring.  The snowdrops have been around for awhile - indeed, there were some bobbing their little white heads back in December.  And for the past week or so I've noticed  green buds swelling and catkins dropping and birds beginning their nesting and mating rituals.  But I didn't see any crocuses - the true harbingers of spring.

Until today.  Today, the sun shone and the air warmed, and and all of a sudden there were flowers popping out everywhere.  I even saw camellias in bloom on a neighbour's bush, and rhodos flowering outside my friend's apartment.  I hear rumors the pink cherry blossoms are popping out in Victoria.  And I went for a nice long hike around the Holland Creek Loop in Ladysmith, just north of here, and found snowdrops and crocuses and even the first of the violets along the wooded trails.

I'll blog about the hike itself in a couple of days and post photos of the scenery, but for all my friends who are shoveling snow, here's a few photos to put a 'spring' in your step.  Please don't hate me.



Emerging violets
It's not quite warm enough for them to hold their heads up yet -
sort of like me before that  first cup of coffee in the morning.

Crocus and snowdrops and old maple leaves

Crocuses fully opened

Crocuses reaching for the sun

Friday, February 5, 2016