|Holland Creek Trail|
Today, my friend Sally and I headed to the Holland Creek trail in Ladysmith. I've never hiked the large network of trails in that area, partly because my books and pamphlets and internet searches gave mixed reviews re the level of difficulty and clarity of signage. Holland Creek Trail is a loop trail (with connections to other trails to Heart Lake and Stocking Lake), which takes the hiker along a trail high above the creek on the south side, and closer to the creek on the other. Trouble is, the south side is labelled as 'mild' and the north side is "difficult". I can do mild, and usually can do moderate (depending on who came up with the rating system!), but difficult is beyond my capabilities.
However, we decided we would go up the south side and then return the same way instead of doing a loop. And so we did. The south side trail was well maintained, easy walking, and well marked - not just with directions at all access points and trail intersections, but also with safety notices like the one that greeted us at the parking lot:
We read it carefully, noting that we were within the time frame when bears were most likely to be present.
We didn't see any. We did see a number of dogs and their people, and a few birds, but no other wildlife.
We also saw lots of lovely scenes, from the forested trail ahead to the splashing water below:
Along the way we saw a few weirs, which I think are part of the Colliery Dam system - weirs were constructed in creek beds in the early 1900s to collect water to wash coal at Transfer Beach at the bottom of Ladysmith, a town built on steep hills.
There were other points of interest on our hike too. I almost missed this carved rock (reminiscent of the carved fish rock and carved face rock found in Crofton) - in fact, I walked right passed it and Sally called me back. It was a Buddha rock - beautifully carved though in need of a good cleaning to really bring out it's intricacies. The face was quite clear, but the wonderfully detailed feet, one toes up and the other toes down, was more difficult to photograph. But it did make us smile, and of course wonder who the artist was.
We took one side trip, up (and I mean UP) a trail to a lookout. The trail was shown as 'moderate' which was pretty accurate, though parts were getting washed out by recent rains making footing a bit more precarious and leaving me thankful I'd brought my walking pole. The twenty minutes or so it took us to reach the top was well worth the climb.
Returning to the main trail we went just a bit further on to where we could either go to Heart Lake (which included a steep and difficult section) , catch the (difficult) north side of the Holland Creek loop, or turn around. We turned around. At the Metheun St access point, we checked out a covered shelter with many information boards about the flora and fauna of the area:
Before leaving Ladysmith, we stopped at City Hall to pick up an up-to-date brochure on the trail systems. Looking at it, we realized we can access Stocking Lake, and do a loop around it, on trails all marked mild except one very short moderate section. It's a much longer hike though, so we need to save that for a full day's adventure with lots of daylight.