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). 


Marie said...

That looks like a challenging hike, a person would sure have to watch not to slip on the moss. Love the area tho and the ferns and moss look wonderful, I miss them here. Great pictures once again, seems like the new camera should be a keeper!

Anonymous said...

That was beautiful. How long was the hike?

Jean said...

The loop is 5.8 km, plus we did a little bit on the other side of the road (near the ball fields), so 6 km total. Because we took frequent stops for photography and also had a picnic lunch, it took us about 3.5 hours, but it could be done in far less time than that!