Around Aston Pond

Two weekends ago my brother-in-law J. and I hiked out to Panther Lake to see if we could scout out a route back to the Cruikshank Canyon lookout trail and Lake Beautiful. After bushwhacking our way to a lunch spot on the east side of the lake and a relaxing lunch being harassed by gray jays, we reassessed the terrain …

Historic McLean Steam Mill

If you’re looking for a fun way to travel back in time you’ve only got a couple more weeks to take the old Alberni Pacific Steam Railway up to the McLean Steam Sawmill. It’s a great way to experience old time logging and get an idea of how the forests of Vancouver Island were logged and lumber milled just over …

Glacier Lilies on Mount Arrowsmith

Mount Arrowsmith has long been on my list of Vancouver Island mountains to climb—not so much for the views from the top, but more for the extremely interesting plant communities that you hike through on the way up. The day didn’t begin with Mount Arrowsmith as the primary destination. Originally, Sandy McRuer (Rainbird Excursions) had Mount Moriarty in mind, but …

Paradise Meadows Perambulation

Jocie and I had a “kid-free day” today and made the most of it by heading up to Paradise Meadows in Strathcona Provincial Park. The weather on Vancouver Island has been hot and clear for over a week and last winter’s snow is gone in the lower meadows, although patches remain in the shady section of the Lake Helen Mackenzie …

Vancouver Groundcone at Little Qualicum Falls

Don’t let the “little” part of the name of Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park fool you—these waterfalls are definitely a worthy of a stop on the way out to the West Coast of Vancouver Island or as an easy day trip from Courtenay or Nanaimo. In addition to the dramatic falls, the narrow canyons also make for good photography. And if …

Surreal Somass Estuary

The forecast was pretty good and I decided to check out an area that I haven’t birded before: the Somass Estuary in Port Alberni, on Vancouver Island. Sandy McRuer of Rainbird Excursions wrote up a post describing the estuary and how to get there and I figured that it might be good for some winter birding. Sandy’s directions to get …

Pipers Lagoon Park

I was in Nanaimo this Friday and decided to take the “scenic route” through the suburbs along Hammond Bay Road when heading back up-Island. This area of Nanaimo is heavily developed, but fortunately there is a small city park that makes the drive worthwhile. Pipers Lagoon Park is about 8 hectares in size and includes some wonderful Garry Oak (Quercus …

Searching for Salmon

If you want to experience the awe inspiring spectacle of a salmon run, consider making a trip up to the hatchery on the Big Qualicum River in the next week or so. I headed down island and checked out the Big Qualicum River Hatchery and was amazed at the number of Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)  and Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) …

Exploring Enos Lake

After a hot couple of hours on Notch Hill we drove a short distance back along Fairwinds Road to the trail head for Enos Lake. There’s a network of trails around a series of ponds and ultimately Enos Lake itself which makes for easy walking. Enos Lake is home to the endangered Enos Lake Stickleback. We found the trails to …

Notch Hill

Jocie and I had a rare day without the kids and took full advantage of being able to explore an area that we haven’t visited before. After dropping the kids off at day care we packed a couple of water bottles, some lunch and headed south towards Nanoose Bay. The weather was definitely iffy and we thought that perhaps we …