Sunday, 17 October 2010

Second Nanaimo Lake

Trip Date: October 17, 2010

Off road vehicles, 2 of them customized 4Runners, with chopped beds, external cages, and large tires, in a line as a local explains to them that the gate has just been closed. Disappointment and anger on the young men's faces. I wonder, "where will they go now?"

We are not headed for points further up the valley -- we are just going to the boat ramp, though the image does give me a twinge of chagrin. All this land owned by a forest company and the public barred from using it much or most of the time. An old deal which has rubbed people wrong year after year. A give away to big business in exchange for a railway that is only lightly used these days.

The boat ramp has a number of vehicles parked around it. Guys out on the water fishing. We put in with the sound of retreating 4x4s and paddle out and away, heading down to look at the outflow.

The autumn colors warm the landscape but we can see our breath in the shade.

As we approach the bridge we see the smooth surface tilting into rapids so we turn around.

We head back towards the main lake.

The sun is warm and provides a sense of comfort. Two ultralight planes fly low overhead, heading up the broad valley slowly. The day has the feel of a Sunday, lazy and relaxed.

In the distance we see another canoe. People are out enjoying the air, water, and sunshine.

The bushes along the shore are various shades of burgundy and amethyst. The Ninebark is yellow and orange.

We paddle slowly and take it all in. Further up the lake we coast beside a large wall of stone with large and small trees growing out of cracks. It is too dark in the shade of the hillside to take pictures. I have to just soak it in. I keep looking and looking and can't get enough. At one point a bright yellow clump of Ninebark protrudes out from between a vertical  fissure in the rock face. Paul and I both comment repeatedly on the beauty. We talk about people we know that have a hard time seeing it or valuing it. I think about learning to appreciate abstract art in my first year at University. Removing preconceptions and expectations and just looking at what is before you. Letting the art evoke a feeling.

We round the corner and eat our lunch on a log strewn shore with the sound of water or wind, we never can decide which, coming from the dense forest behind us. Two fly fishermen go by in a skiff. We chat with them and they tell us that the Elk were not on the gravel bar today.

In order to make sure we are out before the gate is closed, we cut our trip short and head back. On another day we will explore the sand bar and maybe see those Elk. Two blue herons fly over us low and close enough to see the feathers moving in their wings.

We stop on the way home and wander into the woods looking for Mushrooms.

There are Chanterelles -- slightly waterlogged and perhaps indicating the peak of the season, and a small patch of Hedgehogs, firm and smelling sweet. These are Hydnum umbilicatum. I have not gathered them before.

The teeth or spines are clearly visible under the magnifying glass when I get home.

There is also a Western Amethyst Laccaria, which I am not as sure about both in the field and when I get home. But when I look in the books I gain confidence. I will do a spore print tonight.  Edibility of this mushroom seem in question but it has a lovely fresh smell.

I also saw but did not gather what I think was a either a Zellers or Admirable Bolete. Being not on wood, but on the side of the road, I lean towards the Zellers.

I have a satisfied sense of gratitude as I put my mushrooms in the fridge at the end of the night. It has been a good day.


  1. It LOOKS and sounds like a perfect day!
    So far...out of all the lakes you have paddled (which I have read on)...this is my favorite!

    Your photos are incredible...the lighting is beautiful.
    Thanks again for sharing your adventures!

  2. Thanks Dawn, your comment is encouraging. I love paddling in Autumn, the palette is to my liking. =)

  3. What Beautiful Photos!

    I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

    God Bless You :-)


  4. Richard - I greatly enjoyed looking through your blog. The canoe images are fantastic, and I particularly enjoyed the photos with directional light and the translucence of the canoe. First rate stuff.

  5. What a great blog and great photos. I look forward to following your blog.

  6. Hi Ron, Hi Brett, Hi Joel,

    Thanks for stopping by and for your kind comments. I appreciate the "follows" and look forward to reading your blogs as well.

    write on,


  7. That is truly frightning to me that companies can own the forest. I constantly read your writing, but this really hit a chord with me. how sad.

    Sounds like time for civil disobendience

  8. Lee,

    I agree with you, it is rather scary, isn't it. You can read some of the details of the story here:

    In 1871 a "land for rail" deal was written into the Terms of Union when BC joined Canada. This deal delivered to Robert Dunsmuir and his business colleagues most of the habitable land on the eastern side of Vancouver Island from Victoria to Campbell River in exchange for a railway over the Malahat and on to Nanaimo.

    Dunsmuir's venture (The Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway Company) didn't even delivery the full rail line, but got the land and a sizable amount of cash anyway. Eventually, after numerous sales the bulk of the remaining land ended up with two forest companies.

    For awhile public was allowed to access the land for recreational activities, but vandalism of forest company equipment and deliberately set fires brought in gates on almost all access roads.

    In the late 90s and early 2000s a gorilla style war ragged between ATV enthusiasts and the forest companies as the ATVers found (or made) alternate routes onto the land.

    4X4 clubs and ATV clubs have, in recent years, made progress in club-sponsored clean ups and informal paroling and citizen watch groups.

    One of the companies, last time I checked, remained stanch in their dawn to dusk policy, only allowing day access to recreational users on a few mains. The other company has traditionally allowed more lenient access, but time will tell how long that will last.

    There seems to be a lot of garbage dumped on these lands and I find this situation disturbing. While mushroom hunting I often see great piles of refuse (old furniture, bags of garbage, clothing and car parts) beside the roads. The companies have put up signs saying "no dumping" and have phone numbers you can call to report if you see violators. I have heard some people say that they think it is alright to dump on forest company land because we got dumped on by them. Of course it was not the existing forest companies who were involved in the original deal, but it shows how long people's memories are.

  9. Great post Richard! I just love the beautiful photos of the lake, it simply is captivating. If I'm not mistaken, these look like great places to catch some trouts and salmon.

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