Friday, January 15, 2016

Trail to Serendip

If I'd been paying attention, I never would have found it. I daydreamed myself into the wrong lane, got hemmed in by trucks, and was forced to turn right down a side street that, two blocks later, dead-ended at the river bank.

Campbell River, looking down towards the estuary.

I parked and went to look at the river. On my left, a wood fence shut off the view and access to the bank. On the right, blackberry canes and other weedy shrubs made another wall of sorts. But while I watched the river, a woman with a hiking stick and a backpack came along behind me and turned into a narrow gap in that wall. I followed her.

There was a path, narrow and muddy, hemmed in by weeds, but after a short walk, it broke through into an open space. There were benches, and a sign.

Myrt Thompson Trail. Home Depot off to the right.

The trail itself hadn't been improved; it remained narrow, half gravel, half mud, carved out only by foot traffic. I went on; the trail had to lead somewhere.

It follows the river bank, heading downstream, towards the estuary, an area that I had often looked at from Tyee Spit, but never found any way to get there. Now, in mid-winter, the vegetation is mainly weedy grass and, along the bank, alders and evergreens. Someone has planted a few new evergreens alongside the path; they look like they're struggling through their first winter.

The trail goes on and on, past old parking lots, (Where did those come from? Where is the access? Not on Google maps, for sure.) across a narrow wood bridge, onto a long spit barely a dozen metres across, with the trail down the centre. I met a few people; crossing a bridge, I had to press up tight against the side to allow them to pass.

Eagle landing. I think that's a crow on the tip of the tree on the right.

Red and yellow branches beside a bridge. Waiting for spring.

A narrow spit with a flock of sleeping mallards.

Nearer the river mouth, the water breaks up into a maze of back-channels, pools, and bays; mini-islands dot the area. In the main channel of the river, the current is strong, but here, the water lies quiet. Ducks dabble in the shallows or sleep in the sunshine. Overhead, high in the trees, eagles squeak, their calls sounding more like reluctant doors than like bird song. In the distance, I saw an osprey.

With the sun behind a hill, looking towards the town behind yet another islet. It's cold, and each house sends up its plume of smoke; I can smell wood burning, even from here.

After a time, the trail ends in a wood observation platform, looking across the estuary to Tyee Spit and the ocean beyond. But no, the trail hasn't ended, except in the planners' minds; the footpath takes off to the right, through a stand of alder, down a spit as narrow as the mallards' bedroom, to the very tip.

The river opens into the sea. Tyee Spit lies directly ahead, with the airplane hangars and offices on the right. On the left, industry on the far bank of the river.

I turned and went back. I still had errands to run before dark.

Moss between the path and the river, with afternoon shadows.

Near the beginning of the trail, an explanatory sign has been erected. Now, muddy and scratched, it is difficult to read. I took a photo and cleaned it up enough to decipher the information.

Part of the sign.

It tells of the restoration of Baikie Island, which had been an industrial site until recently; the area around it is still full of machinery and noise. At home, I looked it up on the web; it's not marked on Google maps; on the map version, not even the access road to Baikie Island is included. But I found some information on the Campbell River Parks site.

Baikie Island is the bit of land I had been watching across the river from the path I was on. I had poked around that area, and found no access to the shore, but it must be there, though there are no signs that I could find. (Like the unmarked Myrt Thompson Trail that I was on.)

Google maps. The Campbell River estuary. I have marked the MT Trail in red. It's a little over 1 km long. Baikie Island is the leaf-shaped land mass in the bay to the left.

The next day that the weather permits, I'll head over there and find the entrance.

A pair of eagles on a tree on Baikie Island.


  1. Interesting to go exploring around your new home and find new corners!

  2. I love it when I stumble across an area I want to come back to over and over again.

  3. Keep your eyes on that mossy spot around April

  4. Upupaepops, Oh, I will, for sure! Spring is going to be glorious out there!


If your comment is on a post older than a week, it will be held for moderation. Sorry about that, but spammers seem to love old posts!

Also, I have word verification on, because I found out that not only do I get spam without it, but it gets passed on to anyone commenting in that thread. Not cool!