Sunday, February 14, 2016

Round the rugged rocks ...

On the northern half of Vancouver Island, we humans are anomalies, oddities. We don't fit in; the land belongs to the trees and the rocks, the bears and deer. We struggle to make spaces to suit our most minimal needs, but they are isolated specks and threads on the terrain, nibbles on the edges, mostly. And the edges are rugged and forbidding; they don't willingly make room for us.

I stopped at three isolated settlements last Monday and looked at those edges.

The first was Brown's Bay, just a few kilometres north of Campbell River, relatively easy to access at the end of a mere 5 km. of slippery, potholed gravel. There's a small fish packing operation and an RV park with 50 slots, empty now in the winter. And there's even a strip of gravelly beach.

I saw five people, two of them visitors like me, but I had passed another half dozen trucks on the road. There's work to be done, getting ready for summer RVers.

Brown's Bay, from the RV Park. There are two houses or cabins on the cliff ahead.

The harbour, protected by a breakwater constructed of old, rusty tanks and stacks of tires.

A few steps beyond the RV park, the coast reverts to normal.

Even in the open, not an easy scramble.

On an outcropping of rock, mosses, lichens, tiny pink and green stonecrop, and a hopeful weed.

I returned to the highway and headed north again, past Lake Roberts and on to the turnoff to Rock Bay. This was a difficult road, gravel rutted and torn by logging trucks. It was only 17 kilometers from the highway to Little Bear Bay, but towards the end I was despairing of ever getting there; some of the holes would have disabled my car if I hadn't been barely crawling along.

At the bottom of a steep hill, I came to a parking spot and a couple of picnic tables at the mouth of the Little Bear river. A few people were gathered around one of the tables. There was nothing else; nobody lives there. Beyond the next hill, on Google later, I found a cleared spot with a couple of buildings, a dock, and rows of tanks. A fueling station for logging trucks or boats, maybe?

Little Bear River mouth.

Back to the car, up the hill again, down the next to come out at Rock Bay. There's an RV park here, too, but nothing else. The park itself was under wraps; tarps tied around log piles, bits of equipment. There were no people. The water was lying quiet; the only sound was the eternal whisper of evergreens, and sometimes my own footsteps.

Here, the dock and breakwater is made up of odds and ends, leftovers. Old metal grids laid across barrels and plastic crates, fenced in spots with rickety rails tied together by ropes.  The dock is wooden planks cushioned with tires and old canvas. There were no boats.

(UPDATE) On Google maps, I drew a line down this pier, to the white peaks on the mainland. There are too many to decide which ones these are, but there's a mountain over there named "Interesting Mountain." Interesting.

At the end of the clearing, the trees close in again, clothing the land down to the high tide level.

While I was taking photographs of lichen, I heard the rumble of motors. A minute later, a group of men on muddy quads rolled in and parked. They told me they had come from Campbell River, too, and were planning to ride on, another 20 kilometres or so, to Chatham Point. Was that where I was headed?

No. Not today, thanks. I wasn't brave enough to handle any more. But at home, I Googled it, and was sorry I'd turned back. The road ends at Rock Bay Marine Provincial Park. On Google, I saw 6 red roofs and a small dock. And ...

Wildlife viewing ... This park protects marine ecosystems. (BCParks)

So I must go back. At low tide.

(I tagged this post, "New coastline project". Because, years ago, Laurie and I attempted to walk all around the coastline of Surrey and Delta; our "Coastline Project". We made it, except for a few spots. I won't be able to walk this coastline, at least to the north, but at least I can visit the access points.)


  1. Well, all I can think of to say is a very boring and conventional and hackneyed but none the less accurate 'Wow!'

    Esther Mongtomery

  2. ah this environment looks like it might favor calypso orchids in early April

  3. My friends have invited me on their fishing trips up to Brown's Bay, but I've never been able to go. Looks like I missed out on more than just the fishing.

  4. Sounds like an admirable project to undertake. - Margy


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