Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Your pick of trails

Hoomak Lake is half-way up the north end of Vancouver Island. There's a rest area beside the highway there, with picnic tables and maps and clean rest rooms. It's a good place to take a break, on a long, mostly empty highway. From the parking lot, the lake is just visible through the trees. I had found a sort of trail, steep and sllppery, down from there to the lake side on previous stops.

This time, I noticed a trailhead sign half hidden behind the restrooms. With stairs down to the lake. Nice! I went on down.

View of Hoomak Lake from the steps.

And from the landing.

From there a trail, wide and well travelled, leads off towards the upper end of the lake. I can't resist a good trail.

Looking back from above the trail.

In the year 2000 (I discovered from a sign up top later on) the trail had been improved with interpretive signs. They're old now, some badly spotted and smudged, but still legible, although some now point to trees or stumps ("just in front of you," they say) that are no longer here.

"Old Railroad Grade"

Legend: Old Railroad Grade.
You are now standing on an old railroad grade that was used for log hauling for about 22 years. Originally constructed here in 1955, this branch line ran from Woss Camp to Croman Reload, about 5 km west of here.
Croman Reload was one of several locations in the Nimpkish Valley where loads of logs were transferred from truck to railcar. Croman Reload became inactive in 1980 and this connecting rail line was taken out.
At one time, steam locomotives chugged along the rails, pulling their log loads right where you are now standing. More recently, diesel-electric locomotives hauled logs here. Canadian Forest  Products. Ltd. still uses these today in the Nimpkish Valley.

After a short walk, made longer by stopping to read the signs (more on this later), I came upon a new sign, still white and clean.

Long trail, short trail, and just plain trail. Take your pick.

I took the short trail. There was no way of knowing how long that long trail would be.

The short trail turned and went back up the bank, turned again to return to the parking lot. After a bit, I found another sign:

Long trail, short trail again. I took the short one.

Up top, I found a map of these trails.

So the long trail is fairly short, too. Next time, I'll take that one.

One more sign, for those who see water and think "Fish!":

Good Fishing

Legend: If you look across Hoomak Lake from here, the distance is about 700 m to the other shore. Hoomak's length is about 1800 m. Hoomak Lake offers good fishing and canoeing opportunities. It was stocked with10,000 cutthroat trout between 1984 and 1991 to supplement its natural trout population.
Look for a variety of birds on the lake, including ducks and Trumpeter Swans (in the late fall and winter months). Along the shoreline, watch for birds such as sparrows, juncos, wrens and warblers, plus woodpeckers in the older trees.

What I learned from the rest of the signs, next.

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