Hiking Brown Ridge on Saturna Island

The August morning is overcast but looks like it will open up into a brilliant day. We park off to the side and pull out our day packs to hike Brown Ridge. A deer looks up from browsing.

The day is warm but not unreasonably hot. This grassy windswept ridge runs along the southwest of Saturna Island and offers a view of spectacular proportions. It has to be one of my favourite sky-walking trails.

Are you ready? Make sure you have your laces tied up and watch your step.

Ah, look where we have been?

Should we take a short break?

Part of the goat trail is in the trees.

And I do mean goat trail. There are about a hundred feral goats living on the ridge. We didn’t see any but we did smell them every once in awhile. Of course they may have sensed that my hiking partner was armed and kept their distance.

They did leave us a great trail to use though.

I like to look both ways when hiking. It is an old habit from when I was young and hiking in isolated areas. Things always look so different on the way back and if you don’t look as you go it is easier to get lost. However in this setting, the natural markers are so pronounced it is not really a consideration.

The day is calm but these trees must survive hurricane force winds during winter storms.

Some are not so lucky.

Others crouch low after having their tops knocked off.

Today the view hides these hardships.

At least almost… the lean of the staggered fir trees  are ever-present.

We have walked an hour and a half. The trail continues but we know that we have gone far enough for today. It is time for a snack and to make our way back. The return trip goes much quicker as we seldom stop to take photographs. Finally in the shade of the trees again, we take another break.

My hiking partner has not uttered one complaint. In fact, he has lead most of the hike while pointing out interesting discoveries as we go. But now I look over and realize he is one tuckered boy…

We sit a bit longer and I dig through our supplies for some fruit leather while encouraging us both to drink more water. Finally, revived we zip through the last 30 minutes and dig into a stash of chocolate that was left in the truck. Yes! A full 2.5 hours hiking on Brown Ridge. Amazing.

Well are you ready for a nap? Thanks for coming with us. It has been a pleasure to have you along.

Sprout question: What is your favourite sky-walking trail?

© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

FromMayne Island,British Columbia,Canada

Terrill Welch online Gallery at http://terrillwelchartist.com

Enchanted Bouldering Forest

I should have known when I saw the two shamans in full ceremonial garb, who turned away from me as I passed, that something special was going to happen soon. But nothing could have prepared me for the enchanted bouldering forest.

It was the second day of my visit with my daughter Josie, who is due to have her baby at the beginning of March. We had been for a short hour-long hike the day before. This was after we went to her ultrasound appointment and I got to see baby O through the wonders of technology. We didn’t have anything planned for this second day. It was like drawing a free card. We could choose anything we wanted.

After a bit of thought Josie ventured “well, we could go to an enchanted forest where there is a tunnel, and large boulders? I found them once and have been wanting to go back when I had more time.”

How could I resist? She packed up some snacks, grabbed the full first aid kit and water bottles. I stuffed my pockets with some tissues, tied up my hiking boots and picked up my camera. We were off.

Finding the trail head was easy enough and the trail looked well used near the beginning.

Josie tells me that it took her a year-and-a-half and more than three trips using hand-drawn maps acquired from word of mouth to find this bouldering spot. So the specific location of our adventure shall remain classified for the protection of mystery and wonder.

It is not long before we come to what looks suspiciously like a mountain bike jump.

Then the first moss-covered boulders  seem to rise up as if they fell from the sky. Which they probably did.

The rains have been heavy over the winter. Water runs down through the moss and off the bottom of the rocks.

I look back after we have passed. In awe, I pause.

Josie smiles and says “what is next gives me shivers even though it is amazing.”

This is when the strangest thing happened. I took a few photographs and could see orbs in my photographs. The tunnel walls were dripping on the outside. So I thought it might be that. I took a couple more photographs. Still there were these strange glowing blurs in my photographs. Then I looked at my feet. There were clamshells layered in the dirt. I looked in the tunnel. There were old clamshells washed clean by rain dripping through the cracks between the large stones onto the floor of the tunnel. I thought for a moment. We were a good 30 minute hike into the woods from the ocean. Then I said “no wonder you get the shivers, there are spirits here. See these shells. This is an old midden.”

If you look over to the bottom right you will see a faded area. I am pretty certain that a spirit being was sitting there watching our passage as we went further into the forest.

I look back again. It is a habit from years of walking in the woods. If you look back you know what the return trail looks like. It gives a person a chance to create mental markers so you can find your way.

Steps away from the tunnel and it is hidden from view and the curious eye. We walk along for awhile through the trees. Coming to a power line we start to climb in altitude. There are trails leading off in all directions. Josie recounts her directions. The second outcrop or rock bluff we must turn off. Going deep into the woods we climb in and out of a creek bed. The ground is saturated and we must be careful to find firm footing. We keep walking through small openings of gary oaks and back into the big firs and cedars. We are still climbing and going deeper into the forest. We muse about whether the bears are out of their dens yet and could there be a cougar in the area. Coming onto a ridge there is a recent deer carcass almost picked clean. But no sign of anything else.

Finally, we find the first pink ribbons. It is the beginning of the loop trail to the boulders. We keep left. We keep climbing. Slowly. We are both getting tired but we know we are almost there. Then through the trees we spot something. Could it be?

Our first bouldering boulders are in view.

There are more.

And more.

I am not going to show you them all because some of the mystery must be left for each person who comes into an enchanted forest.

We take a break and have a snack while we look around.

I see Josie thinking “I could climb that one.”

I am thinking “Yes, but maybe not today.”

Bouldering is done without ropes and these sandstone rocks must be swept free of moss before climbing.

Safety mats are stuffed away in the rocks along with cleaning brooms.

We do not linger long. It has been two hours and we still need to hike out. We estimate it should take us about an hour.

The trail has had little traffic at this end. At first we can’t find the next pink ribbon to give us direction. We wander back and forth having lost the trail. Neither of us want to back track so we keep looking. Ah, there it is. Though the trail is well ribboned, the deer trails are more prominent. We pay close attention. Finding one ribbon after another we complete the loop. From there the way back is familiar and easier going.

Three hours later in total we are back at the car, a little tired but invigorated by our enchanted bouldering forest adventure.

For a week of doing nothing, I must say, I really did find more time to do what counts.

Sprout question: What did you do that mattered the most this week?

© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada