Sunday, March 4, 2012

Adventure Number Nine: The Enchanted Forest

Raring to go
Natalie said to me last week" Daddy, why don't we go to the Wacky Woods for one of our adventures?" What a great idea. This was another fantastic spot in the Comox Valley that I did not think about when we made our initial list. I had only visited this magical place once before, in high school, with one of my chums who lived on Ships Point. Having Natalie suggest places to visit helps her feel involved and more inclined to have fun, and did she ever. We were joined by her friend Hanna again, as well as my girlfriend Sheena.

Practicing duck walking
Rain was falling as we drove through Union Bay, heading south on Highway 19. Luckily we all had rain jackets because we didn't know what we would be getting into with this late winter/early spring season. Last week the surrounding areas had warm sunny weather on the weekend, only to have a late snow fall on Tuesday. This is such an unpredictable time of year. The trail head and parking lot to access the Enchanted Forest is approximately one kilometer past the Fanny Bay Inn, and it is on the left hand side travelling south. You can't miss the large pull off and large yellow gate.

The grand entrance
The trail, as well as accessing the Enchanted Forest, also is inside the Fanny Bay Conservation Area. This 160 hectare area protects the Cowie (Cougar) Creek estuary and tidal mud flats. This is an important area for waterfowl, song birds, and the inter-tidal species. The trail is lined with Red Alder, Big Leaf Maple, Red Cedar, Douglas Fir and Sitka Spruce, along with Snow Berry, Salmon Berry and Sword Fern. It is well compacted with a few muddy, wet areas. Gum boots or water proof shoes are recommended.

"What does this mean?"
Only about 500 meters along the trail one will spot a small wooden bridge and a sign that reads, "Enter at your own Peril". This is the first access point to the Enchanted Forest. We used this route, but would recommend taking the next one a little further along the main trail. This first access is very muddy, most likely all year aside from the summer months. Immediately you will begin to see sculptures in and around the trees. Painted rocks abound, as do cedar books wedged into holes carved into Red Cedar trees. Carved faces, a hinged door on a cedar stump, a spike in a stone, old tools and machinery, bicycle parts, mirrors on root wads, and carved fish floating "dead" on a small pool of water.

Well said Mr Sawchuck
George Sawchuck was a sculptor who over 30 plus years slowly etched out this wonderful place of art, reflection, contemplation, confusion and awe.(To read more about Mr. Sawchuck, please click this link) I am not going to try to pretend to be any kind of art admirer or critic. I will say that this is the kind of art that is enjoyable in my eye. Most of the pieces have ties to the forest. Cedar is used in most sculptures and mother nature will slowly reclaim this gallery and it will change every year, every season. Unfortunately George passed away this winter, so the Enchanted Forest will not be changed by the artists hand, but nature will take over for him.
Pretty girls
Natalie and Hanna ran around, giggling and pulling books out of the trees. It is a gallery that encourages participation from its attendees. Some sculptures seemed silly to them were something that Sheena and I stopped and had to think about what he was trying to convey. I had no idea the George had such strong environmental background and I gathered he did not believe in capitalism and was dead set against the proposed coal mine behind Fanny Bay. The books and signs contained beautifully written prose by George and other philosophers and writers. The message was clear, life a full life, look after the planet and try not to follow the masses. I found these writings inspirational and I must return without children to really get deep into these words.

Two of my favorites
I encourage everyone to visit this wonderful place at some point. It is very fun for children and adults alike. We all enjoyed it for different reasons of our own. So find inspiration and adventure and visit the Enchanted Forest.

Peek a boo

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