Friday, December 28, 2012

Adventure 50- Union Bay Coal Hills

Nice and calm
As much as the snow has been quite nice this holiday season so far, there is something about getting out and visiting somewhere that had little snow, see some greens and browns again, and get close to the ocean. It is amazing how quickly ones eyes get accustomed to all the whiteness and the relief that comes with seeing the colors that are more normal for our climate. As the day matured today the brisk of morning revealed a warmth as bright sun glistening off the snow, bringing a heat that can only be appreciated after two weeks of coastal December.
Barely hanging on
The original plan for the day was to participate in an "everyone welcome" skate in Courtenay at the Comox Valley Sports Center, the same place that we watched the Glacier Kings game. With the need for Vitamin D high on the priority list for these shortest days, itinerary changes rapidly with the weather. I wanted to see the ocean and the sun, to get a little exercise for Natalie and Marshall, also to just get out of the house. I can easily occupy myself in the kitchen all day, and leave Natalie for her own devices, which often includes her ipod, and you tube. Now that she has received her own knives and cutting board as a Christmas gift from me, maybe she will encourage her inclusion with more regularity and pass on some hard won knowledge.
Happy beast!
After bouncing around a few ideas, the Union Bay Coal Hills were the destination of choice. It was sure to be sunny and quiet, and located on Baynes Sound, with its mix of sea birds, driftwood and related treasures. I invited my dad along with us, as Poppa used to walk these shores daily, even after moving to Cumberland. We drove down to the Bay, observing the gradual lessening of snow as we descended the hill. How beautiful  for the eyes to see the greens, yellows, and browns of winter, mixed with small protected patches of white snow.
Waiting to Superman jump
The parking area had several vehicles in it already as folks were out enjoying the day. Unfortunately the skies were not as clear as anticipated, low cloud cover blocking out some of those so crucial rays. Cumberland must be above the clouds, and now we were underneath. It was still wonderful out, slightly cool, calm and still. Cormorants, surf scooters, various sea gulls and ducks rafted or soared over head looking for security and a meal. We walked the shore close to the quickly receding bank, that is being rapidly being eroded by winter storms. Every time I visit the road that we used to drive in my youth is getting narrower, and soon will probably not be passable without some major bush whacking. Marshall bounded about like he does,  looking with madness for a stick and someone to toss it for him. Without hesitation he was in the salt-chuck, swimming, not care one for the temperature of the water, and ready to have it launched away again. Natalie investigated some tree roots exposed by the erosion, a small cave appearing in the bank.
"So thirsty"
We crossed onto the inland area and over the top of the mound that gave this place its recognized name. I explained to Natalie how different the place is from how I remember it as a child. More and more trees are popping up constantly, Mother Nature trying to re-claim this place that was a waste dumping ground for decades during the coal mining hey days of the Comox Valley. This horrible pollution is being swept away at a steady, uncontrolled rate, coating the floor of Baynes Sound and potentially destroying natural sea floor habitat. This is the results of a mining operation not looking after its due diligence and cleaning up after it is finished operation. Lets not see this happen again in our area.
This one didn't make it
We brought Marshall over to Hart (Washer) Creek to play a little bit and wash off the salt water. He leapt in once, struggling hard in the current, and was successful in getting himself out. I thought that I was going to have to lend a hand to pull him out. Natalie decided at one point she was absolutly thirsty and needed a drink. So I encouraged her to grab a sip from the creek. She managed without a problem and didn't get wet. Nice job! It would be a cold slip if that happened.
Weird reaction to a Doug fir cone
Visiting places that meant so much to me as a youth with Natalie has been so special over this year of us doing adventures. The Coal Hills were very much an everyday part of my life. We could see them from my house, we swam and fished there in the summer, hiked with various dogs and rode our bikes. Multi generations of my family spent time on the Coal Hills and it is seated deep in my being. Find Adventure.
Pretty mushroom

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