A Short Day on the Trail

A Romance With Nature

British Columbia’s rain forest is a spectacular remote paradise filled with astonishing sights & wildlife. Our biodiversity is so great one never knows what amazing things await… just over a hill, around a bend, behind a log, or hidden in a rocky hollow. Wonders abound.

In fact, British Columbia has more wildlife diversity than any other Canadian province; over 150 species of mammals, 500 bird species at one time or another, not including fish & reptiles. Amazing elusive wildlife to the casual observer.

Leave pavement behind and Nature miraculously appears… everywhere to the fortunate, affording many reasons to put on wool socks & hiking boots. Perhaps a Pine Marten, a Black Tailed Deer, a Barred Owl… So many possibilities fill our imaginations as Rosie, Chris, and I ready a daypack for a days adventure. So it has been since my life began.

And on this this beautiful crisp Spring North Vancouver Island morning we entered a nameless trail with anticipation, our steps cushioned by generations of brown shedded fir needles. A morning dew gave vibrance to a carpet of newly risen Lilies and Deer Foot flora… in a day or two ground flowers will spring up everywhere. Our shoulders sided by a variety of small conifer trees… mostly Western Hemlock and Red Cedar, truly an awe inspiring envelope of wilderness habitat & lore. Deep in the forest heart a natural rhythm beats, palpable and soothing. A story can be found behind every bush, every tree, and every rock formation.

A Pine Marten Peaks Over a Moss Covered Log

The trail holds many inquisitive secrets easily missed, like the Pine Marten; a weasel like animal with a bushy tail and blond uniquely shaped bib. The size of a small cat, don’t let the adorable looks fool you, these opportunistic omnivores are fierce assassins of mice, birds, squirrels.

A Hidden Meandering Watershed Brook

We moved forward through spectacular vegetation highlighted by shards of sunlight spotlighting points of interest…. Interesting and colourful fungi, enabling composters of the forest. Tiny Wrens, Varied Thrushes, Robins, Owls and much more have returned from their wintering grounds.

Yellow Jelly Cone Fungi

For much of the wild kingdom March and April months are the annual nesting and birthing times. As such we are greeted near and far by incredible singing of songbirds… The tiny Wren’s song is enormously musical and loud for such a small body.

A Tiny Vocal Forest Wren on a Budding Salmon Berry Bush

Then a flash of brown as a chattering Red Squirrel expresses annoyance at our intrusion. We must be close to a den, usually in a tree hollow, carefully lined with natural vegetation softness. On Vancouver Island, unlike the colder BC Interior, they will occasionally have two sets of offspring of 3 to 6 “kittens”, one in the Spring and one mid summer.

A Cheeky Red Squirrel

We move deeper into the forest accompanied by the relaxing harmony of a hidden & nurturing brook meandering its way through vibrant green undergrowth of renewing microcosms… lichen, lilies, Sword & Bracken ferns; an outstanding purity of natural uncultivated beauty found only in Nature’s garden. A garden where a host of sentinels quietly watch from secluded vantage points such the fabulous Barred Owl we happened upon. These incredibly silent flyers first are relatively new to many areas of British Columbia, especially Vancouver Island, and seem to be expanding their range. First documented sightings were eight decades ago in the North Central Interior, around the time I was born….

A Barred Owl, the Silent Sentinel of the Forest

The forest is a perpetual story of ever-changing life cycles of interdependent ecosystems, decaying vegetation, new growth, windfalls, budding Salmon Berry bushes, fern fiddleheads… Spring foliage readying for summer brilliance to become a foraging haven and hide-a-way for the Wild Kingdom…. preparing for the Fall and Winter activities. And ohhhh, the aroma of absolute fresh air!

As we near our turn back point imagine the exhilarating feelings breaking out from under a shadowed forest canopy into an open sky… to behold the shear magnificence of a small corner of an unnamed lake’s sparkling vibrance hiding a huge pair of nesting Canada Geese! These may be “Giants”, the largest of the seven subspecies of Canada Geese weighing 5 to 8 kgs. Seemingly oblivious to our presence their rich beauty mirrored in water’s silvered surface, far from the cares that are. One word comes to mind.. Breathtaking!

Two of the Larger of the Seven Subspecies of Canada Geese.

Then we carefully edged along lakeside bog moss until the full magnificence of the water course came into view! No roads, no boat launches. Just a hidden nameless paradise like many others in the wild kingdom… containing nesting water fowl, and trout swirling on the surface. Such water courses are true jewels of British Columbia’s Wild Kingdom.

Fishing gear still packed without use, Rosie, Chris, and I silently stole away taking with us fabulous memories, leaving the lake in peace as we had found it…undisturbed, except for our footprints.

Truly a day well spent.

Safe Travels … Gord Patterson

© 2022 Photos Christine & Gordon Patterson