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Sharon Waugh photo • Qualicum Bay, BC



Comox Valley Seal Haunt Day Trippin’ to Denman Island Look Up...Look Way, Way Up Mining for History Upon the Water Walking with Root Woman All Aboard!

January 2010..............3 February 2010........... 4 March 2010.................5 April 2010................... 6 May 2010....................7 June 2010.................. 9 July 2010....................11

The Beacon Magazine • • (250) 757-9914 Linda Tenney photo • Rosewall Creek, Fanny Bay, BC © The Beacon Magazine • 2010

photo courtesy of Ryan J. Murphy • BY SHARON WAUGH Start/Finish: Seal Bay Park entrance for the Main Beach Trail is accessed from Bates Road, Comox. There are at least thirteen entrances to choose from around the perimeter of the park. Time: It all depends on the trail(s) that you choose – anywhere from 30 minutes to a full day of exploring. Guides: Visit the Regional District of Comox Strathcona website for park and trail maps of Seal Bay Park Directions: Travel to Courtenay, follow the route to the Powell River Ferry via Ryan Road, turn left on Anderton, left on Waveland, and a little jog onto Bates Road.


f you are looking for a large local park to explore with woodland, ravines, swamps and ocean frontage, then the Seal Bay Nature Forest Park is an ideal choice just outside Courtenay and Comox. Within 1,391 acres of second growth, well maintained multi-use recreational trails will entice you back for return visits. Horse loops, bike loops and a wheelchair accessible loop just about covers the gambit of two and four-legged travel. Yes, the park is aptly named as a guaranteed seal haunt. Take the winding Don Apps Trail down to the’s an easy two kilometer stroll down but save a little energy for the cardiac challenge back to the top of the bluff. ~

© The Beacon Magazine • January 2010

Sharon Waugh photos

Day Trippin’ to Denman Island

Fillongley Provincial Park

BY SHARON WAUGH FILLONGLEY PROVINCIAL PARK Start/Finish: Fillongley Provincial Park, Denman Island Distance: 2 kilometres of woodland trail plus beach walking

Boyle Point Provincial Park

Guides: explore/parkpgs/fillongley Directions: Take Denman Island Ferry from Buckley Bay to Denman Island. Follow Denman Road to Swan Road; turn left on Swan, then right on Beadnell Road. BOYLE POINT PROVINCIAL PARK Start/Finish: Boyle Point Provincial Park, Denman Island Distance: 3 kilometres round trip Guides: explore/parkspgs/boyle_pt; Ferry schedules: Directions: Take Denman Island Ferry from Buckley Bay to Denman Island. Follow Denman Road to the Hornby Island Ferry Terminal; turn right and follow East Road to the parking lot.


ay trippin’ to Denman Island at this time of year is far less hectic than mixing and mingling with the flocks of tourists migrating to this delightful island in the summer months. Home to the rich treats of organic chocolate blended at Denman Island Chocolate and the aromatic ovens of the Denman Island Bakery, the $24 price tag on the round-trip ferry ride (vehicle and driver) is well worth the excursion. If weather is not a concern on your day of travel take your bike over instead and complete a circle tour of the southern half of the island on thirty kilometres of paved roads. © The Beacon Magazine • February 2010

The choice to visit two parks, Fillongley and Boyle Point, was made with a few thoughts in mind. One was for economics, if you are taking your car over you might as well see as much as you can before you jump on the return ferry home. The second was for the contrasts in topography, history and wildlife, and the third was to get enough walking kilometres in to warrant calling it a trek! Boyle Point is one of my favourites for the spectacular view of Chrome Island Lighthouse and the background vistas of Vancouver and Hornby Islands, and Eagle Rock. There are some out-of-bounds trails that will take you down to the beach where large conglomerate boulders perch on the shoreline and lie submerged in the sub-tidal zone. In the summer months you can easily access this area by kayak or run-about and the snorkeling is fantastic. I have fond memories of my diving days scavenging the underwater ledges between Chrome Island and Boyle Point, filling goodie bags full of flashers, hoochies and herring hook-ups snagged on the rock croppings, succumbing to greed with the collection of so many

cannonballs that we literally walked on the bottom to get our booty to shore. If you are looking for California and Stellar sealions with the onset of herring season just around the corner this will be the place where you will hear their throaty barking from rookeries on Norse and Heron Rocks, well in advance of spotting one gliding through the water. Fillongley Park, with ten waterside campsites, is the only place to camp on Denman.Trails lead to the large meadow once the homestead of George Beadnell and family in the early 1800’s. The interpretive signs within the park showcase the historical significance and features of this estate which was deeded to the province in 1953, and also bring attention to the current conservation activities on the salmonid habitat of Little George Creek. Denman Island has a rich culture to explore with a treasure map of secluded artist studios and annual events. Keep in mind the Denman Island Pottery Tour in May and visit for updates on current events. ~

BY SHARON WAUGH Start/Finish: cul de sac of Lynx Road, Qualicum Bay. Distance: ~ 1 hour of trekking Directions: travelling from Qualicum Beach towards Bowser on Hwy 19A, turn left on Charleton Drive, the last turn before crossing the Nile Creek bridge. Follow Charleton until the first left, turn left on Lynx Road. Snug your parking on the sides of the cul de sac before the railroad crossing. Create a legacy: join the Lighthouse Country Trail Group by calling Val for more information at 250-7579667 to make a personal investment in maintaining and opening up new local trails. To volunteer in the restoration of Nile Creek salmonid populations call 250-757-8775 or visit “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


e were given the green light to divulge the location of newest piece of trail completed in Lighthouse Country – another link within the existing network of recreation corridors in the 390 hectare ‘Wilson Woodlot’, in Qualicum Bay. This new path winds through an Old Growth Management Reserve within woodlot boundaries following Nile Creek atop its south-east bank. As an Old Growth Management Reserve this area will remain exempt from any future harvest plans and the trails are dedicated permanent recreation features. Local Avatars – come find your home tree! Your adventure begins at the top end of Lynx Road; cross the railroad tracks onto the gravel Nile Creek Forest Service Road, Branch Nile Creek 01. Before turning right onto the narrow, marked trail, take a glance down the road to your left to familiarize yourself with this segment as this will be your final leg on the return of this loop route. The first short piece of trail follows the old railbed of the Thompsen and Clark Timber Company, a thirteen mile logging railway track active in the 1920s, running from Horne Lake to Deep Bay. Within mere minutes a left turn will land you onto the new woodlot link. Meander your way on trails lined with salal (refer to Nancy Whelan’s Thru the Seasons on page 55) past snags, or ‘wildlife’ trees, bearing wounds of ravage attacks of bugs and bug-seeking birds. Cross a recently harvested setting enjoying the warmth of the sun before heading back under the cool, dense canopy of a mature forest. You will exit onto the Cheekeye - Dunsmuir BC Hydro transmission corridor which cuts a wide swath across the path but also provides access to the next point to entry into the old growth reserve. Remember © The Beacon Magazine • March 2010

the infamous eco-terrorists, The Squamish Five, involved in the 1982 bombing which destroyed the nearly complete Cheekeye-Dunsmuir Hydro substation close to the mouth of Nile Creek? This same transmission line on Texada Island has more recently sparked controversy with linkage to the proposed Liquid Natural Gas Facility. Turn left on the hydro road, then take the first right, lining up your sights with flagging marking the next entrance to the woods. This part of the reserve offers up views of Nile Creek as your feet rebound on the soft paths of moss. Watch your proximity to the bank at this time of year as super-saturation of the slopes may trigger slumping. Keeping your feet dry may also be tricky as you cross a boggy stretch to exit back on to the hydro right-of-way. Turn left on the road; either continue straight ahead to rejoin the lower trail or make a right hand turn off the hydro road onto a forestry access road down to Nile Creek Forest Service Road. Turning left here will return you to the parking area. Many thanks to the Lighthouse Trail Group for another project well done! ~ For your safety: Please remember that the woodlot is a working forest – which means that the public is more than welcome to access the forest for recreation but closure signs and road obstructions may periodically be in place to notify trail-users of active falling and hauling in harvest areas. ~

Start 1: Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park & Mordon Colliery Trail; South Wellington, 7kms south of Nanaimo, off Hwy 1 on Morden Road. The end of Morden Road is the site of the Morden Colliery and the regional trailhead. Distance 1: 2km regional trail loop to the Nanaimo River and back. Start 2: Morden Colliery Trail; Cedar Village shopping centre in Cedar. Distance 2: 4.8km loop from the Cedar Village parking area to Hemer Provincial Park and back. Guides: Friends of the Morden Mine Project pamphlet; Tours can also be booked with this non-profit society. BC Provincial Parks; Regional District of Nanaimo; or Regional Parks & Trail Guide (available at EyesOnBC) “Do not tread, mosey, hop, trample, step, plod, tip-toe, trot, traipse, meander, creep, prance, amble, jog, trudge, march, stomp, toddle, jump, stumble, trod, sprint, or walk on the plants ~ sign at Mount Rainer Park



ith tracks of conversations about the future of coal mining on eastern Vancouver Island fresh on the palate of local citizens a visit to the remains of the Morden Coal Mine, near Nanaimo, seemed fitting to connect the past, present and future of an industry that shaped our Island core. A quick peak back at your family-line may reveal a connection to livelihoods revolving around the extraction of a natural resource. I’ve heard stories of how my husband’s great-grandfather was recruited from Scotland to play in the professional soccer league in Nanaimo under the pretense of immigrating to work in the Nanaimo coal mines. I recall the dinnertime conversations about my father-in-law being called out in the middle of the night, to homes in the Diver Lake area, to inspect cavernous, seemingly bottomless holes, in © The Beacon Magazine • April 2010

Mining for History

basements that were now gaping open to an abandoned mine shaft below. The Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park is a four hectare site which includes the pithead and the only remaining coal tipple on the Island. This impressive cement structure, built in the early 1900s by the Pacific Coast Coal Mines, is merely a scratch on the surface reminding us of the remnants, of this once thriving local industry, left below ground – the honeycomb of hundreds of miles of tunnels – a network now perceived as a “gold mine” by Vancouver Island University as their campus sits on an untapped source of geothermal energy. There are two sections to the Morden Colliery Trail which follow the coal railway route that connected the mines of South Wellington to the coal ships docked at Boat Harbour. This path is a good example of re-purposing an historic transportation route and preserving a green corridor to link two provincial parks;

Morden and Hemer Provincial Parks. In the future, when park and trail infrastructure development dollars flow abundantly, a reconstruction of the trestle crossing the Nanaimo River will tie the two regional trails together. It’s definitely springtime in the mid-Island and the blossoms along the Morden trail provide a heady air-space to admire such delicate finds as Wild Ginger, Red Currant, Trillium and Indian Plum. Interpretive signage helps with identification and I’m always surprised at what I learn...Swamp Lanterns? Now there is a more gentle, dignified designation for the brilliantly coloured Skunk Cabbage! As you wind through rural farms into the wooded reserves of Hemer Park you’ll appreciate the multi-use of the trails by fellow bipeds and the occasional saddled quadruped... and a first for me, a fellow on a unicycle...and I thought that I had to work on my balance on the trail! ~


Sharon Waugh photo

“Your possessions should set you free like a boat or a pair of hiking boots. If you work for your possessions and they don’t set you free, what are you working for?” ~ Anonymous



ith the heralding in of spring by ‘ripe and ready’ herring and the accompanying raucous behaviour of gorging sea lions, a quick decision was made when Jan Kretz, of Adventuress Sea Kayaking, generously invited me to come along on one of her sea lion kayaking tours in Northwest Bay, near Nanoose Bay. Having grown up on the coast, I’ve had the opportunity to paddle around a little, exploring some remote nooks and crannies and can regale a tale of landing a couple of coho, from a small kayak, without really thinking through what I was going to do with them after a net-less capture and a small cockpit to cram them in. So the invitation by Jan was a good call to introduce the opportunity of trekking on the water to those who may have been thinking about going out for a paddle but

wanted to get a feel for what you really do need to know even before you hit the water – without investing in a boat to capture that first experience. The Northwest Bay tour, geared for novice kayakers, started with a thorough evaluation of the current tide and wind conditions even before the first boat was unloaded from the trailer racks. Jan, wanting to make sure that the first experience was the best one for firsttime paddlers, offered the option of rebooking under calmer conditions. With an explanation of how the afternoon northwesterly was still building the amplitude of the choppy waters and that a change in the tide was going to offer a little more resistance to the paddle on the return, some opted to change their plans for the day.

Safety first, knowing your physical capability and comfort zone on the water is always important when evaluating any launch. For those that were carrying on with the paddle, a very thorough run through of the mandatory safety equipment and rescue procedures was accompanied by a demonstration of stroke techniques and then we were ready to take to the water. With our cameras safely nestled in dry bags we headed over to the log booms where sunbathing sea lions taunted the boom man and his boat with throaty threats and, not-so-polite, bilious belching. Under the watchful eyes of the two Adventuress guides the gaggle of kayaks circumnavigated the bay, captured the sea lions on film and bucked the tide back to the beach...relaxing, yet warming up some upper body muscles and definitely clearing away a few mental cobwebs. continued next page

© The Beacon Magazine • May 2010

Upon the Water - continued

© The Beacon Magazine • May 2010

Wondering where you can plan some trips to paddle locally? A good resource is the websites of Vancouver Island paddling associations; pull up their schedule for member outings and you’ll discover their favourite trails, complete with parking tips, charts, navigation recommendations, trip difficulty ratings and even recipes! Private companies, such as Jan’s, will offer day expeditions and multiday wilderness tours, all of which are guaranteed to provide some ‘soul-time’ to realign your personal rhythm with wind, water and aquatic creatures. Linda Tenney photo

There are several ways to get yourself out for a paddle: it could be as simple as having a friend who is willing to share the basics with you; or you could contact a local paddling club such as the Cowichan, Nanaimo or Comox Valley Paddlers and query the availability of programs for beginners and/or who they would recommend for courses and guided excursions. There are a few local festivals on the horizon at which several brands and types of kayaks are available for you to sea trial. Here you will be able to experience the differences in the boats, matching your physique with the scope of kayaking you are wishing to experience i.e. are you looking for a day-tripping fairweather boat or desiring to launch on extensive sea-going expeditions. At the Deep Bay Harbour Festival, Sunday May 1st 10 - 4pm, seek out Adventuress Sea Kayaking to try out a kayak in the harbour. On May 15 and 16th, in Ladysmith, the Vancouver Island Paddlefest is a week-end long festival for paddlers of all ages and abilities; rest assured that the latest and the greatest will be on display with over 100 makes and models of kayaks available to trial.

A kayaker’s dream photo op: a Salish Sea denizen awaiting for his photographic ‘moment’

Did you know that canoeists and kayakers, in partnership with the provincial government, are working to build the longest and most extensive trail system in British Columbia? The BC Marine Trails Network, a proposal to cover nearly 22,000 kilometres of BC coastline will become the largest water trail network in the world, hosting a series of interconnected marine trails, with strategically located camping, launch and landing areas – the BC Marine Trails Network Association is looking for your partnership in this large undertaking. Back to landlubbing in June! ~

Sharon Waugh photos

Walking with Root Woman


BY SHARON WAUGH Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” - Frank Lloyd Wright


t’s the eve of press deadline and I know I am cutting it close to getting my own article submitted but a wonderful opportunity presented itself late last month to join ‘Root Woman’ on a local walkabout – educator, eco-herbalist, lovingly referred to by her colleagues as the “silver© The Beacon Magazine • June 2010

haired plant whisperer” – the delightful conservationist and conversationalist, Kahlee Keane. When the law of attraction is fueled by universal synergy it was no surprise when Kahlee’s new book Wild Medicine of Coastal British Columbia arrived on my desk and within a few ping-ponged e-mails a walk in the woods at Rosewall Creek was set in play with this protective advocate of indigenous plants. So, I was ready to head out the door packaged in full rain gear, notepad snugged in a protective ziploc, fresh batteries in the camera

and then I remembered the supplement bottle on the counter – a reminder to knock back the last few herb-filled capsules of my annual spring detox. ironic when I think about where I am heading...hadn’t really thought about how disconnected I was to the plants that were commercially rendered for the ease of my self-treatment. Have you been to Rosewall Creek Provincial Park? I’m usually a stickler for logging a minimum number of kilometres when I set out in the woods; a jaunt geared for raising continued next page

Walking with Root Woman - continued

Above: Kahlee Keane examining Devil’s Club

the heart-rate and creating sweat on the brow, so up to the falls is the ususal route. But this sauntering hour and a half with Kahlee on the lower loop was equally as conditioning making the heart-full of appreciation while viewing the plants thru her lens of reciprocal respect. A well-intended compliment and acknowledging gesture fom Kahlee would start the flow of introduction of her friends to me, the guest, selectively dispensing the medicinal properties of each plant with the physical ailment it would impact. Listening was easy in this outdoor classroom while instructed how to carefully gather the bark or leaves, the ethical ins and outs of harvesting the roots, choosing processing methods – teas or tinctures, salves or ointments – and always the gracious appreciation for the gift of healing offered by the various plants. In a short woodland stretch we met Pacific Bleeding Heart for ‘calming the cycle of grief and shock following an accident, illness or death’; Western Trillium and it’s abortive properties; discussed the gentle anesthetic effects of crushed Cow Parsnip seeds to reduce inflammation around teething, and the anti-inflammatory benefits on lymph of the clingy Sweet Scented Bedstraw. When I mentioned my past bush battles with Devil’s Club (there’s even dislike built into it’s Latin name Oplopanz horridus) Kahlee laughed and verified its © The Beacon Magazine • June 2010

west coast First Nations reference as being a warrior plant. In her Wild Medicine book, she discusses the assignment of intellectual property rights of the traditional and local knowledge of First Nations peoples of plants such as Devil’s Club, and the potential for retaining the rights to compensation for future commercial harvest and the retail sale of herbal products. A perfect point to launch into the protection of wild medicinal plant communities and the guidelines of ethical wildcrafting...always asking “what is my intention in harvesting?” It was a great morning to be reminded of my responsibility to strengthen my connection in nature and at the suggestion of Kahlee, I am going to intentionally choose to change my purchasing behaviour to selecting more native plants over imported cultivars for building my garden. And for subsequent forays into the woods, I will continue to hone-up my plant recognition skills and assimilate more of Kahlee’s awareness and love for her living Earth. Many thanks to you! ~ Wild Medicine of Coastal British Columbia can be purchased at EyesOnBC in Bowser, and thru www. ~

Sharon Waugh photos


By Sharon Waugh

“ T

The light at the end of the tunnel is just the light of an oncoming train.” ~ Robert Lowell

here is something intriguing about trains and their past, present and future role on Vancouver Island. As I crack open Robert Turner’s book Vancouver Island Railroads the history of the Island railroads come to life with archived photos of vintage passenger, coal mining and logging trains from the 1860s to the remnants of current operations. For those of us living near the E&N tracks between Victoria and Courtenay we can set our clocks to the twice daily whistle of the Dayliner as it adheres to its rigid routine...a schedule which hasn’t changed for close to 50 years! As it was when we were kids and as it remains today, the first whistle of the train approaching the highway crossing in Bowser meant it was © The Beacon Magazine • July 2010

12:10 and on the backhaul 1:50 pm...the first call defined “it’s lunch time” and for those still in school the second call jumpstarted anticipation of the afternoon release from another school day. At the turn of this century, there were three locations on the Island where the public could experience first-hand a ride on a train powered by one of the former workhorse steam locomotives on yesteryear’s logging railway lines – BC Forest Discovery Centre (Duncan), the Alberni Pacific Railway and the Englewood Railway in the Nimpkish Valley. Today, of the three, only the Alberni and Forest Discovery Centre are still operational as public venues, and both are connected to heritage sites which immerse their visitors with vivid storytelling of the working history of the Island’s forest industry. Having ridden on both the Englewood continued next page

All Aboard - continued

Railway, out of Woss, and the train at the Forest Centre, the Alberni Pacific was now fair game to complete the trio. When I read the intinerary included a stop at the only Canadian winery serviced by a steam train, the deal was clinched. The point of departure is the Alberni Pacific Railway Train Station located at 3100 Kingsway (and Argyle St.) in Port Alberni – a 1912 CPR station lovingly restored by the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society twenty years ago, along with the 1929 Baldwin 2-8-2T, the “No.7” which pulls the passenger cars to the McLean Mill National Heritage Site, 35 minutes down the track. If you want to include a stroll through the vineyards of the Chase & Warren Estate Winery, sip a glass of chilled Pinot Gris or savour the blackcherry undertones of their Cabernet Sauvignon, you simply need to buy a ticket at the steam train office, request the stop either on the way to, or from the McLean’s Mill, and if you need a ride back to your vehicle transportation can be provided by the winery for a small fee of $3. Yes, time travel is possible...seated in an open-air passenger car with the sun on your face, the soothing sounds of the chugging locomotive “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can”, listening to humerous

© The Beacon Magazine • July 2010

injections from a well-versed conductor guiding you past the changing face of Alberni’s industrial waterfront and transitioning your travel through the wooded valley, over trestle crossings, building an historial preface for your arrival at the site of the former R.B. McLean Lumber Company. Here is where your trek begins with a self-guided walking tour of this National Heritage Site. Located on 12.8 hectares with 35 buildings and STEAM DONKEY AT McLEAN MILL, structures, you will PORT ALBERNI step back into camp life as experienced between 1926 - 1965 as you explore the restored logging, milling and marketing operations. To extend your walking time a quick walk past the pond and the recently restored steam donkey will have you join up with the Log Train Trail (see June 2009 Beacon – there’s 22 kilometres to have at ‘er! (see June 2009 Beacon). For further information, and to make reservations please contact: Train Station (3100 Kingsway) 7232118, McLean Mill (5633 Smith Road) 723-1376, or the Chase & Warren Estate Winery (6253 Drinkwater Road) 724-4906. Websites: & ~

Linda Tenney photo • Hamilton Marsh Trail, Qualicum Beach, BC

TrekOn! 2010  

Treks on Vancouver Island by Sharon Waugh