Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Exploring Lazo Marsh and the Goose Spit "stairmaster" in Comox

by Keith and Heather Nicol
We saw lots of red winged blackbirds
      With great weather in the forecast we decided to check out some hiking trails in the Comox Valley area. First on our list was a trail along Lazo March which is easily accessed on Lazo Road in Comox. The parking lot is at coordinates 10 U0363587E and 55052298N and there is a large trail head sign titled Northeast Woods-Lazo Marsh Conservation Area which shows a map with numerous trails in the area. We opted for a 1 km loop that traversed through large second growth forest and led to a boardwalked lookout over the marsh. When we visited on Monday, February 23rd the place was full of a variety of birds from ducks to red winged blackbirds and many song birds.  We even saw a red headed wood pecker and a pileated wood pecker!  This trail is suited to a wide range of walkers and we saw many people on this trail enjoying the sun, warm temperatures and abundant bird life.
Heather looking over part of Lazo Marsh
 From there we backtracked to the Nob Hill Greenway trail which is located at the base of Goose Spit. Goose Spit is a popular place to walk, beach comb and sea kayak and we did numerous sea kayaking trips in this area last November. Our choice this time was to climb the Nob Hill Greenway trail which is very short but is full of stairs (coordinates: 10 U 0362916E and 5503358N). On this day we saw many people using it as an outdoor stairmaster since they would run up the stairs and then back down the stairs only to repeat the whole thing again and again. The first set of stairs is only about 150 meters long and has about 170 stairs in total.  This first section exits at Yates Road and some people walk or run back along it to the start of the trail. The second section continues on uphill to Moore/Butchers Road and it has fewer stairs and is about the same length. From there the route back to the start is much further and it seems that few people do this option. The views from the trail back over Goose Spit are superb so bring a camera on this trail.
The view of Goose Spit is impressive from the top of Nob Hill Greenway trail
We saw lots of people running up and down the Nob Hill Greenway trail

Monday, 16 February 2015

Walking the trails at Miracle Beach and the Oyster River Nature Park

by Keith and Heather Nicol
Heather and Christine walking along a Miracle Beach trail
     On Saturday, February 14 we decided to take advantage of the sunny, warm day to try some of the short hiking trails in the Miracle Beach – Oyster River area of  eastern Vancouver Island. This area is just north of Comox and we met Christine Gorvall at her beach front house near Miracle Beach Provincial Park who offered to be our guide for the afternoon.  We parked near Black Creek at coordinates 10 U 03449017E 5523999N and Christine lead us down a trail along the creek to the broad sandy beach. There were lots of other people out enjoying the exceptionally nice winter weather. We heard sea lions barking in the distance and saw ducks dabbled along the shore. The trail that we took was just 650 meters long (1 way) and although we returned along the same route there were many other trail options and overall there are about 2 km of trail in the park.  Christine mentioned that in the summer this is a very popular place to walk, swim and camp. For more information see: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/miracle_bch/ 
Miracle Beach looks out on to Georgia Strait and the mountains of the B.C. Coast
From Miracle Beach we headed to Oyster River Nature Park where we parked at the trail head  at coordinates 10 U 0347154E 5526427N. Here we did a looped trail which wound through tall second growth forest. Along the way we could see huge stumps which showed just how large the original trees in this area must have been. Even though we have just come off several days of rain the trail was generally quite dry except for the occasional wet spots. We ended up at the ocean where the Oyster River spills into the sea. There were lots of wave washed trees along the shore and several people sat in the sun on some of the south facing logs. We returned along a trail that paralleled the river. Over all the trail was about 2.8 km return. For more information see: http://csd.nic.bc.ca/~g112/oyster.html.  Both of these areas are suited to a wide variety of walkers and we look forward to coming back to explore them more in the future. 
A foot bridge along one of the Oyster River Nature Park trails


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Be sure to see the World Community Film Festival when it comes to town

by Keith and Heather Nicol
    On Friday evening, February 6th we headed down to the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay, B.C.  to check out the first night of the 24th World Community Film Festival. There was a huge turnout for the films “Becoming Bulletproof” and “Reaching Blue” that opened the festival.  Like many of the films in this festival these two films focused on social and environmental issues.  On Saturday, February 7th the festival organizers showed 19 other films in four venues that dealt with a wide variety of social, environmental and economic consequences of human activity at both local and international levels. They also showed nine films as part of a family programme.  Overall we saw several films and enjoyed them all. We thought “The man who stopped the desert”, “American Revolutionary-The evolution of Grace Lee Boggs”, ”Bulletproof” and “Damnation” were particularly good. We hope to see the many films we missed through the World Community lending library.
There were several venues for the festival including the Native Sons Hall shown here
 World Community which is headquartered in the Comox Valley is to be commended for organizing this event. And a great aspect of this event is that it travels to a variety of B.C. and other Canadian locations over the coming months. We have already told some of our friends in Kamloops, Duncan and Vancouver the dates that it will be in their communities. In addition to the films,  World Community also organized a Saturday Bazaar and evening banquet for the event. Overall we were very impressed with the festival and the organizers must feel encouraged by the large turnouts for the films. For more information on World Community and the travelling film festival see: http://www.worldcommunity.ca/ 

Heather (right) chats to Lucas Schuller with the Cumberland Museum at the bazaar