Retreads hikers take a break at the rest stop at the waterfall at Holland Creek before heading across the bridge to a trail viewpoint.

Retreads hikers take a break at the rest stop at the waterfall at Holland Creek before heading across the bridge to a trail viewpoint.

Rain hasn’t stopped the hikers

While we have been absent from the Gazette for a few weeks we have continued an active and fun hiking program.

While we have been absent from the Gazette for a few weeks we have continued an active and fun hiking program. In the past month we have been to the Mesachie Forest Research area with an orientation visit to Camp Imadene, been up Bald Mountain in the rain and fog, again hiked the east side of Cottonwood Creek and up Widowmaker Creek and travelled up to Ladysmith to hike the ever popular Holland Creek Trail at the south edge of town.

Thirty people hiked Holland Creek which is a well-maintained but challenging trail that follows up the hills above Holland creek to an up-to-date walking bridge 3.5 kilometres in and then back down the other side. It has a significant side trip up onto a hill overlooking the town and out toward the Nanaimo airport (which is closer to Ladysmith) and out over the Salish sea channels. The Holland Creek hike takes us through a great variety of forest settings and is one of the more interesting we visit.

After a climb up a steep part of the trail we break for a well-earned rest at a lookout for the waterfall. Then on again across the bridge up the side trails to the town viewpoint and back down.

The downside of the trail is better designed and has a number of steps to navigate. It is close to a suburban part of Ladysmith. Back to the cars and then to our reward. One couple lives at Saltair and has invited us for lunch at their house which has an excellent view out over the channel. We have an enjoyable lunch and then travelled down the old highway through Chemainus, Crofton and onto Herd Road. One of our guest hikers is from Holland (not the creek) so we have to make a stop at Utopia, the authentic Dutch bakery in Chemainus and as always we are amazed at the art work in the remade Chemainus.

On our Mesachie forestry trip, Nancy Marshall had arranged an orientation visit to Camp Imadene. We were led around the beach areas where activities were described as we moved along. Then by the outstanding BMX bike park and to the camp site where young visitors camp in cabins. Back past the office and assembly areas and to the other accommodation units.

While we did not have a chance to test it out, we were told about the wildplay area that has rock climbing and rappel areas and engages young people in other adventures including caving and canoe trips. This former industrial mill site has gradually taken on a new life as an attractive and functional camp site.

We then parked at the forest research gate, hiked through the section that studies growth of forests with some huge older trees. From there to a trail down to the lake at the east end of the research land, along a logging road parallel to the lake edge, up past the office block and back out to the gate and our cars. While we suspect this research station is a shadow of its former strength, we are grateful to know that a number of scientists and their support staff continue to work on critical issues, which includes figuring out adaptation of trees to our changing climate.

The hike up the east side of Cottonwood Creek across a bridge and then up the side of Widowmaker Creek is always a pleasure with the forest scenery and busy gurgling creek as it tumbles down over large rocks to our lake. This creek is running clear and does not appear to be contributing to our boil water advisory. Back at the road we noted loaded logging trucks coming out and they were covered in mud, but they were not stopping at the truck wash site that appears not to be operating. We also passed Cassy’s new coffee shop in the middle of Youbou but could not enjoy a coffee because it is not open Wednesdays. We went back later in the week for delicious soup and coffee.

This winter the Retreads have not done as well with sunny days as in the past. One Wednesday morning we looked out the window and decided, no, we do not need to hike today in the steady rain.

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