Exploring

A couple of friends and I went up to Extension Ridge this week. They’d done it before in winter and said it was extremely beautiful; we figured it would be a good leisurely day hike.

trailhead by powerlines

The trailhead wasn’t terribly prepossessing, I must say.

Luckily I’d looked up the trail before we went, so the fact that a big chunk of forest next to it had been clearcut this year (it crosses private timber license land) was not a surprise. But as clearcuts always are, it was, well, pretty barren.

arbutus trees in clearcut

I’m not sure why they left the arbutus trees standing. I guess they’re not considered salable? Their forms against the sky were quite beautiful, though.

arbutus trees in clearcut

First point of interest: the Abyss. This is an earthquake fissure, though one source I found said that it was likely to be the result of a collapsed mine tunnel triggered by an earthquake. Either way, earthquake, and I’m glad I wasn’t there when it happened.

the abyss - a rock crevice

the abyss - a rock crevice

The view looking away from the clearcut wasn’t half bad.

view looking away from clearcut to mountaibn

More clearcuts, but higher now, so we got a view of the city and Gabriola and Protection Islands beyond and the Coast Mountains beyond that.

view across clearcutsmall dog between big stumps

The path, once we got away from the clearcut, wandered along the ridge through fir and arbutus trees—far more of the latter than I’m used to seeing. It really was beautiful, and completely worth getting through the shock of the clearcut. We wandered on for a bit and then had some snacks and carried on.

arbutus silhouetted against sky

Arbutuses really are quite indecently beautiful.

closeup of arbutus barkmanzanita

And there was manzanita!

sacred circle

And there was… a thing. A roundabout of sorts in the middle of the woods. I looked it up afterwards. This is apparently known as the Sacred Circle: “A large rock compass that holds offerings from riders and hikers past. Always ride around the shrine counter-clockwise three times!!!”

(This whole area is riddled with mountainbike trails, some of which went over what I would call small cliffs. Eep.)

sacred circle offerings

Some of the shrine offerings are more respectful than others. Though I did like all the dragons.

small dog on top of ridge

Getting closer to the end of the stretch of trail we were doing, we found a lovely lookout, complete with a metal bench. It was a memorial to Astraea, a much loved boxer dog. A great place to sit and nibble some more. I personally did not, alas, have dog treats, despite the hopeful looks.

end of trail

And another unprepossessing trail end. This is where we turned around and headed back. We figure it was about 10 kilometres return, so a nice walk for a September day.

arbutus trees standing in clearcut, silhouetted against clouds

And one last arbutus skyscape, taken on the return trip.

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