Category Archives: Geology

The Hope Slide

About 100 miles east of Vancouver, BC, lies the town of Hope. From here the highway winds through a beautiful stretch of hilly country for 82 miles to the town of Princeton.

Just about 10 miles east of Hope is a viewpoint where I took some photos of the second largest landslide in Canadian history. The Hope Slide came down the mountain on January 9, 1965, burying several vehicles and killing four people. The bodies of two were retrieved, but two others remain buried beneath tons of rock.

I quote Wikipedia here: The slide completely displaced the water and mud in Outram Lake below with incredible force, throwing it against the opposite side of the valley, wiping all vegetation and trees down to the bare rock, then splashed back up the original, now bare, slope before settling.

I see no indication of an Outram Lake on modern maps, but there is an Outram Mountain nearby.

About a mile and a half of the highway was covered in rock, so a gravel road was constructed as a detour until a new section of highway could be built. A portion of the old highway still lies under the slide.

One sweet thing about this whole sad story is that beside the viewpoint, masses of wild strawberries are growing in the moss that covers the gritty gravel beside the road.


Have you seen Rebecca Spit?

That Rebecca must be quite a tomboy to have a piece of land named after her spitting abilities. But no, I’m not talking about a girl with a disgusting habit, and this post is not about how far Rebecca can spit.

I’m talking about a landform. I wonder sometimes where these terms come from. A spit of land…. Could it be because the long “tongue” of land is formed by deposits of sand being “spit” up by the waves and deposited on the open, seaward side of it?

Whatever the origin, Rebecca Spit is a park on Quadra Island. To get to Quadra you have to take a ferry from Campbell River on Vancouver Island. At the recent quilting retreat on Quadra, my friend and I took a short drive to the 2-km.-long spit and walked the trail in this park. The water you see on the left of the photo is the sheltered side. In the summer it must be a beautiful place to swim.041

Here is a better look at the beach on the sheltered side of the spit.


As we continued down the trail, the spit became narrow and it was possible to see the water on both sides at once. The open water of the north end of the Strait of Georgia was much rougher than that of sheltered lagoon.


The forest facing the open water on my right  had taken a beating. Where were all the branches and greenery? No sign of fire damage, but many  branches were gone and tree trunks were broken off. Could extra high tides have drowned the trees and soaked their feet in very salty water? That might have killed the trees which then dried out and were at the mercy of the strong winter winds. Trunks and branches would have broken in the wind. I’m not sure what happened here but the trees right near the beach on the exposed side of the spit were damaged and different from the rest.


The end of the spit is a pretty place to stop for a few photos. Boaters must have local knowledge or a good map to avoid getting lost in the maze of small islands that dot this coastline.


On our way back to the car,  we see a warm glow of late afternoon sunlight on the trunks of the trees, living and dead.055

And in case you think dead trees are useless, just ask any woodpecker.

pileated woodpecker


New Stomping Grounds

032After two weeks of packing boxes and unpacking them again at my sister-in-law’s new place, we took a break to explore her “new stomping grounds.” The trail leading to the beach was a good two-mile walk through ungroomed forest (my favourite kind). This area, near Lacey, just north of Olympia, Washington, gets a LOT of rain in the winter and spring, as you can see by the moss on the trees.

The Hawks Prairie Trail is named after one of the local pioneers (pictured at the bottom of the information sign) and the area around it is preserved in as natural a state as possible.


Ivy is finding a lot of traces of scents left behind by other visitors.


The first glimpses of the ocean tugged at me as I hadn’t seen my beloved seashore for a couple of weeks.

017 015


I could see the old wharf that, apparently, was once a busy loading and unloading place.


Now to get down to it….  An iron structure had been built to make it easier to descend to beach level.


I was impressed, but Ivy was not. She stopped in her tracks and would not budge.


Then I saw why. The gaps in the stairs were too big for her tiny feet.


Luckily, Ivy is tiny enough that she’s easily picked up, so she wasn’t deprived of her romp on the beach.



Who Goes There?

001The snow hangs onto branches like popcorn balls, but the sun is coming out and the snow must go. But before the serious melting began Sherlock Holmes discovered some interesting evidence at the beach.

??????????It seems that this beach was a very busy place overnight and the snow held onto the evidence long enough for a few photos by Mrs. Holmes.

Small creatures walked across the snow. Some kind of bird investigated the freshly exposed rocks and weeds.

??????????Checking out the seafood smorgasbord was a raccoon.

??????????Someone’s dog had gone for a run along the beach, too.

??????????A deer had gone by but the sun was already melting its print.

??????????But what could have made these large prints? We put a toonie in them to show the size. I measured the toonie, and it is about 1 and 1/8 inch in diameter, so the print had to be at least three inches across and a bit longer than that.

cougar [2] ??????????Any ideas? I have my suspicions, but I wonder if we have any tracking experts out there who might verify them. Seriously, it’s not a joke print that we made up. Could it be a cougar track? They’ve been known to walk along the beach to get out of the deep snow.

The snow will be gone in a jiffy. Two Canada geese flew over on their way to tell their friends that spring is on its way at last.


Something Good in the Badlands

I think the Badlands have been given a bad rap. They are only called bad because they aren’t good for farming. Well, okay, they aren’t good for crossing over with a pioneer wagon either. And maybe the water is sometimes a bit too alkaline for people to drink. It’s possible that there might be a few snakes there. I suppose all but the toughest plants would do better somewhere else since there isn’t much in the way of soil.

Little to no soil allows more wind and water erosion, hence the fascinating shapes of the rocks. I’m intrigued by the many odd formations in the landscape. These two little towers stood out in an otherwise flat area.

Also, the faster erosion may account for the discovery of more fossils in this kind of landscape.


In case you’re wondering, no, that white stuff isn’t snow.


So many shapes!



The farming, naturally, stops at the drop-off into the Badlands.


Just when I thought there was nothing good about the Badlands, except the fascinating rock formations, I saw big ears perking up at the sound of people.


These two mule deer alerted the third one that was behind the hill. Then the three of them bounded up the sidehill so easily. I’m sure they weren’t even breathing hard. I’ll think of them next time I’m on a Stairmaster.

Upon closer examination of the lower reaches of the valleys one can often find seeps, small pockets of water, surrounded by grasses and other lush vegetation providing food and habitat for a variety of species in what would otherwise be an inhospitable environment. In the sparse soil, I found fresh excavations of soil  dotting the ground. Most likely they were left there by ground squirrel colonies. Two of their major predators, badgers and coyotes, live nearby.

Here are some of the interesting plants I found. I wish I knew the names of them, but I don’t. Maybe some of my readers can help out here.


This one with the huge burr must have had a flower at one time. Now it is just a menace to my poor dog who gets the burrs tangled in her fur and then suffers terribly when they chafe her.


The burrs are very prickly and sharp to handle.


These balls of cotton-like fluff pop out between the greenery of one of the few plants I know – the juniper with its blue berries.



If we look more closely we can find beauty where we least expect it to be. Maybe the Badlands have something good about them after all.


Our Europe trip was done and we were on our way home to the Queen Charlotte Islands, but our Greek suntans had already begun to fade.

“We can’t go home like this! Where could we go to have one more blast of sunshine before we go back to a winter of wind and rain?” Moments later the decision was made. “Hawaii, here we come.”

From London to New York, New York to Chicago, Chicago to San Francisco, San Francisco to Honolulu, Honolulu to Kauai, we traveled with short stops in between. We left London sometime Wednesday afternoon and arrived in Kauai late Thursday afternoon, but in fact it took much longer than that because we were flying west, playing catch-up with the clock.

When we landed in Lihue, on Kauai, we phoned around for a place to stay. How hard could it be? It was October, the off season. Wrong! It was Aloha Week! Every hotel, motel, and B&B was booked solid. We were on the last of a dollar’s worth of dimes (yes, those were the days when local calls cost a dime and you used those big payphones that hang on the wall or in cubicles for the convenience of Superman/Clark Kent. Remember those?) and used it to call the place that the cleaning lady at the airport suggested – Kahili Mountain Park. Yes, they had a place for us. We needed a car. Rent-a-Wreck was popular in those days and in this case they lived up to their name. (We returned it the next day for a more reliable wreck.)

And so, asleep on our feet, we coaxed the wreck up the mountain and collapsed in our new digs. It’s an indication of how tired I was that I didn’t care too much about the big spiders, lizards, and earwigs in the place. I just wanted a place to lay my head.

That’s our blue wreck with the door open.

img043Definitely a bad hair day the next day, so I’ve painted my head a lovely shade of green. But never mind. The main point of this photo is to show you our very rough camping set-up. Inside you can’t see the bare spring iron frame beds or the geckos on the ceiling, but you can see that we’re going to bbq something and have salad with it for supper that night.

img158aWe hung around the campsite through several cloudy days, but beach weather didn’t happen. Finally we went for a drive anyway. The road down the mountain to the beach ended in a beautiful drive through a tunnel of huge trees. Some, not shown on this photo, had giant philodendrons growing up their trunks. Beyond them were sugar cane fields. All new to us.

img044For that matter, I don’t think I had seen coconuts growing on a tree before, either.

img040At the end of this road, we were amazed to see the sun shining on a perfect beach. Day after day we came down the hill to the beach and laughed at our naiveté about the weather. It was always cloudy up by the mountain, and always sunny at the beach. That’s how it worked here.

At Poipu Beach we learned about body surfing.

img041We waded out through the waves and stood waist deep, waiting for a big wave to come. When it was almost on us we turned and swam for the beach, letting the wave catch us and scoot us in to shore.

That was great fun. Once or twice, the waves were extra big and I was pounded on the beach. Some skin was  sanded off my thighs, but still, I went back out, as did several others, to look for another pummeling.

A young man about my age stood nearby waiting for a wave. When the giant swept us up, I concentrated on not letting it break my back as it lifted my legs over my head. In the wildly frothing foam I stood up after another pounding in the sand. But wait! Where were my bikini bottoms? Fortunately the foam was still boiling at least thigh high as I shrank into an instant crouch and retrieved my bikini from my ankles, swishing three pounds of sand out of it as I pulled it up.

The fellow next to me stood up and gawked.

“Whoa!” I panted. “Nearly lost my bathing suit there with all that sand!”

A big smile spread across his face as he drawled, “I know….”