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Found myself the most wonderful park - miles and miles of trails just waiting to be explored!!  I have been to Gowlland Tod Park twice now, and still feels like completely unchartered territory. 

My first adventure is one I plan to take all future visitors to - it is just a short walk, maybe a couple of kilometers through the woods, to the Tod Inlet.  There is the most picturesque yacht moored in the inlet amongst the fog.  I mean seriously just look at it - its like out of a postcard or something.  

Throughout the trail, I kept seeing signs of old houses having been here - old cement foundations with trees growing out of them, that type of thing.   So I looked it up when I got home, and all it really tells me about it is that there has been a long history of people living in this area - as well, it used to be part of the property where the Vancouver Portland Cement Company was (happen to remember this from the Butchart Garden??  Also was part of the Cememnt Company).   

The next time I went to the park, I explored from a different trailhead - McKenzie Bight.  The first trail I picked led me downhill for about a km and a half - straight into the ocean!  

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The river was so high, the trail was underwater, and not just a little bit where you can just wade through, but like three feet underwater.  I didn't feel like going for a swim, so I turned around and headed back up the hill.... I was running today, so it wasn't a particularly happy moment.  The next trail I took - The Timberman Trail, was much better - just nice rolling hills leading up to a view over the Saanich Inlet. At this point I was out of time and had to turn back, but I think there was at least 20km of trail past that point - until next time!  

For more information and to have a look at the trail maps check out:
http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/gowlland_tod/

 
 
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Fish in mid air
This was my first weekend alone in Victoria - two months after moving here!  Thank you all for visiting me :)   Luckily my first weekend on my own coincided with the first weekend of Christmas craft fairs, so I made myself a list of community centers and got going.  But that is besides the point!  The highlight of my day was finding this really beautiful park - Coles Bay regional park.  It was just a tiny park with only a 5 minute walk or so down to the water - a very small cove.  I took a few pictures and was getting ready to head back to the car when I heard a loud splash - spun around just in time to see a massive salmon catapult itself through the air!  It was so cool!!!  I couldn't leave.  It became my mission to get a picture of one in the air - so I huddled in under my hood and waited.  My dad says that they do this when it rains - something about getting excited when the fresh water hits the salt.   Two fish were jumping one after the other, every 5 - 10 minutes or so, and i repeatedly missed them in action.  When I finally switched to video, the fish all but disappeared..... but after a long wait, they came back.... I don't know if I am a bit unusual in thinking this is like the coolest thing in the world, or if it actually is pretty cool, but you decide!   


















 
 
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Every October to December you can see thousands of salmon in Goldstream Park battling their way up the river.  Seriously it looks like a lot of hard work - most of the time the fish aren't moving up river, and then with a sudden burst of energy, they make a mad dash up river maybe a foot or so, and then they go back to just trying to maintain their position.  

Apparently not all of them are trying to make it farther up river, some are already spawning - the female digs a trench (a "redd") and the male defends it.  Once the trench is dug, the female deposits the eggs and the male fertilizes them.  The most common type of salmon in the river is Chum - and this species does not particularly "pair up."  One female's eggs can be fertilized by more than one male.  (There are also Chinook and Coho salmon in the river and these do tend to pair).  Once the eggs are fertilized the trench is covered over and the adults, well there is no sugarcoating here, they die.  But don't be sad!  There is a whole new generation of salmon growing beneath the gravel...

However there are birds - mostly sea gulls in my experience - hanging around the river trying to feast off the roe.  They also will eat the dead salmon as well, but I did not see this happening.   The up and coming generation of salmon is also threatened by trout in the river who have come to feed on the roe as well.  

At night the bigger mammals come out - when the humans have stopped pacing the river banks taking copious amounts of photographs.  The process of the salmon spawning is not just about the salmon themselves  but the whole ecosystem that operates around it - fascinating stuff :)  

The eggs hatch in march when the weather starts to warm.  After they hatch (at this point they are "aelvins"), they stay beneath the gravel and feed off a yolk sac.  Soon the Chum kiddies leave the gravel and head back to sea, but the Coho young stay in the stream for two more years.  

If you have never seen salmon spawning and have the chance to - you must check it out!! You can hear about it and see pictures, but actually being there with all these fish that you never get to see normally is pretty unreal!  

Thanks to the Goldstream Park website for the info.