Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Adventures in Hemer Park

                                             **** A BLAST FROM THE PAST ****

       My first published article in Take 5 Magazine.  I believe it was for the May 2009 issue.  

Outdoor activities and exploring new places has become a passion of mine since meeting my husband. Together we have experienced many wonderful adventures with memories lasting forever.  For me, nothing is more satisfying than being surrounded by nature and hearing the leaves rustling and creek trickling over the rocks.  Part of the reward is the hike up the mountain or mountain bike ride through the windy trails, after I catch my breath and the leg cramps subside of course. 

When kids came into the picture we just started dragging them along for the ride.  No stroller was going to get us to the places we really wanted to go so backpacks were used until they could walk.  It really is amazing to see them out on the trails. We still get to enjoy the sounds of wind blowing and water running, muffled to the whining and crying every ten minutes.  All kidding aside, being able to get out and enjoy the great outdoors is important to us.  We are showing them the beautiful area we live in while making physical activity a regular part of their life. 

The ability and stamina of our little 3 and half year old boy and 2 year old girl is not always what we anticipate.  We have pushed them beyond their capabilities a few times.  Thankfully, they usually get over it.  A great place to start is Hemer Provincial Park.  Located at the east end of Hemer Road in Cedar, this 93 hectare park offers 11 km of well groomed trails surrounded by lakes, creeks, wildlife and forest.  It is the perfect playground for children of all ages.

When exploring with kids, the most important item we bring is food.  You can extend your outdoor adventure by stopping for a picnic anywhere.  A good spot would be an old log or rock. If you’re lucky, you can time your child breakdown near one of many trailside benches.  A picnic, for us, consists of tuna sandwiches, bananas, raisins, and dry cereal.  Wash that all down with some water and everyone should be ready to get moving again.  Even before the hike begins, have the kids pack their backpacks with snacks.  This always gets them excited for the adventure.  Remember to always pack out what you pack in. 

When the little feet start to slow down, a game of “ready, set, go” may get them moving faster, or try playing tag.  There is nothing wrong with giving your kid a piggyback ride.  Remember to keep encouraging them to walk as long as they can.  Complaints of tired legs are pretty standard.  Advice is to stay focused and keep moving. They will follow.  Their cries are a great bear / cougar deterrent anyway.  Hemer Park has wildlife that is sure to entertain the kids.  Trumpeter Swans are plentiful in the winter months and are easy to spot from a viewing platform.  How many can they count?  Woodpeckers can be heard rat a tat tatting, if lucky, an owl can be spotted.  I have read that Turkey Vultures can be seen although we have never spotted one, yet.  Hemer Park offers trails alongside water.  Holden Lake is home to trout, minnows, and according to BC Parks, is one of only two lakes on Vancouver Island that contain the Pea Mouth Chubb.  The minnows are easily spotted along the waters edge and otters can be seen feasting on fish, probably the rare Chubb. Once the wildlife viewing is no longer interesting, move on to vegetation.  Hemer Park is home to mature coastal Douglas fir, red alder and big-leaf maple trees.  See who can find the biggest maple leaf or a fern that is taller than the kids.  Keep this challenge on the trails.  Staying on the trails teaches kids to respect and preserve the park for others.

Hemer Park has an easy to follow trail system that gives you access to many different areas within the park.  Most trails are wide and well used by dogs and their owners so be prepared for four legged encounters.  Proper footwear is a must. The trail is well groomed so running or hiking shoes work fine, even if wet.  If you are in potty training mode or simply had too much coffee, Hemer Park even has outdoor facilities near the trailhead parking lot.  What more could you ask for?

We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful place.  Kids think so as well.  Education can help kids appreciate our environment.  Being active within it will help enjoy it.  We may not be hiking The West Coast Trail with the kids, just yet.  At least we can still find a few moments to enjoy the great outdoors we love so much.  So get out there, start exploring and create your own Adventure in Hemer Park!!

What to do

Explore Hemer Park by walking or running the trails.  Trails are easy for mountain biking but keep your eyes open for dog walkers and horseback riders.

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