Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Our year long challenge of "finding LIFE in ADVENTURE"

Celebrating our final "finding LIFE in ADVENTURE" adventure at the top of Westwood Ridge

The previous blog post was the article I wrote back in Nov 2010, announcing our year long challenge of finding life in adventure.  Basically the challenge was to find five living things on every adventure, never the same living thing nor the first five living things we saw.  The idea was to look past the surface and really find the life around us.  A challenge my family accepted and participated in with 100% enthusiasm.  For a year I documented where we went, the adventure of choice and the living things we found.  Every living thing was photographed, researched and later recorded in a log book.  The reason for the challenge was first thought of as an excuse to get out and explore more, see more, and try more outdoor activities.  It ended up turning into so much more.

After a year of chasing bugs, stalking birds, waiting for the lighting to be just right, and shooting pictures with the wrong camera settings, I now appreciate how much work and effort it takes to be a nature photographer.  Those bugs do not stop moving, birds do not like me stalking them, and I still shoot with the wrong settings more often than not.  As for lighting… we have a love hate relationship.  The time, patience and skill required to capture that perfect shot is something I do not have.  Nor do I have the equipment.  Hats off to all those photographers out there, I admire your work and am amazed by the beautiful shots you create.  Odds are I will still be out there taking pictures and will be completely satisfied with one decent shot every now and then. 

The first few months of the challenge felt like biology/botany boot camp. I was faced with terms like multicellular rhizoid and sporophytes.   When I had to determine whether the cone of the Western Red Cedar was egg shaped, small and reddish or whether I was I looking at a cone of a Sitka Spruce that was reddish- to yellowish-brown and waxy was when I called it quits.  I changed my game plan and went with “as close as I could figure” kind of method.  I felt better after our beachcombing adventure to Moorecroft Park.  At the grand opening of this new park, there were marine biologists helping identify the sea creatures people were finding.  They too were armed with countless reference books and still had a hard time identifying the species. 

The year long challenge succeeded in getting us out and exploring new places and try new things.  This year was a first for snowshoeing, caving, rock climbing, and snorkelling.  Repeat activities were kayaking, canoeing, surfing, biking, and hiking.  We discovered new worlds, like the ancient forest of Carmanah Walbran and travelled to the awe inspiring islands of Haida Gwaii.  We participated in our first ever earth oven feast and witnessed our first herring migration and spawn.  This all in just one year! 

Of course, the main attraction of the challenge was finding life.  We found life on the beaches, in the ocean, on the water, in the air and amongst the forest.  Some of the memorable finds were the California Sea Lions, Giant Sitka Spruce and Moon Snails.  I did not expect the tiniest of life to entertain us so much, like the ant that joined us while we were having a snack on the trail.  Funny how these tiny creatures were the most interactive with Ben and Liv.  I swear bugs of all kinds love to crawl on Ben… which worked great for getting photos.  If you follow On the beaten path on Facebook, you will find photos of every living thing we found (all 206 of them) and details of the 30 adventures it took to find them!  The short version is listed below:

“Finding LIFE in ADVENTURE” year long challenge
Nov 26, 2010Nov 20, 2011

THE ADVENTURES - Hike Jack Point Park, Nanaimo, B.C.; Hike Trans Canada Trail at MacKay Lake, Nanaimo, B.C.; Snowshoeing at Mt. Washington, Vancouver Island; Surfing at Chesterman's Beach, Tofino, B.C.; Beachcombing, Transfer Beach, Ladysmith, B.C.; Biking the Galloping Goose Trail, Victoria, B.C.; Hike Lantzville Foothills, Lantzville, B.C.;Hiking amongst giants in ancient forests, Carmanah Walbran Prov. Park, Vancouver Island; Sunday stroll through Bowen Park, Nanaimo, B.C.; Hike Rosewall Creek, Fanny Bay, B.C.; Witness the Herring Spawn, (Parksville, Pipers Lagoon, and Hammond Bay); Kayak bust in Hammond Bay, Nanaimo, B.C.; Hike Botanical Beach to Botany Bay, Port Renfrew, B.C.; Earth Week in Hemer Park, Jack Point Park and our own backyard; Hike Niagara Falls, Goldstream Park Victoria, B.C.; Bike Doumont Trails and Ammonite Falls, Nanaimo, B.C.; Kayak anniversary to Valdes Island and Blackberry Point; Celebrating new Parks at Moorecroft Park, Nanoose Bay, B.C.; Haida Gwaii – hiked Pesuta, toured Skedans, and backpacking on North Beach; Lavender Labyrinth, Cowichan Valley; Hiking Mt. Benson, Nanaimo, B.C.; Canoeing Mud Lake, Blue River, BC; Hiking McKirdy Meadows, Valemount, B.C.; Biking Kinsol Trestle, Shawnigan Lake, B.C.; Agriculture Adventure, Cowichan Valley; Snorkelling with salmon, Nanaimo River; Thanksgiving camping on Quadra Island; Mountain biking in Yellowpoint Park; Following the salmon journey, Holland Creek Estuary, Ladysmith, B.C.; Hiking Westwood Ridges, Nanaimo, B.C.

THE LIFE -  6 - Arthropods; 16 - Birds; 3 - Birds - Raptor; 10 - Birds - Waterfowl; 6 - Coniferous Evergreens; 2 - Deciduous Trees;  9 - Fish; 1 - Freshwater Crustaceans; 15 - Fungi; 16 - Insects;  2 - Jellyfish; 3 - Lichen; 7 - Mammals; 7 - Marine animals; 5 - Marine mammals; 4 - Marine worms; 13 - Mollusc; 6 - Mosses; 1 - Reptile; 12 - Seaweed/Algae; 4 - Snails and shellfish; 53 - Vascular Plants; and 1 - Nurse log

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