I do not mention the hikes that I go on with our club very often.  Vancouver Island has wonderful hiking opportunities on west coast rain forest trails.

In the last year I have assumed the lead along with another club member to organize our hikes.  Our great friend, the leader whom we have followed for the last 6 years, has developed cancer.  Actually a pretty common problem with people our age.  Anyway, Tim asked me and another friend to take over the hiking group.  Problem is that I have followed him for years and just enjoyed the experience, so did not take notes on where to start or turn left or right on the myriad of wonderful trails that we have hiked.  Fortunately, he turned over his high end Garmin GPS to me.  Another member of the group uploaded all the previous hikes, so all I have to do is walk along and occasionally look at my machine when we come to a fork and lead off in the right direction.

This week I was leading 10 of our members on a hike on the Oyster River.  Beautiful day.  Full sunshine but a cool 15 C when we started out.  Early in the hike we ran into a problem.  The first kilometer of the regular route follows a gravel road before heading off into the woods.  A big dump truck came along.  The driver stopped and told us that the road was now an access to a gravel pit and we could not use it.

So we headed off into the woods on trails that I knew would eventually lead us to the (pre-recorded on my Garmin) trail.  Eventually I found the trail but to add more interest, I thought that we could take a side trail that is only shown on my GPS as a very old forestry trail.

Understand that around the valley everything was forested 60 to 100 years ago, and there are remnants of the old logging trails that they used back then to drag out the monster trees.  The vast majority of these old trails are overgrown, but we still follow them when we can.  \

So we are now off the route that has been followed by our club traditionally (according to my GPS),  along a trail that I knew would lead eventually to the river.  Obviously no one had been on this trail for decades, but with the sun shining down through the trees and ferns, it was beautiful.  Before we got to the river we were blocked by a pond that had to have been made by beavers.  We stopped to look at the view and I noticed a man-made wooden structure.  It took some scrambling to get down to it, but it was interesting.

It was a sluice that someone built (probably 20 – 30 years ago) to sluice for gold.  Some guy followed the stream we were hiking along and used a pan to check for gold.  Found traces so built this sluice to check out the site better.  In the end there was not enough gold to continue, so abandoned the site.

Gold is not that unusual on the Island.  Gold River north of us made several guys rich.  Still this was an interesting find on an adventure hike.