There and Back Again! A Hobbit in Training!

Like all British Columbians who should have learned to ignore political pollsters, I should have learned to ignore the weather report.  It was supposed to rain today.  I spent last night thinking it was going to be a terrible day because I had planned for a simple hike after work, but like the BC Liberals, I was pleasantly surprised to step out of the office to discover perfect weather for my planned hike.  It was sunny with scattered cloud.  There was just a hint of a breeze and it was hot, 14 degrees Celsius hot.  Perfect for my hike.  Perfect for playing around with my fancy new camera.  Perfect for breaking in my new hiking shoes.  Perfect for testing out my old daypack to see if it was New Zealand-tramp-worthy.

Where did I go?  Iona Beach Regional Park, Richmond, BC

What was the goal?  North Arm Jetty, 6 km round trip walk on a stretch of beach.  According to the Vancouver Trails website, it should be a 1.5 hr walk with minimal elevation.  According to the Metro Vancouver pamphlet found at the Information board at Iona Beach, it’s supposed to be a 2.5 hr walk.

What happened?  I got lost.  I mentioned in an earlier post that in my wanderings, I might get lost.  Who knew I’d get lost on my first hiking walk!  I ended up on the Iona Jetty, 8 km round trip walk on top of the Iona Waste Water Treatment Plant pipes.  There’s no information on the Vancouver Trails website about this Jetty, but the pamphlet said it’s also supposed to be a 2.5hr walk.

And so I walked it in 2.5 hours.  But it probably would’ve been a lot faster, had I not gotten distracted while on this walk.  For those of you who have walked the Iona Jetty, Yes, I know it’s straight.  It’s very straight and it was very windy.  And the tide was out.  And on either side of the Jetty, I saw lots of wet sandy beach and rocks.  But there were birds, both the organic and the mechanical kind and nature at it’s best.  Because you look to one side and you see trees and mountains.  You look to the other side and you see open water.  Behind, as you walk out, is the Vancouver International Airport and even with my headphones on, I could hear the planes taking off.

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Look way out to the end!  That’s 4 km back to the start.  4 km back to my car.

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But hold on, I could always contemplate swimming!  Straight ahead?  The Pacific Ocean?  No.  The Strait of Georgia!  Squint really hard and you might be able to see New Zealand?  Hardly.  I’d first have to squint really hard to see Vancouver Island.

If you’re a big fan of seagulls, the walk out towards the end of the Jetty would’ve been great.  There were a fair number of seagulls.  Other than that, it was more of a meditative walk, just time for me to unwind from the day, listen to my music, try to decide what is good hiking music (something I can sing to) and see how my feet feel with each step and how my back and shoulders feel from they way I packed the bag.

It was a great unwind.  It was a lovely walk.  It really felt like I was the only one there to see this awesome view of open water.  I’m gonna have to work on the music.  I have great music for driving and doing cardio stuff, but not so much for walking and hiking.  The shoes still need more breaking in.  Shoe laces became loose on one foot.  I kept on walking and soon I could feel rubbing on my toe and possibly a blister forming.  I will have to remember to double knot.  Or more importantly, stop and tie my shoe laces before going any further.  However that wasn’t the foot I was worried about.  Funny enough, the foot I was worried about feels fine!  Tired, but no pain!  Always a bonus for me when the left foot does not hurt.  The packing job was great.  The bag was not.  It is too old and one of the compression straps was actually tearing.  My lovely Roots backpack from my first roadtrip to Banff with Sisters C and W, you have treated me well.  I’m sorry I can’t say the same.  You will not come to New Zealand with me.  Even if you didn’t have a torn compression strap, you don’t have a sternum strap.   If you did, then your shoulder straps probably would not have left marks in my shoulders today.  I’ll have to test drive another old backpack, maybe on Friday.

Thank goodness I was also testing out a merino wool base layer shirt from Irene.  The initial test was to see if I was going to get all itchy from the wool shirt.  I did not!  Icebreaker, I’ll be looking for you to add to my clothing selection.  The other inadvertent test was to see how warm it was.  Holy Crow! It was windy on the Jetty, but even after walking for 2.5hrs in the open, I managed to stay warm in the Icebreaker shirt.  Sweet!

Now on the way back, that’s when the birds came out to play!

DSC_0814I’m not a bird person, but I’m pretty sure that is a heron.

DSC_0828This was the highlight.  A Bald Eagle.  It was so close!  I had just finished taking a picture of some flowers when I saw a big brown “something” flap up from the rocks and then back down.  By then I knew it was something different and very picture worthy and Oh My God!  Was I right!  I have never, ever, been that close to a Bald Eagle!  EVER!  And probably never will.  It was absolutely majestic.  Truly a memorable moment!

DSC_0822Oh, Here are the flowers I was photographing before my eagle encounter.  Anybody know what they are?

DSC_0838As I got closer to the end of my walk, I started to see more herons.  To be honest, I was hoping the eagle would turn around and make another appearance, but instead I had these herons chasing each other.  Come on!  There’s plenty of open water for all of you to play in.  The one in the middle kept going after the one on the right.  And then sometimes the one on the left chased after the one in the middle.  These guys were also very impressive, however I have discovered that my lens on my camera has limited range.  I can’t zoom up close, from far away.  So I either have to give up trying to get great zoom from far away or I’ll have to get another lens.  I’ll have to think about it, maybe after my photography lessons in June.  A new lens could be another costly expense.  Yikes!

IMG_1901Here are some more lovely flowers, just on the edge of the marsh, near the parking lot.  Again, anyone know what type of flower this is?

IMG_1907This is the south pond.  Just behind me is the marsh.  I can’t say I was in too much awe of the pond.  I was more interested in the birds.  There was a black bird with “London-Telephone-booth Red” on it’s wings and it had a very distinct call.  Sadly, I couldn’t get close enough to it to take a photo.

IMG_1903Here is the marsh and just off to the side and in the distance is the Iona Jetty.  And I’ve returned just in time as it began to cloud over.  But still, no rain!

Could you tell the difference between the last three photos compared to all the others?  The last three were iphone 5 shots.

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