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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

Xwee Xwhya Luq

Pronounced “zway-why-luck”

Meaning “a place that has beauty, beauty, that is not only seen but also felt.”

Or in English, Seal Bay Nature Park. The K’omoks First Nation’s sure got it right with their translation of this beautiful spot! We both agreed it was a stunning piece of paradise and we have to go back another day for more photography opportunities and more hiking.

Seal Bay Nature Park is 41 minutes north of Fanny Bay, in Courtenay, but it is north of the downtown area of Courtenay, directly on the Salish Sea/Strait of Georgia. The Nature Park is 1,586 acres and is comprised of the Seal Bay Nature Park, which the Comox Valley Regional District owns and has managed as parkland since 1975, and Seal Bay Forest, a provincial forest managed by the Comox Vally Regional District under a Crown lands agreement. First Nations people traditionally visited the Seal Bay Area for resource harvesting and to camp when travelling through the area by canoe. Reflecting the cultural and natural significance of the park, many of the park trails have been renamed with traditional names of the Komoks peoples. Park signs feature phonetic pronunciations as well as English names. Today we followed both the Seal Loop and the Coupland Loop for a 3.5km hike.

We had sensory overload as soon as we arrived at the park. There was a guy sitting in the back of his SUV playing the flute for passers by; a woodpecker pecking at a tree by the entrance to the Trailhead and a waterfall to photograph on the first bridge, as we entered the trail. WOW! So much to take in before we even knew which route we were going to follow!

First waterfall in the park near the parking lot.

The day was gorgeous today with tons of sun and clear blue skies at +9C. It was a fabulous day to hike this glorious park!

Richard asked some folks who looked like they were experienced hikers - he had the biggest walking stick ever - and they told us if we wanted to see the seals, to head to the beach via the Seal route.

It looks like the woodpeckers really liked this tree down by the beach.

We hiked down from the top of this hill to the beach on a moderate hard packed trail, with considerable slope, that was not very muddy, despite all the rain we had over the past two days.

As soon as we got down to the beach we saw a very large rock full of cormorants.

Cormorants are coastal rather than oceanic birds, eating fish, eels, or even water snakes. They dive from the surface and underwater they propel themselves with their feet. Some cormorants have been found to dive to depths as much as 150ft! Cormorants typically go ashore after fishing and hold their wings out to the sun. All cormorants have preen gland secretions that are used to keep the feathers waterproof.

We could see heads bobbing in the water further down the beach and we knew they must be the seals. Unfortunately my zoom lens has not arrived yet, so I couldn’t get as close a shot as I would have liked. We will definitely go back another day with the new zoom lens to capture these playful creatures.

Seal heads bobbing in Seal Bay.

Having fun with my new camera!

I didn’t get the seals close up, but I did find this guy on the beach!

At the end of the beach we came upon a bridge and a waterfall and a different way back up to the trails.

Bending the knees to shoot under the bridge and capture this beautiful rushing waterfall!

Sometimes to get this blurred effect with water I would either need a neutral density filter or use a tripod for long exposure. The new camera is able to capture it without having the filter or tripod. I’m impressed!

I’m really happy with how this photo turned out of the waterfall. What amazing ability of this new Fuji X-T4! And if I would only get to the other 1.5 hours of the YouTube video on how to operate it it, imagine what I could shoot!

The trail heading back up through the woods, was very steep, but had a hand rail to hold onto most of the way up. What an amazing job they have done at this park, to be able to explore all the way down to the beach and back up again on different trails!

We walked through the forest on the Coupland trail back to the car park.

I stopped to shoot this huge stump in the forest. Its amazing how big the tree roots can be!

Big huge stump of tree roots in the forest surrounded by the very tall stand of pine trees.

We were very hungry after our hike and we thought we would head to a food truck we had seen called the Phat Parrot on Port Augusta Street in Comox. When we arrived at our destination, there was no food truck unfortunately.

We decided instead to go to the Blackfin Pub for lunch right next to the Comox harbour. The restaurant was not very crowded,but we were surprised to see the following sign outside the restaurant!

Yikes! After doing some investigating we discovered that due to intense snow and rainfall, turbidity levels have risen in both Comox Lake and Puntledge River which are interfering with the chlorination process used to disinfect the drinking water for the 45,000 residents served by the Comox valley water system. All users of the Water System are advised to boil their water. We are not impacted by the Boil Water advisory in Fanny Bay as our water comes from a well at Lighthouse RV Park. We also have a countertop Berkey Water Filtration system which removes 100% of pathogens, so we have consistent water wherever we go.

We enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Black Fin Pub.

Thai mussels with a coconut cream sauce which I really enjoyed.

Truffle oil frites, with parmesan cheese and garlic!

Seafood chowder with tons of seafood in it which Richard complimented the kitchen on the taste.

Richard ordered a blonde beer from Mount Arrowsmith brewing company which he did not finish or really enjoy. The beer had too much of a taste of “orange peels”. I guess he will have to stick to CHARDONNAY instead of beer!

After making a quick stop at Best Buy in Courtenay on the way home for a new Sodastream CO2 canister, we couldn’t resist another trip to “Just Like Mom’s” fresh home baking. Today we bought a chocolate pecan pie for dessert!

And arriving home at Fanny Bay around 4pm we had a beautiful blue hour picture perfect setting greeting us!

Fanny Bay and oyster traps.

Fanny Bay at blue hour. It never gets old looking at this view on a beautiful day!

Tomorrow is a big day for us. Newman gets more propane delivered. Safely we hope!

And I finally get a hair cut! I haven’t had one since 2019! With Covid and moving to Fort Erie full time, I’ve not had a hair cut in quite a long time. Let’s hope things turn out ok in the cut and colour department for me!

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