Sunday, August 12, 2007

Fish Jumping at Chilliwack Hatchery

Here is a short video that Kelvin of the Meridians shot of the fish jumping at the channel gateway

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Chilliwack Valley Caching and Cruising

ABOVE: 8 foot long Sturgeon at Inch Creek Fish Hatchery

To view all the pictures click here to go to my Flickr photo site; when you get to the site, in the upper right corner click on "view as slide show" to start the slide show, and then click in the centre of the first picture to enable viewing of the captions for each photo.

On Monday Aug 6 I had the pleasant job of being a tour guide to the Mr of the team Meridians, a fellow family of cachers. This was the first time I had met Kelvin but we hit it off well and had a fun day bouncing around in the Jeep on the forest roads in the Chilliwack Valley.

The goal today was not so much to hit as many caches as we could, rather it was an easy day of puttering along familiar ground for me but new to Kelvin. I had about 15 caches in the pile, most of which I had done already and Kelvin had not; no worries, today it's not about the numbers.....that was yesterday caching in North Van!

Our first stop on the way to Chilliwack was at the Inch Creek Fish Hatchery; here we walked around the hatchery on a self guided tour. A highlight is the White Sturgeon they have in the settlement pond. Sturgeon can grow to over 20 feet long and live 100 years; today they are an endangered species and they are on a catch and release program.

In the pond (picture at top of story) they have a relatively small sturgeon, approx 8 feet long. They use the fish as a scum sucker, as the sturgeon filter the water taking nutrients in and in turn cleaning the water prior to discharge back into Inch Creek.

Kelvin way pointed the hatchery as a place to bring the family in the future, and we continued on to Chilliwack.

We drove to Cultus Lake and just after the water slides, go kart track and golf course, we turned onto Sleepy Hollow Road and turned away from the rest of the summer crowds.

At the top of Sleepy Hollow Road we expected to find the "headless horseman" from Walt Disney, instead we found a cache called "Arboreal Sanctuary". This cache was along side the road but hidden on an embankment among young trees and moss; Kelvin found this one the old fashioned stepping on it.

After this find the paved road ended and we were now on Liumchen Forest Service Road (FSR).

A short way down the road we passed one of the old army training grounds from when CFB Chilliwack was in use. In the hills and rough terrain behind the fenced off area they taught the soldiers how to drive heavy machinery like the deuce and a half 6x6 utility trucks and off road recovery vehicles.

ABOVE: Liumchen Forest Service Road bridge

Above: View from the bridge of Liumchen Falls

The road went over Liumchen Creek right where the creek exited from a small canyon, and conveniently, a cache was here. "Water and Moss" was hidden along the edge of the canyon but just a few feet off the creek floor; alas the cache was MIA. I had found this cache about 4 months ago so I knew where to look but the hidey hole was exposed and the cache was not to be found.

Continuing along the FSR we passed the cache "What Do You Mean I Need A Key"? The cache is a large tool kit hidden in the woods and you can find it but it has a padlock on the box and you need to find a key to open the lock. Trick is, the keys are hidden randomly around the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford and Chilliwack areas caches; only luck will help you find a key.

Well, we didn't have a key so we bypassed the cache and continued on to a date with lions.

To be precise the cache is called "The Liumchen Lions Den"; this is a cleverly disguised small cache right beside a busy FSR junction. Right where the Liumchen FSR comes down off a bench
to river level, it meets the Tamihi FSR. Both roads, as a matter of fact, all of the FSRs in the valley have turned into a trail bikers paradise, and the sounds of two stroke engines spitting out clouds of oily blue smoke can be heard far and wide.

ABOVE: Garmin VS Magellan, the rivalry continues!

I won't show you the cache or the immediate area, suffice to say Kelvin put his Garmin Rhino 530 and I put my Magellan Meridian Gold side by side on the log, and both performed equally well. Both came down to 6 meters to the cache, which was pretty well bang on!

ABOVE: Quaint bridge over Little Tamihi Creek on the TCT

The Lions Den found and log recorded for posterity, we moved a mile down the road to the next cache called "Tamihi Trail Cache" which was located next to Little Tamihi Creek. This section of trail by the creek and along side the Chilliwack River is part of the Trans-Canada Trail, and a very picturesque part it is as well.

ABOVE: If your buddy tells you to go stand on the bridge so he can take your picture, make sure the bridge doesn't have any holes in it before you go
(Picture by Kelvin of the Meridians)

The cache location was near a few old stumps that were large enough that the loggers from the early days had to make notches in the stump so they could put their spring boards in the tree. The spring board allowed them to get a few feet higher on the tree to where the trunk was narrower, and it allowed them to swing above the vegatation on the forest floor.

ABOVE: Kelvin of The Meridians posing for the picture: actually I thinking he's doing vogue!

Next up was a rest stop and a walk around at the Tamihi Forest Service campground located at the junctions of Tamihi Creek and Chilliwack River. The Tamihi Creek is a fair size creek and a very beautiful creek as well; it is a fast moving creek as it flows over boulders and around house size boulders that have fallen from the surrounding cliff sides. There is a cache hidden here, called "Tamihi Tumble" but Kelvin preferred to leave the cache for when he returns with his family so that they can find the cache together.

ABOVE: Kayaker on the Chilliwack River
Next stop was at the Chilliwack River Fish Hatchery, we love visiting the hatcheries.... :)
ABOVE: Aluminum rearing troughs at the Chilliwack Fish Hatchery

We had a treat here as the bright red Spring Salmon had returned to where they were hatched. Kelvin took some great video of the salmon leaping over the small step in the hatchery channel as the Springs attempted to get further "upstream".
If Kelvin can send me some video I'll see if I can post it for you to view.
We headed further up the valley as we aimed for Foley FSR which would bring us back down the valley on the opposite side of the river. We found the turn off, turned onto Foley FSR and followed it along to a fork where we swung west on Bench Rd FSR as we headed down stream following the Chilliwack River again, this time on the north side of the river.

ABOVE: Rapids on Chilliwack River. This is a favourite play area for the kayakers

We stopped at a scenic spot where the river was forced to squeeze past large granite boulders that jutted halfway out into the river. This is one of my favourite lunch spots when ever I come up this way. It's also a favourite play area for the kayakers; I have watched them play in the rapids going sideways down the river and purposefully flipping their kayak upside down and right side up again.
ABOVE: View of the Chilliwack Valley from Bench Road FSR

We pushed on aware that the day was winding down and it was time to start heading for home. We travelled along Bench Road FSR gaining and losing elevation as it tried to stay with the river. Eventually the road left the river and climbed the mountain seeking it's own way down valley. One area that had recently been logged afforded a commanding view of the lower end of the Chilliwack River and it's valley, and we could see on the opposite side of the valley where we had been many hours ago.

ABOVE: Kelvin at the viewpoint
Continuing on we took one more fork and heading south towards the river along Army Bench FSR, and one more cache for Kelvin to pick up. "Valley Decachelon: Forest Frolicking" is part of a series of 10 caches spread through out the Chilliwack and Abbotsford areas of which you must find all 10 caches and collect the clues in each cache before you can find the final cache.

Well, now Kelvin has one clue... :)

ABOVE: While Kelvin looked for the cache I looked over the Jeep to see how it had fared with the dusty roads, deep mud puddles and creeks that we crossed on the unmaintained FSRs. Well, I'd say not bad; you can't really call that dirty for a Jeep can you?
One last stop for us before we left the area, and that was at the memorial for the people who perished in the 1956 crash of Trans Canada Airlines (now Air Canada) flight 810. The plane smashed into Mount Slesse (Slesse means "fang" in the local native dialect) killing all 62 people aboard, three of which were Saskatchewan Rough Riders returning from the all stars game. Click here to go to a web page about the crash.
ABOVE: Picture of a Canadair North Star similar to the one that crashed
With that last stop over, we piled into the Jeep and made a run for the freeway, just in time to get caught up in the Long Weekend traffic heading back into Vancouver.
Thanks to Kelvin of The Meridians for the good company on the exploration of the Chilliwack Valley; best part is, next time he buys lunch !!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Caching in North Vancouver BC Aug 5 2007

ABOVE: totem pole at Cates Park

After a bit of an unintentional hiatus from caching brother Ken and I were out again in North Vancouver searching for bits of tupperware hidden in the bushes.
We aimed to do approx 30 caches today but as you know things never turn out the way you plan.

I have posted some pictures with the story, but all of the pictures with captions can be found here on my Flickr site. (Yes, click on the red "here" to go to the photo site).
When you get to the Flickr photo site, in the upper right click on "View as a slide show" and when the slide show starts, click in the centre of the first picture to turn on the captions window.

Whey-Ah-Whichen "faces the wind"is the Tsleil-Waututh name for this place which defines Indian Arm from Burrard Inlet. We know it as Cates Park which was dedicated in 1950 in honour of Charles Cates, founder of Cates Towing, a large tug boat company.

Our first stop was in Cates Park where we were going to pick up 3 easy caches; at least easy to find but Cates Park on a summer day is a zoo. Hard to be stealthy looking when you are surrounded by a 1000 sun worshippers!

Cache #1 "Water Logged" sitting at the edge of the lawn where the ground slopes down to the beach was protected by a band who had set up right there in front of the cache. Listening to the band were 30 people or so all within 50 feet of where we wanted to be. NUTS! OK, so this isn't going to happen, let's leave it and go on to the next one.
ABOVE: East beach of Cates Park

Off we go down the trail travelling east along the beach trail and then onto the beach itself. The narrow beach is squished between the low rock wall and the water's edge, but even here people where enjoying the day. Kayakers set up their boats ready for the ride, and other folks came here to get away from the crowds back at the main part of the park.

The GPSr led us up a flight of stairs back into the forest and along a wide shaded path as we continued in our quest for the treasure. And succesful we were; "Deep Cove Cates" was a good name for the cache based on it's hiding location, deep in it's hidey hole. Cache retrieved, log book signed and cache re-hidden, we were on a roll; 1 for 2. LOL

ABOVE: Ken and his two geo-hounds. Mya is the white one and Jasper is the black one

We headed back along the forest trail to the parking area and across the play area to a small stand of trees where a hidden giant awaited us. One of the things I never get tired off seeing in the forests that make up the parks of the Vancouver area is the gigantic stumps that were logged in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Other people are amazed by them too, as quite often you will find caches hidden in the largest stump in the vicinity. Such was the case here where "Cates Park Coupon Cache" was hidden in an enormous stump that boggles the mind on how two men swinging an axe on their own could bring down this giant.

This was an easy stop and grab which we liked; now our record was 2 for 3 on the day and we were starting to feel cocky that due to the late start we had to the day that we quit for an early lunch before we got too wrapped up in the search for more caches.

We always enjoy seeing wild life while we are out caching; usually we come across deer or squirrels running along the tree limbs. How ever, sitting a fast food joint having a "fill me up" sub Ken looks over my shoulder and says "there goes a skunk"! First thing I say is "Scruffster, is that you"? (Scruffster being the caching handle of a well known cacher). Second thing I say is "where? It's not coming close is it"? Nope, it wandered into the hedges across the driveway and we did not see it again, much to our relief.....

ABOVE: Public access to water shore viewing

Stomach filled and thirst quenched, we headed back along Dollarton Highway looking for the cache called "Vindicating Vista". This is one of those tiny green spaces squished in between two houses that back onto Burrard Inlet. Many times I've been along this road and never noticed this public access point to view the water, once again you have to say "I never would have known about this place except for caching".

The cache itself was a quick find, except for the fact the access point was overgrown with thorns and stinging nettle. Me, with my jeans on, held the reins of Ken's hounds while he, with the shorts, attacks the nettle and brambles with only minor whimpering.

ABOVE: the view from the cache called "The View"

Next on the hit list was a micro cache called "The View" hidden on a set of stairs leading down the hill to a new waterfront park. The old buildings here are the remainder of Matsumoto Shipyards in operation from 1949 to 1989; the land is being converted into an city park with the old buildings intact. Hopefully they will make it into a museum.

ABOVE: on the way to "Getting Started"

The micro cache duly found and logged, we turned our attention to a self revealing cache called "Getting Started". The owner of this cache wants you to write a short blurb on how you got started caching. It's interesting to read some of the stories, and even more interesting to find out who knows who in the caching world. As happens so often in caching, the hides are hidden in areas that you never knew about. In this case "Getting Started" is hidden in the Roche Point Forest and is adjacent to a sensitive part of the park off limit to pets as the area is one of the few remaining homes of the endangered Pacific Water Shrew. Now, would you have known that unless you came caching here? I didn't!

ABOVE: Pacific Water Shrew

Cache #6 of the day was at a small community park called Garibaldi Park. Quite a few of the parks have a combination of developed play areas and undeveloped wooded areas, and this was the case here. At the back of the park a small forest area ran along side a small creek environment with trails going back and forth in the open wooded area, no doubt a great play area for the kids. While we enjoyed the peaceful setting we were very disappointed to see that the local residents use a large area around the access points as their personal dumping place for yard waste. The houses in the area are upper mid-class and typically the residents are more flush with cash then some of the poorer areas of Vancouver, yet the laziness and selfishness shown in the park left us shaking our heads.

ABOVE: Trailhead at the base of Seymour Mountain

Moving on we went in search of a cache located at the base of a Seymour Mountain, home to Seymour Park and the Seymour sking area. The history of the cache was just as long as the mountain is tall; "VTMP No; 79 Along The Way". This cache is one of many dedicated to Vancouver's first moving cache that was archived a while ago. A moving cache is one you pick up from it's current location, find a new hiding spot for it, and post the new co-ordinates. The next finder will do the same and so on; eventually the cache will have moved around the western part of the Lower Mainland. In honour of that moving cache, permanent caches were hidden at it's temporary homes; I myself have two caches hidden from this series.

The cache was located a short walk up one of the trails that ascend Seymour Mountain, lucky for us it wasn't very far along the trail. The mountain has mountain bike trails as well as hiking trails, and the wide path we walked along was a favourite exit point for the mountain bikers.

Keeping one eye on our GPSr and one eye watching for rapidly approaching two wheelers, we took the short walk to the cache. A quick sign of the log book, a quick look up the trail for speeders, and back to the truck we went.

ABOVE: Cache location for "Well Grounded"

Proving that you can put a cache almost anywhere, this is the location for a small sized cache; can you see it in the picture?
ABOVE: Can you see the cache now?

ABOVE: Always a possiblity when walking through the forest

When you go walking in the woods you never know who or what you'll meet, a chance encounter isn't as rare as you might think. Probably every cacher has a bear story to tell!
ABOVE: "Hello, Hello....any bears down there? Ken, send the dogs first"!

The bear sign was posted near the trail head for "Big Stump, Little Stump" located just behind a town house complex off Dollarton Hwy. Hidden behind the town homes is a small grove of once mighty trees, now just mighty big stumps. The cache owner has hidden the cache almost in plain view around the base of one of the stumps; the trick is, which stump? Ingenious camoflauge makes the cache tougher to spot than you think.

Next on the list was another cache located in a city park that consists of playing fields and a ravine greenbelt. "McCartney Creek Cache" is the location that Ken and I employed our best method of searching for a cache. That is, simply stated: "no matter how small or deep a ravine is, you must always start on the opposite side of the ravine from which the cache is located". That's almost a golden rule for us, and we employed that theory in this park as well.
ABOVE: Let's play "Can You Spot the Cache" again......well....can you?

At least the ravine wasn't deep where we crossed it, and after some searching and tapping with a handy wooden probe, Ken located the well disguised cache.

ABOVE: The pathway through Harbour Park along the bank of Lynn Creek
The next two caches were close together, situated along the bank of Lynn Creek where it empties into Burrard Inlet. Along the river's edge was a small linear park that was an off leash area, which the geo-hounds enjoyed. Ken spent a few minutes throwing the stick into the river for the black hound to chase, while I went looking for the cache called "Cache Remains Final".
As it turns out I was standing almost on top of it! Well, that was a quick find! LOL
ABOVE: Some geeky guy with too many toys strapped to his hip. In my hand I have my GPSr, a Magellan Meridian Gold, next to it is my cell phone, and the orange thing is a FRS radio for when Ken and I get a bit too far away to yell to each other.

With one dry and one wet dog in tow we meandered down the pathway to the end where the park meets the harbour. Here was a virtual cache called "King of the World". You have to count how many poles of a certain colour are in the area, and then email the cache owner the answer to verify you were at the cache site. After that you can claim the cache as a "find".

Poles counted we strolled back up the pathway headed to the truck to squeeze in a few more caches on the day.

ABOVE: A busy creek in the summer heat...looks inviting!
Across Main Street and further upstream of Lynn Creek is Lynn Creek Park, a perfect place for young kids to come with parents and float down the slow cool creek while they beat the summer heat. In the park is a "Cache Remains #3, which was originally part of the series called "Cache Remains". Now the caches are stand alone, and you can do them individually. The cache was an easy find, but with all of the people enjoying the park it was tough to grab the cache with out looking too obvious.

ABOVE: One of the sign boards at Moodyville Park

The next cache was our favourite of the day as it was located in a historical area. "Bones #3" is the name of the cache and it is located in Moodyville Park on the former grounds of the community of Moodyville. Named after S. P. Moody, the community was home to first a mill, then a community as the workers settled around the mill. There is a trail that runs around the outskirts of the park, and along the trail are historical signs that tell you a bit about Moodyville in it's hey day.
The cache was a bit difficult as our readings were a bit off, but find the cache we did. Then Ken and I spent an hour walking around reading the signs and the large historical board located in the main area of the park.

Almost done for the day but we still want to cache, so we went looking for "Refuse to Cache". This was a micro located at a turn around at the end of a road as it bumped up against Hwy #1.
We found it quick enough, while trying to look casual for the sake of the home owner working on his house nearby.

ABOVE: Pond at "The Happy Man"

Last cache of the day, which made us happy too! This cache was a fun one to do as it was a "multi", which means you had to go to different spots in the park and count swing sets or posts, then use certain numbers from your answer to determine the bearing and distance to the cache. Well, Ken and I are never that confident of our projection to the final cache on hides like this, so we were once again "happy" to find the cache where we thought it would be.

ABOVE: A biggie-size ammo box
And, man was that ammo box HUGE!! It was so large that at first the white geo-hound wasn't sure about it. I think she was afraid she would fall in and not get back out. LOL
Well, that's the end of the story; a full day of caching with 16 caches under our belts, plus a hamburger or two! :)
Time to go home and log our finds on

Monday, August 06, 2007

Bald Eagle Watching Trip to Harrison Mills

Here is a story from my archives of a cold, windy site seeing tour to Harrison Mills to go Bald Eagle watching. I don't know who watched who more; us watching the eagles or the eagles wondering what the heck we were looking at!

Ed Pedersen
Ron Patrick
Ken & Linda Pedersen

Chehalis-Harrison River area of the Fraser Valley 50 miles east of Vancouver

With this posting I am including additional information for those of you who wish to retrace my steps. This tour is a delightful country drive along secondary roads and country side roads. It is especially delightful during the summer, but the number and types of birds to view are limited during the summer months.

I am including mileage stops where possible, as well as I am enclosing GPS waypoint information for those of you with GPS units. Plus, I am including any geocache sites along the way.

For those of you not familiar with geocaching, it is a "sport" where geocachers around the world hide things in a container that could be as small as sandwich size, or as large as a 5 gallon bucket.
They post the GPS coordinates on and other folks will try and find it.

This was my 4th year of Bald Eagle watching in the Harrison area, and I try to get out there 2-3 times each season. Prime times are mid-December to the end of January. After that, the salmon are finished spawning and most of the carcasses have been devoured. When that happens, the eagles move away to find better feeding grounds.

So, with this in my mind, I posted a tour to the BackRoads Driver Northwest YahooGroup and hoped that the weather would co-operate.

For the past few days the area has had -10 C temperatures with 30-40 MPH winds, giving a wind chill factor of -23C and that makes it darn cold to stand out in the wind with a camera or binoculars!

We got lucky, sort of, as the wind had diminished, but in the exposed valleys it was just a strong as ever, and those tour stops meant freezing your pinkies right through your gloves. It also meant that the eagle sightings were not as numerous as hoped for, but the quality made up for the reduced quantity.

Mile Zero was in the village of Dewdney on Hwy #7 Lougheed Highway a few miles east of Mission. Stop at the bridge before you go over the Nicomen Slough onto Nicomen Island and zero your odometer.

While you are stopped check out the cottonwood trees for the conspicuous large forms of the Bald Eagles. Once you see their silhouette in the bare trees the first time, you'll be able to spot them readily as you continue this journey.

Stop 1
We proceeded east along Hwy#7 spotting the occasional mature and juvenile eagles in the trees that ran along side the slough. We stopped at 2.1 K (1.3 miles), and pulled over onto the left side of the road where the shoulder widens.

This is usually a slow running section of the Nicomen Slough, with plenty of mud flats for salmon carcasses to be exposed, and prime eagle spotting. Today, due to the cold spell, the slough was mostly frozen over, and only a few juvenile eagles were spotted in the trees waiting out the wind. We did spot several song birds flitting back and forth in the brambles, although they were moving too fast to allow proper identification.

Stop 2
Back in the cars, and again heading east our next stop was at kilometre 3.7 (2.3 miles). Here we could see mallard ducks lazily plying the open water, while the occasional Bald Eagle soared by playing on the wind. A couple of Winter Wrens jumped from tree to ground level searching for insects and other tidbits.

Once more we headed east to kilometre 5.9 ( 3.67 miles ) and turned left onto Johnson Road. This would take us back towards the slough which was now 1/2 a mile away from Hwy #7. We followed Johnson Rd. past farmer's fields and barns till it met Nicomen Slough Rd. We turned left onto this one lane road and idled along the slough looking for eagles and other birds.

Here we spotted a pair on Tundra swans down from the Artic wintering in the slough. As well, Bufflehead ducks and Canada Geese spent their time in the sheltered section of water out of the cool winter wind.

Above us, eagles would whip by letting the wind take them to a new perch. We went another 1/4 of a mile, turned around, and followed the single lane road past Johnson Rd, and remained on it till it met up again with Hwy #7 ( Lougheed Hwy ). We turned left, (east), and continued along side the slough until we reached another bridge that crosses Nicomen Slough.

Once you cross this bridge you are no longer on Nicomen Island. The island you just left is one of the most fertile farmland areas in the Fraser Valley. This is due to the large amount of sediment that the Fraser River has deposited here for thousands of years since the last Ice Age.

Stop 3
Before we crossed the bridge, we pulled over on the right shoulder of the road and into a small gravel parking area. In the open waters we could see flocks of Tundra Swans, Canada Geese, Common Mergansers and other waterfowl that were too far away to identify. Several juvenile eagles were here, and one especially stood out as it rested on an angular stump on the bank of the slough.

East again on the highway brought us to the start of Harrison Bay at kilometre 23.9 (14.85 miles). Harrison Bay is a large elbow of the Harrison River; it spreads out in what was once an ancient channel of the Fraser River during the glacier melts.

In the fall and early winter, before the shallow waters freeze up, this is an area overflowing with waterfowl. In the fall of 2003 I estimated there were over 3,000 ducks of all kinds on this small body of water. Today was not to be the same, as it too was frozen over, and there were no birds to be spotted on the western side of the bay either.

At kilometre 26.3 (16.34 miles) we came to the turn off that would lead to our most productive areas of the day.

We turned left onto Morris Valley Rd, where a pub by the name of The Sasquatch Inn is situated. This road also leads to two main valleys in the area: the "Chehalis" and the "Harrison" valleys. Both are reputed to be home to the legendary Sasquatch, also know as Bigfoot !

We followed Morris Valley Rd and pulled over as it opened up into a wide expanse of the Harrison River called the Chehalis Mud Flats. This is a very wide swath of open landscape approx 5 miles long and a mile wide.

Stop 4
Here is where all the Bald Eagles had headed after the local waters froze over. Pullover at Kilometre 29.0 (18.02 miles)

Close to the shore ducks like Mallards and Scaups paddled but no eagles could we see. We scanned the bluffs that bordered the west side of the road, and spotted several eagles in the trees above us. One recently matured eagle was particularly well placed on a branch, and waited patiently while Ron got some good shots of him with his telephoto lens. We were on the west side of the mud flats looking east to the far side where the main channel of the river is located.

In the far distance, with the aid of the binoculars, we could see a multitude of eagles sitting on the windy sand bars picking at the frozen salmon carcasses.

North still on Morris Valley Road and the eagles were more numerous in the old snags and cotton woods that lined the edge of the marsh along side the road. We were obviously hitting the equivalent of the "eagle motherlode".

Stop 4A no Waypoints logged
Kilometre 31.5 (19.57 miles) brought us to the Chehalis Fish Hatchery. Getting out of the cars we could hear the eagles in the trees around us, and we knew that we were in the right spot.

The Chehalis River is a small river that empties into the larger Harrison River, and the Chehalis is a prime river for 5 types of salmon spawning. From late summer to late winter multiple runs take advantage of the wide gravel beds of the river to spawn. And, in turn, every fish eating bird congregates here as well.

We parked in the hatchery parking lot and walked around the outside perimeter path that would lead us down to the mouth of the hatchery channel, where the channel empties in to the Chehalis. As we walked along the path we could see eagles soaring above the river, and Coho salmon, their skin gone dark with age, moved lazily in the channel. The ever present seagulls argued over half of a dead salmon that one of them had carried onto the pathway. A lone American Dipper, it's feathers a dark slate colour, flitted to the edge of the channel, and then promptly jumped into the fast moving section and walked underwater as it looked for salmon roe being carried with the current.

The dipper shared the wide channel with several female Common Mergansers, their bright orange head crests wet from diving for salmon roe and other tasty treats. In the trees near us, low to the ground, a pair Varied Thrush watched us with concern as we walked towards the river's edge.

Even before we reached the river bank, in the tall trees around us we could see numerous mature and juvenile Bald Eagles resting between feeding bouts, their vivid yellow eyes watching us with curiosity as we watched them. I counted more than two dozen in the immediate area, and still more wheeled by as they flew up or down the river channel to alight in a tree top, where they instantly blended in with the foilage.

My best guess is that, if we could pick out the eagles hiding in the tall trees around us, that there would be approx 100 within a football field's length of us. We could hear many more than we could see so well were they camoflauged.

Having taken as many pictures as we could, and having spotted more eagles with the binoculars, I decided it was time for a diversion. The area right around the hatchery contained a geocache, and this was to be my first find.

I pulled out my GPS, found the coordinates for the cache, and with the aid of Ken the Bushwhacker, we followed our noses, (well, the GPS' nose ) as we honed in on the cache SUCCESS ! Hidden 15 feet off the trail under an old fallen log was a small container containing a log book, a pencil for signing the logbook, and several items to trade such as a watch and small kids toys.

Tonight I'll log onto and report that I found the cache, and what the condition of the cache is, as well as any comments I may have. The waypoint name for the cache is GCHQG3 located at N 49 17.478 W 121 56.528. It is known as "SOME THINGS FISHY".

Also near here, just a 1/2 mile away is another geocache known as "CHEHALIS CANYON" waypoint name GCHQG5. It is located at N 49 18.091 W 121 56.329. Due to the time of day, the recent snowfall, and the fact the we were freezing our butts off, we decided that some of these geocaches are more fun to find in the summer !

So, we passed on this one and continued our trip. If you are wondering where the name Chehalis comes from, it is a derivative of the First Nations name given by the Stolo nation to their community furthest from the Fraser River. In the Halq'emeylem language Chehalis (Sts'a'i:les) means"running aground on a sandbar (with the chest of the canoe)"

Stop 5
Back in the vehicles, we retraced our route back to Hwy #7, and then turned east (left) for a short distance to the Harrison River bridge. We pulled over on the right shoulder of the road before we drove over the bridge. It was extremely windy here,and our faces and hands felt the chill bite of the cold wind making us shiver in just a few minutes.

Taking the binoculars and looking north up the mud flats, I counted 60-70 eagles on the wide expanse of the mud flats, seemingly oblivious of the biting wind. As well, in the small bays of the flats hundreds of ducks like Canada Geese, Lesser Scaups, and Mallards hunkered down to stay warm.

Looking south of the bridge I counted 30 eagles perched on the river bank and nearby log booms picking at salmon, while flocks of geese and waterfowl watched them with a wary eye. We also got a perfect present of having a juvenile Bald Eagle playing on the wind just above our heads. It seemed to be using the bridge as a reference point, as it maneuvered expertly to remain just above the bridge. Try as we did, he was just too darn fast to get a good picture.The wind was gusting to 40 MPH, and he was shucking and jiving in the wind gusts. As if to tease us, as we got back in the cars and drove over the two lane bridge, he came down and hovered at car top level at the edge of the bridge, literally 10 feet away from us. "Hah, how do ya like that" he says!

Stop 6
At kilometre 39 (24.23 miles) we turned right on to School Road and followed the signs to Kilby Park. This is the site of one of the first white settlements in the area. One of the original farmers started milling lumber in 1870,and from 1870 to 1910 a succession of mills came into operation. In 1902 Thomas Kilby came to the area and built a three story hotel that quickly became the focal point of the small community. It became an overnight stop for the trains heading to and from Vancouver, and the farmers from Chilliwack on the opposite side of the Fraser River use to bring their dairy products bound for the growing Vancouver and it's suburbs across the river on small boats to load onto the west bound trains.

Long before the white settlers, for thousands of years, the First Nations had a community here called Scowlitz ( Sq'ewlets), "turning the canoe around the corner". It was situated right at the mouth of Harrison Bay as the Harrison River narrows to enter theFraser River.

The Stolo here hunted in the mountains to the north, and fished in the safety of the sheltered bay for salmon. They also fished the backwater channels of the Fraser for the mighty White Sturgeon that use to grow to 20 feet long, and live for 100 years.

Kilby park is on the east side of the large Harrison Bay, and the bay is home to flocks numbering in the hundreds of Common Mergansers, Buffleheads, Lesser and Greater Scaups, American and European Widgeons, Tundra Swans, Mallards, Barrows Goldeneyes, and more types of waterfowl than a poor spotter like me can name.

Of course the main attraction of the day, the Bald Eagles had their fair share of brethren on site for our viewing pleasure.

This was the end of the tour, as the day was coming to a close, and we had all had our share of frozen patches of skin. We headed west back along Hwy #7 to Mission and had a late lunch, then Ken and Linda headed home, and Ron and I headed to one of my co-workers, who had just caught a good size Steelhead trout and was anxious to show it off.

It was a very cold day for the group due to the winter weather and the high winds, but it was a rewarding day none the less. We saw our share of eagles, some even up close and personal, and all around enjoyed the days outing.

My thanks to the members of the group who came out today, and look forward to seeing other members on future tours.

Mile Zero N 49 11.132 W 122 04.066
Stop 1 N 49 09.721 W 122 09.984
Stop 2 N 49 09.908 W 122 08.725
Stop 3 N 49 11.132 W 122 04.066
Stop 4 N 49 16.330 W 121 57.107
Stop 4A no waypoints logged
Stop 5 N 49 14 993 W 121.56.938
Stop 6 N 49 14.203 W 121.57.753