Shades of Autumn at Seal Bay Park

October 29, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Seal Bay Park is a regional park withing the city limits of Comox, BC. The park is about 7 km from where I currently live and is 1,610 acres in size which is about 1.5 times the size of Stanley Park. At first, I found this hard to believe when I was looking at the area on Google Earth and the map on the printed brochure but the map wasn't to scale. When I looked at the map it appeared to be a short distance to walk to Melda's Marsh but I ended up walking for quite a while before I reached the area. Most of the time, I like to head down to the rocky beach area and see if I can spot sea lions basking on the boulders which project out of the ocean during low tide. There are also eagles and blue heron as well as ducks in the water.

When I visited the park about the third week in October, I was surprised to see fall colors on some of the trees because I thought the previous wind storms had blown the leaves off. There are, however, only certain areas where maple trees appear to be in abundance and that is around the eastern part of the park near the ocean.

Most of the times, the mornings are busier as people appear to do their exercise then head home. I had hiked the Seal Flipper Loop then headed north along the Don Apps Trail taking photographs of the mostly yellow leaves and the ravine filled with ferns before making a loop back to the parking area. From there, I crossed the road and headed to Melda's Marsh and ate my lunch there. A person came by to cut up a fallen tree at the marsh. I thought the tree had fallen due to the strong winds but he told me it was the works of a beaver.

I visited the park about a week later on an overcast and showery day. There were still some fall colors left but most of the leaves have fallen. I made my way to the beach along the Don Apps trail where a narrow path in the forest heads north along the beach. The hike near the ocean reminded me of some trails that I've hiked on Haida Gwai (Queen Charlotte Islands). The tide was high up but outgoing and there was seals laying on some boulders. I also observed a blue heron near the water looking for fish. I ended up photographing the muted colors of the bushes along the cliffs.

The brochures which the city provides at certain trailhead entrances has a nice map of the trails to follow. It also has a description of the loop trail that I took near the beach and describes it as "somewhat challenging" which I found amusing. I would rate it as easy. The brochure also gives somewhat bad advice when encountering bears. It mentions slowly backing away and avoiding eye contact. According to Dr. Tom Smith, a wildlife biologist, you shouldn't back away because it means you are being submissive like a prey. He also states that you should be keeping an eye on the bear to see what its next move would be. There is no evidence to suggest that bears become aggressive if you stare at it.

Walking the Twin Flower Lane, there are lots of ferns which had changed colors from green to brown. The trail along this portion of the park was filled with pools of water. I made my way to Melda's Marsh and around the south part where there are a couple of viewing platforms. Almost all of the bushes in the marsh had lost their leaves leaving behind the reddish brown colors of the branches. I also saw a couple of colorful Amanita Muscaria muschrooms to photograph. There is a lot more trails to cover in the park but I will leave that for another day.



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