Reflections: Sombrio Point, Vancouver Island

Sombrio Point
Sombrio Point, Juan De Fuca Provincial Park, Vancouver Island , August 2006 (Pentax Optio S)

The trail was a wet, slippery slimy mess. Based at China Beach Campground we'd intended to day walk several sections but quickly learned that this kind of walking wasn't for us. Too much time spent working out how to stay upright and keep moving forwards, too little time spent looking up and around. The  Juan De Fuca Marine Trail was originally devised to save lives; to provide passage for sailors stranded on this wild coast with it's impenetrable forest. The line between survival and oblivion is apparently a fine one.

The beaches were at the other end of the scale. Stepping out onto the black pebbles was a moment of pure magic. A magic concocted from a mix of ocean, forest, low hanging mist and silvered driftwood. Something for all the senses. Adding to the magic was the knowledge that the water to our left is home to Orca and Sea Otter and the forest to our right to black bear, wolf and cougar. Something for the imagination to boot. I'd never experienced anything like this place. Is there anywhere else like this place? 

Somewhere along the line I'd got hung up on the idea that the way to experience a landscape was to move through it. Perhaps it's a kind of greed? So little time, move along and get some more! On this day I learned that  it sometimes makes more sense to sit still and let the landscape come to you. Realising the beach was where we wanted to be we gave up on the walking, set up a tarp against the rain and just sat down.  We passed the day reading, brewing up and soaking up what we'd really come to see.  It's easy to think of landscape as something static but stay put for half a day and each time you look up you'll see the view reframed. The movement of cloud, the change of light, the dilation of shadow each contributing to a complete re-rendering of the image. Landscape is anything but static. The highlight of our day at Sombrio beach came early in the evening when a family of sea Otter came to play in the surf in front of our temporary home.  

This simple image is far from technically perfect. Taken with a tiny compact camera it was never going to be. Cast your eye in the corners and you'll see the distortion. Look harder and you'll see fringing. It doesn't matter to me it's still an image I keep going back to simply because it captures something of the magic that place on that day. Perhaps you had to be there to appreciate it?


Eleventy one

It's the lowest positive integer requiring seven syllables to pronounce in British English, a perfect totient number, the second repunit, a magic constant, a nonagonal number in base 10, a prime number in base 2 and a harshad number. It's also the number you should dial if you get into real trouble in New Zeeland. Apart from those things, one hundred and eleven is the number of posts that have appeared in this raggle-taggle blog since I set those first nervous postings loose on the World Wild Web back in March of 2009. Not being one for Birthday celebrations I let the one and two year milestones slip by unnoticed. My century also went by without either song or dance. A Nelson however, just has to be acknowledged!

Way back then I promised a mix of Gear and MYOG with a few trips thrown in for good measure. But, as this place has developed it's taken on a different shape; it's become, very much, about the trips. There's been much consternation in blogland of late. In particular with respect to gear reviews there's been a call for a raising of standards, greater professionalism and transparency. There have also been, astonishingly, accusations of dishonesty. I'm confused by this. The blogs I follow I follow because things done and said inspire me, because things done and said touch me, because things done and said challenge me to look at my world, mostly the outdoors world, in a different way and because I feel and affinity with the person behind the words; friends, of sorts, in this strange virtual world.. This medium, I think, lets the person shine through in a way that other's don't. It's the rough edged, (mostly) non-commercial, untouched by the the hand of editor or reviewer, warts n' all format that makes it what it is and that should be applauded. The medium, free of editorial bias, is surely the most transparent there is? I am, as are I suspect most others, perfectly capable of  deciding what to take on board.

The fact that I personally don't post much on gear isn't born out of some deep seated ethical standpoint but rather out of practicality; I don't get enough time on the hill to review gear properly. Simply put, by the time I've formulated an opinion worth sharing I'm normally too late to join the party. Others do it better than me and should certainly continue to do so.
So what does the future hold for this place? Well, there'll certainly be some gear posts but those will mainly be reflections on gear in the context of specific trips and the conditions they served up. Such insights have some value I think. The main focus will continue to be the trips. Writing about my experience in and love of the outdoors is what I get the most pleasure from. It's a way of squeezing the last drizzle of sweet sap out of my too few days outdoors. About creating a place to come back to and relive experiences. About creating a window which, when I'm old and grey, I'll be able to press my nose up against and look on a previous self and the things he does. Sound selfish? Yes it is. It's all about me. Anybody who wants to come along for the ride is, however, very welcome.

There'll be no changes then? Well I do intend to explore something new. My love of the outdoors has always been paralleled by a love of photography. The medium punches much heavier than its weight. Photographs are far more than the sum of their parts. Though made from light alone they somehow capture a heady mix of emotion, smells, sounds, pleasure and discomfort, and solitude and companionship. They convey a message even more effectively that the written word. I revisit my photo's often and intend to mine that seam here. Expect, between trips, more but shorter posts focussed on a single image. More personal feelings and emotional drivel but thankfully shorter end most likely easier to read.

A Nelson! Who'd have though it? I'll now be standing on one leg until 112 appears.


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