Dragonfly Publishing

Outdoors in the Fall

I had a nice run this morning. It feels great to get back in the swing of things–after my toe sprain, after my weird throat issues, and after our storms (which turned out to be heavy in some places but not where we live). I did a short run on Tuesday and then today decided to go to Deer Lake, which is a 5K round trip. The beautiful fall colors and watercolor sky with ambient light of sun hidden behind clouds, not quite breaking through, fanned over a still wet ground full of red and golden leaves.

deerlake

This coming weekend I will be volunteering again with Streamkeepers at the Hoy & Scott Creek Salmon Festival. It is that time of year when salmon are returning. These creeks are part of the Coquitlam River watershed and originate from the streams that flow down from Eagle Mountain, through the Westwood Plateau, and then into our actual town. Hoy Creek flows into Scott Creek, which flows into the Coquitlam River–the Coquitlam River being a tributary of the Fraser River.

Earlier this year when Morgan and I hiked the Coquitlam Crunch, we started out around Hoy Creek, which I didn’t particularly like (at least in the starting area) as it was spring time and there was quite a bit of litter everywhere.

When I got back from my run today I talked with one of the other runners in the locker room–seems we always are out around the same time. She said she thought she may have heard a bear rustling last night on a walk, and we realized that there are still bears out of course. In fact, our city had 500 sightings just between September and October (two sightings on our block). They come down into the city areas from surrounding wilderness, thanks to compost and trash left out too early (bylaws say you cannot leave it out overnight–only the morning of).

Anyway, of course now the bears will be after the salmon. But, and a big but, the salmon returns are pretty grim this year. Salmon ending up in these creeks is basically Fraser/Coquitlam River salmon. Sockeye numbers are lower than they have been for 120 years. Source: Vancouver Sun.  There are also coho salmon and cutthroat trout in these little creeks, including Maple Creek, in which we notched the beaver dams a couple weeks ago, since they were blocking the fishway.

The sockeye salmon four-year cycle is in a low year now, but even in high years during the past few decades, the numbers have dwindled. It’s sad. They say when First Nations territories ruled the lower mainland, before too much outside settlement, you could walk across streams on the backs of salmon. I have always wanted to see salmon by the hundreds, but haven’t been to many good salmon spawns. However, in 2006 we did visit Adams River in early October, and there were quite a few fish–even then, the park ranger we talked with said that there were usually way more.

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Adams River sockeye run October 2006

This year’s low number is due to higher water temperatures, according to the Vancouver Sun. In August, Fisheries and Oceans Canada shut down all sports fishing on the Lower Fraser.

So this time of year, as we view the life cycles of the wild, it’s always interesting to see, but salmon–an indicator species here–is disappearing slowly.

That reminds me. For my birthday, my dear, thoughtful husband got me a Kindle Paperwhite, which fits into my little knapsack. I’m old-school and love reading real books, but I really like the size and feel of this Kindle reader. I had just bought Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, which I have been reading each night. I highly recommend this book. The first chapter is about the great number of frogs (and many other animals) that have gone extinct in the world–and how the high numbers completely do not match up with regular extinction rates. Turns out that a bacteria that has landed in various places in the world, due to global shipping and travel, has been killing off many species of frogs. I’m on the second chapter now, which is a really interesting history of paleontology.

Anyway, life seems to be about things and people going away. I’ve dealt with vanishment and extinction in writing before, but to have it surround us in such numbers these days is so very surreal, unforgivable, horrific. This is why I love getting outside, every season really, to investigate the marvel of nature in its different phases and colors. I feel right at home. Speaking of of that, I have ready for me at home tonight one 20-oz Happy Jack Pumpkin Ale. It’s maybe the best I’ve had!

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