Crossing The Abyss

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For our second Northwest Bay PROBUS Club hike we had six members on another beautiful sunny day (Friday 22 August). We car-pooled 30 minutes to the trailhead at Colliery Dam Park.

We followed the directions from Hike #14 in Popular Day Hikes 4 -Vancouver Island. The first part of the trail is over the Colliery Dam and the Upper Lake where there has been concern for the safety of the dam should there be an earthquake. There are many interesting walking trails in this area and it’s a great place to take a dog for a swim.

Continuing through the park, we reached the paved Parkway trail and then, after walking under Hwy 19, turned onto the Trans Canada and Extension Ridge trails. It’s an uphill hike past the power lines to the top of the Ridge. As the saying goes: we came to a fork and we made a decision. We went left which led to a gentle uphill climb on an easy trail with conglomerate rock outcrops until we reached a great lookout area with the Nanaimo Harbour in the distance. We had, however, missed “The Abyss”.

We carried on the trail to another great lookout at a hydro tower and then on to the end of the Extension Ridge. We picked a nice spot for a lookout lunch on the return trip. After lunch we headed back looking again, looking for “The Abyss”. This time we found the deep rift apparently created by the earthquake of 1946. The “bottomless Abyss” is about 40 cm wide and has one edge 40 cm lower than the other. 

Losing no one to “The Abyss”, we carried on downhill and were back at our cars in 45 minutes, exactly four hours after we started (including the ½ hour stop for lunch). Claudette Biron and Bev Coolican broke in new hiking boots and said it was the perfect distance and time for a hike – about 12 km and 600’ elevation gain.

Well done everyone and we hope more will join us for our next hike.

Text by Robert Grose, Trip Leader
Photos by Robert Grose and David White

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