Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Returning From Stone

By Stephen Mullock 
It had forgotten how many seasons had gone past. It just lay there with the other stone as the water of the Fraser river flowed over it. A hundred, 500, 1,000, 10,000 years? Sometimes the river was angry and the rocks were stirred from their slumber. She tumbled with them. On quieter days canoes, then motor boats, floated by with fishing hooks looking for salmon which swam in great schools of silver, red, black and green. The fish sometimes nudged her on their mad dash back and forth to the ocean. She liked that. 
In winter the river shrank no longer being fed by snow melting, only the rain and the occasional snowy day made the water swell. As the world froze and the water retreated she was exposed to the sun on an open gravel bed, dried, felt currents of wind instead of water. She watched the eagle in the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars at night. 
As many seasons rolled by she forgot that she had been a tool, she had lay so long with the other rocks. She was now as they were, stone. 
One day a man picked her up. She, once again, felt the warmth of the hand of man. She was lifted from her rocky bed into the air, turned over and examined. She felt a finger feeling the circles on each side of her broad faces. The edge still sharp on her side. She felt thumbs try to make sense of the rough grooves oppose her edge. Rough, she thought, to help with the grip as they applied pressure to the work. She worried that she might be thrown back into the river or onto the gravel but the man placed her in his pocket and took her home. 


An eagle soaring high above turned towards the mountains as we gingerly picked our way through the extensive gravel beds of the Fraser river. Easy to take a misstep, turn an ankle and fall. The river was low at the moment but soon it would swell once again with the spring water. You could already feel a well of fresh, mountain air following the swiftly moving currents. 

I took a rock and hurled into the Fraser it landed with a satisfying deep sounding plop.

The sun was shining, warm on my face. I had my camera slung over my shoulder and was scouting out possible photography sites to shoot when the light got right. Something to share with the other members of the Agassiz Harrison in Pictures Facebook group.
I stopped and it was right at my feet. Had I been walking a couple feet right or left I not sure I would have noticed it at all. I found it or it found me. 

It kind of looked up at me with an empty eye socket a little larger than the size of Canadian two dollar coins, the “toonie”. The rock was the same colour as all other gravel around it - stony grey. I picked it up, the stone was cool in my hand. It reminded me of a stylized grizzly bear.

I ran a finger into its cavity about 1/8 inch deep with a well defined edge. Did erosion cause this? Wouldn’t erosion make the edges smoother? I turned the stone over and found a second “eye” socket of similar size. Between the two, along the side was a well defined edge. Exactly opposite that edge - two rough grooves. I placed my thumbs in them. They fit perfectly.

My excitement grew. What were the chances that the broad faces of a stone could erode on different sides in parallel fashion? Exactly opposite one another? Was that even possible?  Then I found a well defined edge along the side and what appeared to be thumb grooves across from one another. My guess was the odds of all this happening naturally were slim and none. 
It kicked my imagination into overdrive.
Was this an artifact? How long had it lay on that gravel bed? Had it moved down the river? Had it been dropped from a boat? Thrown away? What was it?

There was a part of me that wanted to keep it, it is a beautiful object, but, it also might be an important part of the history of the Stó:lō, the people of the river and I thought that it should be returned. I contacted Chief Ralph Leon Jr. of the Sts'ailes people he welcomed the chance for recovery, but first, I wanted to see if I could find a little more out about the artifact. I sent some pictures to Dr. Schaepe, Ph.D., Senior Archaeologist, Stó:Lō Research and Reource, and quickly got a response, just not the one I was hoping for.

Hi Stephen - Thanks for contacting me. From the photos, this looks to be a naturally formed river cobble. I have seen many like it and they are often taken as cultural forms. It's a very interesting looking cobble, but most likely what is called a geofact, rather than an artifact. In any case, enjoy this interesting find and don't hesitate to contact as needed.
All the best -

Disappointed, I convinced the Doctor that maybe we should meet so he could get a look at the actual object. We did. Dr. Schaepe did express some interest in the thumb grooves saying they could only be created by strikes from different directions, but seemed not overly impressed and certainly not willing to call it an artifact.
I let Chief Ralph Leon Jr. know what I had found out, he was still interested but assigned another member to meet with me.

So readers what do you think? Any idea what it is?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Bleeding Heart in the Woods

Pacific Bleeding Heart © Stephen Mullock

This time of year the coastal forests are full of flowers, one of my favourites is the Pacific Bleeding Heart. A heart shaped blossom, pink-purple in colour on a short stem gives rise to its name. Sometimes they are found in groups and other times off by themselves. Whenever they are found it is always a welcomed sight.

They are some of the plants to be found along our proposed trail.

Happy Trails.

Friday, June 30, 2017

O Canada 150 Birthday

This weekend marks a very special Birthday for Canada.  The Bear Mountain Trail Society wants to wish all our fellow Canadians and visitors to have a fun and safe Canada Day.

Please be respectful of our great outdoors and leave nothing in the woods except your footprints.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Support from Friends of the Green Grind

To whom it may concern,
I am writing you today on behalf of the Friends of the Green Grind.  Five years ago, my husband and I decided to explore the trail for ourselves after hearing such great things about it.  We were so pleasantly surprised to find the challenging up hill climb, combined with the beauty and peacefulness of the forest. We invited friends to join us and arranged a schedule of three times a week to climb the hill together.  We met frequently, joined by family members, pets and out of town friends who all enjoyed the trail with us.  My husband started timing himself and used the trail as a fitness challenge, as did many in our group.  I enjoyed walking up the trail at a steady pace, enjoying the conversations around me, as well as stopping to admire the ferns and moss growing on the mighty trees and the wild flowers growing along the path.  
We have enjoyed reading the log book that is tucked in a space at the top of the grind.  People have commented on the birds they have seen, the weather and even named each wild flower they saw.  We loved to comment in the book ourselves, sometimes recording how long it took to go up, or to report the highlights of the things we experienced.
We have come across many hikers through the years.  We have seen the same people, with their dogs by their side, and have met new people, some with small children, some with walking sticks and some running up and down for the 5th time in a row, as they train for various trail runs.  One year we even welcomed in the New Year, with a small campfire, nestled in the snow and the full moon shining above us.
The trail meets the needs of young and old, fitness fanatics and nature lovers.  I would love to see improvements made to the trail, especially the extension out to Harrison, as proposed by the Bear Mountain Trail Society.  Please feel free to check out my Facebook page, The Agassiz Green Grind, which has received many “likes” and has beautiful photography to show off all its beauty, walking up our hill.

Wendy Weaver

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Bear Mountain Logo Underway

©Bear Mountain Trail Society

What do you think? Our first logo is well underway thanks to the artistic talents of Emily Mullock
Art Director at Disney Consumer Products and Interactive and author/illustrator of the children's book "Go Away Unicorn". If I seem a bit biased - that's perfectly okay, she's my daughter.


Emily was kind enough to present our Society with 5 variations of a design that very cleverly encompasses all aspects of our name - a bear, a mountain and our Society's written name. 

A couple of the designs have a hump on the back would suggest a grizzly bear - locally, we not have this animal - so perhaps that is not the right fit. In others, the mountain form has tree shapes to better define it. Some have a wash of colour as opposed to a solid. 

What do you think?  Do you like it?  I have numbered the images to aid in comments.

Build Trail

Our Vision - Bear Mountain Trail Society

The enjoyment of the diverse beauty of the Coastal forest in the Eastern Fraser Valley and the appreciation of it through non-motorized experience on a network of trails.

Our first project concerns the creation of a non-motorized mountain trail connecting Harrison Hot Springs, Agassiz and Seabird Island.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Federation Member Club Profile: Bear Mountain Trail Society

We got featured! Our group and the trail we envision is featured this month at the Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC to website - super good news!  We are so pleased to have been granted membership in this important organization.

Here is a little information about this important group taken from their website:

The Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC (FMCBC) is a democratic, grassroots organization dedicated to protecting and maintaining access to quality non-motorized backcountry recreation in British Columbia’s mountains and wilderness areas. As our name indicates we are a federation of outdoor clubs with a membership of over 5000 people from outdoor clubs across BC. Our membership is comprised of a diverse group of non-motorized backcountry recreationists including hikers, rock climbers, mountaineers, trail runners, kayakers, mountain bikers, backcountry skiers and snowshoers. As an organization, we believe that the enjoyment of these pursuits in an unspoiled environment is a vital component to the quality of life for British Columbians and by acting under the policy of “talk, understand and persuade” we advocate for these interests.

Our Vision - Bear Mountain Trail Society

The enjoyment of the diverse beauty of the Coastal forest in the Eastern Fraser Valley and the appreciation of it through non-motorized experience on a network of trails.

Our first project concerns the creation of a non-motorized mountain trail connecting Harrison Hot Springs, Agassiz and Seabird Island.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Skiing the Green Grind

A lingering cold snap that started December 5th provided a rare commodity to the Agassiz community - snow - snow, that hung around for over a month. Taking advantage of the white stuff on local trails includes snow shoeing, hiking but could also as Todd explored downhill skiing. 

This is how he described the adventure,

"The ski down was great. Dry snow with good base most of the way down...lots of wide and tight turns. Near the end, I went off a jump that had been built by snow boarders."

ANOTHER, impressive use for a hillside trail system linking Harrison Hot Springs, Agassiz and Seabird Island community to community. Make you wonder what's next... tobogganing? 

Our Vision

The enjoyment of the diverse beauty of the Coastal forest in the Eastern Fraser Valley and the appreciation of it through non-motorized experience on a network of trails.

Our first project concerns the creation of a non-motorized mountain trail connecting Harrison Hot Springs, Agassiz and Seabird Island.