A Walk to Remember (NOT a Nicholas Sparks novel)

It was Sunday morning at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre and the students were all tired from the intense late-night game of charades that took place in the Seaside cabins. We rose early and ate breakfast in preparation of the rainforest walk that was scheduled for later that morning. Despite the dreadful weather we’d experienced the day before, spirits were high and everyone gathered to take group photos before we set off into the woods. Even Dr. Harley participated!


Group photos! Photobomb courtesy of Dr. Harley.
Photo credit: Bamfield rainforest guide

The rain held off for the majority of our walk, and although the foliage was a little wet, it was nothing compared to Saturday’s downpour. We hiked along a well-kept trail and stopped periodically to examine the various plants and fungi around us, which was a cool and interesting change of pace. Our rainforest guide was very knowledgeable about the flora and fungi of the temperate rainforest and was more than happy to answer any questions or share fun facts. She pointed out the edible and non-edible mushrooms along the path and explained how to tell them apart by their subtle differences, to which I made a mental note never to go mushroom picking alone.  I think I would end up as a decaying source of nutrients for the various forest critters if I were tasked to harvest fungi for dinner.

The gorgeous temperate rainforest.
Photo credit: Chanelle Samuel

Eventually we made it to the beach where we spent a short while examining the creatures in the intertidal zone. I immediately spotted a moderately-sized red rock crab and waded into the shallow water to examine it. Upon picking it up it promptly died in my hands, hopefully not because the shock of seeing my ugly mug sent it into cardiac arrest, but because of the large and obvious fracture it had suffered on its carapace from a prior encounter with a predator. Not long after hiding the evidence and going back to turning over rocks with my classmates, we divided ourselves into groups and began our journey back.

We broke up into five groups, and each group was responsible for learning a fun fact about the forest and teaching it to the other groups as we moved along the trail back towards the research centre. Did you know that Step Mosses grow a new step every year? Or that Sphagnum moss acts as both a super-absorbent sponge and has antibacterial properties? Now you can amaze your friends and family by aging mosses effortlessly on sight and dressing their wounds with sphagnum!

For more information on the identification of edible mushrooms in BC check out this helpful guide!


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