Thursday, August 1, 2013

Teapot Hill

About five minutes from our cottage there is a trail in Cultus Lake Provincial Park called Teapot Hill. The name originated in the 1940s when a logger found a teapot there, and over the years since then hikers have been adding more teapots. There was a tempest in those teapots this year when the parks people decided they were a hazard, and cleared many of them out.




I have hiked the five kilometre trail multiple times already, and not just because of the name. There are a couple of fairly steep sections, and I am trying to get into better shape before Kath and I go walking in Wales this September.

Most of the trail is quite dark, winding through rather tall, mossy trees, with bits of light filtering through. I love being surrounded by so much green, and every time I hike the trail it looks a bit different. (I am hoping this is due to the changing light, and not me being lost and actually being on a different trail.)



When you get to the top you can catch a glimpse of the lake down below.




My favourite part of the hike however is spotting teapots. In defiance of the anti-tea brigade from the parks department, hikers have been repopulating the trail with teapots. Some are easy to find, and others are fairly well hidden. These are the ones I have spotted so far.



Now I want to tell you about my last walk on Teapot Hill, and my almost last walk there. On Monday I had to go return something at a store in a nearby city. The trail is very popular and gets quite busy later in the day, so I decided to leave early and walk before I went to the store. I got there at 8:00, and with the exception of one lone hiker had the whole mountain to myself. At least that is what I thought at the time.

Then Wednesday I had to go into Vancouver to IKEA. I decided to do a repeat of Monday morning and hike the trail in the very early morning, then go do my shopping. The thing is, when I got up Wednesday morning I realized it wasn't a good plan. I simply didn't have the energy to face driving an hour and a half into Vancouver, shopping, and hiking all in the same day. On my way home I was surprised to see the parking lot for the trail blocked, with signs saying the trail was closed hanging from the yellow caution tape.

When Jay got home later I asked him if he noticed the trail was closed, and he said yes. He had heard on the radio driving home that there was an aggressive cougar on the trail, and the RCMP and conservation officers were trapping it. This is the part where my spine went all weak and I thought I might pass out. Had I stuck with my original plan I could very easily have been the hiker the cougar went after! And maybe I wasn't as alone as I thought on Monday morning. That cougar could have been eyeing me as I walked along scanning the forest for more teapots.

I feel like I had a very close call. My walking stick is going to be my new best friend when I walk that trail, and all future early morning walks have been cancelled. And I must admit that as much as I love my tea, the whole thing has left me feeling in need of something a bit stronger in the way of drink. My spine is still tingling.

38 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness. I'm so glad you didn't go there on Wednesday! That's scary. I don't blame you for wanting to carry the walking stick, and to use it if you have to! Yikes. That looks like a very interesting place, bloodthirsty cats notwithstanding. I would love to hike and spot teapots with you sometime. :)

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    1. I would love to have you as a hiking partner!

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  2. eek~I'm glad you didn't hike it that day - but what a lovely trail to have so nearby you!

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    1. It is a fantastic trail, and I am trying hard not to be put off by the appearance of the cougar.

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  3. Goodness do you have any other livestock on the trail, bears, wolves? Scarey stuff. I think you need to do a bit of knitting and give some of those pots cosies! Stay safe.

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    1. That would be hilarious to put cosies on some of the pots! As far as other animals, yes, there are bears. I would rather encounter a bear than a cougar any day though.

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  4. What a near thing - someone is watching over you Kristie! I love the idea of the teapot trail, and who would connect that with wild beasts on the prowl. I would not be going for any more lonely walks, only go when there are plenty of other hikers about. Take care and keep safe. x

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    1. I have definitely cut out early morning and early evening walks. The rest of the time there are usually a fair number of people on the trail, at least in the summer. I might have to rethink things once the summer and tourist season are over though.

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  5. Wow - scary!! Thank the Lord we don't have anything like that here! If you're coming over the 'Pond' to Wales in September, you won't have dangerous beasties (other than the Welsh!!) to contend with, and they're really very nice as a rule. Just say 'Diolch yn fawr' ('dee-olch un vawr' - 'thank you very much') and you're in! And whether they actually speak Welsh depends upon the area you're visiting - some parts are very Welsh-language orientated, and others not, although almost all signs are bi-lingual (by law).

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    1. I'm glad to hear I won't have to worry about animal encounters in Wales. That thought actually went through my head on Wednesday after I heard about the cougar. :-)

      Thanks for the Welsh language tip. It will come in handy!

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  6. Wow, teapots make much better hiking companions than cougars! Glad you are safe!

    Love seeing and reading about your new community!

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    1. I agree- teapots yes, cougars no. :-)

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  7. Those trails look great. My mom carries a huge stick with her when she's walking alone or when it's not busy in our local parks. We have cougars, who on occasion will try to take people down, when food is scarce. They've even eaten most of the feral cat population, but that's a whole different story. Be safe and I hope you can enjoy the trails again soon!

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    1. I will be following your mom's lead and carrying a stick from now on. Cougar attacks in BC usually involve old or sick cougars. This time it was a young, healthy one which somehow makes it seem scarier.

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  8. I did like the response to the parks department...more teapots than ever.
    We had a kerfuffle at the finca in Costa Rica some months back. I heard a lot of poultry noise, thought the youngest dog was creating a nuisance so shot off to the poultry area with a length of rigid plastic hose I'd picked up en route and found our drake being dragged off by a jaguarundi...like a miniature jaguar.
    Except I didn't realise what it was until after I'd gone for it with the hose and it had run off, luckily dropping the drake...I'd had dog in my mind and went for it.

    A bit like you I thought I needed something stronger than tea after that.

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    1. Oh my! That must have been an awful moment when you realized what you had just chased away!

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  9. I WILL NOT be walking that trail with you when I visit! Having an pet along on a walk really attracts wildlife, though. The coyote troubles we've had here have been people with their dogs.

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    1. I'm sure you will want to see those teapots! :-)

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  10. OMG, I love that teapot hill:-) How absolutely CUTE idea that is...
    Now that cougar thing must have been scary, but you were obviously lucky there :-)

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    1. Isn't it just the greatest idea? It seemed very fitting that I ended up living next to a trail with teapots. :-)

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  11. Isn't cougar a term for the older woman who goes for younger men?...... Was that you they spotted on Monday???

    Glad you are ok though, always good to stick with your instinct I feel

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    1. Ha! This is British Columbia. Our cougars are the kind that walk on four legs. :-)

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  12. That's a great name from a trail what a shame they have taken some of the teapots away. I'm so glad you decided to go to IKEA instead! Are they many wild cougars in the mountains and are there many attacks?
    Sarah x

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    1. I think the parks people aren't going to be able to keep up with their plan to get rid of the teapots. The local people seem to be adding them back faster than they can take them away.

      There are cougars here, and there were in the area we used to live in too. Attacks are rare, but they do happen. Usually it is an older or sick cougar that is having a hard time catching prey that attacks humans. That was what was especially unsettling about this case. It was a young, healthy cougar. :-(

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  13. Scary.......but exciting. We had a bear here last year.....I wouldn't go on the Bruce Trail until I heard he had been captured.

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    1. I could do with a little less excitement. :-)

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  14. Gosh, I bet you didn't realise quite what an interesting and exciting area you were moving to, Kristie. :-) It's sad that the young cougar couldn't find itself a territory and became aggressive, but I can see there was no alternative but to shoot it. As for the teapots, somehow I think they will always keep coming back.....

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    1. Yes, I fear the parks people have lost their battle with the teapots. :-)

      It is an interesting area, but as far as the animal situation goes we had bear and cougar at the last place we lived, too. In some ways this is an improvement because we don't have the black widow spiders and rattlesnakes here that populated Kamloops.

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  15. I'm so glad we don't have any wild animals I need to be afraid for here when we go hiking. Although the moose can be a bit scary sometimes ;) And one of our neighbours have some Highland cattles that break out of the fence now and then...
    Both the kids and I would lovd to hike on a teapot trail!

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    1. Moose can be dangerous, especially during mating season! I'm not so sure about Highland cattle though. :-)

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  16. Wow! That's scary...so glad you two didn't come face to face. The stick and the later hikes are both good ideas....because of both 4-legged and 2-legged hazards. The teapots are a nice tradition, I hope it continues!

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    1. Rebekah and I hiked the trail yesterday and the teapots had been removed again. Sigh... I'm sure more will appear, but the whole thing is becoming ridiculous.

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  17. The coastal path you'll be walking here will be tame (i.e safe) by comparison! And if you're lucky you might see dolphins. I love my country :)

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    1. I'm looking forward to not having to worry about wild animals while I do the walk in Wales. I'm a little bit worried about those cliffs though! :-)

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  18. Glad you missed encountering the cougar, gosh that's scary. And I want to second the suggestion made by Sue above that you knit cosies for those teapots -- you can join the yarnbombing movement, LOL. ~Kim

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    1. Tea cozies are such a good idea, but sadly they have now taken all the teapots away again. :-(

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  19. Holy Smokes! Glad you stayed out of the woods and missed the cougar. Please make sure you always carry your stick and stay safe! Here in New Brunswick, it is black bears that are keeping me from the woods. We are hugely overpopulated with them, due to the decrease in bear hunting. Hmmm. Now that I think of it, we are also over run with deer. Fat deers = fat bears :P ...

    It is wrong to remove the teapots! I'd love to hang a few that are converted into bird houses... with cosies, of course!
    ~Nin

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    1. Sorry to hear about the bears. We have lots of them here in BC, too. Have you thought about carrying a stout walking stick? A good whack in the nose will stop most bears. Or bear spray, if it is legal where you live. It sort of takes the fun out of an outdoor experience though when you have to worry about bears and cougars, doesn't it?

      They have taken out all the teapots again. I am hoping hikers repopulate the trail again soon. It's a lot more fun to hike when the teapots are there!

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