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52 Weeks of Trails - Week 32 - Stillwater Bluffs

In c
ase you missed it, we've introduced our challenge to you for 2014-- 52 Weeks of Trails.  Each week we'll blog about a trail (hike, bike, snowshoe, and paddle!) and we hope you enjoy and share your experience with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and/or Instagram using #52weeksoftrails.  Happy Trails!


Week #32 - Stillwater Bluffs

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Stillwater Bluffs is home to some of the best quality sea cliff climbing in British Columbia, but still this location attracts hikers, photographers, climbers and kayakers alike. Stillwater Bluffs is the definition of “ooooo” and “ahhhh” as it's a great place to spend a rainy morning watching the waves crashing, a sunny afternoon climbing up “The Taco”, or simply a lazy evening listening to a symphony of Sea Lions.

Give yourself approximately 1.5 hours for this 3 km loop.  To get there from the Visitor Centre take a left on Joyce Avenue and head south toward Thunder Bay, then turn left onto HWY 101. Drive for approximately 30 minutes along the highway. Shortly after passing the bridge over Eagle River, take a right turn onto Loubert Rd and then another right on to Old Schoolhouse Rd. Park here and walk around the last house at the end of the road to find the trail head.

DSC 5234 sDSC 5253 sAt the first and second fork stay right. At the third fork turn left. Many hidden paths will branch off toward the water to view points. Shortly after coming out of the bush you will be standing over “Veggie Burger” – a rock climber’s paradise! You will also have an incredible view of Texada Island and “Sea Lion Island.”

You are now approaching the halfway mark. A trail will edge out along the bluffs and follow the shore; watch your step! A downward slope in the trail will create a slide- you can either go down in an awkward surfer position or bring out your inner child and sit on your butt. This is the best spot to spend some time, so sit on the “Stone Throne” and watch the world go by or possibly see some whales! At this point there will be no obvious path or marking. Use common sense and continue safely. Keep an eye out for moss on the bluffs heading upward and back into the bush. You know you are going the right way if you see rock formations that resemble inuksuks by your side. Soon you will come to a very large hollowed out burnt cedar; continue straight past it until you come to a downed log with seven notches taken out of it. Follow the rock path out of the trail to finish. Walk up Hollingsworth road past the houses, the coop of chickens and the bikini mannequin mowing a lawn. Take a left on Scotch Fir Road and head back to Loubert Road where your car is parked.


Share your hiking adventure with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using hashtag #52weeksoftrails

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52 Weeks of Trails - Week 31 - Paddling Sechelt Inlet

In c
ase you missed it, we've introduced our challenge to you for 2014-- 52 Weeks of Trails.  Each week we'll blog about a trail (hike, bike, snowshoe, and paddle!) and we hope you enjoy and share your experience with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and/or Instagram using #52weeksoftrails.  Happy Trails!


Week #31 - Paddling Sechelt Inlet

Thanks to Pedals and Paddles for portions of this week's blog content! 

sechelt inlet1Sechelt Inlet is a paddler's paradise and only two hours from downtown Vancouver.   While most visitors to the Sunshine Coast follow Highway 101 up the rugged and beautiful east shore of Georgia Strait, surprisingly few are aware of the solitude and natural beauty that awaits them on the Inlet side of Sechelt Peninsula.

Sechelt Inlet is protected from wind and waves that are common on open ocean waters by high surrounding mountains. Mornings and evenings are typically calm and peaceful with lush green mountains reflecting off of the tranquil blue ocean surface.  As there are no roads beyond the village of Tuwanek, wilderness and exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities are just minutes away.

Sechelt Inlet is blessed with many sand and gravel beaches, eight of which have been designated Wilderness Marine Parks and offer excellent rustic overnight camping facilities with such "luxuries" as year round fresh water, clear tenting areas and tent pads, outhouses, fire rings, and warm swimming beaches. Campers on the east shore of the Inlet are treated to spectacular evening sunsets while west shore campers enjoy the warming rays of early morning sun with their coffee.

While there are many possible paddling routes in Sechelt Inlet that including launching at the boat ramp right at the base of the Inlet in Sechelt (next to Halfmoon Sea RS2099 Tuwanek kayakers2-scrKayaks) or Porpoise Bay Provincial Park, the quickest paddle to remote areas is going to be found by launching in Tuwanek.  There is a public beach access and a few parking spaces at Lamb's Bay (see Map below), which is a great launching beach for kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards

Once you launch, you'll paddle out of Lamb's Bay and to the right (North) and continue following the coastline.  Dotted with several small islands, this area is generally very calm and provides pristine viewing for small marine life such as starfish, crabs, jellyfish, sea birds and eagles.  Once you pass through the islands and past the community of Tuwanek, you'll cross a large bay on your right as you aim for the point of land straight ahead.  In windy conditions, you can hug the shoreline for better shelter and easier paddling.  Once you reach the point-- you'll see it's actually an island with a small channel between the island and the mainland.  This channel is almost completely sheltered from wind and waves so it creates the perfect resting point.  The water here is also very shallow and once again, provides excellent viewing of small marine life.  In the surrounding area you are also likely to see harbour seals and, on rarer occasion, porpoises, dolphins, or even orca whales. 

Sechelt Inlet is blessed with many sand and gravel beaches, eight of which have been designated Wilderness Marine Parks and offer excellent rustic overnight camping facilities with such "luxuries" as year round fresh water, clear tenting areas and tent pads, outhouses, fire rings, and warm swimming beaches. Campers on the east shore of the Inlet are treated to spectacular evening sunsets while west shore campers enjoy the warming rays of early morning sun with their coffee.  When you are ready to continue on, Tuwanek Beach, one of the Wilderness Marine Parks, is on the beach in the next bay on your right (eastern side).  This large rocky beach is an absolutely excellent place to swim, explore, picnic, or camp overnight. 

Should you wish to paddle farther, the Marine Parks continue to dot the coastline of Sechelt Inlet and offer an excellent wilderness escape.  When you are ready to journey home, be aware the on typical summer afternoons, the wind blows northward up the Inlet and can create a strong headwind when paddling back south to Tuwanek.  Your best bet is to plan your paddling earlier in the morning or later in the evening (but not too late!).  Find out more information about Sechelt Inlet, one of our Hidden Gems.

*Sechelt Inlet Marine Parks Map

*Tuwanek Beach Paddling Route Map





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52 Weeks of Trails - Week 30 - Paddling Gambier Island

In c
ase you missed it, we've introduced our challenge to you for 2014-- 52 Weeks of Trails.  Each week we'll blog about a trail (hike, bike, snowshoe, and paddle!) and we hope you enjoy and share your experience with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and/or Instagram using #52weeksoftrails.  Happy Trails!


Week #30 - Paddling Gambier Island

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Once again we welcome this week's guest blogger, Sunshine Kayaking.  Established in 1991, Sunshine Kayaking is conveniently located along the waterfront in Gibsons Landing Harbour and offers everything from kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals, tours, and lessons to sailing tours and fishing charters.  They brought their expertise on Week 27 for paddling to Keats Island and now for week 30 we are pumped to paddle to Gambier!

Gambier Island is host to many beaches, kayak launching areas and great for swimming and kayaking, excellent hiking trails through the forest where you will see many types of different wildlife, camping and hiking. There are five major campsites on the perimeter of Gambier Island – West Bay, Halkett Bay, Brigade bay, Douglas Bay and Ekins Point. There is also camping at Gambier Lake which is a 3 -hour hike from Douglas Bay.

Grace Island & West Bay - trip time 4 – 5 hours return West Bay Map


Launch from Gibsons Landing Harbour. Follow the Gibsons shoreline until you are past the Langdale ferry terminal. Exercise appropriate caution to avoid the ferries and other commercial traffic. Once clear of this traffic, cross the Channel toward Grace Island, just off the southern tip of Gambier Island. Slip behind the island around the point into West Bay. Paddling down the shoreline of the bay, you will pass towering rock cliffs and occasional beaches. Vistas worthy of picture postcards are a treat for the eye as the snow-capped mountains rise out of the water on every side.

Going ashore you will find two public wharfs, Gambier Harbour and West Bay, each giving you access to the settled areas of the island. At the very end of West Bay is the mouth of a creek, where you can hear the water tumbling down the mountainside in the winter rainy season. You can go hiking through the woods which are all hung with mosses. This is a possible campsite if you are planning to stay overnight. Mosses and lichen are a beautiful feature of this shoreline. They grow in great profusion on the rocky cliffs, constantly moistened by the water that seeps down the steep slopes. Along with ferns, the moss and lichen form a study in green textures clinging precariously on narrow ledges of rock. Return to Gibsons Landing Harbour

Halkett Bay Provincial Park – trip time 8 – 9 hours return


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Launch from Gibsons Landing Harbour. Paddle across Shoal Channel and around the North Side of Keats Island. The towering peaks of the coastal mountains open out before you in a magnificent vista. Hugging the coast of Keats allows you to enjoy the various kinds of starfish that cling to the rocky shores.

Collingwood Channel is a favourite spot for viewing wildlife of all kinds due to the brisk tidal flows. Watch for many different species of birds, lots of seals and the occasional whale. From Cotton Point on the eastern tip of Keats Island, head across to Hutt Island where you can slip into the lee of the island for a rest before venturing across Collingwood Channel to Gambier. The shortest crossing to the island starts here, but head for a point east of Hope Point, on the southeast end of Gambier, to stay in the lee of Bowen Island.

Hackett Bay is than a short paddle down the coastline. This Provincial Marine Park has excellent campsites. From here you can explore the eastern face of Gambier Island and enjoy its wonderful seascapes. Tucked away inside a government wharf lies at the end of the bay where a thick fringe of hemlock and second-growth fir shield the shoreline from view. If you walk into the shade of the trees, you'll discover a series of clearings linked by old logging trails that have assumed the character of sedate laneways. You could camp here where there are several formal sites or on a small island just offshore in the bay. The island boasts a small beach, above which stands a clearing large enough for one tent. You can hike the old logging road that terminates beside the campsites at Halkett Bay west to Camp Fircom, a half-hour walk. At first the road leads through the forest, but it descends to the shoreline as it nears the camp, with a pleasing view south of Hood Point on Bowen Island. Return to Gibsons Landing Harbour.

Woolridge Island - Ekins Point - trip time 4 – 6 hours depart Port Mellon return Gambier1


Launch from Port Mellon via Dunham Road to the water’s edge and launch your kayak. From this vantage point you are looking directly across Thornbrough Channel toward Gambier Island, with Woolridge Island directly in front and snuggled up against Gambier Island. Thornbrough Channel is a protected waterway and usually calm. Paddle toward the western tip of Woolridge Island. The coastal mountains are spectacular from the middle of the Channel.

Rocky beaches greet you all along the island shore until you round the point to enter Latona Passage between Woolridge and Gambier Islands. Through the still of the waters you will see Herons galore on the log booms, Kingfishers swooping between the shores and trees and seals keeping a close on what we are doing.

There is a small beach near the southeast tip of Woolridge Island where you stop, relax and have lunch. Continue the trip by paddling northeast along the eastern arm of Thornbrough Channel toward Ekins Point. As you move along the Gambier Coast, the cliffs collapse and you can launch on friendlier rocks. At Ekins Point you will have spectacular views and there is a camping site available. On the return trip to Port Mellon, paddle straight southwest, leaving Woolridge Island to the left, and then another 3.2 km to your launching site. Return to Port Mellon.

Douglas Bay

Douglas Bay & Brigade Bay - trip time can be from Gibsons Landing Harbour or Port Mellon departure

 

Launch from Gibsons Harbour or from Port Mellon to Douglas Bay and Brigade Bay. From Port Mellon paddle toward Woolridge Island, and continue to the east side of Gambier Island opposite Anvil Island. This side of Gambier Island is spectacular, with rock cliffs soaring out of the sea against a backdrop of towering coastal mountains. This area is uninhabited except for the abundance of seabirds and seals that fish the channels in numbers. Camp on the shorelines of Ekins Point, Douglas Bay or Brigade Bay under a canopy of gigantic maple trees and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the outdoors.

You can visit the waterfall in Douglas Bay or do some hiking. If weather permits, enjoy a trip to Christie Islet and Pam Rock. This tiny islet and sprinkling of bare rocks, poking out of the water just south of Anvil Island, is home to one of our largest seal colonies. They are also the breeding grounds for Glaucous-winged Gulls and cormorants, Harlequin Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Bonaparte’s Gulls and many others can be seen in their seasons. The Double-crested Cormorants have been building their nests if twigs on these rocks for many years and now they are 2 -4 foot high structures perched on the rocky ledges. A very unique sight to see.

Gambier Island Circumnavigation:  Trip Time - As Long As You Want!


To circumnavigate Gambier Island, you can paddle in either direction depending on the conditions at the start of the trip. From Gibsons Landing Harbour around Gambier Island and back to Gibsons Landing Harbour it is approximately 41.5 km (26 mi). Expect to paddle about 5 km/h (3mph) if you are moving at a relaxed pace and stopping to enjoy the sights. Paddling time will also depend on the direction of the tide and wind. There are five major campsites on the perimeter of Gambier Island – West Bay, Halkett Bay, Brigade Bay, Douglas Bay and Ekins Point, so take your time and enjoy the scenery.

An itinerary would be as follows or visa versa:  Depart Gibsons Landing Harbour – Grace Island & West Bay – Halkett Bay, Brigade Bay – Douglas Bay – Ekins Point - Woolridge Island – Thornbrough Bay - New Brighton – Gibsons Landing Harbour

Looking for some hiking trails while on Gambier Island?  The Gambier Island Conservancy has a great list of trails for you to try.


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