Sunday, May 24, 2009

island hopping

cass and i had an ace camping trip to hornby island last weekend. hornby is one of the little islands between vancouver island and the mainland, north a bit of vancouver. it took us about seven hours to get there, involving three buses, three ferries and a half hour walk through forest, but it was a beautiful journey.

the island is very small and mostly forest. it has a beautiful rocky coastline and lots of garry oaks, arbutus trees and red cedars. there's also masses and masses of bald eagles (which we had planned to see - one must always set a wildlife goal for these sorts of trips). we met a local who was all "pfft, eagles!" but we couldn't be that cool.

cass spotted this one, squawking and flapping. we watched it for ages, til it flew off the edge of the cliff and over the sea:

and here's one in its huge messy nest:

and here, if you go to this website, you can watch an eaglet and its parents in real time. eagle cam! on hornby island!

the eagles are so beautiful. we saw two sitting on rocks on the shore line, just watching for fish. it's funny, when they catch your eyes you automatically feel kind of guilty, like they're going to tell you off, or fly down and carry you away. they have presence, that's what.

here's two pairs, circling quietly over the trees:

on one day we explored the urban parts of hornby. here's the main drag:

that's a sweet little bookshop on the left, and some nice hippy clothes on the right. there was also decent coffee and nice pottery, and a co-op.

many of the gulf islands are also famous for their recycling depots and attached free stores. hornby island's is very well organised, and, on the day we were there, very well attended.

the islands tend to be populated by hippies, and the small community combined with a pack-it-in, pack-it-out policy means that they're very aware of consumption and waste. thus, recycling! water is also an issue, and it was difficult to find clean drinking water to fill our bottles. some places you could pay at a coin-operated tap.

the toilet at the depot was really cool:

we walked the long way back along the beach (cass says she's not that much shorter than me, but was leaning against the rock):

we camped good. cass is a gearhead nowadays, so we had lots of interesting equipment, including this temperamental but tasty coffee maker:

and we had a fire and marshmallows:

on another day we did a day trip to denman island, the next island along. we had lunch next to a stand of old growth forest, and cass did revolting things to a banana and some nice dark chocolate.

it was very quiet and still, and there was a blue heron fishing:

(this is looking east, you can see the mainland in the distance.)

on the way back from denman island we climbed a mountain to check out a lookout on hornby island. see, here, if you look beyond my bad bad hair, we're looking west. the dark green lump behind is denman island, and the misty mountainous lumps behind that are part of the mainland of vancouver island.

this is looking south. there's the tip of denman island and the little island south of it, with the lighthouse on. (if you look very closely among the trees on the left you can see a little cass!)

it was super windy up there:

we did a lot of walking (downside of a very small island is no public transit!) and a lot of eating, and, oh, how could i forget?? we saw these luridly coloured starfish everywhere! and banana slugs! the starfish are carnivorous! crunch!

then we caught the ferry home again. this is pulling into horseshoe bay, on the mainland again. here we're looking north, up the sunshine coast.

as always, it was a bit of a hassle being back in the city, but i have my lovely map to look at now, and new trips to plan.

and, um, a new font. huh.


Anonymous said...

did you see the starfish eating each other?!! when do they do that?
Thank you for the beautiful post.

gumtreefid farmer said...

nah, they eat mussels and stuff, not each other. sorry to mislead you!

but the deal is that they get all stiff and unable to move when they're out of the water, and then when they're in the sea they run around attacking mussels and sucking out their insides! which is cool!

more info here:

thankyou for your beautiful comment!


nimmersatt said...

Yes, I second that vta - wonderful pics and story.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post darling.

I must look into those coffee makers to sit on top of MY MSR stove. David and I tend to just chuck ground coffee into boiling kettle, which is okay, but una machina specialista would be better.