Trekking Tales: Island hopping, part one

Each year a group of “Good Ole Girl Guiders” gets together to enjoy friendship, fun and the great outdoors

Each year a group of “Good Ole Girl Guiders” gets together to enjoy friendship, fun and the great outdoors. This year’s week-long event began on a sad note as we said a final goodbye to one of our treasured members at a Memorial Tea in Victoria. Her daughters and fellow Guiders reminisced, sharing memorable moments and humorous stories.

The following day four of us collected in rainy Courtenay to hike and explore. No wet tents, smoky campfires, voracious insects, or midnight scrambles to find an outdoor toilet this year. Barbara welcomed three “inlanders” to her spacious, comfortable home and endless chats, punctuated with laughter, were underway. It often took all four of us to finish a sentence as we talked about past trips: who was there; what year it was; who drove; how heavy our backpacks were; and, of course beautiful scenery and varied experiences!

Rain accompanied us on our woodland hike to Elk Falls the following day. Wildflowers, shrubs, and towering, moss-laden trees occasioned much discussion as we endeavoured to recall names.

“We’ll look that up when we get back,” was a familiar refrain.

Actually, we did – the ones we could remember, anyway. The trail began with multiple staircases behind BC Hydro’s power station on Campbell River, but is wide and well-maintained. While not a patch on Wells Gray’s waterfalls, the trek to Elk Falls with its carved cliffs and two smaller “rapids” called Deer and Moose Falls was definitely worth the effort of getting damp (and stiff). Activities feel more difficult lately … Perhaps that was the day someone said: “Be careful what you say – it might end up in the Clearwater Times!”

The beginning of Canada Day weekend being upon us, Heather, another Courtenay friend, and her band of 50+ members were playing rousing music in a town park that night, so I went to listen and enjoy. The rain was leaving town, heralding the start of glorious weather for the rest of our stay. Even better, we would see Heather several more times.

Next day, a recompense for making the grade to Elk Falls successfully, and to keep southern Interior people happy, our shorter hike started in the stately forest of Seal Bay Park, taking us to the shore of Salish Sea (formerly Strait of Georgia). Here our picnic lunches were flavoured with the smell of salt water.

In theory, we next went to historic Filberg Lodge with its bright floral displays and beautifully landscaped grounds for an afternoon cuppa beside Comox Harbour – but ice creams won out. Our informative tour of the roomy, rustic, wood and stone building came to an abrupt stop when we unexpectedly met Heather. She and I subsequently pleased her dog Kip no end by taking him for a walk by Puntledge River.

“You’re lucky Kay is here,” doggie was informed, “otherwise you’d be watching me gardening.”

We were back in the mountains the following day, hiking in a tiny corner of Strathcona Park beside Mt. Washington Ski Area. Boardwalks kept us out of muddy and swampy sections in Paradise Meadows, and gave young children a safe place to run, shout and laugh. Purple shooting stars were in abundance; many plants helpfully bore identification labels. Up we then walked, and walked, past glistening Battleship Lake and on to Lake Helen McKenzie for our lunch stop. Surprisingly few insects were on duty.

 

That evening I connected with yet another friend named Barbara, and her lively doggie. Keira ran thither and yon, yipped greetings, and jumped repeatedly on my lap. Taking her for a walk, we discovered the homes of both gals named Barbara were only a few blocks apart. Now only half way through our week, three more delightful days still lay ahead.