Exploring the Comox Valley

quadra island boatsOur goal last week was to explore as many of the Gulf Islands as possible. Goals are a nice thing to start from and we’ve learned that they are even better when you adjust on the fly… With multiple days of rain scheduled, we had to adjust our expectations along the way.

Day One of exploring was on Quadra Island. We caught the ferry over from Campbell River and made our way to Smokey’s Bike Shop to say hi to our friend Finn, who was down taking a bike mechanics course. We then spent a few hours doing laps of the community centre bike trails, managing to put in 15km. A quick lunch (thanks to travelling with our kitchen) and we were off to drive around the Island. We were surprised at the fact that the entire north end of the island is actively being logged and there is no real residential presence. We were also surprised at the fact that there really isn’t a main “village” as you find on other islands. People are spread out all across the mid and south island. We had a nice walk out on Rebecca Spit, checked out the lighthouse at Cape Mudge and then caught a late ferry back as none of the restaurants were open on Monday night for dinner.

With rain off and on all week, we still managed to fit in some time at the Comox Skateboard park during non-rainy windows of time. It’s a great park, always full of kids and a diverse set of features.

Our next island adventure was Denman and Hornby, which are just south of Comox. Our original plan was to stay overnight so get the most of our ferry spend and get lots of mountain biking in on Hornby Island. It was grey and drizzly when we left the mainland and that proceeded to pick up all day, to the point of it being torrential rains when we were in Hornby driving around. We made the decision that the trails would be soup the next day and opted to catch the last ferry home instead.

It was only moderately wet when we were exploring Denman so we hopped out of the truck and went for an exploration wander when we hit Fillongley Provincial park on the east side of the Island. Denman actually has 3 provincial parks on this island and this is the smallest of the 3. It has 10 campsites, which are first come first serve and packed in the summer time, lots of beachfront to explore and a wooded set of trails.

Unfortunately we hit Hornby on the Thursday night of easter weekend and it seemed to be just waking up from Winter and getting ready for “outsiders”. A few places were open, but most don’t open up until the May long weekend. I was definitely disappointed that more things weren’t open as it looks to be quite an eclectic culture, with shops and restaurants that I would enjoy and Tim would describe as “hippy”.

With a break in the weather, we spent the afternoon up in Campbell River on the Snowden Demonstration Trails. They were a nice mix of terrain and trail difficulty and not at all soupy from all of the rain. A perfect place to blow off all the energy we had built up over 3 rain days. We got 12km in, some bush whacking and lots of smiles as well.

Saturday was cool, windy and overcast so we caught the farmers market in the morning and then drove up to see Mount Washington as it was their last weekend. They had a bit of a tough season this year as it was an abnormally cool and dry winter on Vancouver Island, which meant very little snow for them early season. The rain was still holding off so we hit the skateboard park when we were back in town. Hunter had another great session, with no signs of being ready to stop after 90 minutes AND THEN the rain came… it was just light but when you put rain + spray paint, it makes surfaces slippery. He went down a drop and was on his way up the other side when the board slipped out from under him and his right cheek hit on a metal rail. OUCH…

The Easter Bunny found us in Comox and we awoke to eggs and treats all around the camper (which was a feat in itself). The campground management also put on a hunt for all the kids, which was an extra treat.

Monday was only a light rain so we wandered down the street from the campground (Cape Lazo RV Park – fabulous… we stayed here in the fall as well) to the Lazo Marsh trails & conservation area. It is a set of trails that make for an easy family walk – enough to keep you amused and a manageable length.

IMG_1576Tuesday saw us up early in the morning to drive to Nanaimo and catch the ferry over to Tsawassen (mainland). This is the official beginning of our drive home – ack!!! (more on that later). Ferries are a very expensive part of our adventure as we are over in our height and our length. It costs $300 each way so we are sure to make the most of our Island time.

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