We started the weekend by waking up at ridiculous o’clock to catch a bus, and then a ferry out to the beautiful Bowen Island. Our plan was pretty simple; Explore some of the island and climb Mount Gardner. Bowen Island is only about 20 minutes away on a ferry from Horseshoe Bay. And Horseshoe Bay is only a 40 minute speedy-bus ride from central Vancouver. So it is an incredibly accessible place to visit by public transport once you’ve worked out the logistics. It’s also very reasonable. Our tickets were $12.35 return – that is amazing value for a trip that feels like a mini holiday! We were on the ferry just after 8am when the coastline leading to Howe Sound was all misty and gorgeous. Does this not look like a good start!?
Mount Gardner is the highest point on the island at 720m. It is perfect for a hike because the walk loops around the mountain, allowing amazing views from multiple locations. You also don’t have to double back and wander along the same trail twice. We had a hiking book with a slightly rubbish map. But we picked up a better map from a sweet info centre right next to the Bowen Island Library in Snug Cove. You can find their maps online here. Our new map showed a nice walk through Crippen Regional Park and around Killarney Lake to get to the trail-head for Mount Gardner. So we set off.
Crippen Regional Park is lovely! I mean, just look at these amazing ex-trees! The first fragment of a the trunk is so massive I can only imagine how impressive it was as a full tree! The other tree was one of the ex-trees that provided a base for new trees.
This whole areas is full of natural beauty. We saw a blue jay with ridiculously blue feathers! He was so bright he looked like he’d fit in hiding behind bright facinators at a posh wedding, or on ladies day at the races. We also saw an owl! It’s the first time I’ve seen an owl in the wild and I was so excited. I was even more excited when it turned its neck almost the whole way around – like the child in the exorcist – so it could stare at us! I did take photos of both these birds, but as I don’t have a zoom lens, they are not very clear. I’ll post other piccies of the amazing trees and scenery instead.
Next we walked around Killarney Lake . The lake was reflecting the bright blue sky, so looked really pretty. It is also slightly eerie because there are quite a few tall, dead, waterlogged tree trunks that stand at the edge of the lake bed. They must have been flooded when the Dam was first built, but for some reason the have never fallen down. They make me think of a tree graveyard.
From the lake, there is a bit of a climb up to the trail head; And then we were ready to hike up Mount Gardner!
The actual walk is a loop, so if you don’t get confused and turn the wrong way on the logging roads, you won’t have to follow the same path twice. It isn’t too steep. It’s far easier than the Grouse Grind (and Dam Mountain) or the Stawamus Chief. But for some reason I found it quite hard going. Marc is getting stronger, so he zoomed off and had to keep waiting for me. I did really enjoy the walk, but my heart was really racing to keep up most of the time! I even stopped to take a selfie while I felt knackered; This is because I normally remember things with rose-tinted glasses, and I wanted to remind myself that I can’t always zoom as fast as I want to!
Luckily the exhausting section was near the start. It actually got easier as we moved up the mountain as our route included a gentle ridge walk to the top. Soon after we got close to the top of the ridge, we were rewarded with this amazing view. Somehow seeing the lovely blue sky and sea re-invigorated me, and I was fine for the rest of the day. Yay!
I LOVED the last push to the top. There were pretty mushrooms, gorgeous trees, and holy trees that have been marked by a woodpecker. The path is well marked, but by teeny teeny bits of red tape, so they can be hard to spot!
The very last 50m(sh) were super steep, but there is a rope you can use to drag yourself up. We could hear what sounded like a party at the very top! There were loooads of people! Someone has erected two large decks for people to sit on while they admire the views. Once faces the island going North, and the other faces Vancouver and Mount Baker. There was no room on the first platform, so we decided to perch on a massive rock just above the main summit-party-folks.
While we relaxed and ate lunch, a deer wandered out of the trees to munch some of the numerous salal berries. I don’t think many other people could have seen her because they were facing the other way out to the obvious views. We didn’t want to shout to let people know, as it might have scared her off…so we managed to have a quiet deer moment in the middle of a mountain crowd.
We also spent some time admiring the view of Vancouver, my new workplace at the University of British Columbia and the Fuji-like Mount Baker.
The way down was similarly gorgeous to the way up. Although we did get turned around on the logging roads and managed to add a few extra kilometres to our walk. Oops.
Once we made it back to the trail-head, we didn’t have much water, so I wanted to head straight to a beach. Marc liked the idea of following another trail around Killarney Lake. As he only had one day off this weekend, I let him choose. So we added an extra hours wander to the end of our day. The loop around Killarney lake is a really pleasant walk all of it’s own.
We finished our day trip with a dip in the warm waters at the beach just next to snug cove. There are quite a few barnacles on the rocks, so it is a little painful to step into the sea BUT once you’ve made it deep enough not to have to put weight on your feet, it’s awesome! There is quite a narrow entrance to the cove; So I suppose the cold sea water had some time to heat-up in this shallow area. Seriously though, if you come to Bowen Island, bring some swimming shoes!! Blooming barnacles.
Lastly we wandered back to the ferry terminal to catch a boat back to Vancouver. I was slightly confused because although we arrived with plenty of time, I couldn’t find a ticket office anywhere! I asked some ladies if they knew where I should go to buy our return tickets; They told me that everyone rides on the ferry for free in this direction. That way the ferry company doesn’t need to maintain staff and a ticket booth on this side! Clever eh!?
Anyway, this is SUCH a lovely day trip from central Vancouver. If you ever visit (even if you don’t want to climb the mountain) it’d still be worth a visit to wander around Killarney lake and to swim in the warmer-than-you’d-expect sea!
I’ll finish the main post with some of the pretty flowers we saw around the island. These are for mum. ❀ ✿ ❃
I may have overdone things this weekend. I keep hearing that Vancouver is rainy and a little grim in the autumn/winter so I really want to make the most of the sunny days. The problem is (if you can call it a problem – it is actually really awesome) at the moment it’s sunny all the time. So, I need to make the most of my time, all the time! Even though I am not quite used to waking up really early for work, I woke up even earlier at the weekend to go on these amazing hikes!
But now I have a bit of a sore throat and I feel a little poorly. Plus I didn’t have a chance to clean the apartment properly, so I now need to do all the chores that I should have done at the weekend. My body can’t quite keep up with all the things I want to do! And that is rubbish. 🙁
Having said all that, I had one of the best weekends ever!! It was TOTALLY worth it.