The Sunshine Coast
Our camping two weekends ago near Saltery Bay was full of sun and rain, waves and wind, endless coasting birds, hiking into wilderness, rushing waterfalls, isolation, running, and admiring the country north of Gibsons, mostly First Nations territories peppered with local foods and artisan goods. After two ferry rides, we arrived at a campsite just north of Saltery Bay Provincial Park on a Friday. We had previously planned to tent-camp but ended up in a cabin, which was good because the tenting area was sort of cramped around a view of an old barn and some kind of equipment. Our cabin, however, had a front door to the sea and a wide window to view it all, so if we weren’t out somewhere we were watching the sea.
On the way up, we missed one ferry and had to wait around three hours for another, so didn’t get to the cabin until after dinner time on Friday night. I had made some enchiladas for Cinco de Mayo, which we were able to have for three meals. Every night it rained, but during the day we enjoyed a lot of sunshine, and if the wind wasn’t blowing, the warmth poured over us.
Saturday morning, I went on a solo-run just to explore the park we camped at. I am nearing the end of the redo of the 5K training–although I’m finding that I run more than it asks for. So, after a loop around the cabin area and still needing to run further, I went north on the beach. I had to cross a tiny creek running across the beach and into the sea, and also navigated around several rocks and along a short, very narrow sea wall. I had noticed on recent runs, probably every since we did that 11K walk-run a few weeks ago at Crystal Falls, that my left ankle felt quite sore, but I kept at the run.
One area of the morning run was lined with the typical tall cedars and other trees that indicate the rainforest. As I ran along–perfect timing–came Great Big Sea’s “When I’m Up,” one of my favorite bands and songs. Then the following view:
Times like these I feel most alive, most appreciative of life in the sense that I am not cooped up with cultural wrappings. Running among trees makes you feel tall and part of things around you, unjudged and free. When I got back from my run, my husband was whittling–his first try at it. He is a woodworker, making things like tables, dressers, desks, and smaller gift-like things like wall-mounted bottle openers, picture frames, and wooden spoons. It didn’t take him too long to whittle a knife. This took me back to days of watching my pappaw whittle on his front porch.
After lunch, we went down to the ferry landing at Earl’s Cove, where we had seen an entrance to the Sunshine Coast Trail. So we parked there and hiked in. As we did, the sunshine went behind clouds, and we began to feel a soft rain falling over us. We did not go too far on this trail, only about 3km. We crossed a bridge, saw a waterfall, and climbed “escalator hill,” which had a hard trail to follow and just switchbacked up the mountain. You really would not know the trail except for the orange markers on trees. It is here where my ankle began to give out a little. And since we were climbing over slippery rocks at this point, we decided our anniversary gifts (11th coming up next weekend) would be real hiking books. I was wearing my trail runners, but they do not support my ankles.
We found good hiking boots in Powell River and had a quick lunch. On the way back to Saltery Bay, we saw another trail entrance and hiked for another few miles up an old canoe route. This path bordered Powell Lake on the south, but we did not find an entrance to it, rather marveled at the bald eagles and ravens above us, berries at the trail side, and the isolation (not one other soul) in this ancient forest area. The only downside was that being an old logging road, we did see some clearcut areas. It felt alone, peaceful, always a great background for our conversations. What is the difference between crows and ravens? Are these the blackberry bushes native to British Columbia? Look at that bald eagle! Listen to the ravens and bald eagles squawk at each other.
After some time, and a further aching ankle, we decided to go back to the cabin after one more dinner in Powell River.
Sunday we went to Lund, which is the end of the road (0 mile marker and start of highway 101 if you head South; you can take it all the way to Chile) and entrance to Desolation Sound. Across the harbor we could see islands and the deep water sound that trails north to the Great Bear Rainforest, an area that I studied and wrote about a few years ago. Pocked by snow-capped mountains, rainforest, clear blue waters, and fjords, this peaceful area of the world is also sought by those wanting to continue making British Columbia a resourced-based economy rather than a resourceful one, but we also have plenty of environmental groups, most significantly First Nations, stopping pipelines, logging, and fracking in the area.
The morning was silent and meaningful up there. I had found a copy of Jeff VanderMeer’s novel Borne, which came out in late April, and read it between sightseeing and a small 1K hike around Lund.
I’m almost done with Borne now. It was a busy week between camping and this past weekend when we had mother’s day things to do in Kamloops. I’ve long been a fan of Jeff VanderMeer. His work really got me into weird fiction, or modern day weird fiction, as I can appreciate the horror genre–not just horror but literary horror, if that makes sense. There’s some ecological weird fiction, such as VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, which I read quickly, falling in love with the story. Yet, I think Borne tops that as my new favorite. I wasn’t sure what to expect in a story about a biotech bear named Mord, on which is found a small but growing creature then named Borne by its founder Rachel. I want to just say, “Holy shit, get this novel, it will blow your mind in ways you could never imagine…it’s profound and beautiful. I feel like the childlike Borne character in trying to figure out how to describe it. It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful. It’s expanding.” I think why it works is that it really busts out of genres and busts out of the seams of literary expectations and predictions and formats. It is just so damn good. You will fall in love with Borne.
That night as I drank some red wine, reading Borne some more on the beach, it seemed like a slow evening. The way we were situated was that the sea bay was really facing south, and so sunset was beyond trees to our right, and it is getting dark up here much later than it was–so the sunset took a long time and wasn’t direct, loons chattered in the background, while I would read and read, and then stare at the horizon, hoping to see a whale or more birds spreading their long wings out to the momentous sky.
Well, after our trip, I was able to run last week some more before realizing, hey, my left ankle is completely swollen. So now I have to take care before heading back to my running and hiking routine. Meanwhile, back on the lower mainland, we have only seen a few wholly summer-like days. Most days are a combo of rain and sunshine, with coolness and heat playing a match with each other. We’ve seen hailstorms and downpours come out of nowhere. So much rain! I did plant some kale, arugula lettuce, beans, and peas, but that’s it. I will plant strawberries soon and maybe some herbs. The beans are already unfurling from the soil! The backyard has not yet been mowed and looks like a jungle.