Monday, August 27, 2018

St. Mary Lake

I've used this title for many posts, probably almost every year, since the lake is such a fundamental part of our stay on Saltspring. We don't play in the water as much as we did when D was younger, but I sit at the beach with my coffee early in the morning while it's still quiet. And M joins the others to play games and chat in the afternoon. The lake is always within site of the cabins and we can always hear people in the water or on the beach in the background.

It's nice that the view across the lake is of protected forest on the steep eastern slope of Channel Ridge and that because the lake is also Ganges' water supply, there are strict rules about motiorized watercraft. The only exception is small electric trolling motors and the launch that accompanies the rowing shells when they're practicing. We occasionally hear cars or equipment across the lake, or a seaplane heading into Ganges, but for the most part, the noise is mainly the kids playing on the rafts.

Mount Maxwell

The top of the main summit in Mount Maxwell Provincial Park is Baynes Peak. Go figure. I guess it's a compromise between the two different names that have historically been used to describe this rocky 580m (1900') hill on Salt Spring Island.

We've driven up a few times in the past, but this was my first time to try it on the bike. It starts with the steep, busy road out of Ganges, but then keeps going, albeit in a rolling, up and down and up again way. The last mile or two is gravel - in some places both steep and loose - and I walked a few short sections, but eventually I made it to the viewpoint. It was still hazy, though not as bad as earlier in the week.

It was much quicker going back down, though somehow I managed to break by chain a mile or so from the cabin. But by then, walking sort of felt like a nice break.

Sunday, August 26, 2018


I walked around Fulford twice this trip, once on the bike ride over to Victoria and again a few days later with M. The village is always colorful, but it was hard to capture it this year because of the thick smoke and haze. The only way these photos worked was by shooting away from the sun and then trying to filter out some of the haze in post-processing (the picture below shows the problem).

I think this is also the first year we haven't been down in the evening for dinner. Most years I've ended up with some nice sunset shots from the pier, but not this time (hshipman: Fulford).

Salt Spring Island

Not for the first time, I'd like to point out that I have no idea whether it's Saltspring Island or Salt Spring Island, but as far as I can tell, the spellings are pretty interchangeable. Either way, it's much the same place as when we first came up in 1997.

Every year (at least since 2006), I post a few pictures, often under similar titles (Salt Spring, Ganges, St, Mary Lake, Fulford), though I've tried pretty hard to seek out a few new places on each visit. This post is simply a few pictures from this year that I liked, but didn't fit well in the other entries.

I believe there are now almost 50 posts from Salt Spring on this blog:
hshipman:  Saltspring Island
And a bunch more over on Gravel Beach:
Gravel Beach: Saltspring

I assume we'll be back again next year.

Burgoyne Bay

M and I swung by Burgoyne Bay on the way back from Fulford and the Bread Lady at the south end of the island. The dirt road down to the red Government Dock is lined with old cars that I assume belong either to folks moored out in the Bay or who occasionally motor over from Vancouver Island.

There was looked all the world like a set from Mad Max or Waterworld floating out in the cove.


The smoke never completely went away during the week, but some days were better than others. In Ganges on Thursday, the haze was less and what little there was I was able to reduce further on the computer back home.

I went into town early for coffee at Talia, then wandered around the harbor with the new camera. The colors were bright, the sky was partly blue, and the whites were really white - not orangish brown like they'd been most of the week. I've probably overdone the contrast a little in these shots, but was having fun playing with the exposure after the fact.

This month, after years of waffling, I finally got a digital SLR (Canon Rebel T6i) and am migrating my photo library from Picasa to Lightroom. The pictures may not be any better, but at least I'm paying more for them! And I'm still taking most of them with my iPhone or my small Canon SX720.


Approaching Victoria, the Lochside Trail joins the Galloping Goose Trail, which brings riders to the north end of the harbour and the recently rebuilt, bicycle-oriented Johnson Street Bridge into downtown. Getting to the south end of the harbor requires some navigating around both cars and tourists.

Victoria's inner harbour was active as usual, and as colorful as could be expected given the thick haze. Coffee and lunch were at Pour, one block in from the water. On leaving, my coordinate system got rotated 90 degrees and it took me a mile of riding through neighborhoods to figure things out. Once corrected, I spent the next hour and a half working my way around the Seaside Route on Victoria's outer shore, along with all of its various bays  (Ross, Gonzales, McNeill, Oak, Cadboro, Cordova, and others).

Once back on the Lochside Trail, it was a straight shot back to Swartz Bay and the 3PM ferry to Fulford.

Saanich Peninsula

This was the first time I'd ever ridden my bike onto a ferry and it's something I'm sure I'll be doing again in other places. The only downside is riding away from a ferry terminal is inevitably uphill and there's always a solid line of cars and trucks heading up the hill right next to you.

Despite the hill, the connection from Swartz Bay to the Lochside Trail and to Sidney (a mile or two south) is well marked. Sidney's waterfront was eery. The view to to the east across the water (I know Mount Baker is out there somewhere) was post-apocalyptic (an expression that's become very cliche around here the last few weeks). Fortunately, I wasn't aware of it from inside Serious Coffee on Beacon Avenue, the first of several refueling stops.

The Lochside Trail is a well-traveled, railroad grade-flat ride the entire 25-30 kms from Sidney to Victoria (the last leg is on the Galloping Goose trail). Some segments follow roads, though traffic is low and the bike lanes are pretty clear. The northern section skirts farm fields, becoming more suburban and more commercial farther south. There are a couple of short dirt sections, but they are smooth and firm and would be easy riding even on skinny tires, and there are a few extended sections of rehabilitated trestle.

Mount Erskine

Mount Erskine is not one of Salt Spring's highest peaks, but the bald outlook on top still provides a nice view north and west over Vancouver Island, even on a partly overcast day like this one.

Besides the view, the other attraction of this hike, and the one that probably motivates smaller kids to do the climb, is half a dozen or more small fairy doors that someone has installed off to the sides of the trail. Next time I'll have to think of something creative to bring along to leave as offerings - something natural and not confused for litter.

I had hiked up here several years ago (hshipman: 2011), but this was the first time for Michele. We found a lot more of the fairy doors this year. I think it's simply due to the route we chose, but maybe she was just paying more attention than I had the last time. What I also found this time was that if you start from the top of Juniper Road, you probably only have half the vertical as when you start from the trailhead on Collins Road.


We've been coming up to Salt Spring Island for more than twenty years. The routine brings familiarity and attachment. Some things change; some things do not.

The Fernwood Pier has been recently repainted - red, since I think that's the standard thing for public docks in BC. While the pier and the landscape remain constant, the boats moored out at the end and the activity along the shore vary. The tides and the angle of the sun change regularly, the weather changes much less predictably.

The restaurant above the pier changes every few years - it's currently the Twig & Buoy and we hope it stays. The Fernwood Cafe has been a great addition and a place I should hang out more often.

These shots were taken on two different days - and two different times of day - for any one looking for consistency or lack thereof.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Skagit River

It turns out the loop from Arlington, up to the Skagit River and east to Concrete, up the Sauk River to Darrington, and then back down the Stillaguamish to Arlington, is just over 100 miles. And while there are some hills, none are terribly long or steep. That's why I had been eyeing this for awhile, thinking it might be a good place to try riding a century.

And I made it, albeit a little slower than I had hoped. The first half went remarkably fast, which may be why the second half went a lot slower. Of course the headwind and all the gravel on the shoulder of SR530 on the last 25 mile leg sure didn't help.

The bike worked well. The legs worked well, though they're still sore four days later. And the seat and the neck and the wrists all made it relatively unscathed. I had two bee stings. And the two dogs (yes, I believe they were pit bulls, but I didn't slow down to ask them) who chased me down on Route 9 north of Big Lake made contact, and scared the hell out of me, but didn't actually bite (or if they did, they missed).

This was the first time I'd ridden more than 100 miles on my bike since high school - one of those long loops in central Maine or the first day of that four day trip to the White Mountains? But I don't need to do it again for a little while.