It began with an e-mail from Sean that he was going over to the cottage on the Easter weekend to do some work and asked who else would like to go. It had been a long time since I had been over so I signed up.
Dave said he and Cynthia would go and Gordon, Laura and Holly also wanted to go. Susan, not so much. It was spring and she felt her time was better spent in the garden. That is her one true passion in life.
I had the SUV so we loaded up my car and David, Cynthia, Sean and I headed over together. Gordan and crew were to come the next morning.
It was the usual drill: to Tsawassen ferry terminal, ferry to Sturdies Bay on Galiano Island, drive up the island to Spanish Hills, and then have Dan White run us across to Valdes. Dan lives on Valdes and has a great commercial water taxi service throughout the Gulf Islands. He has a real neat business model!
Spanish Hills is a great spot. The dock used to belong to the Federal Government but they gave it up as a cost cutting measure and turned it over the a local group to run for the benefit of the people on Galiano Island. We have been using it for years; since about 1969 or 70.
In the 1970’s and 80’s there was a general store there at the head of the dock but it has been gone for many years now.
At one time we used to rent and aluminum boat and motor and launch it here to go to Valdes.
The kids have done a great job on the new cabin! The construction is excellent and there is enough wood used to build another three stories on top of it. That cabin in that setting is simply amazing!
In these pictures you can see that the view from the decks and front windows is all ocean and mountains in the mist. All of this incredible wild remoteness within sight of Vancouver!
The cabin is in the trees in the center at the edge of the bluff.
We do not use the old cabin any more and it looks pretty forlorn. We have so many many happy memories there.
One of my great joys on Valdes is to walk alone in the woods. There is something strange and delightful about the forest. It is dark, very quiet, and what sounds there are seem to sooth and heal the soul. I can walk for hours in quiet contemplation totally lost, both in place and in time.
On this trip I was able to walk on three separate days, each day for about six hours. I think this may have been my best time on the island. It was heaven.
Now, having said that, I wanted to photograph what I was feeling. But the problem with taking pictures of the forest is that all of the trees get in the way. By that I mean that you are so closed in by the trees that it is hard to capture the feeling that the forest gives you. I was trying to photograph calmness, contemplation, silence, wind: all very challenging.
Here are some of the pictures I took. I am not giving them captions. They have to speak for themselves. But they are the Valdes that I love. I understand that the local indian band has obtained the logging rights to this forest. I fear that they will destroy a wonderful place.
And that was our weekend on Valdes. As I said, it may have been the best few days I have had on the island, and I have had a few! Food was great, the cabin is tight and warm, the beds, well, maybe I won’t talk about them.
I really enjoyed my time in the forest. It was deeply satisfying and I got a few pictures that I think captured some of what I was feeling.
I am not done with this particular photo endeavour. I intend to go back next year. I have always wanted to walk to the North end of the island. It will involve a tent and an overnight in the bush. But that too is something I have
always wanted to do. This time I will drag Susan out with me. She is not a great camping person and not the bravest in the bush. But Valdes is a gentle place: no bears, I have never seen a cougar, no snakes. And it is beautiful. It is everything that BC represents.
Here is the gang at the cabin. On the left is a friend of Laura’s. Then Laura, Holly and Cynthia, Gordon, Sean, and David.
The trip back was a reverse of the trip to get there: Dan took us to Spanish Hills, we drove to Sturdies Bay on the South end of Galiano and waited for the ferry back to the mainland. It was good to get home and to a warm shower. Valdes is an outdoor experience and keeping clean is a continual challenge.
We owe a great deal to Grandpa who got us this piece of paradise and has financially supported it. Think of the generations of Marrs (and Barchards) that have used it: from Grandpa to Cynthia, that is four. And I don’t think we are finished yet. This is just too fine!