Kayaking Wallace Island

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by joanb, Sep 3, 2017.

  1. joanb

    joanb New Member

    Nov 14, 2012
    Leaving Horseshoe Bay on a crack-of-dawn ferry gets us kayaking on Wallace Island Marine Provincial Park by noon. Since my last blog- posting from Thetis Island, we decide to kayak-camp on Wallace.

    From Nanaimo, it’s an hour’s drive south to Crofton where we meet a group of Cowichan kayakers, heading our way on a daytrip. They lead us to Hudson Point, a kilometer north of Fernwood Dock on Salt Spring’s northeast, Wallace-facing side.

    ‘Turn right, left, right, left,’ says Richard before we convoy across the top of Salt Spring Island.

    That final left bookmarks our end target, the Fernwood Road Café where we’ll do as they say: eat, drink, relax, socialize. Open seven days a week from early June til end of August, the locals say it’s worth it.

    We drive down Hudson Point’s short hill to unload the boat and the car, pack the boat, leaving the car on the street. The Cowichaners show us how.

    Once we’re loaded and ready, we cross a relatively-calm Houstoun Passage, named after Captain (and surveyor) Wallace Houstoun, to the island bearing his Christian name. A red-marker buoy beckons and points like an index finger to Conover Cove within a half-hour. We’ve wind-weather-tide checked it out. We bi-pass the in-and-out of boats moored in Conover Cove.

    We meander north another 45 minutes past lounging seals on the diminishing rocks, a rising-tide at our backs.

    “The pups are five weeks older and wiser since our last visit, just as playful!”

    We pull in to Chivers Point, around the top corner of Wallace. Don’t blink your paddle, or you’ll miss it. Jeremiah Chivers was a gold rusher who retired and died at 92 on the island.

    The eight CKCC kayakers land two by two between folding tongues of rock on the sandy-pebbly beach. To any other kayakers passing, we appear to have a full slate with nine tent platforms, but our Cowichan friends aren’t staying. Its mid-afternoon and the oasis is ours.

    We pop our $20 registration into the slot for wilderness camping ($5/person/night), a small price to pay for the data and funds needed to provide trail maintenance and a vented pit toilet: a broom, TP and hand sanitizer at your disposal!

    Walkers visit us from Conover Cove, a three-mile out and back—a ten-kilometer round trip through the woods. And since we’re the only campers there...

    “Where’s your boat?” “Where are you from?” “How did you get here?”

    A resident harbour seal patrols as the tide rises and falls. Kingfishers chatter. Camp chairs are set up to admire the diverse wind-and-wave patterns on sky-and-water. For lunch, it’s crackers, canned oysters and apple sauce. For dinner, it’s OMG burgers with a sweet pepper relish and a glass of Chablis. The night passes peacefully with raccoons chittering as they turn, roll and kersplash rocks. Our food’s safely stashed in the cache thanks to BC Parks.

    We round South Secretary on a morning high tide, through the gap with the larger, North Secretary over to Jackscrew Island to view an outdoor totem gallery. High tide is a good time to float in for a closer look. Milk-and-dark-chocolate hues. We spot bear, frog, hummingbird, human and eagle motifs.

    My favorite is the powerful neck, torso, and thighs of Welcome Man— arms outstretched, palms open, standing square (almost pigeon-toed) a serious expression. The cedar hat covers his shoulder-length hair; the cedar tassel covers his modesty. The wood grains match his sinews. No colour gives him away.

    Welcomes were serious occasions historically, sometimes meant to intimidate. I take our welcome seriously too. This is a private island. In a half foot of water, we get an up-close yet not-too-close view.

    We finish our clock-wise tour of Wallace our last day. The river otters and black-tailed deer aren’t showing their faces. Galiano Island’s Bodega Ridge four-kilometer-high rock face smiles at us across Trincomali Chanel. We round Panther Point (like most water features, it’s named after the ship that sunk here) and spy a pair of oystercatchers.

    Stretching legs at Conover Cove, we revisit what was once an island resort complete with cabins, store, boating rentals and a recreational hall. Camaraderie is still shared here over driftwood art engraved with visitors’ names, dates ‘n’ ditties.

    Crossing back to Fernwood Road Café, we’re ready for an apple-dried cherry-pecan- blue cheese salad with a delectibly-nibbly apple cider dressing. A cap on a fruitful trip.
  2. joanb

    joanb New Member

    Nov 14, 2012