Hornby Island was on the original list of awesome places to visit in the Comox Valley right from the start of this undertaking, way back in January. Very few trips for me outside of work have been taken, with the prohibitive costs of the ferries being the main reason that we spend very little time at this gem of the Salish Sea. Hornby is blessed with gorgeous, sandy beaches, bordered by some of the warmest swimming waters this side of Hawaii, old growth forests, funky homes, cycling paths and mountain biking routes. As a youngster my uncle owned a cabin on Hornby and we would visit it a couple times a year. That was before it was really discovered by the wealthy and made property values skyrocket. First choice for this adventure was to visit Hornby Island and hike the unique terrain of Helliwell Provincial Park, on the south east side of the island. But because of Mother Nature, and my own cautious nature, we didn't actually make it.
|Where did you go? Good camo N!|
I checked the weather forecast for the day shortly before leaving to catch the B.C. Ferries from Buckley Bay to Denman Island. The report called for winds gusting up to 60 kilometers per hour. That is pretty strong. Not a wind warning for the area, but still strong enough that the little "rubber duck" of a ship that makes the run across Lambert Channel from Denman to Hornby, may not be able to make the crossing and sailings could be cancelled. We paid for the full trip across just in case. The breeze was beginning to pick up as we waited to cross Baynes Sound(or as Natalie observed B(L)aynes sound), so I wasn't too hopeful. The biggest issue would be having to sleep over in the truck on Hornby, missing time at work and school, if the sailings were cancelled. Always wanting to be prepared, a sleeping bag and extra water were packed in the truck as a redundancy, just in case. As we waited for 30 minutes for the boat, Natalie challenged me to a few games of Memory on her ipod. She kicked my butt every time. Old age I tell ya!
|New angle on Chrome Island|
We crossed the Sound with no problem. Immediately upon driving up the hill on Denman, the wind was picking up rapidly. Trees were swaying, leaves getting tossed about. Gorgeous colors of fall painted the landscape of the small farms that dot the island. We even saw some Highland steers. Que the Corb Lund. They are massive animals with huge horns. As we drove I explained to Natalie how the wind can wreck havoc on the ferry system, and the risk of having to sleep over if for some reason the boat couldn't go. She agreed that it would be better to play it safe, although she did think that sleeping in the truck for the night would be better than going to school! Once the view unveiled Lambert Channel, the choice was simple. White caps were rolling from the strong south easter. Having been caught in more than my share of these winds, I know how brutal they can be. It was always in a much smaller craft than the B.C. Ferries vessel, including one memorable weekend aboard my friends sailboat.
So now what to do? From my geekness of reading the Backroad Mapbook, I knew a Provincial Park was located at the very southern end of Denman. Boyle Point
is a 125 hectare site that meanders through a mature second growth forest to the look-out that gives a wonderful view of Chrome Island, and the Strait of Georgia. This day the view was impeded by the low cloud and we could hardly see Hornby for it being so socked in. The vantage point is special allowing a great open look at the Chrome Island lighthouse
. Continually manned since it first began to signal mariners of the treacherous rocks and shallows surrounding the rock. It is a symbol of my childhood as we spend many days fishing the waters around this part of the the coast. The bright white buildings are a classic symbol of B.C.'s marine history.
Another short trail veers off to bring hikes to a view point to Eagle Rock. I also was lucky enough to spend a few visits to this "island" in my childhood. At low tide one can walk from Denman to Eagle Rock, and it's unusual rock formations. Many cormorant sea birds nest and habituate both Chrome and Eagle. I remember the water being very clear in this area and we could look over the gunnels and witness starfish, urchins, anemones and various crabs. I would assume that the scuba diving would be really spectacular around here.
|Not sure, but it's pretty|
Our walk was really nice today. The breeze was quite powerful, but we were in the trees for the majority of the time. The fall colors were amazing, big leaf maple leaves in the various hues littered the ground. I was searching for any kind of wild mushrooms to look at. No chantrelles around, of course. We heard eagles calling loudly to each other, saw a smashed up wasp nest and smelled the misty sea air. Although were just had a short visit to this park, I would love to re-visit it in the summer and explore down the precarious cliffs to get a better look at the inter-tidal creatures. Anytime we get to spend quality time outside, not doing chores or being distracted by electronics, is amazing. Find Adventure.
|"Hair in my eyes...."|
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