We begin from home.
Our plan was to walk across Ireland this summer but it turned out not to be the right year to do it. So we settled for a “staycation” which is no hardship here on Vancouver Island in the summer.
Then one day in June, my husband came down the stairs, “I have a great idea,” he said, “We’ll go ‘walk about’ right where we live!” And he laid out the plan for me. I was cautiously excited. The concept was amazing but did I have the strength to do it? The route was about 90 kilometres.
I wrote friends and family along our route:
We are planning a walk about the week of July 22nd. Our route will take us 5 days and goes from our home in Shawnigan Lake via Mill Bay ferry to Brentwood Bay, on to Swartz Bay and over to Fulford on Saltspring Island, up to Cusheon Lake, then on to Vesuvius, back to the main island , over to Glenora and then home along the Cowichan Valley Trail.Our hope is to visit you along the way!Are you up for having overnight guests? Selinde and Jim
The responses were almost immediate and enthusiastic. Our fate was sealed. We were committed and on a sunny Monday afternoon after drenching the garden, we started out. In our daypacks we had one change of clothes, books, water, sunscreen, binoculars, swimsuits and a few other little things. Our hats and sturdy shoes were our constant companions for the next five days. We had never walked to Mill Bay and it was a leisurely
1.5 hour walk away. Immediately we were noticing things that the speed of a car simply doesn’t allow you to see. The llamas came close to the fence to
investigate as we stopped to share a water bottle. We discovered a path that parallels the highway allowing us to avoid the noise and fumes. We strolled into Mill Bay feeling very pleased with ourselves.
My cousin’s husband showed up at the marina in his 32 foot sailboat and we spent the next few hours catching the wind across to Brentwood Bay where we cooled off in the pool, enjoyed a delicious meal as the sun set and slept like babies in the cool of a basement guest room.
Tuesday we set off by 8:15 and it was already warm. We envisioned a delightful trail through the woods when we saw ‘Lochside Trail’ on the map so were willing to trek the extra distance across the peninsula to connect with it but, lo and behold, north of Mt. Newton X Rd, the trail turns out to be a bike lane along the road; no shade, no path, no particular beauty. It was a long 4.5 hours to the ferry terminal in Swartz Bay. But there were delights along the way: an iced latte for one! Later a mink raced out in front of us to catch a mouse and return just as quickly to the bushes. That was a sight people in cars would never be privy to!
The ferry deposited us on Saltspring Island at Fulford Harbour. We took the more scenic, less trafficked route walking a road that I have driven over many times since I was 4 years old. I recognized many landmarks so there was a familiarity to the experience, yet, there were so many things I’d never seen before.
We were in the groove now. Walking single file, lost in thought and then acutely aware of the surroundings. The smells of hot moss on dry rocks, firs, and wafts of unknown organic matter: the aroma of summer on the gulf islands. The road was pretty hilly and our progress considerably slower than earlier in the day. And suddenly at 5pm, there was rush hour, car after car peopled by single individuals, roaring past us on a previously quiet rural road. We became more alert, stepping off the narrow shoulder into the long grass (and once into stinging nettle!) over and over again. Suddenly this island seemed less of an alternative paradise!
We were tired when we arrived 2 hours later at Cusheon Lake and while I’ve enjoyed many a swim there, this time the water felt like heaven and we luxuriated until the heat finally left our bodies. Our time here with family seemed especially relaxing and enjoyable. Was it because we had walked such a long way to get there that our senses weremore attuned and delighted?
The next day was less strenuous. After a short walk into the town of Ganges, we relaxed over special coffees, reading and looking out over the bay. Then we explored the town, choosing books from an interesting second hand bookstore and retiring to the new library to relax in comfy chairs and read for an hour. After a memorable lunch at Barb’s Buns (halibut taco salad – I highly recommend it and have been dreaming about it!) we walked up the island to Vesuvius, stopping for a foot wash/talcum rub and a read/rest halfway at Portlock Park. Our friends greeted us warmly as we strolled through the gate at exactly the arranged time. Drinks in their beautiful garden and a swim in the nearby bay preceded a delicious meal with homemade wine and great conversation. Does food always taste so good when you’ve had a day of exercise and meditation!?
Up early and off to catch the 8:05am ferry to Crofton on the main island. We hadn’t planned it but we managed to walk in the shade almost the whole 3.5 hours to Duncan. Although we were walking along main roads, the traffic was minimal and the views were wonderful. Again, another lazy middle of the day in town, and at 3pm, off for an hour walk in the hot sun to Alderlea Farm in Glenora where our friends run a CSA (community support agriculture) program where we pick up our delicious fresh veggies for 24 weeks a year.
After shower and amazing farm dinner, we joined Katy and John at one of their growing spaces to pick tomatoes and cukes for the program’s pick up selection the following day. Our hosts were still working in the kitchen, preparing for a Cafe day when Jim and I had to beg off and head to bed. Those farmers sure work hard!
Our last day started with a solid farm breakfast. We headed out along the country road to find the entrance to the Cowichan Valley Trail. Fully shaded, we walked in silence over the softer ground for several hours. At one point, near a boggy area we came upon the sign:
I was just considering the possibility of this when I noticed a moving black mass. At closer look, the path was covered in small (one inch) black frogs making their way as a group to the other side. A snake lay in the shallow water with its head out and it’s belly bulging, too lazy to move. When we arrived at the Kinsol Trestle, our conversation turned for the first time to things in the future. We were shifting gears. Needing a rest but thinking “home’s just around the corner,” we continued to walk to the where the trail meets the road and then along the road in the hot early afternoon until we finally arrived home, 5 hours after we had set out.
I had one rather large blister; Jim, many more of varying sizes but we ended the trip on a high. We felt strong, adventurous and peaceful. Does the continued massaging of your feet as you walk provide a sense of well-being? Does the slower pace of moving through space contribute to a slower mental pace?
All I know is that we’re already talking about our next “walk about.” It was the most fun, and least expensive, adventure we’ve had….. since last summer!
Walk About. It’s about staying local, taking it slow and getting in shape.