Archive | April 2014

Quadra Island Reflections

I recently moved to Quadra Island, and I’m not sure what that makes me: am I a Quadra Islander or a Quadralite?  I like the sound of the latter one, although it makes me think of something that goes around on four legs.  In any case, I am really enjoying myself.  I have been to Quadra Island several times, having moved to the Campbell River area 13 years ago, and I worked at April Point Resort in 2002.

View of east side beach

View of east side beach

I was also here in 1981, and in fact had my honeymoon here, in a little cabin on the beach, on the east of the island, below a house that Joy Inglis was living in and where my sister was boarding.  The cabin was perfect – all it had was an old spring bed and an oil lamp.. I don’t think there was even any running water at all.  It seemed very romantic to me.

Joy was someone my sister and I knew through Strathcona Park Lodge, and it is also through the Lodge that I am acquainted with several other Quadra people.  There has been a strange symbiotic bond between the Lodge and Quadra – both places draw the same kind of people to them; people who like to be close to the wilderness and who are often employed in creative, educational or outdoor related pursuits.

One thing I like about Quadra especially is the roads – there is no highway.  The lovely narrow rural routes meander over the island with dips and curves and with a kind of lackadaisical attitude, as if there is nowhere to go in a hurry. (You may have heard the expression “Quadra Time”).  Certainly this is apparent when you are here, unless of course you have to catch the ferry.  Then there is a bewildering rush hour, with vehicles coming out of nowhere and converging onto Harper Road to get to the Quathiaski Cove harbour on time for the departure/arrival of the ferry from Campbell River.  It is also possible to get to Cortez Island from Quadra Island, although going in the opposite direction from ‘the Cove’ via Heriot Bay.

Ferry heading to Cortez

Ferry heading to Cortez

I was a little apprehensive about being a regular ferry passenger.  When I first moved to BC I dreaded driving onto the ferry.  I don’t know why; I had a strange feeling that I would do something wrong.  I also thought that I would find the trip tedious, and that I would wish it would hurry up or that I didn’t have to take it at all.  So far though, I actually enjoy taking the ferry.  I find it relaxing.  I put on my makeup, clean out my purse, drink tea, write shopping lists, make phone calls, tidy up my car… in fact I am almost sad when it is over.  It is a beautiful trip too – looking at the water and the vistas in either direction, particularly at the Coastal or the Vancouver Island mountain ranges.

I believe too, that the trip across the water reaches something elemental in us.  Throughout legend, there are many references to crossing the water to reach a more spiritual place, or to ‘get to the other side’.  Being separated from the

Cape Mudge on west side

Cape Mudge on west side

larger land mass by water so far doesn’t seem distressing; I think especially since Quadra has so many basic amenities.  After all, it was settled even before Campbell River and its history (which is more than aptly covered in Jeanette Taylor’s book ‘The Quadra Story’) forms part of the Discovery Islands history.. that of moving west from the mainland in gradual steps towards Vancouver Island.  In the days that many people occupied these islands, water was the way that people got from place to place.  Instead of a barrier, it was a conduit.

Multitudes of starfish

Multitudes of starfish

I live in a converted sawmill on a large property, and it is quiet and beautiful.  There are trails close by, and I took one the other day to get down to the beach.  The beach is mainly large rocks and boulders and I found a startling number of starfish.  I have lived at Storries Beach south of Campbell River for seven years, and was used to finding sealife on my forays down to shore, but have never seen so many starfish at one time.  I was also delighted that a lone whale passed by close to shore, making the distinctive ‘phoosh’ sound as it exhaled.

I am looking forward to summer and exploring more, especially on my bicycle.  I expect to have lots of visitors as I know from living on the other side, that many people are looking for a reason to come over to Quadra and now they can have the excuse to visit me.   See my short gallery below and there will be more I’m sure.

Don’t forget to visit my website http://www.catherinegilbert.ca.

Ice Fishing at Heffley Lake BC

On a frigidly cold Saturday morning in late February, I got out of bed at 4:30am, dressed myself in several layers of warm clothing, pulled on slush pants and an oversized winter jacket, donned my hat and gloves and stepped outside.  What was I doing?  This was the weekend… time to sleep in and linger over that first cup of tea, sit on the deck in balmy Campbell River,..  but no, I was in Kamloops, and I was going ice fishing.

To prove I was there

To prove I was there

I wasn’t going by myself – I was invited by my son, who did this practically every weekend in the winter.  This would be my first time and I was willing to try it, although I found out later that he had his doubts that I would.  Apparently a friend told him that his mother would never have gone unless forced.  “I’ll try anything,” I told him, “if you make me.”  Which sounds like the same thing, but what it really means is that if he organizes everything and does the grunt work, then I’m in.  He also assured me that I wasn’t likely to feel the cold.

IMGP0520We arrived at Heffley Lake just as the sky was brightening and it really was quite beautiful.  So this in itself made me feel that this wasn’t so bad afterall, until he told me that we had to cross the lake to get to our fishing spot.  “What?” I said, “I have to walk that far?”  That lake looked tremendously vast from where I stood on the shore – several kilometres across I was sure.  I told him to go on ahead, as it was going to take me quite some to catch up, and as I slugged through the snow trying to walk in his footsteps, I envied the supplies that were getting a ride on his toboggan.

By the time I got to our spot, he already had the ice fishing hut (really, a tent) up and the propane

Jean-Luc boring the ice

Jean-Luc boring the ice

heater on, and all the supplies inside.  I stood and watched (I’m good at this) as he bored two holes in the ice.  Then all I had to do was step inside.  To my surprise, there was even a canvas chair to sit on.  (He had told me previously that I was going to be sitting on a block of ice).  He handed me a rod – a short one it seemed to me, that was already baited with a worm and instructed me in how to attract the fish beneath the ice.  It was really pretty comfy, though dark.  I had the impression it would have been brighter in there.

We had brought some snacks, but what was missing for me was a thermos filled with hot tea.  “You don’t own a thermos?” I had asked with some astonishment the night before. “No,” my son told me, “but all the old guys I go fishing with always bring one.”  I guess me and the ‘old guys’ shared a thing or two in common, because to my mind, nothing eases the pain of cold like a hot beverage, especially when a person is outdoors.  However, dressed as I was in clothing reminiscent of childhood – ie, the snowsuit that it was impossible to move in, I was actually okay.  I realized that I probably should have worn an extra pair of socks and that my hat was more of a fashion statement that winter apparel, but I didn’t suffer from frostbite or lose any toes or ears.

Another thing I probably share with the ‘old guys’ is a frequent need to use the outdoor ‘facilities’.  There weren’t any, but I found a tree just a few steps away from the hut that provided adequate shelter from elements and prying eyes.  I honestly wasn’t worried that anyone would see me, that is until the second trip out when I was on my way to my tree, and two new people arrived who thought it was a good time to wave ‘hello’.  Like a true outdoorsperson who must share the camaraderie of being the only humans out on this barren wasteland of ice, I waved back, and proceeded on my way.  There was no point in hiding the obvious and for me, when Nature calls, I am compelled to respond.

Dinner!

Dinner!

I had been fishing with my son many times before, although never in winter.  This was the only IMGP0525thing that made this excursion different since as always, I didn’t catch anything, but he did.  Four nice sized beautiful trout.  Despite my ill luck, I was pleased that we had dinner.  And it was also a time for quiet and for conversation, because when you are waiting and watching for the fish through that hole in the ice for five hours, there is little to do except talk, or be quiet as the case may be.

We ended our day at Sun Peaks Resort which was surprisingly busy, and there I had my cup of tea.  When we arrived back at his place and the warmth engulfed us, I was good and ready for a nap (another thing I probably share with the old guys) and dropped easily into a deep sleep.  We had the fish for dinner the next night and it was excellent!  Would I go ice fishing again? Probably, but not without my thermos of tea, an extra pair of wool socks, a warm hat, a little music…

Ice sculpture at Sun Peaks

Ice sculpture at Sun Peaks