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A year on North Vancouver Island Part 2

January 15, 2022

Island of Cortes

 Once we returned to Campbell River, we took a 10-minute ferry crossing to Quadra Island, part of the Discovery Islands  located along the Inside Passage seaway between Vancouver Island the mainland of British Colombia.  A Rep for Hoyne Brewery approached us about the LuvShk and gave us a sixpack of Dark Matter Beer on the ferry. It was not even 9 am yet. So we exchanged some stickers as well and attached them to the LuvShk. Once we arrived, we had breakfast ( No Beer!) at Rebecca Spit, a pretty Provincial Park. After stretching our legs and filling our bellies, we continued our 1-hour drive to the other side to Heriot Bay Ferry terminal to catch our ferry to the Island of Cortez, our final destination  This ferry was much smaller, and it was tight to park the Luvshk on the boat. Unfortunately, we lost our mirror in the process.

After another short ride, we arrived at Whaletown, a small gateway community. Once we drove off the boat, we followed the only main road on the Island to Smelt Bay Provincial Park, a 30-minute drive located at the south end of Cortes Island. Unfortunately, as it was February, the gate to the Provincial Park was closed for the season. But there was an overflow parking lot with outhouses available. So we stayed there with another couple of camper vans. As we set up, Gerry, who owns a substantial piece of beachfront land next to this parking lot, knocked on our door. He asked if we would like to park in his backyard. There was an outdoor shower and a beautiful view. So, of course, we said yes. And what a fantastic spot it was. It turns out that Gerry and Nora bought this land a few years ago from a religious cult group. They restored the old cabin for their home, built a fantastic garden plot and every so often invited lucky campers to stay with them. Well, we were the fortunate once this time. We did not just get an excellent spot to park for a few days,  we had some wonderful visits with the kindest and welcoming couple.

We stayed for five days and enjoyed the scenery. Daily walks on the beach with the dogs, finding enormous oysters and listening to frogs all night long. The sunsets were magnificent. Gerry and Nora brought us hydrated with local wine and fed with fresh veggies on a regular basis. It is so true. We came as strangers, and we indeed left as friends. Thank you so much, Gerry and Nora, for sharing your place with us. The Island of Cortez has a magical grip. So be careful. You might not ever want to leave.

 Cliff and Gerry

walking along the beach

Shucking Oysters

 Local Wine

Amazing Sunset

From Miracle Beach to Lady falls

The name “Miracle Beach” was chosen because the Park is part of the locale of an ancient Indian legend: Once upon a time – so the story runs – the Cape Mudge First Nation,also known as We Wai Kai First Nation, besieged, stricken and timorous, were the constant prey of the surrounding war-like tribes. One day a starving stranger stumbled in upon them and was fed, clothed and befriended. The stranger revealed himself as a messenger of the Great Spirit.

SourceCanadian Geographical Names Database, Ottawa

After returning from the Island of Cortes, we headed to Miracle Beach Provincial Park, located midway between Courtenay and Campbell River on the east coast. The Park is home to gorgeous ocean views, and it’s a fascinating rocky/sandy driftwood-strewn beach full of life. Several sandbars are exposed as the tide goes out, and numerous tide pools crop up to explore, especially for our dogs allowed to run loose at the dog side of the beach. A panoramic view of the spectacular coastal mountains of British Columbia is visible in the distance. On calm days, shimmering ocean waters reflect the blue sky. The area is home to many seabirds and marine life, and we even discovered amazing sea stars on the beach. We stayed at the Provincial Park Campground for five days while waiting for a circuit board for our fridge. The days felt short, with so much to explore.
From the Campground, trails thread through the second-growth forest of Douglas- fir, western Hemlock and Western Red Cedar, housing many birds and animals, including red squirrels, black-tailed deer and raccoons. We hiked through the idyllic forest listening to Black Creek meandering its way to the Strait of Georgia. Black Creek Estuary serves as an important staging area for Brant Geese in early spring. We also met many fellow campers, and one day a sizeable fifth wheel pulled into the Campground, but because it rained so much, the road’s edge was slick, and the truck’s front sunk into the ditch deeply, causing the fifth wheel to become stuck. The LuvShk picked up the vast unit using the winch, so Cliff was thrilled. We enjoyed the evening with our newly made friends.

 

 

It was time to start up the LuvShk and explore this part of Vancouver Island. The significant, misty Lady Falls is one of the reasons to take the Gold River Highway through Strathcona Provincial Park. As we started late, we arrived just before dark at the parking area off Highway 28. We parked for the night, intending to see the falls early the following day. Unfortunately, the rain turned into snow that night, and the easy trail turned into an icy nightmare the next day. As a result, the 1 km hike turned into a slow-moving crawl. We finally reached the pure icy platform overlooking the tremendous waterfall. What a view it was. Falling nearly 100 feet along the Cervus Creek into a scenic gorge, Lady Falls is beautiful and is well-worth seeking out.

Parking lot camping

Miracle Beach

 Sea Star

Lady Falls

So many Lakes so little time

“Not every lake dreams to be an ocean. Blessed are the ones who are happy with whom they are.”

– Mehmet Murat ildan

With over 100 lakes on the island, many are right in this region. It seems as if there is a beautiful lake around every turn. The first stop was Upper Campbell Lake, which BC Hydro had just opened a free campground. The campsites were brand new and had a beautiful view of the water. As a result of the Strathcona Dam built in the 1950s, Upper Campbell Lake was raised by 30 meters (98ft). So the lake offers excellent fishing access to rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden char. We purchased a canoe and electric motor. So we wanted to try our luck. The peaceful setting was a relaxing way to spend our days on the water, but fish was not on our menu. No beginners luck for us.

After a few relaxing days, we headed to Stella Lake, which is just a short drive north of Campbell River and part of a chain of unconnected lakes , (Roberts, Stella, Pye and McCreight Lake) that are all worth the visit. After driving on some bumpy roads, a steep 20% grade down to Stellar lake made our breaks smoke and me scream, but we made it. There are 3-4 rec sites located along Stella Lake Road. We fund the most fantastic spot with an old outhouse, picnic table, fire pit and access to the lake—what a magical place to spend a few days. The island has many hidden magical camping spots. Go out and explore.