Saltspring Island

Sometimes all you need is one night away and you feel refreshed. Even if you’re cycling and it’s hot work. We loaded up the bikes with as little gear as possible (still too much of course), got up at 5am one morning, stealth parked the car in a neighbourhood near to the ferry terminal we were leaving from and rode almost straight onto the 8am ferry at Tsawwassen. It’s a gorgeous ride from there across the Strait of Georgia to the southern gulf islands. Sunny, as it is inevitably at the moment (who’d ever think that would be true of this region?), the ride was as ever beautifully scenic.

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The island of Saltspring was our destination, Fulford Harbour our port of call. From there we rode to Ruckle Park to camp, only 9km or so away but on an intensely hilly and twisty road in what turned out to be 33c heat…

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But there were farm stands on the way to stop at with the excuse of buying fresh ingredients to add to our dinner – a fresh yellow zucchini and purple garlic made welcome appearances in our pasta meal – and we loitered in the shade admiring the flowers for sale.

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There’s plenty of farms, fields and a couple of refreshing lakes popular with the locals along the way. We had to ride back later along the same road to Fulford to buy milk we’d forgotten for essential coffee the next morning (we ended up riding that road four times over the course of 24hrs or so) and took our swimming gear with us so we could break the hot ride with a welcome dip. Locals were arriving in droves to find relief in the water from the sun, some stopping only to strip off every stitch of clothing before plunging through the water lilies gathered at the edge of the lake.

On the island there’s gorgeous trees to notice, Garry Oak (threatened) and Arbutus amongst them; eagles to spot; if you’re lucky Orcas off the shoreline or seals and otters. Somehow a rusting heap of a house or barn seemed add to the ambiance of the surrounding area rather than detract from it.

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Ruckle Park itself is a great camping spot, set right on the water’s edge with plenty of space between tent sites. It’s relaxing and very quiet. We dipped into the freezing ocean to cool off after our ride in and lay on the dark rocks afterwards letting the warmth sink back into our muscles. In the evening the wind picked up and we left a tent flap open to the ocean to let the breeze in. It was the coolest we’d been at night almost all summer.

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Sitting by the logs washed up on the shoreline we napped and attempted to read. Winged insects were gathered by a stream of something shiny. At first we thought it was a spilled sugary drink but it turned out to be a trickle of fresh water. The heat had made them thirsty too.

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Stunned by the sun, but slowly released from the grip of tension and stress by the ebb and flow of the waves plopping back and forth onto the rocks, in only a few hours we felt as if we’d been away for days. Sometimes the best things come in small packages…..

 

 

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