We said good-bye to our new paddling friends Mary, Judy and Jillian today. They were going to do some hiking before catching the ferry. We planned a day of exploration on foot with Nicky and Derek.

Car camping was fun. We had a great site, didn’t have to pack and unpack kayaks every day and the warm showers and flush toilets were a bonus! Today we were up early, and enjoyed a quiet morning, watching the sun rises above the trees, a family of otters play in the water, a blue heron looking for fish and listened to the seagulls have a very animated conversation about something only they can know. We didn’t have to rush since we didn’t have to leave until 10:30 to meet Nicky and Derek at Malaspina Galleries.

We were at the beach a bit early so we explored the beach at low tide and enjoyed watching the various family groups enjoy the sunshine and beach. Two young children were mesmerized by the tidal pools and all of a sudden excitedly yelled “Mom we saw 34 starfish!” They were plentiful here. We found many as well, and enjoyed the colors and shapes.

We were at a disadvantage without a dog. It seemed the almost everyone had one or more dogs that were enjoying the freedom of the beach and the water. Two dogs, in particular, were fun to watch. The younger black lab was full of energy playing fetch with a big stick in the water. The 13-year old friend was not as interested but tried. So when the stick was thrown closer to shore, he tried, and the other one ‘helped’ and then they carried the stick out of the water together. It was hilarious to watch.

The star of the show was the Malaspina Galleries. We saw this long carved cave from the water yesterday and today we walked along it and marvelled at the shapes and erosion patterns up close. It was fun trying naming the shapes. Everything from ‘faces’ to ‘dinosaur prints’ to organic carvings. It was beautiful.

After a picnic lunch we drove to the other side of the island to walk the beach and trails in Drumbeg Park (such a great name!). This was fun because from land we could see several of the islands to which we had paddled. We had a great time rockhopping on the beach, again enjoying the many shapes and patterns and looking out at the blue waters. We saw more shades of green on land and water, many shades of rocks and so many different shapes. Walking along the rocks made me think of the fun Eric and Kirk had on our many hikes; they loved ‘rock hopping’. And I know Kirk would have been looking in as many tidal pools as possible.

So all in all it was a fantastic four days on Gabriola Island. We loved to be camping again, we met and made some great paddling friends that I’m sure we will paddle with again in the future, we saw spectacular scenery and gained some knowledge of this fascinating area, had perfect weather and winds, and got to spend a great day with family in a beautiful place.

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