5 inspiring places in British Columbia that have resonated with me (and you should visit.)
British Columbia is overwhelmingly large. The places I've visited and amount of roads I've traveled in this beautiful province make it seem like I've seen a lot of it, but I've barely scratched the surface. Every summer I try to see a new place and spend some time hiking or camping there. This is a list of 5 of my favourite spots (in no particular order), with photos to match. Much of my inspiration and creative energy comes from visiting these gorgeous places. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I do.
1. Nlaka'pamux / Stein Valley Heritage Park
Nearly all of the Stein River watershed rushes through this provincial park. You can get to it by car in just about four hours from Vancouver and access it via the town of Lytton. The name "Stein" comes from the Nlaka'pamux word "Stagyn", which means "hidden place". This couldn't be more true, because we only saw a about five people during our three-night hike. The relentless sound of the rushing river starts to induce auditory hallucinations after a day or so. The valley is so deep that the sun disappears quickly, and the sky lights up like a planetarium as the stars come out. It truly is a wonderful place, full of power and grace.
2. Sombrio Beach, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park
Sombrio Beach is a large cobble beach, accessible via the Juan de Fuca Trail on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I was lucky to be with some seasoned local surfers who took me through a "secret" path that was full of old growth trees, covered in blankets of ancient moss and lichens. We visited Sombrio on a typical moody "wet coast" day. The skies were a pewter grey and the landscape was hidden in pockets of mist. I fell in love with the monochromatic palette that this created. Later the sun came out, and lit up the greens and oranges in the vegetation that hung off the rocks. I was soaking wet, but happy, because being surrounded in that kind of dramatic beauty just makes your soul feel good.
3. Cortes Island
Cortes Island is tucked away in the Discovery Islands archipelago - three ferries and a couple of hours drive from Vancouver. My parents have rented a place there almost every summer for the last few years and I finally got to join them for a week a couple of years ago. The natural diversity found on Cortes is incredible: endless sandy beaches, rugged granite-lined shores, a massive lagoon where you can ride the incoming tide in as it fills up, manzanita-covered hillsides and lush temperate rainforest. There's even a shipwreck!
4. Garibaldi Lake / Black Tusk
The only thing I would change about Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk is to make them less popular. What can I say, I like being alone (or nearly alone) in the wilderness. That said, looking at my pictures you'd probably wonder what I'm talking about because there isn't a single person in any of these shots. Yes, I have a knack for making places look abandoned and empty. Garibaldi Provincial Park is popular for a reason. Garibaldi Lake is an unreal azure blue, and the rugged, stark landscape around Black Tusk feels like a post-apocalyptic wasteland. We managed to time our first night with the rising of a Super Moon over the lake - talk about epic beauty. The hike up to the lake and the tusk is long and sweaty, but it is well worth the effort and definitely worth an overnight stay so you can spend more time exploring the wildflower fields and scrambling up The Tusk.
5. Galiano Island
I've been visiting this peaceful island for over 10 years, thanks to my husband's family owning some beautiful property there. Galiano is small and very close to Vancouver, making it an ideal weekend get-away spot to recharge. The landscape is almost as diverse as Cortes Island, which is impressive considering it's small size. The beach never gets boring - it's always changing and full of wildlife. You can kayak around its shores, hike its mountains, lounge in the sun on some sandstone or nap on a shady, thick bed of moss. Oh, and the sunsets are pretty much always stunning.