August 30, 2012


This is the second in my series of travels to the Southern Gulf Islands in British Columbia, Canada

In my quest to reach the peak of every highest point in the Canadian Gulf Islands, I recently went to Mayne Island to conquer Mount Parke, a "staggering" 255 meters above sea level.
Village Bay Terminal, Mayne Island  BC

To go to Mayne Island, one takes the BC Ferry from the Tsawwassen Terminal.  The boat stops first at Galiano (see my Mount Galiano article), and then Mayne Island at Village Bay dock.  There is no village at Village Bay and like most islands, there is no public transit.  However  there are Car Stop poles on the roads across the isle. 

These car stops are spots where locals can offer you a free ride – in short legalized hitching.  I did get a ride at the Car Stop at a road fronting the dock's parking lot.  A gentleman working for the government
dropped me off at a real village: Miners Bay. 

Miners because it was the in-between point for miners in the 1800s on their way up to the Caribou Country’s gold mines.  There is a bakery selling popular sanddollars at almost $2 (nothing to talk about), and next to it a small supermarket Tru Value Foods.

Facing the bay at Miners Bay is a century old lodging place which has a restaurant, a pub and an open deck. The hotel, Spring Water Lodge, offers utilitarian (fit for a miner) bedrooms upstairs at $40 a night regardless of the season.  Shared bathroom and keyless doors.   A few rooms have water views.  Allison, the hotel clerk who gave me a tour advised that since once would be sleeping on top of a pub – don’t expect a lullaby or the sounds of waves crashing on the shore.

Along Fernhill Road
leading to Mount Parke are a bookstore, a gasoline station (which rents out bikes at a pricey $55 a day). and a small museum which used to be the island’s jail. 

Across the street is a 100 year old Agricultural Hall still being used for community events.

But my goal was Mount Parke, a mile and a half further away.  This time I got a ride again from a serene mechanic.  At the foot of the trail is a fancy grocery called Farm’s Gate selling a very alcoholic and yummy Chocolate Bourbon brownie - $3.50 for two by 1 x 1 pieces.
Next to Farm's Gate is Fernhill Centre a series of boutiques - one of them Tree Frog which sells leather goods: belts, cuffs  made by a local artist.  Surprisingly reasonable prices.

Now to Mount Parke which is not that high.  More like a hill as you can reach the top within half an hour.   Once you land at what seems to be the top there will be arrow signs indicating Ridge (left and right) and Halliday Pt (going right).
Choose Halliday Point. 
The ridge at  the left side is mostly covered by trees offering limited views .   The view at Halliday Point is more open but not spectacular - actually disappointing.
The reason, another lower mountain ridge fences Mount Parke from the water.  Unlike Mount Galiano where you can drop off the cliff to the water, at Mount Parke you have to go down, cross a road, go up and down again, walk some more, to touch liquid. 

I ate my sandwich, tried to angle my camera the best I could, took pictures and left.

If you have two hours to spare, do Mount Parke for a leisurely gander.  Otherwise, it's best to just explore Miners Bay and the Active Pass Lighthouse.


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