June 29, 2014

North Pender and South Pender Islands

There is North Pender Island (where the ferry terminal called Otter Bay) and South Pender Island (where the highest peak Mount Norman).

Originally one island connected by an isthmus, a canal was dredged in the early 1900s to allow the ferry and boats quicker and safer passage through to the various points of the islands instead of going around – kinda like Panama Canal in a minute scope.

The islands were named in 1859 after Second Master Daniel Pender, the senior survey officer on board the Royal Navy ship H.M.S. Plumper.  The Plumper was charting the coast of British Colombia, Canada.

The good thing about the Southern Gulf Islands, of which the Penders are part of, is that the locals (men and women) are generally open to giving rides to hitchhikers.  None of them has public transit, except for a limited service in Salt Spring Island. 
Right after disembarking at Otter Bay, I was able to request a ride from a father of two to the summer Saturday market. 

It is always fun to see what’s local.   

Much smaller than the granddaddy – Salt Spring Island summer market - the one at Pender has stalls for frozen cuts of lamb, veggies, fruit, art work, baked goods, jams and jellies, some pricey and on the salty side beef and salmon tourtière.   

Truly French-Canadian, tourtière are meat pies where fillings can vary depending on region as in this case – fish.  

From the market I got a short ride to Hope Bay but requested to be dropped off soon when I saw a pretty bluish house with a signage Nu-To-Yu Community Thrift Store (open only in Fridays and Saturdays). 
I thought Nu To Yu was an Indian word for something.  But now as I am writing I realized it is a phonetic spelling of New To You.  LOL!   I got a small Mexico-made brightly painted wood bird for Cnd$1.   

From there it was a 20 minute walk to Hope Bay - a couple of boutiques, a restaurant – nothing worth recommending - with a lame view of the Plumper Sound and farther Mayne Island.  
This is Hope Bay, that's it, nothing else.

So I got another ride heading south.    Got off at the island's main shopping area called Driftwood Centre.   There were no driftwood.  You can get your food supplies at a real supermarket Tru Value Foods.  Other businesses include the Pender Island Bakery, Pender Sushi, a BC Liquor Store, Pender Island Pharmacy, Island Savings Credit Union, and a post office.

From Driftwood, I thumbs up a hitch, crossed the wooden bridge separating the islands
and after a couple of side trips, I finally was able to make it to my destination – the trailhead towards the highest point in the land Mount Norman at 244 meters.  There are actually two starting points, after crossing the wooden bridge:
a. Look for a road on your right and drive up to a parking area or
b. Continue on south (going left) on Canal Road approximately 2 km to a small parking area (at your right side). 

Regardless of which trail you choose, the hike is classified easy to moderate.  Some writers claim the climb or descent is steep, but anything under 30 degrees for me is not steep.  You can reach the roughly 800 feet summit within half an hour to 40 minutes at a leisurely pace.  I decided to do B going up and A going down.

At the top there is a spacious deck with benches.  It affords a good view of the gulf and distant islands, lovely - tried to convince myself there was a wow  factor - there wasn’t.

Although there are camping grounds in the island, I requested if I can stay at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in their back yard for the night.  They said yes.  

Try to stay in any of the islands overnight.  You get the island vibes when it’s dusk, the roads are empty, and hear that away-from-it-all silence.

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