The Quadra Island Outdoor Club made 6 trips this month, and 3 of them were off-island. They came to Carrington Bay and Grandmother’s Grove on Cortes Island, kayaked on the Sayward canoe circuit and visited the petroglyphs on Maud Island. Closer to home, they’ve walked Hyacinthe Bay at low tide, paddled around Gowlland Harbour to see the wild flowers and took part in a beach clean-up.
“The Outdoor Club does provide a service to the community, particularly for people who are new to Quadra, who both aren’t familiar with the trail system and at the same time really want to meet other people with shared interests. Most of them are perfectly capable of walking down those trails by themselves. These are mapped and maintained trails, but we also have in our membership a lot of people whose partners or friends don’t share that interest. Particularly women may not be interested in doing the solo trip. I think that is an important niche for us. It’s a very friendly group and the social aspect is very important,” said Debbie Quigg (DQ).
She and her partner Norris Weimer founded the club in 2013.
DQ: “We usually have between 35 and 45 members. So, it’s pretty small. We don’t have leaders or guides, nobody’s trained. We’re a group of peers. Everybody needs to be self-sufficient. That works out pretty well. and we’ve never had any incidents or accidents. The group’s compatible.”
“We are mostly retired and the trips are mostly on weekdays, but there is a demographic for that here, for the size of what we’re after.”
“We’ve tried occasionally to entice younger and working people by taking trips on weekends, but often they have such busy lives that it’s really hard for them to take those leisure moments and have that flexibility to join us even if it’s what they would like to do. That’s not always possible for them.”
“We try to have one outing per week and that’s usually hiking or kayaking. In the winter, we do a bit of snowshoeing.”
Cortes Currents asked Quigg to take us on a quick peek into their world, starting with their expeditions to Cortes Island.
DQ: “We had a woman who’s no longer active in the club but had lived on Cortes, has a daughter on Cortes, and spent a lot of time there.”
CC: What are their names?
DQ: “Margo Wood, and her daughter is Charlotte.”
She really enjoyed the whole history, nature and the ambiance of Cortes. We’ve done a lot of the Carrington walks. We’ve done a lot of kayaking in Sutil Channel to Carrington Bay and Von Donop by kayak. We’ve had camping trips based either at Smelt Bay or overnighting at Linnaea Farm (no longer available) to do a lot of day hikes to Easter Ridge, Green Mountain and lots of beautiful places.
DQ: “That’s always a favorite. It has everything going for it. It’s a lovely walk in the woods. Then you’ve got beautiful ocean scenery, a beautiful lunch stop on the rock, on the lagoon. The lagoon and its exit are always fascinating, both because of the intertidal and the bird life on the lagoon, and then the absolutely spectacular forest walk around the lagoon into the Grandmother’s Grove and the Children’s Forest.”
“It just has that perfect blend of rainforest and a very easy and gentle walk for most people. The ferry is very kind to us, and even that’s beautiful. We had not done that for several years, mostly because of COVID. So we had a mix of people for whom they have such fond memories of that walk and people who had never seen it, and that makes it very special.”
“We have done a number of fabulous kayak trips to Desolation Sound out of Cortes Bay and Squirrel Cove .”
“Kayaking Sutil Channel is always a favorite, and kayaking around Read Island to the Octopus Islands.”
“We definitely know people on Read Island, but we haven’t done more than paddled by the shore. We do have an invitation to the new Surge Forest, but what with the logistics of boating across , that’s just not happened. Similarly, we’d love to visit Maurelle. There’s some big issues to do more than kayak by those places.”
CC: Tell us about the trip to see the petroglyphs on Maude Island.
DQ: “I wasn’t on that, but they were very, very thrilled to find the big rock that Joy English talked about. The weather was very nice. There was not much wind, a little bit of current for sure with the big tides. They had an excellent day with a lovely lunch stop at the Saltwater Lagoon entrance, and then a big exploration at the old Indigenous village site where Mort Lake Creek enters Discovery passage. That’s all I will say since I wasn’t there.”
Campbell River is just a quick ferry trip away, so the club frequently crosses over to Vancouver Island.
DQ: “There’s just a lot available there.”
“We did the Campbell River walk because the flowers in the spring are so gorgeous, so full of Trillium, Pink Fond Lilly and Bleeding Heart, as well as what’s always there: the multiple falls, and a highly varied walk.”
“Trout Creek or Mohan Creek, depending on what people call it, is a series of three really beautiful waterfalls less than a half hour drive north of Campbell River. They’re each distinct and beautiful.”
“We’ve just come back now from staying at Morton Lake Provincial Park, which is actually not too far beyond Mohan Creek. We use that as a base camp to paddle on Mohan Lake and Goose Lake, which are part of the Sayward canoe circuit. It was all really excellent having beautiful weather and not yet crowded because of the early season.”
CC: Tell us about some of your recent trips within Quadra itself.
DQ: “Because the club is about 10 years old now, we are looking beyond the basic mapped infrastructure. In some ways, we are missing the Mittlenatch Field Naturalists that met until about 2006 or 2007. That’s created a little bit of a vacuum for that type of thing. So where we can, we do some naturalist type stuff.”
“The low tide walk at Hyacinthe Bay was a walk where we were able to see some of the very, very old stakes from tan Indigenous fishing infrastructure. Also just so much of the intertidal: Moon Snail cases and Moon Snails; great to see the Sea Stars coming back; lots of Oysters and Clams. One of the sad things is the reduction in Eelgrass. We really walked a very long way until we got to the Eelgrass, whereas in the seventies, the Eelgrass came all the way up in the Hyacinthe Bay. It survived a lot of abuse in terms of logging camps and things that went on with early settlement on Quadra, but apparently there is a wasting disease in the Eelgrass.”
“We paddle Gowlland Harbour nearly annually, largely because of the wildflowers. Also because some people haven’t paddled over winter, and that’s a very protected area where you can get all your gear sorted and figure out what you’ve forgotten since the previous summer.”
“The access to Gowlland Harbour is quite limited. There’s April Point, where I believe now you actually have to sign a waiver to launch there, but you don’t have to pay. We were fortunate to have Gowlland Harbour Resort graciously let us use their launch site, which avoids some of the currents and gets you a little farther out into the Islets.”
“It is always spectacular at that time of year with the Sea Blush, Monkeyflower, Camas, and Chocolate Lily. We basically went out to Steep Island, May Island and into North Gowlland. We looked at a historic old house and we were actually able to visit with some people in boats, or on shore. It felt kind of old school to visit people by boat, but it was a lovely trip. Then we came back to someone’s balcony who lives on Gowlland and had some luncheon appies. it was both very social and very beautiful.”
“The beach cleanup is a huge initiative. We played a very minor part in that because the beaches were already quite clean, but Nevil Hand has organized a three month beach cleanup here on Quadra and really driven people to get to remote beaches and to continue to clean up after storms. They’ve gone to some very unusual places like Plumper Bay and Deepwater Bay, not just the easily accessible areas. It’s kind of part of a competition with some major prizes like firewood, restaurant invitations and things like that. I think it’s been a huge success because the beaches are very clean now. They were so clean, we hardly had any work to do, but that’s been great to see.”
“On Monday we’ll be visiting the historic Santana Mine site, located on Mine Mountain, just east of Mine Lake and the Main Lake Provincial Park. There’s still mining claim information on the internet about those mines. It was part of the Bold Point history, with the wharf, steamship and hotel. They were going to have a major development in that area. Part of that economic impetus was going to be this mine and it’s interesting now. The rock is quite beautiful. It’s a short walk on very not maintained trails, but a very interesting destination.”
“We are trying to push the boundaries a little bit and explore less visited places. Once summer comes on, we’ll try to get to some of the lake destinations where we can swim, like Newton and Mine Lake but it’s good to have the mix. It appeals to different people and it keeps everything fresh.”
“You had mentioned that sometimes you ask about successes and challenges, so I’ll just speak a little bit to challenges. We really like being a small club. It makes it much more intimate because we mostly know everybody that comes. We’re very welcoming to new people, but they’re quickly integrated.”
“The downside of that is the infrastructure’s quite fragile, and COVID definitely took a toll on the organization. People’s lives changed everywhere: their priorities, their habits, what they want to do, and what they’re able to do.”
“Pre-COVID, we had probably 12 trip coordinators to do 50 to 60 trips a year. Now we’re down to maybe 5 or 6 coordinators and that’s a pretty big load. It’s great that we’re seeing quite a few new members. They tend to be a little younger, still retired, but younger, and have a lot of enthusiasm to see what’s on Quadra and to meet people. But because they’re new to the environment, it’s harder to replace trip coordinators. That’s really our biggest challenge right now. You can see by what we’re offering in May, we’re not exactly pressed to the wall on this, but it would be good to have some renewal there too.”
“Other than that, I think we have a lot of momentum and things are going really well.”
One of the exciting things about the Quadra Island Outdoor Club website is the trips reports, with extensive photography, going back to 2013. This is a catalog of hikes and kayak trips over an area stretching from Mitlenatch Island to Mount Washington.
The web address is https://qioutdoorclub.org/
CC: How can people contact you?
Top image credit: Trip Report – Open Bay/Sutil Channel/Octopus – Islands – 12-15 July 2020 – courtesy Quadra Island Outdoor Club
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