Purpose of this Blog is to provide information on:

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• Events homestay students participate in while being in the city

• English language tips for international students

Activities related to my novel about a group of international language students in the city
Profiles of Students

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ready for Adventure? Visit the Sechelt Peninsula

Porpoise Bay

Having visited the Sechelt Peninsula as a camper, hiker, and tourist over the past thirty-five years, I have always seen this beautiful natural setting as sporting a cluster of relaxed little towns sitting on the edge of ocean. Sechelt itself is the biggest of these 1950’s-paced communities that dot the road from Gibson’s Landing at the southern end of the Sechelt Peninsula to Earl’s Cove and Egmont at the northern end of the Peninsula.
In mid-August I spent a three-day weekend at Sechelt while attending the well-known, annual Sunshine Coast Writers Festival. Besides appreciating the Sechelt Peninsula’s cultural opportunities at that time, I was reminded of the area’s unique geographical features— beaches, forests backed by mountains, and related natural phenomena—that provide opportunities for so many adventures in nature.
I think homestay students studying in Vancouver would find a trip to the Sechelt Peninsula to be a rewarding experience especially for those interested in year-round outdoor recreation activities. Renting a car and sharing expenses with friends makes travelling to this area accessible for those who have a weekend, or long-weekend, to get away. Or if you go on the ferry as a foot passenger from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale terminal, you can then get a bus from the ferry that goes along the main highway (Highway 101) as far as west Sechelt with lots of stops along the way.
Some of the summer offerings of the Sechelt Peninsula include swimming, kayaking, hiking, beach combing, boating, attending annual festivals (such as the Davis Bay sandcastle competition), eating seafood and going pubbing, fishing, enjoying a scenic trek into Skookumchuck Narrows to view the world famous rapids, and water sliding in Sechelt’s community pool. On Dakota Ridge from spring to fall there are world-class biking trails through old growth forests and open areas in beautiful subalpine meadows. These are transformed by snow during winter into cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails.
So how does one get to the Sechelt Peninsula? Reaching the Sunshine Coast takes about two hours travel time from downtown Vancouver, including the pleasant 45-minute BC Ferry ride to Langdale from Horseshoe Bay. To drive to the north end of the Sechelt Peninsula (Earls Cove and Egmont) takes about two additional hours.

West Beach

The Sechelt Peninsula is surrounded by salt water—that of the Georgia Straight on the west side (shoreline with surf pictured here on a windy day) and that of Sechelt Inlet on the east side. Porpoise Bay (pictured at low tide in opening image) is at the south end of the Inlet at Sechelt. Sechelt Peninsula would, in fact, be an island except for the existence of the isthmus (narrow strip of land) that is the town of Sechelt, as it serves as a bridge joining the Peninsula to a larger part of the mainland.
For a pleasant walk on level ground, visitors should check out Sechelt’s marsh, just off the south end of Porpoise Bay. There you can take a pleasant stroll around an active pond surrounded by natural greenery. Countless flocks of birds fly in and out of the area, many of which land on the surface of the water.

Sechelt marshes

If your homestay family is able to lend you camping equipment and if, on inquiring, you find a campsite is available, you and your classmates might enjoy tenting at the wooded Porpoise Bay Provincial Campsite on the east side of the Bay. Or at least you might pack a big lunch and take it to the picnic site on the beach there or to one of the other multitude of beaches on the Sechelt Peninsula.
Sechelt Inlet is famous for its saltwater rapid (Sechelt Rapids) as it rages through Skookumchuck Narrows with fury during tide changes. The skookumchucks (turbulent waters) of Sechelt Inlet are caused when billions of gallons of water rush into the Inlet through a narrow passage, thus creating an intense torrent.
To view this tidal spectacle and to experience some exhilarating hiking through deep forest, drive north on Highway 101 and be on the lookout for the Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park parking lot.  If you reach the village of Egmont, you have gone to far. The well-maintained hiking trail into the Skookumchuck rapids has viewing lookouts. If your arrival matches a rising tide or you have the time to wait for a changing tide (this happens four times daily), you can see ocean water rushing in through the narrow channel in the rock formations creating boiling rapids, eddies, and whirlpools. A destination for adventure-seeking white water kayakers, this is one of the fastest moving tidal waters in North America. So respect the power of these tidal surges with their roar of churning waters. Stand well back, as they can easily sweep away people and their pets.
On your return trip south on the highway to the Langdale ferry, you might want to take in Wilson Creek’s fascinating salmon hatchery. Also try to leave some time to visit Roberts Creek’s unique shops in small wooden buildings on the main street and the Creek’s picnic site within view of a beach pier. 

Gibsons Beach

Roberts Creek

You might also enjoy a stop at Gibsons, a slow-paced, little town perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean. This community was made famous for being the site of a long-running, internationally-renowned Canadian comedy-drama television series, named the Beachcombers, which featured seaside adventures and intrigue. The on-shore setting focused on a popular, community, gathering place named Molly’s Reach that still exists today as a restaurant. With antique shops and art stores, large marina, and restaurants with waterfront views, Gibsons is a unique stop.
With all the recreational activities offered on the Sechelt Peninsula near the many seaside communities including the scenic Secret Cove, Halfmoon Bay, Snuggler Cove (not unmentioned here as a result of space restrictions), I hope you and your classmates can find some quiet time too. This might be in old-growth forests, feeling the awe of seeing some wildlife near waterfalls and creeks, or on sandy and rocky beaches observing marine life, perhaps seals, otters, porpoises, and in watching incredible multi-coloured sunsets.
After two days of almost too-hot weather in Sechelt, the weather turned cooler and windy, so the west shoreline was far from quiet. Here is a short video showing the effect of the wind along the beach trail walk of Sechelt.

Article and photographs by Wendy Bullen Stephenson

Wendy is a Vancouver writer who is author of the online imaged novel Vancouver Memories: My Year Abroad, the story of a group of international language students who study in Vancouver for a year and visit all the places that homestay students routinely visit during their stay in BC. It can be read free of charge at: www.vancouvermemories.ca

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