Slip, Sliding Away

Vancouver Island Adventure Series: Ammonite Falls

Unsurprisingly, the weather is different all over the island. On the Ammonite Falls adventure day, it was sunny in Victoria, but clouds had gathered and rain started to clean my car as I drove towards Nanaimo. Coming from Calgary though, rain is preferable to snow and ice in the winter, so I happily made my way into the wilds of Vancouver Island. Also, I was intending to find waterfalls which are usually made better by mass amounts of rain, so I gleefully called it down.

https://www.tourismnanaimo.com/2018/02/16/directions-ammonite-falls/
This image, from www.tourismnanaimo.com, was what made me want to go seek these falls out.

Knowing my tendency to get lost, I spent the day before scouring resources online to make sure I knew where the trail was and how to navigate to the falls.

I found the right parking lot, so I was already one up on the Salt Spring Island adventure. I also got started on the right trail. Under the cover of the trees, the rain wasn’t coming down as hard, but I kept my hood up for most of the hike anyway. It’s about five kilometres, so about 45-60 minutes of walking that even with some droplets of rain could result in being soaked through. Also, even though I had read up on the trail, I wasn’t overly confident that I wouldn’t get lost and spend extra time backtracking and working my way out.

That lack of confidence in my navigation skills turned out to be right.

There was one part of the trail guide I had devoured that said to follow the trail down a steep slope. I looked at a slightly worn path off to the right of the more well-worn trail, and saw that it was a steep slope, and so off I went “walking” down it. I put walking in quotations because with all the rain, and it not actually being a path, the walking turned into slipping down a mudslide. It was SO MUCH FUN! Or, it was fun until I landed at the edge of a cliff. I could hear the falls to the right, but I couldn’t see them. I also couldn’t see how to get down, or where to go from there.

I figured that I had gone the wrong way, because…well, it’s me, and so I started climbing, sliding, scrambling back up the mud hill. Even though it was a pain to get up, it was still a lot of fun. I got to the top, covered in mud and soaked and just took my hood off, because at this point I was already a wet rat. I might as well revel in it. And so, I did.

Once at the top of the wrong steep slope, I kept following along the trail and managed to get myself to the correct steep slope, which had the added benefit of a rope to help guide hikers down.

lesser-steep-slope
The less-steep slope.

And then I made it to the falls! Which were not impressive. Summer on the island is remarkably dry, and I hadn’t waited long enough in the rainy season to let the water accumulate before checking out the falls. They were fairly dry. The benefit of this dryness, while underwhelming to look at, meant that not many other hikers were in the area and I got to enjoy having the space to myself for a long while.

It’s me and a wee waterfall!
Ammonite Falls

I hung out for a bit, enjoyed nature, and then made my way back to the car.

It’s a nice little jaunt that I’d recommend.

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Gulf Island Adventure and the truth behind Instagram photos

Victoria is a small town and if you live here, you will inevitably run into everyone that you know everywhere you go, and often. I haven’t blogged about my time here, just in case I accidentally offended someone—I put my foot in my mouth a lot—and then saw them on the street and had an awkward meet up as a result. But, now that I’m moving back home to Calgary, I think it’s safe to share a few tales about my time here on this little island. My first story is about the time I went to Salt Spring Island. It was a solo trip, so I likely won’t hurt anyone’s feelings today.

My friends kept telling me how fantastic Salt Spring Island was and how I needed to go to it and check out the artisan market while there. I googled a bit and found a few other things I could do on the island in a day and I created an adventure plan. It began with catching the first ferry in the morning out from Sidney, eating breakfast at Salt Spring Inn, visiting the market, hitting up Salt Spring Island Ales and hiking up Mount Maxwell before catching a ferry home.

All aboard

The first part of the plan went well, I boarded the first ferry over to the island and watched the sun rise over the ocean. It was breathtaking and I highly recommend getting up early for the view.

View of the sunrise over the ocean from the ferry to Salt Spring Island.

I got there so early that the Inn wasn’t open yet and so I drove around the town just checking out the layout for about an hour. My stomach rumbled and I went back to eat a decent breakfast at the Inn while looking over my backroad mapbook to see if there was anything else I’d be able to check out if I had additional time.

First to market

After breakfast, I ambled over to the market which was a block away and peeked at the various arts, crafts and farm-fresh vegetable booths. It took about 15 minutes. I was pretty underwhelmed and I wondered if I had maybe arrived too early. I took a walk around the area to do some sightseeing with the hope that when I returned, more booths would be set up. I saw a seal having himself a little sun bathing party.

I went back to the market and found no one else had set up during my time away. I figured that maybe I went at the wrong time of year. It was late August after all, and markets were probably wrapping up.

You can’t go wrong with ale

I left the market and headed to get some delicious beers at Salt Spring Island Ales. I picked out a flight, enjoyed the sun and chatted with some people I met on the patio (surprisingly, I chatted for an hour with a couple from Alberta. We’re everywhere.).

The Earl Grey Ale was the best.

And now, for the pièce de résistance: the hike up Mount Maxwell.

I am the WORST at finding my way around, to, out of, into, places. I’ve learned this even moreso during my time on the island while trying to find many different trailheads.

Following Google maps directions (always the first mistake), I drove up a winding road on my way towards a parking lot where the trailhead began. The road narrowed and I skirted to the very edge, almost riding in the ditch as I let cars pass me on the other side. One of these swervings resulted in my car getting it’s itches scratched by tree branches.

Finally after about 30-45 minutes of driving, I got to the parking lot and got out of my car to check out the trail map. It showed that I had driven to the top of the mountain that I had intended to hike up. Rolling my eyes at myself, I walked to the view point, snapped a photo and drove back down the mountain.

View from the peak of Mount Maxwell.

So great, right? No! I wasn’t willing to let this be my only “hiking” experience on Salt Spring Island. I was determined to actually hike somewhere and so I drove to another trail. I can’t remember which one I went to, but I do know that I did find the right parking lot. That was about it as far as going in the right direction though, because I managed to take the wrong turn while hiking and wandered for about an hour in the wrong direction along another trail on private land. After taking in the view while trespassing, I decided to go back to the ferry and get home where I knew where things were.

View from private land while trespassing.

I got home and posted my pictures on Instagram, which made my friend think that she was missing out by not exploring all these fine places. She quickly changed her mind after I told her the backstory of the day.

So friends, life on social media is not what it seems. Neither is life on Salt Spring Island.

Stay tuned for more Vancouver Island stories.