You won't be taking the ferry
This really is all Stephen's fault. May Day long weekends have a
long history ( Tofino
(2001), the Sunshine
(2002), Pender Island
) and Stephen wanted to know if this years trip was on. That was
a month before the May day Long weekend. I did a bit of digging
(vacation rentals that can
accommodate 10 people aren't exactly common) and happened upon Gabriola Vacations
- a site specializing the Gabriola Island (and Island I still haven't
been too) and a listing for Mudge Island. Honestly, I had never
of Mudge Island before.
Getting to Mudge:
Mudge is a small island between Gabriola and Nanaimo - it doesn't have
ferry service and has about 80 year round residents, growing to about
160 in the summer weekends. Getting to Mudge wasn't going to be
easy - the conventional method is ferry to Nanaimo (on a long weekend,
that is going to be crazy), ferry from Nanaimo to Gabriola (no
reservations, but it's frequent) and then boat ride from Gabriola to
Mudge - no waiting but only runs during daylight hours. End to
End, that's about 6 hours each way and $56 (total) in ferry fees
assuming pretty full vehicles. The other option was float
plane - a little over $100 each, but 45 mins each way and a great way
to travel. With surprising little notice, we chartered two planes
from Tofino Air
and 9 of us
Let's just say my sense of the carrying
capacity of a Beaver was a bit "Romantic". The 8 of us showed up
with 480 lbs of gear. The airline was quite clear - 25lbs per
person (200 lbs), but having seen pictures of Beavers hauling canoe's
and miners and badly underestimating the weight of our gear, I figured
we would be OK. No, we weren't OK. We lost about 120 lbs
(it's amazing how much a dozen Smirnoff Ice weigh, or 2 honeydew
melons, or 14 liters of juice, or ...) and a little late, we were in
It's a bit noisy, but it really is the best way to get to the Gulf
Islands. We arrived False Narrows about 45 minutes after take-off
and a brief stop over in Silva Bay. Mudge doesn't have a
government wharf to speak of, so we used a dock to transfer out
of the plane and into a waiting boat - one of the boats that normally
ferries people between the Mudge and Gabriola. The cottage owners
left us a car so we hauled our gear up the hill and took the short ride
to the cabin. We settled in (Somehow we got Jer, Karen and
Stephen in the Master bedroom), made dinner and and got to understand
Day 1: Getting Away from Vancouver
Needless to say, it take a
bit to get me to
unwind. Sitting on the deck watching the tide slowly drain
out, great blue herons arguing over fishing territory and my friends
play Mahjong was about as good as it gets.
But enough of that - lets go exploring! Starting with the deck, I
noticed a proliferation of Caterpillars. A little bit of
exploring found a nest - these were tent caterpillars. They seem
to be quite seasonal - some years busy, others quite light - and this
was going to be a heavy year.
The tide had receded and we set out exploring the crevices of the
beach was surprisingly productive, nearly as a
good as Botanical Beach on the West coast of Vancouver Island.
The rocks have lots of crevices for life to hide in the the channel has
strong currents providing fresh nutrients every tide change.
My favorite find was the sea cucumbers. While I've found them
scuba diving and kayaking, I've never seen them while poking around
tide pools. While the beach was relatively small, different
pockets had different collections of life - I found a patch of sea
sacks growing on one rock, but couldn't find them anywhere else.
I found one Mottled star, but couldn't find any others.
It's funny how much the sky matters - it was overcast when we went
exploring the rocks, but the sun started to break through and then
starting shining full strength - contrast fell and life
retracted. We walked up the beach to the neighboring farm.
The animals next door seemed to spend all day
munching. They weren't particularly interested in us until we
started pulling out grass that was out of reach for them - then we
became good friends. I don't know how much these animals are put
to use, but they certainly look strong.
It was lunch time
(crackers, sliced meat and cheese)
and time to relax. Our supply plane came carrying everything that
didn't come the day before and we started to relax properly. I
read a book for a few hours and watched the world go by. As the
sun started to go down, we saw small bike heading towards our now
flooded beach - Mikey! Mike couldn't join us until Saturday
morning so he took the ferry, ferry, taxi, water taxi route and the
water taxi was nice enough to give us beach delivery. Welcome to
the island Mike!
The sun was
starting to go down over the island and I
was starting to feel guilt about just letting it disappear without a
trace. I got out my long lens and started stalking anything
photogenic. The large field next door was home to more than
two horses and a donkey - the fence was little hindrance to deer so
there seemed to be a constant stream of deer going by using our yard as
a connector between field and forest. I also happened upon a
rabbit, also prolific on this island. They are pretty skittish,
but somehow curious at the same time.
Tonight was Andrea's famous Indian food and we definitely ate
well. After clean up and a card game or three, we decided a
little star watching from the hot tub was in order.
Day 2: So what's on this Island?
Mudge Island isn't big - maybe 5 miles long, so we decided to break out
the bicycles (two that would fit guys) and see what's on the
island. We visited pretty much every road and it's mostly just
roads and houses. There is a marina (Moonshine Cove - pretty much
docks and boat ramp - nothing resembling retail), and a few places that
are effectively parks (Western and Eastern extremes of the island), but
that's about it.
Jeremy made his famous crepes and relaxing commenced. By early
afternoon, it was time to get up and do more. I poked around the
rocks again (it was a sunny day so most things were hiding), but I also
tried to get pictures of the herons. In Vancouver, when a great
blue Heron lands, everyone goes quite and watches with interest.
On Mudge, when a heron lands, the other two herons that already fishing
there start squawking and eventually one flies off.
David, Mark and I decided to go for walk down the
island. The beach changed as we headed east - rocks bluffs became
pebbles, the beach walls became steeper hiding plants. Every bay
had something new to see.
At the eastern end of the island is narrow channel
separating Mudge from Link island. The tide was low enough that
we could easily walk over and take a look. Link Island is a
privately owned island and there signs asking people not to trespass so
we didn't see much.
It was certainly warm out so we decided to return by road. When
we got back we found out what we should have been doing -
relaxing. The hot tub (not actually that hot) was a great way to
watch the beach, or just curl up with a book.
But the sun was setting and I really couldn't let it go away.
done the bicycle reconnaissance in
I knew where I wanted to be for sunset. Our first destination was
a little access point to the rocks near the outlet side of Dodd's
Narrows. Here it was possible to get down to the gallery level
(where the ocean has eroded the sandstone) and let the orange light
bring out the contrast. The sun set behind a close by hill so we
wouldn't see the sunset proper here.
Our next destination was the little park
furthest west extreme of the island - about a 3 minute drive from the
gallery area. We had a clear view as the sun set over
nanaimo. The tide was running while we were there so it was
almost like watching a river run by - the standing waves added
excitement to the and already beautiful scene.
We drove back to the cabin and enjoyed dinner (Jin and Jesse's burgers)
and then watched TV - the federal election had been called at the news
was getting together proper clips of the candidates.
Day 3 - Thanks for the Fish
great weekend trips have to come to
an end. Breakfast Omelettes started to reuse leftovers from
the night before, packing began. We started washing 9 sets of
sheets and towels and otherwise leaving the place in good working order.
After topping up the hot tub, I was coiling up the hose and noticed a
little frog. It's unfortunate, but I don't think you are going to
find these frogs anywhere near my house in Vancouver. This frog
wasn't yet fully grown - it was about the size of a nickel and was
quite patient when I stuck my lens in front.
Eventually, we got packed up and shuttled people to the beach we first
came to shore on. Doug Fraser had left for the weekend so we had
someone else picking us up. We sat and waited. The planes
arrived and idled close to shore but there was no way the pontoons
let the plane get close enough to shore. Thankfully our stand in
taxi showed up and we started the shuttling operation - load up a boat,
drive out to the plane, unload the boat into the plane and then get the
next group of people. The current was flowing fast so the dance
of loading and getting underway was dynamic.
Flying out, we saw the next door farm and our cabin tucked into the
forest. We flew over Gabriola, Georgia straight and back to
Vancouver. It was a wonderful weekend.
Tags: gulf island(10), beach(9), plane(5), sunset(4), rock(4), BC fauna(4)
People: Stephen(5), Andrea(4), David(3), Mark(2), Karen(2), Michael(2)
From: John Harvey Photo > Mudge Island
From: John Harvey Photo > Mudge Island
From: John Harvey Photo > John's Overnight Page > Mudge Island
Was just doing a little a little surfing and came across your photos...beautiful place, great pictures.
Friday, July 27th, 2007 at 19:35:16
Hi John, a friend of mine has a cottage on the island, I've been invited so wanted to see what it (the island) looked like, interesting photos and commentary, thanks for sharing! Eric
Tuesday, May 13th, 2008 at 07:13:26
I am the owner of this particular cottage and i could not have done a better job of describing the place and atractions. The photos are fanatstic.
Saturday, August 2nd, 2008 at 22:50:55
Hi John, fabulous photos. I felt the warmth and serenity just by looking at the pictures. The island is definitely a beautiful place to visit for some downtime.
Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 at 12:01:08
If you get this, some of us are hoping to come up there in August...would like to ask some questions and seek help in the planning process.
Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 at 00:17:37
This looks wonderful,I found the site while putting in my maiden name. My Mudge family come from Cornwall and your Island reminds me of the Isles of Scilly off the Cornish coast.
Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 at 12:21:36
Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 00:57:21 Edit
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