Level: Easy

Distance: 4 km r/t

Time: 1½ hr Elevation: 50 m

Season: Year Round

Topographical Map: 92 G/6

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Access: Take the bus to Horseshoe Bay and catch the ferry to Langdale on the Sunshine Coast. Crossing time is 40 minutes. As you step off the loading ramp of the Langdale ferry you'll find the foot passenger ferry to New Brighton immediately on your right. Since this ferry services both Gambier Island and Keats Island make sure you get on the correct sailing.

To avoid retracing your steps, contact Cormorant Marine water taxi [604-250-2630] in Horseshoe Bay to find out if any trips are planned directly to West Bay. Though scheduling is sporadic and custom trips prohibitively expensive it may be possible to piggyback on another previously scheduled outing for just $20 or so. From West Bay just follow the directions below in reverse, returning via ferry from New Brighton and Langdale.

A boat ride or two, a pleasant rural stroll, and lunch at a charming country store are the highlights of this low-key day trip. From the government wharf in New Brighton climb the hill past the pay phone, staying with the right fork when you reach the Gambier Island General Store [604-886-3838.] Soon enough the road levels out, taking you past old homesteads and newer recreational properties as it winds through mixed forest of maple, hemlock and fir.

Think Globally, Buy Locally. Gambier Island Store has a sandwich and a porch swing with your name on it.

Chest-high glades of sword fern burning with backlight offer plenty of opportunities for the photographically-inclined.

Continue straight at the only other intersection en route to reach the long pier at West Bay. Or turn right and take a side trip to Gambier Harbour, adding 6 km to your day. Return to the general store for a gourmet sandwich before heading back to the city. Later in the summer picking blackberries along the foreshore is a good way to kill time while waiting for the ferry.

The End


Salal

Salal

Though not a popular trail-side snack in modern times, salal berries are not only edible, they are quite tasty. Perhaps the "hairiness" of the berries or the grainy texture imparted by their many, tiny seeds is a turnoff to jaded modern palettes. Being plentiful throughout the coast, salal berries were an important component of pre-European diets hereabouts. Aboriginal groups generally consumed salal berries directly from the bush or processed them into a kind of fruit leather for storage. These cakes were then reconstituted with water and served mixed with the omnipresent oolichan grease. An acquired taste, no doubt. The deep purple colouring of the berries found use in dying baskets. Salal berries are presently used primarily in jams and pies. The bright, leathery foliage is commercially harvested for use in floral displays world-wide.

Illustration by Manami Kimura