Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Sointula, and the "Beautiful Bay Trail" hike

We've been to Sointula (Finnish for "Place of Harmony") twice before (2007, 2011) and loved it. It is a very laid back place, proud of its Finnish origins (it was started early in the 1900s by a group of Finns as a "co-operative"; the original "co-op" (est. 1909, the first in B.C.) store continues to be the centre of commerce and the social hub of the island. People waive as they drive by, and do indeed, occasionally, stop and offer a ride. The island's public docks are exceptionally well run and pleasant.

We enjoyed drinks and dinner aboard SV Carousel with David and Gillian, and the four of us decided to hike the "Beautiful Bay Trail" together.

The Beautiful Bay trailhead, at Bere Point, is about 4.5 kilometers by paved and gravel road from the docks. The trail is a wild west-coast trail with beautiful views of Queen Charlotte Strait and the mountains across the Strait on the mainland. The trail has two parts: the first 2.5 km goes from Bere Point to Puoli Vali Canyon. We had lunch on the beach at Puoli Vali, watching a humpback whale feed along the kelp beds.

Lunch at Puoli Vali (Gillian & David from SV Carousel, Michelle in middle)

View northwest from Puoli Vali - there is a whale out there...
The second part, from Puoli Vali to Malcolm Point, is signed as "closed". We tried it anyways and found it to be a good trail with only a couple minor detours. The views at Malcolm Point, a 2.5 km walk from Puoli Vali, were even better than our lunchtime views. Just before reaching the point, one has to walk through -- disappear into -- a thick 3-metre-high wall of salal.   (We liked this second section very much, and feel the island community really should change its status from "closed" to "use at your own risk". There were no real treacherous or tricky parts.)

View down from trail ("closed" section)

View from Malcom Point (mainland Coast mountains in distance)

Gillian exiting the "salal" tunnel (at Malcolm Point)
Of course, the walk back to the docks along the 4.5 km of roadway felt quite tiring -- we could have done with one of those "occasional rides" by passing cars -- but we were all glad to have done the hike.

Overall, we walked/hiked 19 km, and were gone some 7 hours (including lunch). None of it could be called "strenuous" -- only the length was a bit tiring -- and the trail was always well marked.

A highly recommended hike. (As is Sointula.)

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