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August 21st, 2011
August 21st, 2011

The Perfect Weekend Getaway - Powell River

By Jane Mundy, Special To The Province | August 21, 2011

The Sunshine Coast Trail - which begins at the Saltery Bay ferry terminal and winds north to Desolation Sound - is "99.9 per cent mud-free and grandma-proof; accessible for all ages," said Eagle Walz.

Walz helped build the trail (and still continues to improve and maintain it), along with the BOMB squad (Bloody Old Men´s Brigade, a group of retired loggers and millworkers).

"We´ve got switchbacks in steep areas to provide a good grade. It´s not like the Grouse Grind, but you can still challenge yourself," he adds. "There are 24 access points to trails and lakes and there´s always something - a shelter, a bench, a stellar view, even trolls on the trinket trail - just around the corner."

You can hike the trail year-round. If you do get wet, there are eight shelters where you can dry out, but the dense forest canopy keeps downpours at bay.


I´m a city gal who loves the great outdoors, but when it comes to serious hiking - that is, more than an hour in the rainforest - my interest was nil, until I discovered "have camera, can hike" and saw nature through a new lens.

On my first visit to Powell River, I took a four-hour outdoor photography course with resident Darren Robinson. We hiked the Appleton Creek Trail and shot one waterfall after another. When someone shows you how to look at something in a different light, from another angle, it´s amazing what you can see. And I finally figured out how to shoot on the manual setting. Darren´s classes are popular with teens and adults of all ages.

"If you hike to Fairview Bay - which should have been named Oyster Bay - all you´ll need is an oyster shucker and beverage of choice," said Eagle Walz, laughing. The shelters also have barbecue pits and (when I was there) firewood. Free!

You´ll come across many different environments, from ocean shore to mountain ridge, lake and creek, as well as old-growth forest. "Because we are in a working forest, there is logging, but we´re working hard [for 17 years] to have buffers," Eagle explained. "It´s important that we linked the trail to old growth to increase awareness and support."


Geocaching - like an electronic treasure hunt - appeals to all age groups. Created by volunteer enthusiasts, it has a dedicated following worldwide. "I know adults who base their entire trips around these things," said Darren, and they apparently love coming to Powell River - both residents and visitors have created lots of geocaches in the area. (Maybe the Upper Sunshine Coast can no longer be considered one of B.C.´s best kept secrets ...)

This is all you have to do: Get a GPS unit and go online to http://www., where you look up different sites by region, area or city. It will give you the co-ordinates and a clue.

"A clue may be, ´look under a rock that has a painted circle´ or ´look up into the tree that looks like the letter Y,´ " Darren explained. "The treasure could be a bottle cap, hockey card, T-shirt, button - you´re welcome to take a treasure, so long as you leave one behind."

And don´t forget to sign the log book, usually near the treasure in a Ziploc bag; it´s a way to keep connected with fellow geocachers.


The Upper Sunshine Coast is a perfect long weekend getaway. You can get to Powell River from Vancouver in less than five hours - quicker than driving to the Okanagan, but better because you can sit back and study the Sunshine Coast trail maps (a must have; available online and in many bookstores) on two B.C. Ferries cruises. Some people consider the two-ferry journey as an impediment, while others believe it keeps the area pristine and unspoiled. Or you can take a half-hour flight on WestJet from Vancouver´s airport.

If you take the ferry from Vancouver, it´s 30 kilometres west on Hwy. 1 to Horseshoe Bay terminal, then a 40-minute sailing to Langdale on the Sunshine Coast. Drive about one hour to Earl´s Cove and the second ferry crossing to Saltery Bay. Drive 20 minutes to Powell River. (BC Ferries: 604-886-2242; http://www.


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