Salt Spring Island: An Unexpected Trip

Crossing the Lion's Gate Bridge on the way to Horseshoe Bay

Originally we had other plans for the weekend, but when Gili took the car to the mechanic on Friday it turned out that we needed new tires. We didn’t want to buy anything while being rushed, and since it was claimed to be unsafe to take the car on the highway we had to come up with a different plan. So at about 10pm on Friday we started looking at different options. We came up with this idea of going to Salt Spring Island but via the long way (for variation) and maybe continue from there to another island or two, but eventually we just stayed on Salt Spring.

Our morning cycle to Horseshoe Bay was refreshing. On the way many road cyclists passed us, sometimes 15 at once, really causing a critical mass on the narrow Marine Drive in West Van. Unfortunately with all of our gear we couldn’t keep up with them (and probably even without…). There was a 100 year celebration for West Van so at one point we passed many old cars. It felt like cycling in Cuba, just that in this case the cars were only for display. One guy asked us to walk our bikes since we would damage the paint job if we’d fall, and they were on the bike lane! We actually arrived to Horseshoe Bay with time to spare, which surprised me since I thought we would have to take the next ferry.

Many small stands on the side of the road

So, like I said, to make things more interesting we chose to take the long way to Salt Spring. So once in Nanaimo we still had to ride more than 50km to get to the ferry terminal in Crofton. The weather also became annoying. It was nice and sunny when we got off the ferry, but while we had lunch the sky darkened and soon enough it started to pour. We found partial shelter under a tree and waited for the storm to pass. The sun shone again, but these sharp changes in the weather continued throughout the day. When the sun was out it was really warm, and the road was steaming, just like in the tropics.

In Chemainus where there are many colorful murals

We found some really nice rural roads from Nanaimo to Ladysmith (we mostly followed Cedar Rd) and only had to ride a little bit on the highway. We passed through Chemainus where there are many colorful murals. We finally made it to the small industrial town of Crofton in time for the 7pm ferry. I remembered Salt Spring Island as being hilly from our last visit there. We were tired and hungry and it was all uphill to the promised campground. The Mowhinna Creek Campground was fairly empty, and after dinner we were ready for a solid good night’s sleep. We rode more than 100km that day, the longest riding day I had in a really in a long time.

Caterpillars everywhere!

We slept in till 9:30am and then took our time getting ready to leave. We already decided to stay on Salt Spring and we hoped our friends Jan and Warrick would be able to join us that afternoon. We started cycling and soon noticed many caterpillars. Everywhere! On our clothes, shoes, sometimes hair, on the trees, on the road, including many dead ones on the road. It looked like the caterpillars have taken over the island. Apparently there is an epidemic of Tent Caterpillars, which is damaging the fruit trees. We stopped at the goat and sheep cheese farm (Salt Spring Island Cheese Farm), where they generously offer many tastings and you can walk around to see the cheese making process.

Riding on Salt Spring

Ruckle Provincial Park must be one of the nicest campground I have stayed at, and it was even nicer than last time because there were hardly any people. We put up our tent in an excellent spot overlooking the ocean. After lunch we walked along the rocky shoreline and also came upon a family of Canadian Geese.

At camp we took a nap in the sun, and laughed at ourselves how we were sunbathing in the warm 15C degrees with all of our clothes on, where in Israel you would sit at home with the heat on at this temperature. At around 6:30pm Jan and Warrick showed up after attending a funeral on Salt Spring Island, so it really worked out nicely for them, even though not under the best circumstances. Dinner was fun while we caught up, but the temperatures dropped more and we were soon freezing so we crawled into our sleeping bags, but were still a bit cold during the night.

Ruckle Provincial Park

Highland cattle

We woke up to rain, which is not unusual during trips with Jan and Warrick. Gili set up the tarp so at least we had a dry breakfast. We walked around Ruckle park, visited an old farm there, and bumped into a group of Highland cattle, amusing since their long hair covers their eyes. Then we cycled to Fulford Harbor where the ferry to Victoria leaves from. We said our goodbyes to Jan and Warrick, it was short, but still was great to see them. In Victoria we made the connection to Tsawwassen. We thought that we might make it to the 5:30pm shuttle across the tunnel if we’d ride along the highway. It wasn’t actually too bad as there are wide shoulders, but we still missed the shuttle although I think we were there at 5:29, but he probably just left. So we waited for an hour and caught the last shuttle across. I wish they would make it more convenient for cyclists to go across.

In Marpole we came across a demonstration of First Nations because there is a plan to develop land that contains old graves of the Musqueam Nation. Apparently they have been there for a while, just under the Granville Bridge. We had Shawarma for dinner and made it back home. An unexpected trip, but certainly a fun one.

More photos
Approximate map of route


and berries


This entry was posted in British Columbia (and nearby), Cycling & Cycle Touring, Gulf Islands and Sunshine Coast, Trip Reports, Vancouver Island. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Salt Spring Island: An Unexpected Trip

  1. Nicole says:

    Loved reading this! Vicarious pleasure 🙂
    The photos are gorgeous!!!! Great to see you back on your bike Maya – 100 km in one day, whew! Proof that the arm has recovered from the break(s).
    Looking good Rosenberg-Goldstein!

  2. Mom says:

    Shmoopy cow !

    • Matt P says:

      Shmoopy cow is right. Every time I see Gili I think the same thing.

      Aw Gili… shmoopy cow…

      • Gili says:

        Matt – until recently my family in Israel had a cat named Shmoopy. He was white and fluffy, as lofty as a down jacket turned inside out, I swear (and completely deaf, by the way). That’s why that Highland Cow is a “Shmoopy Cow”…

      • Mom says:

        If I could post a pic of Shmoopy here, next to the pic of the Highland cow, the resemblance would be clear 🙂 But “Shmoopy” has become anything fluffy and cute, like that cow, and like Gili when he needs a haircut.
        Oops, is it a cow? It has horns, maybe it’s a bull….

  3. Stephanie says:

    I would love to do another trip to SS Island, when it gets warmer….???????

  4. Granny & Grandpa says:

    We also enjoy your trips vicariously – although we were never cyclists!!!.

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