– Heather Conn photos
Art and Aleta Giroux with grandchildren Lindsay (holding pug Molly) and Fraser
What a weekend it was. By day, hiking took us about a kilometre uphill through classic west-coast rainforest of mossy cedars, magnificient firs, creek beds . . .and plenty of bear scat. At dusk, we dined on delectable grilled sockeye salmon and fresh oysters garnished with sea asparagus. At night, we watched the flickers and dance of light in the sea: the neon array of bioluminescence.
My husband Frank and I just spent a marvellous, too-short time at the Tzoonie Outdoor Adventures Wilderness Resort in the Inland Sea, which is part of British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast west of Vancouver. We arrived on Friday night, after owner Art Giroux loaded us, his grandchildren Lindsay and Fraser, and our gear onto his 23-foot aluminum launch in Sechelt. We zoomed out past kayakers and salmon farms to a blissfully remote patch of beach and woods.
Ah, what silence and beauty this wilderness area offers. Our grand, spacious tent looked out onto mountains reflected in the sea, the low-tide shoreline full of oysters and sea asparagus. Our cluster of tents and small, wood-shingled cabins stood under the shady sweep of old-growth cedars and other trees next to giant ferns and a burbling creek, which served as impromptu fridge for brews and such.
At night, on our queen-sized bed, I heard nothing at all, even after straining my ears to pick up something. Fraser said that the background chortle of the creek directly below his cabin helped him fall asleep easily. In the morning, a kingfisher chittered by the beach and a small flock of seagulls squawked across the water close to the opposite shore. During our entire visit, we saw only two boats go by this idyllic site.
We brought our own food and enjoyed communal dining in their open kitchen area, which Art has rigged up with solar power and 110-volt lighting. Art and Aleta both provided such warmth and caring, making us feel as if we were part of their family scene. All of the taps offered fresh spring water for drinking, which was a treat, and I certainly didn’t expect the luxury of a hot shower and a flush toilet.
I joked that above the resort, the looming mountain of wild forest and no roads (except one inactive logging road) would make the perfect habitat for a sasquatch. This part of the inlet has no dwellings at all for many kilometres on either side.
Although it rained hard for much of Saturday, Frank and I did a short hike in the late afternoon after it eased off. (We admittedly had a lazy day of snoozing and reading.) The forest canopy kept us mostly dry, adding only the light patter of rain on leaves and branches as accompaniment. (I was so grateful for the rain after weeks of dryness and hundreds of fires in B.C.)
Along our hike, I couldn’t resist some ripe thimbleberries, which the bears had obviously not yet touched. We passed the camp’s 1,000-gallon water tank and a creek with water cascading down smooth, sloping rock. Everywhere, wild greenery offered multi-shades of saturated colour.
Throughout the property, Art’s brother has built artful driftwood benches that add a cozy touch to the remarkable scenery. On one private spot on the beach, he’s built a homemade wooden swing for two people, the perfect retreat for a couple like us celebrating their anniversary. Sigh. Thanks, Art, Aleta, Lindsay, Fraser, and Molly for making our weekend such a peaceful pleasure.