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Mudge IslandGo to Slide Show

You won't be taking the ferry

This really is all Stephen's fault.  May Day long weekends have a long history ( Tofino (2000), Salt Spring Island (2001), the Sunshine coast (2002), Pender Island (2003) ) and Stephen wanted to know if this years trip was on.  That was about a month before the May day Long weekend.  I did a bit of digging (vacation rentals that can accommodate 10 people aren't exactly common) and happened upon Gabriola Vacations - a site specializing the Gabriola Island (and Island I still haven't been too) and a listing for Mudge Island.  Honestly, I had never heard of Mudge Island before.

Getting to Mudge:
Mudge is a small island between Gabriola and Nanaimo - it doesn't have ferry service and has about 80 year round residents, growing to about 160 in the summer weekends.  Getting to Mudge wasn't going to be easy - the conventional method is ferry to Nanaimo (on a long weekend, that is going to be crazy), ferry from Nanaimo to Gabriola (no reservations, but it's frequent) and then boat ride from Gabriola to Mudge - no waiting but only runs during daylight hours.  End to End, that's about 6 hours each way and $56 (total) in ferry fees assuming pretty full vehicles.   The other option was float plane - a little over $100 each, but 45 mins each way and a great way to travel.  With surprising little notice, we chartered two planes from Tofino Air and 9 of us were flying.

The First ProblemMoving Gear To BeaverSea Terminal,  South Terminal,  Main Terminal Of YVR

Let's just say my sense of the carrying capacity of a Beaver was a bit "Romantic".  The 8 of us showed up with 480 lbs of gear.  The airline was quite clear - 25lbs per person (200 lbs), but having seen pictures of Beavers hauling canoe's and miners and badly underestimating the weight of our gear, I figured we would be OK.  No, we weren't OK.  We lost about 120 lbs (it's amazing how much a dozen Smirnoff Ice weigh, or 2 honeydew melons, or 14 liters of juice, or ...) and a little late, we were in the air.

On Approach To MudgeBeaver Returning Home

It's a bit noisy, but it really is the best way to get to the Gulf Islands.  We arrived False Narrows about 45 minutes after take-off and a brief stop over in Silva Bay.  Mudge doesn't have a government wharf to speak of,  so we used a dock to transfer out of the plane and into a waiting boat - one of the boats that normally ferries people between the Mudge and Gabriola.  The cottage owners left us a car so we hauled our gear up the hill and took the short ride to the cabin.  We settled in (Somehow we got Jer, Karen and Stephen in the Master bedroom), made dinner and and got to understand the cottage.

Day 1: Getting Away from Vancouver

Washing Tiles
Needless to say, it take a bit to get me to unwind.   Sitting on the deck watching the tide slowly drain out, great blue herons arguing over fishing territory and my friends play Mahjong was about as good as it gets.

Playing Mahjong On The Deck

But enough of that - lets go exploring!  Starting with the deck, I noticed a proliferation of Caterpillars.  A little bit of exploring found a nest - these were tent caterpillars.  They seem to be quite seasonal - some years busy, others quite light - and this was going to be a heavy year. 

Single California Tent CaterpillarCalifornia Tent Caterpillar

The tide had receded and we set out exploring the crevices of the beach.

Leather StarMottled Star
The beach was surprisingly productive, nearly as a good as Botanical Beach on the West coast of Vancouver Island.  The rocks have lots of crevices for life to hide in the the channel has strong currents providing fresh nutrients every tide change. 
Ochre Stars

My favorite find was the sea cucumbers.  While I've found them scuba diving and kayaking, I've never seen them while poking around tide pools.  While the beach was relatively small, different pockets had different collections of life - I found a patch of sea sacks growing on one rock, but couldn't find them anywhere else.  I found one Mottled star, but couldn't find any others. 

Red Sea CucumberSea SacsGrey Cream Brown Anenomes

It's funny how much the sky matters - it was overcast when we went exploring the rocks, but the sun started to break through and then starting shining full strength - contrast fell and life retracted.  We walked up the beach to the neighboring farm.

The animals next door seemed to spend all day munching.  They weren't particularly interested in us until we started pulling out grass that was out of reach for them - then we became good friends.  I don't know how much these animals are put to use, but they certainly look strong.

Horse FeedingRuminants On The Farm

Mike Arriving By Boat
It was lunch time (crackers, sliced meat and cheese) and time to relax.  Our supply plane came carrying everything that didn't come the day before and we started to relax properly.  I read a book for a few hours and watched the world go by.  As the sun started to go down, we saw small bike heading towards our now flooded beach - Mikey!  Mike couldn't join us until Saturday morning so he took the ferry, ferry, taxi, water taxi route and the water taxi was nice enough to give us beach delivery.  Welcome to the island Mike!

Deer Running In Field
The sun was starting to go down over the island and I was starting to feel guilt about just letting it disappear without a trace.  I got out my long lens and started stalking anything photogenic.   The large field next door was home to more than two horses and a donkey - the fence was little hindrance to deer so there seemed to be a constant stream of deer going by using our yard as a connector between field and forest.  I also happened upon a rabbit, also prolific on this island.  They are pretty skittish, but somehow curious at the same time.

Carparked Under ArbutusMule DearEuropean Rabbit

Tonight was Andrea's famous Indian food and we definitely ate well.  After clean up and a card game or three, we decided a little star watching from the hot tub was in order.

David In Hot TubHot Tub And House

Day 2: So what's on this Island?

Mudge Island isn't big - maybe 5 miles long, so we decided to break out the bicycles  (two that would fit guys) and see what's on the island.  We visited pretty much every road and it's mostly just roads and houses.  There is a marina (Moonshine Cove - pretty much just parking, docks and boat ramp - nothing resembling retail), and a few places that are effectively parks (Western and Eastern extremes of the island), but that's about it. 

Jeremy made his famous crepes and relaxing commenced.  By early afternoon, it was time to get up and do more.  I poked around the rocks again (it was a sunny day so most things were hiding), but I also tried to get pictures of the herons.  In Vancouver, when a great blue Heron lands, everyone goes quite and watches with interest.  On Mudge, when a heron lands, the other two herons that already fishing there start squawking and eventually one flies off.

Great Blue Heron
David, Mark and I decided to go for walk down the island.  The beach changed as we headed east - rocks bluffs became pebbles, the beach walls became steeper hiding plants.  Every bay had something new to see.

Black Oystercatcher

Ocean Side Oak Tree
At the eastern end of the island is narrow channel separating Mudge from Link island.  The tide was low enough that we could easily walk over and take a look.  Link Island is a privately owned island and there signs asking people not to trespass so we didn't see much.

Broad Leaved StonecropSeperation Between Link And Mudge

It was certainly warm out so we decided to return by road.  When we got back we found out what we should have been doing - relaxing.  The hot tub (not actually that hot) was a great way to watch the beach, or just curl up with a book.

Andrea Showing How To Relax  Five In The Hot TubMike Does Not Drink
But the sun was setting and I really couldn't let it go away.

Arbutus Trunk At Sunset
Having done the bicycle reconnaissance in the morning, I knew where I wanted to be for sunset.  Our first destination was a little access point to the rocks near the outlet side of Dodd's Narrows.  Here it was possible to get down to the gallery level (where the ocean has eroded the sandstone) and let the orange light bring out the contrast.  The sun set behind a close by hill so we wouldn't see the sunset proper here.
Stephen On The Rocks

Eroded On Different Scales Eroded RockGlowing Rock

Drowning In Orange Light
Our next destination was the little park at the furthest west extreme of the island - about a 3 minute drive from the gallery area.  We had a clear view as the sun set over nanaimo.  The tide was running while we were there so it was almost like watching a river run by - the standing waves added excitement to the and already beautiful scene.

Stephen And His SunsetDodd Narrows Past SunsetSilhouettes

We drove back to the cabin and enjoyed dinner (Jin and Jesse's burgers) and then watched TV - the federal election had been called at the news was getting together proper clips of the candidates.

Day 3 - Thanks for the Fish
House From The Water
Unfortunately, all great weekend trips have to come to an end.  Breakfast  Omelettes started to reuse leftovers from the night before, packing began.  We started washing 9 sets of sheets and towels and otherwise leaving the place in good working order.
Making Breakfast
After topping up the hot tub, I was coiling up the hose and noticed a little frog.  It's unfortunate, but I don't think you are going to find these frogs anywhere near my house in Vancouver.  This frog wasn't yet fully grown - it was about the size of a nickel and was quite patient when I stuck my lens in front.

Pacific Tree Frog In HosePacific Tree Frog

Eventually, we got packed up and shuttled people to the beach we first came to shore on.  Doug Fraser had left for the weekend so we had someone else picking us up.  We sat and waited.  The planes arrived and idled close to shore but there was no way the pontoons would let the plane get close enough to shore.  Thankfully our stand in taxi showed up and we started the shuttling operation - load up a boat, drive out to the plane, unload the boat into the plane and then get the next group of people.  The current was flowing fast so the dance of loading and getting underway was dynamic.

Loading BeaverHouse From Airplane

Flying out, we saw the next door farm and our cabin tucked into the forest.  We flew over Gabriola, Georgia straight and back to Vancouver.  It was a wonderful weekend.

Tags: beach, sunset
Pacific Tree Frog In Hose
Species: Pseudacris regilla (Pacific Treefrog)
Tags: amphibian
House From The Water
Tags: gulf island, place to stay
On Approach To Mudge
Location: Go To...
Tags: gulf island, plane
Moving Gear To Beaver
Tags: packing gear, plane
Dodd Narrows Past Sunset
Tags: sunset, wave
Loading Beaver
Tags: boat, plane
Leather Star
Species: Dermasterias imbricata (Leather Star)
Tags: beach, sea star
Great Blue Heron
Species: Ardea herodias (Great Blue Heron)
Tags: BC fauna, bird, tide pool
Black Oystercatcher
Species: Haematopus bachmani (Black Oystercatcher)
Tags: bird
Arbutus Trunk At Sunset
Species: Arbutus menziesii (Arbutus)
Tags: gulf island, tree
Stephen On The Rocks
Person: Stephen
Tags: beach, rock
Single California Tent Caterpillar
Species: Malacosoma californicum (Western Tent Caterpillar)
Tags: insect
Pacific Tree Frog
Species: Pseudacris regilla (Pacific Treefrog)
Tags: amphibian
Mule Dear
Species: Odocoileus hemionus (Mule Deer)
Tags: BC fauna, deer
Horse Feeding
Tags: farm animal, horse
Red Sea Cucumber
Species: Cucumaria miniata (Red Sea Cucumber)
Tags: BC fauna, tide pool
Broad Leaved Stonecrop
Species: Sedum spathulifolium (Broadleaf Stonecrop)
Tags: flower
Seperation Between Link And Mudge
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, reflection
Stephen And His Sunset
Person: Stephen
Location: Go To...
Tags: gulf island, orange sky, silhouette, sunset
Grey Cream Brown Anenomes
Tags: intertidal
Washing Tiles
Tags: game
Mike Does Not Drink
Person: Michael
Tags: drink, hot tub
House From Airplane
Tags: beach, gulf island
Ruminants On The Farm
Tags: farm, field
Andrea Showing How To Relax
Person: Andrea
Making Breakfast
Tags: breakfast, food porn
Sea Sacs
Species: Halosaccion glandiforme (Sea Sacs)
Tags: beach, gulf island, kelp
Beaver Returning Home
Tags: gulf island, plane
Eroded On Different Scales
Tags: beach, rock
Ocean Side Oak Tree
Species: Quercus garryana (Garry Oak)
Tags: beach, lone tree, tree
Hot Tub And House
Location: Go To...
Tags: hot tub, house
Ochre Stars
Species: Pisaster ochraceus (Ochre Star)
Tags: sea star, tide pool
Sea Terminal, South Terminal, Main Terminal Of YVR
Location: Go To...
Tags: plane, Vancouver
Mike Arriving By Boat
Person: Michael
David In Hot Tub
Person: David
Deer Running In Field
Tags: abstract, long exposure
Five In The Hot Tub
Person: Andrea, David, Karen, Mark, Stephen
Tags: gulf island, hot tub
Playing Mahjong On The Deck
Person: Andrea, David, Jesse, Karen, Mark, Stephen
Tags: game
Tags: farm animal, gulf island
Mottled Star
Species: Evasterias troschelii (mottled star)
Tags: beach, sea star
Glowing Rock
Tags: rock, silhouette
Eroded Rock
Tags: gulf island, rock
Carparked Under Arbutus
Drowning In Orange Light
Person: Andrea, Stephen
Location: Go To...
Tags: sunset
European Rabbit
Species: Oryctolagus cuniculus (European rabbit)
Tags: BC fauna
California Tent Caterpillar
Species: Malacosoma californicum (Western Tent Caterpillar)
Tags: insect, tent
The First Problem
Tags: packing gear
Tags: gulf island(10), beach(9), plane(5), sunset(4), rock(4), BC fauna(4)
People: Stephen(5), Andrea(4), David(3), Karen(2), Mark(2), Michael(2)
From: John Harvey Photo > Mudge Island
From: John Harvey Photo > Mudge Island
From: John Harvey Photo > John's Overnight Page > Mudge Island

Hi John Was just doing a little a little surfing and came across your photos...beautiful place, great pictures. K
Kim Park
Friday, July 27th, 2007 at 19:35:16

Hi John, a friend of mine has a cottage on the island, I've been invited so wanted to see what it (the island) looked like, interesting photos and commentary, thanks for sharing! Eric
Eric Bryer
Tuesday, May 13th, 2008 at 07:13:26

I am the owner of this particular cottage and i could not have done a better job of describing the place and atractions. The photos are fanatstic. Regards Tony Irwin
Tony Irwin
Saturday, August 2nd, 2008 at 22:50:55

Hi John, fabulous photos. I felt the warmth and serenity just by looking at the pictures. The island is definitely a beautiful place to visit for some downtime.
Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 at 12:01:08

Hello Tony, If you get this, some of us are hoping to come up there in August...would like to ask some questions and seek help in the planning process. Best, Peter
Peter O'Connor
Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 at 00:17:37

This looks wonderful,I found the site while putting in my maiden name. My Mudge family come from Cornwall and your Island reminds me of the Isles of Scilly off the Cornish coast.
Jane Brechtmann
Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 at 12:21:36

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