One, Two, Ruckle My Shoe

24 August 2018 – “R” not “B” — my shoes have laces not buckles, and they’re walking me through Ruckle Provincial Park. At 486 hectares, it’s the largest park in the Gulf Islands.

Getting here is part of the fun: first a bus from Ganges to the village of Fulford, then 15 minutes or so before another bus comes along for the trip across this south-easterly knob of Salt Spring Island, on over to the park.

The village is clustered close to Fulford Harbour, its shops geared not only to residents but also to transients waiting for one of the ferries than run from here to assorted other islands. I hang out on the dock, slowing down & settling into all this space and beauty. (Marred still by wild fire haze.)

Our bus arrives, and away we go.

I’m looking forward to Ruckle, even though I know nothing about it other than that it exists, and it can be reached by public transit. That’s enough for me! So, with lunch & water in my daypack, off I go. It becomes a figure-8 sort of exploration that keeps me close to water, first ranging well beyond Beaver Point going this way, and then looping back that way as far as Bear Point.

But really, I don’t care exactly how many klicks I walk or which landmarks I reach. As far as I’m concerned, everything is a delight.

The park offers dirt trails, here with the flourish of a tree-gate …

dirt trails with a footbridge …

rocky climbs …

and clearings with picnic tables.

The path in front of this table …

leads on to a secluded cove.

 

There are peek-a-boo views of the Swanson Channel …

and panorama views from high rocky ledges (with a sailboat and a ferry ghost-visible in the haze).

While well out beyond Beaver Point in my first loop, I realize I am coming to a camp ground. Tents only, no looming RVs, but I’m still working up to a pout. I want Nature, not campers.

Oh, all right, says Nature. Here!

If he’s not bothered, why should I be?

So I calm down, and promptly discover a second reason to appreciate the camp ground.

Isn’t this the best? I have to wait a moment to meet the host, though. At the moment — and you can almost make it out, in the shadows under the tent awning — he is pouring a bucket of rinsing water over his wife’s freshly washed hair. I wave at him to take his time, and a few minutes later he and his be-turbanned wife join me, smiling and happy to talk.

Turns out they are a retired couple, not islanders but quick to join other volunteers who take turns camping here each summer, living among the visitors, answering questions, generally being a helpful (and watchful) presence on-site.

They are typical of my day. Everyone I meet is affable, happy, having a good time and up for a moment’s chat. Just the right number of day-trippers, I decide: plentiful enough for the occasional exchange about where-are-we-now and what-a-great-day … but rare enough that there’s lots of time to enjoy the solitude.

Mid-afternoon I’m on the bus and back to Ganges. It’s a small ¬†community, but after a day in the park’s tranquility how bustling and big-city it seems!

And then it offers its own enchantment.

I pass another of those painted pianos, watch two little girls fall under its spell, and promptly fall under their spell. Plink, plunk… giggle, giggle …

Then it’s up the hill toward my Airbnb, walking along the playing field by the school yard — and look, it’s a village soccer game. A couple of islanders have hunkered down to watch, I find a convenient spot on the edge of the skate park opposite, and join them.

It’s Yellow Vests vs. The Other Guys, all ages on both sides, and a female ref, her thick black braid bouncing on her back as she keeps up with the play.

I am a tourist, just another in the endless chain of tourists that come and go, doubling the island’s population each summer.

But, just for a moment, I feel like I belong.

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6 Comments

  1. Blane Hogue

     /  24 August 2018

    I have to say Penny, while your writing is always evocative and really engaging, yiyr photography is always outstanding. These photos are so stunning. Thanks for all these columns.

    Reply
  2. Catherine Winckler

     /  24 August 2018

    On office-locked days, your journeys always give me nice pause!

    Reply
  3. Wow! Loved this post! We’ve been there and done that (the island, the park) but your resting a spell and watching the game is just so wonderful. Yo do know how to live life to the fullest. Bravo!

    Reply
  4. This is all fascinating to me, from the point of view of comparing the Gulf Islands to my locale, and from the point of view of thinking about places I’d like to see. I’m looking at a map – did you ferry over from Tsawassen? Maybe you came from Victoria Island – sorry, I’ve lost track. Ruckle looks very simialr to the parks I’ve been tramping through here on Fidalgo, but the little villages in the area are much more picturesque than our town of Anacortes. No problem though, because like you, I am just happy to talk it all in. It’s always nice to come here and be in the presence of someone who takes such an easy delight in everything she sees.

    Reply
    • Oh, you love maps too! Yes, I took the ferry from Tsawwassen to Long Beach, on Salt Spring Island. If you’re coming from Victoria, I think (but the BC Ferries website will confirm) the ferries go to Fulford Harbour — and that’s halfway to Ruckle, in summer there is twice daily bus service to and from Ruckle. I was doing it from/to Ganges, but the bus went via the village of Fulford. As for your other observaions, well yes, all we have to do is look around, be curious, be grateful, and enjoy!

      Reply

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