Correctly Mistaken Island

Friday, August 14, 2020

We are staying in Parksville near Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park. If you have not been to Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park before I would definitely recommend that you go. Funnily enough, the first time that I came here was as a youth when I joined my best friend’s family on their summer vacation. However, I never actually knew where we had gone until recently. It was that childhood experience of not really caring where we were off too as long as the trip was fun. And as I said, I was with my childhood best friend so I was having a blast and was without a care. All I knew is that we had taken a ferry to get to an expansive beach, where we stayed in beachside bungalows, caught and ate geoducks (“gooeyduck”; which was my highlight for sure!), and even went spelunking. It was always a fond memory but I had never really given it serious thought as to where we were until recently.

Essentially five years ago we attended one of my wife’s high school friends, Jeff’s, wedding in Parksville. The wedding was at The Beach Club Resort and it was a beautiful ceremony. We are indebted to Jeff and Krysten for putting Parksville on our radar. The following year (2017) we visited Tofino in the spring, which is beautiful no doubt, but we found that the travel to get there with a young child was not easy. When we weighed out the travel time and cost for what we ended up doing, playing in the sand on the beach, we concluded that it was not worth it. And that’s where we decided to try out Parksville, the following spring (2018) as a closer and cheaper option, that still offered us our core desires, beach, convenience, and relaxation.

Parksville is a 40-minute drive from the Nanaimo Ferry Terminal compared to three hours for Tofino. And Rathtrevor Beach is all the beach that we need for children at this point in our lives. You do give up the surf, storms, sunsets over the Pacific, peninsular geography, and a more vibrant culinary scene. So there is economics at play here for you to determine what you value.

But I digress… so in 2018 as we planned our visit to Parksville I find a few of the online images of Rathtrevor Beach strangely familiar. I reach out to my childhood friend, Jeff Kindree (a different Jeff from above), and he confirms that Rathtrevor Beach is where we hunted for geoducks decades before. I search to see if we can do the same for our upcoming trip, eager to pass on the experience to my two young boys. Although I suspect that they may be too young as from memory it was not easy catching geoducks.

The geoducks that we caught as kids were big, but not as big as the one the guy above pulls up!

However, my online searches lead me to disappointment in that you are no longer allowed to dig for clams on Rathtrevor Beach. Maybe that will change in the future?

When we arrive on the beach I am flooded by childhood memories. The place next to where we are staying, Beach Acres Resort, looks very familiar. After reaching out to Jeff’s mom, Janet, she confirms that we stayed at Beach Acres! What are the odds? Apparently, the odds are not bad. Funnily enough, as fallible as memory can be, even after confirming that we stayed at Beach Acres, I feel the places don’t look quite like I remember them and I am apt to trust my memory in that they must have changed the places, rather than the more logical conclusion that my memories have changed.

Fast forward to the present day. We are back in Parksville, but this time in the summer after the pandemic postponed our Passover plans, and we have just spent a few days up the island in the Qualicum Bay area (see my recent past posts for details).

I get the green light for an afternoon paddle. I had been eyeing up the island sitting out from the bay. I get my kit in order (water, inflatable PFD) and I am off. The tide is low so it is a short board carry over the beach to the water’s edge. And then some shallow paddling for a way out before hitting the edge of the land shelf.

Below is the view from the water of a little way of the shore of Mistaken Island.

Mistaken Island from the waters at Rathtrevor Beach. Photo by Mon Jef Peeters.

And a slightly more artistic, although unbalanced, shot.

Approaching Mistaken Island. Photo by Mon Jef Peeters.

I was taken by the rugged geography of the island. I think I had anticipated it to be smoother from water erosion. But this must be the glaciated side of the island?

Some of the geography on Mistaken Island. Photo by Mon Jef Peeters.

I spotted this spirit keeping watch over this cave on the southeastern shore of the island.

Someone or something guarding the entrance to this cave. Photo by Mon Jef Peeters.

I also came across a few sea stars along the water’s edge.

Some sea stars along the coast of Mistaken Island. Photo by Mon Jef Peeters.
Another sea star near Mistaken Island. Photo by Mon Jef Peeters.

On a future trip, perhaps I will have to land and do some land exploration.

My Route

Screenshot of Google Fit activity tracker.

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