|The Tsawout First Nation Trail on the southern part of Saltspring Island is one of my favourite walks on the island -- because of sights like this. Photo by John.|
|Part of the trail's attraction is the variety of sights along the way, including rocky peninsulas like this. Photo by John.|
|John on one of the beaches along the trail.|
|Away from the shoreline is a substantial wooded area, with lots of signs warning people not to light fires or camp.|
|Along the shoreline trail, golden grass bakes in the sun.|
|The trail leads to this wooden bench, elaborately mounted on a rock platform overlooking the water. Notice the stones under the bench's armrests. Photo by John.|
If you only had a couple of hours to see the best of Saltspring Island, I’d send you on a four-kilometre hike on the island’s south end. The Tsawout First Nation Trail isn’t what you’d call groomed – its paths are marked mainly by other hikers’ footsteps and it’s highly trippable with roots and rocks – but oh. Long pebble beaches, silhouettes of arbutus trees against sparkling water, rocky peninsulas, golden-grassed bluffs, mossy mounds and deep dark forest – even a big wooden bench overlooking the ocean partway along the trail.
No dogs, no camping, no fires, and lots of other restrictions, but this is on the Tsawout First Nation Reservation, and they allow outsiders to enjoy this amazingly condensed version of the island’s beauty, so I have no complaints.
The trail even offers – outside its boundaries -- an interesting glimpse of how a significant segment of the increasingly upscale island lives. It’s a beautifully windowed and gabled mansion that overlooks the water, with a partial-driftwood fence so fine that it must have been created by an artist. From it, leading to the house, is a simple wooden walkway with ropes and lanterns, its rustic faultlessness oozing money. One trail; a perfect microcosm of the island.
|This is the view from the bench. . .|
|. . . and from the nearby mansion adjacent to the trail area.|
|This is the fence separating the mansion from the trail area. Notice the use of curved driftwood and the fine shapes.|
|John's closer-up look at the fence.|
|I was fascinated by the rustically perfect little wooden walkway/bridge leading to the house. John photographed me photographing it. Notice the elegant sign on the tree warning that it is private property.|
|It's partly obscured by the trees, but squint and you can see what's beyond the bridge -- a beautiful drystone wall, stairs and a many-windowed house.|
|A closer look at the bridge, with its ropes and lanterns. How much would such simple elegance cost?|
|Another look at that rocky shore.|
|A moss carpet deep in the woods.|
|And John heading up the trail for home.|