On our recent trip to the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, we enjoyed a variety of beautiful beaches. The geological history of the Gulf Islands includes a huge river delta that formed during the melting of the last ice age. As the glaciers melted, rocks and silt from the mountains were deposited into the river and the surrounding delta. The result now is beaches with beautiful sandstone formations. Water carves away the softer sandstone, leaving lovely shapes and exposing all manner of rocks and stones carried by the glacier, deposited in the old delta. Some of my favorite beaches sport ‘river stones’ carried from far away in prehistory.
This year we were able to visit islands we’d never been to before. I thought beaches couldn’t get much better than Cabbage Island, on the Strait of Georgia. But I was wrong! We traveled up to Thetis and Penelakut (Kuper) Islands, finding the same beautiful sandstone. Our Gulf Islands route included D’arcy Island, Portland Island, Salt Spring Island, Thetis and Penelakut Islands, De Courcy Island and Saturna Island. The forces of nature that formed Cabbage Island were evident at several of the places we stopped.
The ‘discovery’ of Penelakut Island added a new ‘favorite’ to our list of places. We anchored off the west coast of that island and enjoyed beautiful views, warm (ish) water, and sandstone beaches.
After checking into the U.S. at Point Roberts, we crossed the Strait of Georgia again to visit the eastern part of the San Juan Islands, anchoring off the northern coast of Patos Island. Part of the same sandstone formation as Thetis and Penelakut Islands, Patos Island is, in a word, amazing. With the weather mild enough to anchor away from the crowds, I had this beach completely to myself, except for the seal colony.
Because of the glaciers, the beaches are littered with beautiful stones. Nature has polished them. Nothing else is required.
These islands are a pebble collector’s dream. I have all kinds of vessels filled with beautiful pebbles from Northwest beaches. They decorate pretty much all the rooms of our house and my office. I believe Mike was relieved when I returned to the boat with only a handful of special rocks. It could have been a bucket full.