Basking in the Sun

It’s been a very cold week here on the Sunshine Coast with daytime temperatures at or below freezing. OK, so that is still better than most of Canada, but it’s chilly for us. However, it has brought sunny crisp days that are perfect for getting outside. Today a friend and I ventured out to my happy place…the top of Soames Hill.

Hike with a reward

Hike with a reward

There are 434 steps to the top so it is a bit more of a stair climber than a true forest hike, but I love it. Five minutes from Arcturus Retreat, 20 minutes of cardio and then a magical view looking down over Gibsons Landing. The granite rocks were warm in the afternoon sun and we took some time to chat and enjoy. Daily tensions disappear from this spot. What is really special is that I always feel great the rest of the day. Cardio burn over and I’m left with endorphins and a full dose of Vitamin D that carry on for hours.

Soames 563

Here is to many more sunny winter days to get out and explore the Sunshine Coast.

Soames Hill – February 4, 2012

It is days like these when I realize that I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Mountains, ocean, rainforest, clean freshwater streams, and fresh air all around….on BC’s Sunshine Coast. I woke up to streaming sunshine and decided that today was an exploring day.
I chose one of my favourite hikes: Soames Hill. I can see the summit of Soames from my kitchen window and love to head up on days to truly enjoy the view. For a change, I chose to challenge myself and head in from Soames Road on Marine Drive. What this means is starting at sea level (or close to it) and heading up for the full 250 meter climb.

Of course this means stopping to catch your breath every once in a while. So I stopped to take a shot of this new bridge, courtesy of SCRD Parks staff. Thank You for the improved safety railings! The smell of freshly cut cedar just adds to the trip.

The lower part of Soames Hill is a winding network of moderate trails through beautiful 2nd growth forest. Many Douglas Firs take 2-3 people to reach around the circumference of a tree.

The top of Soames Hill is what sets it apart from other hiking trails. The views are simply amazing. Today was something special. Like I mentioned, there was full sunshine at my house today. This is not the case for anyone living directly on the Georgia Strait.
Look at the white strip in the middle of the photo. This is a massive cloud bank hovering over the Georgia Strait. You can just see the mountain tops of Vancouver Island sticking up in the background. Gibsons Landing is in the front of the shot.
It was a bizarre seen to sit and watch from above. The photo doesn’t do it justice. Picture a river of lava…bubbling, flowing to the sea. Turn it white, and this is what the fog made me think of seeing it from above. It was a big soft blanket…yet moving in the wind and churning. Big cotton balls of clouds with an uneven surface like a snowbank. I could hear a foghorn in the distance, probably the Nanaimo ferry or another ship hidden in the fog.
I felt blessed to take in this natural wonder and to enjoy a day of sunshine at this end of the Sunshine Coast.

Soames Hill

Spring has truly arrived…just in time for Victoria Day weekend. Three weeks since my last real hike and I can feel it…mentally and physically. Why do I let time slip by without getting outside? I couldn’t pass up the sunny and warm afternoon, so I headed for one of my favourite spots: Soames Hill.

A big THANK YOU to the SCRD parks staff for the installation of the new trail signs. Made of wood, they look completely natural along the trail and are a great resource for hikers. There is no getting lost in this park.

Since today was a bright sunny day, I headed directly for the green trail…the 250m summit. Since I haven’t been hiking regularly of late, I was feeling the cardio workout. My quads gave a cheery “Hello!” at about step 150..(there are 206 stairs). But this hike is completely worth the effort. The view from the top is simply amazing.


I could sit up there for hours. It is a great place to think, to relax, and soak in the sun. The rockface at the summit shows the power of the mountains and the ocean is such a deep blue. It was low tide today…you can see the sandy beach ringing the land. This is Gibsons Harbour…a few more boats popping up as summer approaches. Vancouver Island is in the distance with a few snowcapped mountains still in view. My photo skills don’t do it justice. It’s an amazing 240 degree view.

This is the view to the southeast. Keats Island is in front with the Paisley Islands in the back. We can’t see these from town…only up this high can we see over Keats. Look at all the boats who have already arrived in Plumper’s Cove for the holiday weekend. It was just a little hazy. On a crystal clear day, you can see to Richmond and YVR.Paradise….just 5 minutes from home. One of the best places in the world to simply escape for a while.

Soames Hill – Jan 8, 2011

Another gorgeous sunny day on BC’s Sunshine Coast. I just had to get outside to make up for missing yesterday’s group hike. So I headed to one of my favourite sunny day spots…Soames Hill.

Now if you came across these stairs in the middle of the forest, wouldn’t you head upward? Of course! 65 steps to the first bridge and rest point gets you ready. A little heavy breathing and your heart starts beating. 206 total winding stairs in addition to a bit of natural slope gets you to the first mini-summit. It’s those last 35 steps that really get the heart rate up.

But so worth it! The views here are just amazing. Soames Hill is the highest point around Gibsons without climbing Mt Elphinstone. It is 200m to the first viewpoint and 250m to the highest viewpoint.

This shot is looking eastnortheast over Howe Sound to the Coast Mountains. The edge of Keats Island is on the right.

This is the second viewpoint…standing on solid rock. Keats Island is in the front and the Paisley Islands on the far side. There was a single sailboat out in the harbour today…gorgeous day for a sail.

It is hard to see from the picture, but there is a solid rockface behind these trees. This is the otherside of the hilltop…south of the stairs. I was just standing up on top of those rocks a few minutes earlier. Taking this shot, I am on fairly level ground in thick forest.

If you follow this particular trail, you decend all the way down to Marine Drive. Someday I’ll make that part of the hike. The trick is…not wanting to hike up from there. It’s a serious uphill climb. So you park at Shirley Macy to access the main trails and stairs to the summit. If you hike down to Marine Drive and the water….how do you get your car back? Some day…

Soames Hill – Aug 10, 2010

I can’t believe 6 months went by since my last hike up Soames Hill. I love this place. From 0 to 250m elevation in about 20 minutes and what an amazing trip.
The trails that wind around the base of the hill are similar to other rainforest trails. Amazingly tall trees, huge ferns, boulders…the sounds of the forest and protection of the trees keep out the busy sounds of the outside world.
206 steps take you straight up and really get your heart beating and blood flowing. It brings you alive as you work your way up.

Then just as soon as you’re a bit winded, you’re at the top and the view takes your breath away. This photo is looking south over Gibsons Harbour with Vancouver Island in the background. There are 3 vantage points at the summit, so be sure to take them all in.
The best part about the quick workout on the ascent is that you are more than happy to sit and relax at the summit. At first it is to get your breath back, but then you just soak in the view and sit in the sun. Linger for a while and just enjoy.

This is looking east at Keats Island with the Paisley islands just behind. Straight on would be the city of Vancouver. It would be interesting to see this at night…you should be able to see all the city lights.
See the huge boat in the harbour? Two tugs took it out into Howe Sound while I rested. So interesting to sit and watch it make the trek.

Forget all your cares. No better way to excercise and de-stress. I won’t let another 6 months go by before I return.

Soames Hill – Feb 22, 2010

Heaven on earth. This was my thought today as I basked in the warm sunshine atop Soames Hill with beauty all around. Simply amazing…I could have stayed for hours ( I did stay 1 hour).

I can’t believe I waited this long to make this hike. Honestly, I was a bit intimidated by the description of 205 wooden steps to the summit. When I first moved here, I wouldn’t have made it to the top. I was in such poor physical shape.

Today I made it up those steps in about 20 minutes…breathing hard, but not tired. Then it is just a bit farther up the trail to the summit. So worth it! I will be back the next sunny day with an extra hour for a workout.

Today was another spectacular day. Glorious sunshine on a warm day. Flowers are blooming and pollen is in the fresh air. It feels like April or May…not February.

The sun was so bright that these first pictures miss the vibrant colour. These are looking south toward Gibsons…what a beautiful village by the sea. In the distance you can just make out Vancouver Island, but it was easy to see in person.

Keats Island. The tug made its way through Howe Sound and home to Gibsons Marina. Think how smooth the water was to create a wake like this from a slow-moving tug boat.

The vibrant blue and green really stand out in the photos facing east and not facing into the sun. Keats Island is in front and Bowen Island is in the distance.

Paradise only 5 minutes from my home….ok 5 minutes and then 30 minutes up to the summit. I hope to spend many more days atop Soames Hill on BC’s spectacular Sunshine Coast.