Often when driving along the Sea to Sky scenic highway that cuts alongside the Howe Sound, I’ve looked out at the islands and had this urge to get out there and explore them.

Bowen, one of the large islands, is home to some 3,500 permanent residents and is popular with tourists, hikers and sea folk. The other islands though? Despite neighbouring Gambier being larger at some 25 square miles, you hear nothing about it. When I found out there are trails around its three peaks, and a small rustic campsite at Halkett Bay accessible by a charter boat which you schedule yourself, I knew I had to go. There had to be a good opportunity for photography there right? And it was a bite-sized adventure staying the night on my own.

Information on the trails takes a bit of finding, but before long I had printed a map for a 10km loop from the campsite over the island’s most easily accessed peak, Mount Artaban. I was excited to see what I’d find and even thought there could be a possibility to photograph star trails here, if I found I was far enough from the city lights.

The trail, such as it is, takes a bit of concentration to follow in the overgrowth. It’s well marked but can be lost intervals (at least by me!) requiring some back tracking. It’s fairly obvious when you are no longer on it at least. At times rough and slippery, the short distance was a good workout. The peak itself is fairly treed in, but there’s an impressive view to the East toward the mainland and the distant mountains between Vancouver and Squamish.

The peak made for a great place to sit for lunch, just not the photographic opportunities I’d hoped for. Onwards!

So the peak was out, strike one! Not to be too put out (I was after all having a fun weekend here just tramping about), I was heading back to the bay at sunset. Yes, I thought, there has to be a shot there!

Sadly though the sun disappeared behind the islands steep hillsides a couple of hours before sundown, so I was scuppered here too! Furthermore the tide had come in meaning I’d lost the beach save for a few high rocks!

One last thing for it: the clear skies meant potentially good stars, and this proved to be true! Whilst there was some light pollution, I was still able to composite 160 photos I should over the course of a couple of hours around midnight to show the path of the star trails across the sky. It’s always nice to return with just one photo you like from trips like this, one that nicely portrays the experience. There are definitely better shots to be had here, but for now, I was happy with this one.