Hiking Mt Norman Leads Us To A Panoramic View of the Gulf Islands

As we huffed and puffed up the steep climb, we said to ourselves, “This had better be worth it!”  It was only a 1.8 mile (2.9 km) hike – 3.6 miles roundtrip –  but with 800+ feet (266m) elevation gain, and we hadn’t done any real hikes in a while. It was hot out, and we hadn’t brought enough water – from the San Juans we’d grown used to island hikes being short and easy.

Mt Norman is on South Pender Island, our first stop in Canada after crossing the border from Friday Harbor on Sunday. Our Nexus passes had made customs checkin a breeze – we called in, got our clearance number, and did a touch-and-go on the customs dock (if there are no customs agents, with a Nexus checkin you don’t have to stay).

As we rounded the last corner of the hike, we came to a viewing platform with a 180 degree view of the Gulf Islands stretching out before us. It was a beautiful day, and all I could think was wow, the hike was definitely worth it! The photos don’t really do it justice because unfortunately I can’t stitch together my panoramic photos since I forgot to download a panorama program before leaving Seattle, and don’t have Internet in the South Pender anchorage.



South Pender Island has lots of mooring balls, and they’re only $9.80 CDN (about $6-7 US) so we took one of those. The trailhead and mooring payment box is on the beach to the north. The hotel and marina to the south don’t have much in the way of groceries – a convenience store with a very sparse liquor store is it. We’re realizing a flaw in our route planning – we have no vegetables, fresh fruits or meats left (because we want to risk running into Customs restrictions), and there are few groceries near Gulf Islands anchorages. Ganges is the one obvious one, but we went there last year and are hoping to skip it.



Fine Dining in the San Juans

It was great to have Natalie’s parents visiting last week in the San Juans. We did a night anchored in Blind Bay, a night anchored in Griffin Bay off American camp, and a night in Friday Harbor marina. I ended up with pictures mostly of the meals – probably because we ate really really well.





Grilled chicken tacos and fixings



Natalie making biscuits – for the biscuits and gravy the next morning, which turned out so delicious I forgot to take a picture

Coming Up

We’re heading north through the Gulf Islands now, and most likely stopping in Nanaimo and then on to Jervis Inlet.

One thought on “Hiking Mt Norman Leads Us To A Panoramic View of the Gulf Islands

  1. Mark and Barbara

    We are following your blog, and will follow some of your current trip; taking a south sound to Gig Harbor cruise this next week, then head up to the San Juans in July. Ours is a 1984 Benataeu 35′ renamed “Mer Sea”. It is our Seattle home at Elliot Bay Marina, when we come to town weekly from Whidbey Island. We are very familiar with all of Salish Sea, but your photos and hints are helpful…and even inspiring.


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