With the much needed rain keeping me indoors today I wrote up a one page 'all in' version of our trip to Vancouver Island, with tons more photos and a few more words to describe our trip it puts it all in one place so if you want to see a blow by blow account of the whole week grab a cuppa and click here.
After getting home from Vancouver Island last night I took some time today to write up my hike on the West Coast Trail, though it is only one section of this wonderful trail it does give you an insight into what you can expect along the way. I hiked 22km in total from Pachena Bay to Pachena Point Lighthouse and back, click here if you want to read more and see all the images.
We left Ucluelet this morning for the last stop over of our trip, Campbell River on the east coast of Vancouver Island. On the way there we called in to Seal Bay for a walk on the beach where we saw both Golden and Bald Eagles. We stopped again on the coastal highway between there and Campbell River for coffee and cake and a sit by the sea. On reaching Campbell River we walked the harbour and marina then out onto the pier for ice cream (the size of which was heart attack inducing) We ended the day with a fish and chip supper in the harbour.
We rose early on our final west coast day and made the short drive over to Tofino where we walked the town, looked around the local market and visited a couple of beaches until the sea haar rolled in. We returned to Ucluelet and walked the Wild Pacific Trail and did some wildlife watching before spending our last evening back at Amphitrite Point. We saw dozens of Bald Eagles (almost always being harassed by crows) We saw a seal catch a huge salmon, a whale spouting right in front of us just offshore and a lovely sea otter chasing fish around the rocks on a rising tide. It really was a fantastic day and made us both want to return here just to watch the wildlife. The main shot is from the northern most end of the Wild Pacific Trail looking south (the white blur where the rocks meet the forest is Sarah sitting on a bench) the gallery is captioned as usual.
Our holiday continued with us crossing the island from east to west yet again from Nanaimo to the beautiful pacific coast and the town of Ucluelet where we had booked 2 nights at the Majestic Ocean B&B. En route to the coast we broke the journey with stops at Little Qualicum Falls and McMillan Provincial Park where we made the Qualicum Falls loop and 'Cathedral Grove' hike respectively. Once settled into the B&B we went out to Amphitrite Point Lighthouse on the 'Wild Pacific Trail' where we did some rockpooling and watched the sunset from the rocky shores. The internet at the B&B was not the best so uploading pictures wasn't really on hence the delay in posting, but everything else about the place was fantastic and the owners were really genuine, caring people. The town of Ucluelet is stunning and the wildlife along its shores unlimited, it was without doubt worth every mile travelled to reach it. The main shot today is a small part of the rocky western shores at Ucluelet, the gallery has captions to identify each location.
We really felt like we had picked a winner today, rain was forecast for most of the island but the south west side had some potential for sunshine so we took a long route on the west coast through Sooke and Port Renfrew to reach our overnight stop in Nanaimo. We saw only one minor shower at the end of another wonderful day. We called in at various locations along the way and while hiking to Sheringham Point lighthouse we found some fantastic wild summer raspberries which were delicious.
The main shot below is from a short walk in Pipers Lagoon Park just north of Nanaimo where we spent the evening after a nice chinese dinner at the 'Iron Wok' in the town. We sat watching a seal as he bobbed up and down checking our progress while we took in the view to the mainland with its snow capped peaks just visible on the horizon. Tomorrow we cross the island to the west coast again for a couple of days in Ucluelet and Tofino stopping off as we desire en route.
Lighthouses are one of my favourite things, not sure why but they are. If I am within a few miles of one you can bet I'll be visiting, so today when killing time waiting for Sarah to fly in and join me I planned a visit to Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse just west of Victoria BC. Before that I took a walk on Rathtrevor beach which was crawling with tiny crabs, sea snails, jellyfish and anemones. After the drive south from Nanaimo to Fort Rodd Hill I drove north to Sidney where I booked into the hotel, showered and went to the airport to collect Sarah who arrived on time. We had a late dinner in a harbour pub washed down with blueberry ale before heading back to the hotel. Tomorrow we return to the middle of the island at Nanaimo calling here and there along the way.
I started out this morning on a long narrow winding logging trail that is the only road from Port Alberni that leads to Bamfield on the west coast, unfortunately a puncture saw me heading back to town within a few minutes of starting out. So a crappy start to the day, but that was put right by 'Kal Tire' in Port Alberni who repaired the puncture free and just smiled at me saying "have a great time on the island", it's no wonder people return to the island repeatedly, thanks so much Kal Tire guys :)
Suddenly the day felt a lot better again, I returned to that long drag through the forest on logging trails for 100 km to reach Pacific Rim National Park and though it meant a late start I was still keen to hike to Pachena Lighthouse on the West Coast Trail. There's a 'check in' cabin with a ranger at the beginning then some dodgy ladders to go around the cliff when the tide is in, it is a fantastic hike through old growth forest with giant cedars and lush vegetation. I saw sea lions from high on the cliff and a whale close to shore in the bay as I returned. As the tide was out I was able to avoid the ladders and walk the last 1 km along the rocky shore and beach.
I really enjoyed this hike, it actually has me contemplating making the whole 6-8 day trail sometime but there's still so much more to see of Canada I might never get back. Even if I don't get back here this was another ambition achieved and after 22 km and 595 m of ascent it was hard earned. I will write up a full hike report when I'm back in Cochrane, for now there's a captioned gallery below the main image of Pachena Beach which I made at the very end of the hike today.
I left home late on Sunday evening to make the 14 hour drive over to the west coast to catch a ferry to Vancouver Island where I will collect Sarah from the Airport on Wednesday and make a tour of this much sought after location. I drove the route I'd selected in one go with a short 4 hour snooze under the stars on the scenic highway 99 in British Columbia. The night was lovely, clear and warm but monday was a gloomy affair and the beauty of the scenic route through to Horseshoe Bay was significantly curtailed by low persistent cloud. The ferry ride from horseshoe bay to Nanaimo was also made through heavy cloud as was the drive to Port Alberni where I will be spending tuesday before collecting Sarah. I hope to see some of Pacific Rim National Park and perhaps hike a little of the West Coast Trail (weather and fatigue permitting) As usual I will be updating the blog along the way dependent on wi-fi connectivity.
The main shot below is a ship that is now a B&B in Port Alberni harbour, where the cloud cleared for a short time in the evening, the galley has captioned images as usual.
Just before bed last night I got another 'red alert' message from Aurorawatch and wandered outside to take a look expecting the usual cloud or moon to wipe out a light aurora, instead I was greeted by a spectacular show. I spent 3 hours out on the balcony and around the garden shooting a wonderful display of purple and green (the purple being nitrogen gas and the green oxygen) There are no captions for the images below as they are clearly self explanatory.
We arrived in Calgary, Canada on 29th December 2011 to continue our journey. This blog is intended to keep our family and friends informed whilst we explore Canada.You can use the RSS feed below to stay updated.
The Shaman, West Texas