Friday, 4 December 2015

Vancouver Island to Tofino and Ucluelet

The ferry ride

The ferry wasn't crowded
to Vancouver Island was beautiful. It wasn't too warm, it was blowing wildly, but it was sunny, and at the front, behind the partition, it was very comfortable.
View back to the coast of the mainland
We ate a quick lunch and wandered around for a while, then I settled in to read and do the crossword, while John roamed! In no time we were in Duke Point near Nanaimo. We went right to Living Forest Campground for a couple of days to stock up the cupboards and frig, before heading to Pacific Rim National Park. It is a really beautiful campground. Our site, 51 was perfectly level.

Living Forest RV Campground
We stayed only one night before we headed up Hwy 19 to Parksville and west on Hwy 4, passing Cameron Lake

Cameron Lake
and  Cathedral Grove with its magnificent tall, straight trees.

Passing through Cathedral Grove

I had forgotten how winding and hilly this road was!

a winding highway
We passed Port Alberni and were surprised at its size. We went down to the harbour when we were here a couple of years ago. But a large section of the city continues west to a couple of large malls, and plazas.

A new [to us] section of Port Albernie
Then we were back into the wilds.

A beautiful drive through wilderness country
We stopped at the rest stop at Taylor River, a lovely picnic stop.

Taylor River

View up the mountain from the picnic table
The drive is beautiful, sometimes by the river,

We stopped to watch a group of teen playing on the rocks.
We went up and around the mountains in the distance
sometimes twisting up and down mountains. We stopped at the Visitors Centre and then on to Green Point Campground in the Pacific Rim National Park halfway between Tofino and Ucluelet. We found a campsite- a bit of a difficult back-in, as many are, but we made it.
A very private site

We walked down a path to Long Beach,
The first view of the Ocean

and along the beautiful expanse of sand,
Long Beach at Green Point Campground
and over to the next beach, Combers Beach. 

Combers Beach
and back to Long Beach to watch the sunset.
We decided to drive to Ucluelet first. It is a neat little town.
Headed down to the harbour
Interesting story...

Commercial right on the waterfront by the main wharf
The aquarium

Inner harbour

They have a hike in sections along the coast called the Wild Pacific Trail. We chose to walk the 2.6km lighthouse section first.

Stepping back to look at the Lighthouse

The story...

The beginning of our walk, beside the lighthouse
The coast is rocky and rugged,

Islands and coves along the walk
but with coves of sand along the shore.

Even I could walk near the edge on these trails.

The sea foam to the left ...

Along the path in scenic spots, are benches on platforms for walkers to rest and enjoy views of the ocean.

Bend to rest, and ...

We looked up from one of the coves to see...

The path is wide and gravelled, extremely well maintained, with careful attention to detail, even curved logs outlining the path’s curves.
An easy path to walk

...even a step to reach the seat.

We found a small café, in town, for a very late lunch, and as a bonus, with an owner who made amazing lattes. He was the seventh best barista in western Canada last year!
A great place for a lunch and cappuccino- but they close at 4

Next day we drove the other way into Tofino.

It is larger, and busier than Ucluelet. There are a lot of restaurants,
An interesting Inn and restaurant

An upscale restaurant and gallery
outfitters, surfing gear shops and fishing charters offering whale watching, Hot Springs trips and surfing! We stopped in at the Eagle Aerie Gallery, a traditional Longhouse, displaying the magnificent works of artist Roy Henry Vickers.
Each corner of the longhouse is held up by a totem pole.
The exterior

After we walked around town,

Part of the inner harbour
The Harbour
Outside our favourite coffee shop
The harbour from the south end of town
Unique crosswalks

we had lunch at Big Daddy’s Fish Fry and Take Out. The chips were frozen and nasty, but the fish was OK, just a bit greasy (give this place a pass if in town). Later we drove down to the beach parking lot and walked down to Tonquin Beach. There are steps
The new steps and bridge

The old steps
Each board on the bridge has a name- an individual, family, or business
and a bridge down to the path

to the Beach.

Rocks right to the beach, then beautiful sand...

View from the bridge

It rained some part of many days while we were on the rainforest coast. The moss on the trees in the campground should have been our big clue!

However, we used the rainy times to go on the Internet in Tofino, walk through galleries and shop for food.

In Ucluelet, we ate at Jiggers Fish and Chips. This was amazing- excellent fish and fresh-cut fries. This is a converted bus, which we couldn’t find the first day we were there. However, they told us they get their fish fresh each day, and if there isn’t fish, they don’t come!

We walked most of the sections of the Wild Pacific Trail: Big Beach, Brown’s Beach and the Artists Loops,

and the Ancient Cedars and Rocky Bluffs Trails.

The cedars are huge, and amazing. John looked like a toy beside them!
Gazing up in wonder...

There are both young and old cedars in the same area.
Some were massive in diameter, some not so much...

After we walked the Ancient Cedars Trail, we headed to the Rainforest Trail. But we saw a road to another beach, so we decided to check it out first. It was the Kwisitis Visitor Centre
Kwisitis Visitor Centre

and restaurant with part of the South Beach Trail to east along the shore,
Along the trail

View from the trail

 and Wickaninnish Beach to the west. We walked along the trail, but didn’t go far as we were told a bear had been seen earlier (the piles of fairly fresh bear poop were a giveaway). We went back to walk the beach a few days later when the tide was out.
The tide had just gone out and the beachcombers were out in full force!

We spent some time in Ucluelet and some time in Tofino. We tried to go back to the café we found the first day in Ucluelet, but it was closed. We did find the best fish tacos on the coast though, again in a bus at Tacofina Cantina on the Pacific Rim Highway, behind a group of outfitters and surf shops.

 We did go back and walked through the Rainforest Trail Loops. There are two loops. Loop A

is untouched by man, and is a fabulous old growth rainforest – gigantic trees

The wooden boardwalk ambles through the forest
and ancient fallen logs

carpeted with hanging gardens of moss,
An Amazing sight...
undergrowth with lots of ferns,

Lush ferns everywhere
and skunk cabbage. Here we found our red chairs!


Loop B

had an antenna put in and it is now a rainforest, also with young trees all the same size with little underbrush.
Part of the newer rainforest

Further in, however, there are some of the massive cedars, and some more mature rainforest.

Still some of the mature, 700+ year old trees

There are places where roots grow over stumps of 700 year old trees, then the trees rot and the roots are left up in the air.

As the fallen tree decomposes,

the roots of the other tree remain up in the air
We had the tail end of a hurricane and two other storms converge on the west coast. We drove to Incinerator Rock during the rain
Two kayakers enjoyed the challenge.
They paddled out and rode the waves in.

The waves were incredible

and MacKenzie Beach behind the beautiful Best Western Tin Wis Resort

Tin Wis Resort
to watch the surfers and the storm seas.
All the little dots are surfers waiting for the perfect age.

At the last beach,

the waves were calming down and skies were clearing. We looked at the other campgrounds in Tofino and Ucluelet. None were comparable to Green Point. Although they had hookups, sites were small, and crammed together.

Our last hike was to Schooner Cove Beach. Schooner Cove Trail is a lovely walk along a raised boardwalk through a mature rainforest of huge cedars and hemlocks,

over two moss draped streams, and down a series of stairs and ramps to Schooner Cove,

The sun was just beginning to set
across the beach at Schooner Cove

at the northern end of Long Beach, beside Esowista.

We had to change sites while in the campground, as our site was booked. We found another that worked well,

and had our own private rainforest fairyland.

Our own private path beside the site

The rains and mist didn’t drive us away, 

Many mornings we drove along campground roads like this

but it was time to head back to the east coast of the Island.

I leave you with one of my favourite signboards on the Rainforest Trail...

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