The Wild Pacific Trail

When first I embarked on this attempt to tell about my inspiring two weeks on the west coast of Vancouver Island, I thought seven days would be plenty. It’s not. But it’s time to stop and get back to making some art (besides photographs, of course — I heard you photographers out there going “ahem”). I’ve got comics and illustration projects to do, and even though I could fill another seven days regaling you with the beauties and curiosities of our coast, and reliving it myself, it’s time to get back to normal life.

So for the last post, I’ll take you with me on a short hike along part of the Wild Pacific Trail, with just a few words from me to share the experience. Please check out the official website for the trail; their photos are much better than mine!


I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do any of the trail. It was our last full day there, and I had had to bail out of a couple of beach hikes that I had really wanted to go on because of pulling a muscle in my knee a few days before. But we had taken my 80-year-old Mom on this hike a few years ago, and I figured if she could do it, so could I (thanks, Mom, you’re an inspiration!). I got out my hiking poles, wrapped my knee, and announced myself game, at least for the first section of the hike.


The loop that we chose was the one that goes past the Amphitrite lighthouse; the deal was that I would turn back there if I felt I couldn’t make it all the way around, and as it turned out, that’s what we did; the others went on, hiking about twice as far as I would in retracing our route. That allowed me to “dawdle” (as someone phrased it) and take lots of photos, and allowed them to power on around the peninsula. Everyone was happy, and the timing was right — they made it back just before I did.


One of the first things we came to as we were walking in was this odd pole, stuck in the ground just off the path, with scads of locks hung on it. I don’t know the significance of this; I prefer to think that is is some kind of symbolic declaration of spiritual or mental freedom.


As I followed my friends, who were visibly hanging back to accommodate my injury, I didn’t have time to get out my camera much. So when the time came to part at the lighthouse, it was like the start of the journey for me. I poked around there, trying different angles with my camera. I also found this sign interesting, and have cropped it down so you can read it too. You can skip down if you’re not the sort that likes to stop and read all the roadside history plaques…

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I didn’t climb the steps this time up to the lighthouse; I was rationing my knee for the trip back.


The path is a good one, and well maintained. The twisty trees bear witness to the force of the winds along this coast. We were fortunate to have such a beautiful day; most times I’ve hiked this trail, it’s been wet and windy (but still gorgeous).


It would be impossible for me to get down those rocks (and besides, you’re supposed to stay on the trail), but I longed to go look in those tidepools and protected shallows.


Thick hedges of salal edged parts of the trail, making it look like a cultivated garden in places. You can see the sculpting of the wind on some of the trees leaning over the curve of the path.


The path-building itself lends itself to garden ideas; the path in front of our house needs similar shoring up around the huge sword ferns that border it. Have to see if I can find the right piece of driftwood!


This tree was dead, but it had obviously fought a hard battle with the elements during its lifetime.


Looking out across Barkley Sound, the entrance to the Alberni Inlet. All those little islands are called the Broken Islands, and are the central of the three units of the Pacific Rim National Park; Long Beach unit is to the north of it, and is where we spent much of our two weeks, and the West Coast Trail is to the south of it. Across the water is the small and very charming town of Bamfield, which can only be reached by boat or logging road, and is somewhere I’d like to go and stay on another adventure. I took the ferry down there on a one day trip three years ago (has it really been three years?!?) that you can read about here. Maybe time to take advantage of those October ferry sale tickets again.


Another quiet inlet (at least on such a nice day). As you can see, those logs must have been lifted up there somehow.


More evidence that all is not always tranquil in these woods.


This is, after all, a rainforest, and moss is abundant. When a tree dies (or sometimes before), it becomes support and food for other organisms.


This dead branch didn’t even wait to fall to the forest floor before sprouting its own little habitat.


The salal here is particularly green and lush.


The berries were coming ripe, a favourite of bears — and hikers. I always munch a few for the taste of them, but since I don’t need them for a food source, I leave most of them for the wildlife. Besides, they have, er, a lot of fibre.

Still munching my woodland treat, I arrived back at the car, rather sore in my gimpy knee, but feeling well exercised and glad I’d done it. The next morning, we bundled up our camp and headed back to Victoria. I always feel like I leave a part of me behind after a trip to the coast; I hope I won’t have to wait a whole year until I can rejoin that little wisp!

This is the last of seven posts; here are links to the rest of them:
Beaches, Surf Huts, and Palazzos, (about the beaches of Pacific Rim National Park) Glamping for the Impecunious (glamping is glamour camping), Total Fun with a Partial Eclipse (which kind of says it all), Life Between Rock and Sea (about tidepools), and All Washed Up — On the Sand (seaweed, seashells, jellyfish, and mysteries), and An Aquarium Photo Safari (the Ucluelet Aquarium).

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