And Northern Vancouver Island
I had read about cape scott and the remote wilderness at the very northern end of vancouver island years ago when we lived here, but we could barely keep the bus running long enough to get to the island, much less attempt such a long drive into remote wilderness. We found a few days and decided to make a run at it. We loaded up both dogs (Chad and Jess were out of town, so we had Winston in tow). and hit the road for the ferry.
Remote might be an understatement in this case. Even when we fueled up (gas for the van and a few crab for us) in the last town before beginning the several our trek on dirt logging roads, the attendants looked at us like we were crazy for heading to cape scott. You’d think the road had just been finished or we were the first ones to attempt the journey. it wasn’t and we weren’t, but was certainly a long drive down bad roads before we even got close to our destination.
We had read enough ahead of time to know that this is both bear and wolf country, and that there have been plenty of issues lately, so we would only be allow on one beach within the park with Karma…but that one beach looked epic enough we didn’t think we’d be complaining.
Between driving and ferries, it was a good 12+ hours from the time we left our spot in the city before we first pulled into cape scott. We were pretty late in the day and knew we didn’t have time to make the backpack into the beach and setup camp, so instead we drove out looking for a place to sleep in the “steel tent”. We drove up and down 3 or 4 different logging roads until they ran out but finally stumbled upon a step embankment off the side of a badly rutted road that would give us a mountaintop view out over the ocean.
We stop for a moment to be thankful yet again for the 4×4 and scale the embankment to our campsite for the night. As it turned out, not only did we have a great view out to the ocean in the distance as a backdrop for our sunset crab dinner, but also had a perfectly clear night to watch the meteor shower happening overnight. We sat in our camp chairs leaning back as far as possible without tipping over and sipped tequila well into the night Ooo-ing and Aaah-ing as meteors criss-crossed the sky until we simply couldn’t keep out eyes open any longer and crashed in the van. Were it not for the ample reading about bears and wolves we would have simply slept under the stars trying not to miss any of the show.
In the morning we had breakfast and loaded our backpacks before and backtracked down our logging road towards cape scott, where we geared up and hit the trail for St Josefs beach. Feels a bit odd backpacking through dense rainforest and then spilling out onto a hot sunny beach with some of the finest sand we’ve ever seen, but we certainly weren’t complaining.
We walked down the beach until we picked out the perfect spot for lunch, hung a hammock and ate in the shade of a giant boulder. We changed into bikini and swim trunks and set out barefoot to explore every inch of these beautiful beaches lines in broken rocky islands.
At some point we had to turn back, fearing that we couldn’t return to out gear after high tide (which i found to be true later when i scrambled up a trail looking for the perfect photo and had to wade back in water up to my navel).
We could have played on these beaches for weeks…especially the often photographed sea stacks here, which sat just 30meters from where we setup camp for the night.
We had read about how treacherous the weather is almost all year here, and expected the west but somehow ended up with blue skies, strong sun and our biggest concern over the next few days was probably a sunburn over anything else.
We eventually gave up on getting better photos (and ran out of water), so we backpacked back to the van and made the long drive back south to the middle of the island. Luckily, we had plenty of time to meander back to the mainland, so we explored al the small seaside towns and fishing villages along the way and even sought out a waterfall or two before setting up camp in a dense forest just before dark.
In the morning we decided to treat ourselves again and visited canada’s #1 spa resort for some massages and time in the mineral pool. We seem to have started a trend we aren’t yet willing to give up…especially when we drive away feeling so relaxed, refreshed and centered as we did from this trip!