And southern Vancouver Island
Jess’ birthday was quickly approaching and the gang decided to hit Tofino for a few days of beach and surf to celebrate the big day. We had already made plans in portland for sunday, and despite the fact that we knew it meant a long tedious drive back on sunday we opted in (saying no to fun events isn’t really in our new lexicon). We did however head out of town a few days early in the hopes of exploring the southern part of the island that we haven’t yet seen.
We pulled off the ferry and for the first time turned south toward victoria. A quick drive later we pull into the city and started exploring…mostly near the waterfront as we always find ourselves most drawn to whatever water source there is in any location. The wharf here is a really cool combination of food/drink establishments merged with the boat docks and rows of tiny floating homes that are apparently all filled with full time residents. Very cool, and we were wishing everyone was there and opened there doors for us to check out the inside of their cool small homes (we spend so much time when at home opening our doors to strangers that we sometimes forget that not everybody wants dozens of strangers walking in their front door and looking around).
We ate some fish and chips and watched as the kids tossed fish heads into the mouths of awaiting harbor seals…clearly the rules of not feeding the wildlife don’t apply here, but they were pretty cute (the seals, not the kids teasing them with heads of dead fish).
After we got our fill we headed on around the southern tip of the island towards sooke. A quick drive through E Sooke showed us immediately how gorgeous the views were we had coming over the next few days. We hiked around the park for a while and snapped photos as we went. The wether kept teasing us with flashes of rain and the lighting was horrible, but the rocky craggy fingers of land reaching out to sea were too good for us to trap ourselves in the van.
Up around the west side of the island was sooke and an array of great hikes with beautiful beaches, landscapes and views, some with gorgeous rock formations, somme with waterfalls selling directly onto the beach and some with both. Sandcut beach has a very cool sliver of rock that projects out over the beach and spills three different waterfalls directly onto the sand, where it disappears into the earth and somehow makes its way out to the ocean.
I had stumbled upon images of sombrero beach and the hidden waterfall there and we weren’t leaving this are or this beach before we found it, but we (of course) chose the wrong direction open arriving to the beach and hiked a few slow hours in the beautiful but precarious riverrock that lines this beach in the opposite direction of the waterfall, which would have been fine were it not for the torrential downpour and the slippery rocks.
At one point after we turned around we had to take a section of the Juan de Fuca trail and found the sloppiest, muddiest trail we’ve ever seen, which had us scrambling straight up and down several times before spilling back out onto the beach and I can’t even imagine how long it must take to make any distance along this trail with a backpack on…much less in any season with worse weather or more rain. We finally made our way back to our starting point, discussed heading for the van but decided we couldn’t possibly get any wetter- and continued on in our pursuit.
A few minutes later were scrambling up a stream, literally walking with our already cold feet in the freezing water of the stream when we round a corner and both of our jaws drop. I even knew what was coming and the impossibly bright emerald canyon walls flying up on both sides of us and highlighting the slender waterfall at the other end still elicited a “wow” from my lips before i even realized i was saying it. We scrambled the rest of the way through the canyon and stood a few feet from the base of the falls but dripping from the constant spray of mist trapped in the narrow walls of the canyon.
Photos simply don’t do this place justice and we would have stayed and played all day were it not for fear of hypothermia. We walked back to the van drenched and shaking from the cold… but as with the rest of our trips the van quickly provided a dry safe haven to change into warm clothes and heat up as we drove on to the next beach hike.
A harsh contrast to our days in the bus, where we would have climbed rapidly back in the bus only to find water running down the dash, a small waterfall trickling inside the cargo doors and a stack of clothes that were probably only slightly less damp than the ones we were peeling out of. Do we miss VW culture, yes. Do we miss our VW…sadly, but truthfully…no, we don’t.
We drove away still talking about the beauty of everything we had just seen and somehow drove right past several other beaches and hikes we had planned on hitting along the way… i guess its a given we’ll be returning before too long to keep checking things off our list.
Instead, we drove up and around back toward Tofino, where our friends would be joining us the following day. Sunset was approaching, but we chose to drive south to Ucluelet…also uncharted territory for us and we drove around getting a feel for the place and looking for camping (which doesn’t exist), so we ended up grabbing a happy hour meal and martini at one of the resorts and stealth camping nearby.
In the morning we explored several portions of the wild pacific trail, which winds its way around Uclulet and the southern point of this peninsula. Such a feast for the eyes, and we couldn’t help but think how luck the residents are who wake up every morning to walk or log around the trail or grab their easel to setup and paint the epic views from one of many outlooks built for just such a reason.
The rocky outcroppings, wild ocean and curved windblown trees here make every single viewpoint a perfect view thats both photo and painting worthy and had me craving a canvas and brush of my own. Seems all the beauty we’ve been taking in lately has me looking to create some art…so we’ll see where that leads. Can’t say I’ve felt that draw since we stopped for a month in mexico so i could paint and we could work on our surfing skills (i created a few paintings, but the flat pacific ensured we drove away with no more wave prowess than when we arrived).
We eventually ripped ourselves away and headed from tofino to check into the cabin our friends rented and prep the place for their arrival. the place turned out to be perfect. Something I would like to think I would have designed if given the right client. I even found myself snapping photos of every room to use as examples for clients who want my opinion on style, materials and finishes. To whoever built this tiny vacation home…well done!!
Our friends all trickled in off of various ferries and driving times across the island and we enjoyed a wonderful, stress free weekend of lounging, relaxation and enjoying each others company. A rather surprising feat when you factor in a gathering of 12 people and 8 dogs.