Day 8 – Exploring the Island

Distance: 92 kilometres
Temperature: Low 14/High 24
Relaxation: Off the chart
Time spent adventuring: 9:30am-6:45pm

Today we took it cool and spent the entire day exploring the island between Tofino and Ucluelet. There’s certainly no shortage of things to do and see in the area. We stopped at many of the sights and beaches along the way.

First stop at Radar Hill was beautiful. You can see most of the Clayoquot sound area and the surrounding mountains from the viewpoint. It’s the site of an old distant early warning system from the cold war – the ‘pine’ line. I had no idea that this even existed. I was aware of the DEW line in the NWT but had no idea that there was another warning system for ‘imminent Russian attack’ during the cold war.

Our second stop was Schooner’s Cove for a short 2 kilometre hike and walk through the temperate rain forest down to the beach. Holy crap, there are some gigantor trees tucked away in this neck of the woods. The Sitka spruce of this region are in the neighbourhood of 800 years old – babies at the time of the end of the Crusades, nearly as old as Christianity – how’s that for old. They’ve been alive through most of our recorded modern history. In spite of many vehicles and people being around we saw very few today in our travels. This beach was very quiet, sheltered and we even had fog, or as Fiona likes to call it, ‘mist’ around.

Then another quick 1.5 kilometre hike along Comber Beach Trail. Another quiet walk through the trees and vegetation of the rain forest. This never gets old….

Hopped back on the bike for a short spin past Ucluelet and a hike from the lighthouse at Amphitrite around the Wild Pacific Trail and views of the Barkley Sound. You can see right across to Bamfield (which I went to in grade 12 biology class). We were there for low tide, so no crashing waves, but we still had plenty of sights and sounds. It’s a nice and not too difficult 5 kilometre loop that goes through rain forest, craggy windswept trees and along small secluded beaches. Well worth the journey.

We had superb, and reasonably priced, food at the Big Swell restaurant in Ucluelet. It was nice to sit out on the patio and eat local seafood burgers and wraps in the sunshine.

A couple quick stops for walks on the way back at the ‘rain forest’ trail – which was less impressive than the previous jaunts but still had some gargantuan spruce and cedar trees on the route. The last stop for about an hour was to relax on Long Beach to watch the surfers, beachcombers, wanderers and the tide slowly come back in to the beach. It really doesn’t get any better than this. I even helped perform oral surgery on a small female german shepard who had recently impaled itself on a piece of driftwood – my good deed for the day.

Still no firm plans for tomorrow. We’ll figure that out tonight before bed.

Wow. Today was another fantastic day. Trees, beach, trees, more beach, more trees, and not at all repetitive. We had a great time clambering around in the rainforest on the various trails, discovering lookout areas with fantastic views and watching the fog eat up the horizon every now and then. Most of the walks were really easy and accessible, and for the most part we encountered few people along the way. I don’t know if it’s a product of “The Recession” or what, but it hasn’t been the madhouse I expected here. The whole trip has been this way, really – not at all crowded. Fine with us!

We’ve been so lucky weather-wise, and today was no exception – Mike just told me that it got up to 21C today here, perfect for walking around and warm enough to really enjoy the beach when we decided to stop for a bit. We ended the day watching the surf roll in at Long Beach; it was nice to relax for a while and watch everyone enjoying the day. We saw people flying kites, dogs playing, kids running up and down the beach, surfers, sea kayakers, boogie boarders, and one guy who regularly wiped out trying to get his skipper board (or whatever those things are called) going in the shallow water.

Our original plan for the evening was to sneak down to the Dockside Pub across the way and eat dinner by the water, but they seem to have a pretty loud band going that’s been playing what sounds like the same song over and over for the last half hour, so we’re going to walk around Tofino and see if we can find somewhere to have a bite to eat. Even though the walks today seemed short, we’re both a bit tired – probably all that sun and fresh air. We’re both definitely feeling very relaxed, so no complaints there. I’m so glad we stopped for an extra day here – there are a whole list of places I’d love to visit next time: Half Moon Bay, the Wickaninnish Interpretive Centre, the other side of the rainforest walk, and more. Not to mention just vegging out in the sand for a while – I could work my way up the coast doing that, no problem!

As Mike wrote, we’re not sure what tomorrow holds for us. I’m sure it’ll be great, but at the same time I’m sad that after tomorrow comes Sunday and the trip home. I think I’ll go buy a lottery ticket and see if I can win and stay on vacation forever. Seems like a solid plan to me!

Update: We just got back from an amazing dinner – we splurged again on some amazing seafood at The Schooner restaurant. We each had the same thing again – The Mate’s Plate – which sounds kind of cheesy but was a seriously unbelievable selection of grilled seafood: scallops, prawns, halibut, salmon, and panko-encrusted oysters topped with wasabi, roe, and something else that tasted like heaven. We savored every bite. We’re both in agreement that splurging on dinner was more than worth it both  nights. I’m sure we’ll remember both for a really, really long time.