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August 25, 2005

Vancouver Island - Pacific Rim


On Vancouver Island the majority of the settlements and population are on the east side and in the south. To reach the Pacific you go directly across the Island including over some significant mountains.  We went only as far as Port Alberni on the first leg.  From there we visited Cathedral Grove, the location of some of the largest Douglas fir trees on the island, including one estimated at 800 years old.  To stand beneath these huge trees gives you an overpowering sense of awe.  The tree standing behind Bernie is the biggest in the grove!!

For the last month, one of the tastiest parts of this trip has been the blackberries.  They grow wild everywhere in the west.  We first encountered them in Oregon but they were still green.  However, as we gradually went north they ripened.  In Surrey, before the cruise, we had berries picked from bushes right beside our trailer.  I think however that Vancouver Island was the hands down winner as the berries were at their very peak when we were there.  They look like black raspberries, but are larger and have quite a different flavour.  They have to be really ripe or they are bitter and their canes have wicked thorns.  The campsite in Port Alberni had huge bushes right outside our door.  We had berries and ice cream every night, as well as picking and eating them right off the bushes.

IMG_3066_editedOn Wednesday, Aug 17th, we headed over the mountains to Ucluelet (u-clue-let), on the Pacific.  It had rained heavily during the night and we travelled with clouds hugging the mountains for a good part of the morning.  Once again we travelled on another very twisting, narrow road – this time with the trailer.   A lot of travel in the mountains follows river valleys, so although there are some grades, in general it is reasonably flat.  To get to the Pacific Ocean on the island, you have to actually go across the mountains.  The road, in a number of places, is cut right out of the side of the hill and is very narrow.  On a couple of the bends, we were glad that we didn’t meet anyone, as the rock hung out over the road and we were across the yellow line.

IMG_3111_editedAfter getting set up at the campground in Ucluelet, we headed to the Wild Pacific Trail which skirts the rugged west coast where the rain forest meets the headlands and beaches.

The headland here is very rugged and the waves are substantial, however August is one of the calmer months.  Apparently, this trail is one of the best for watching the winter storms.  We walked a 2.5 km trail which was among the most beautiful and dramatic we have seen on the whole trip. 

DSC_0051We had arrived at the trailhead at about 2:00 PM and could hear the fog horn as we arrived, even though as we walked through the woods to the ocean the sun was shining.  When we arrived at the first overlook, we found out why.  Off shore was a fog bank that was slowly moving toward shore.  As can be seen in the picture to the left, we watched a tug pulling a barge disappear.  The fog had finally closed in totally by about 4:00 PM.  When we talked to the staff at the Information Centre they said, “ Didn’t anyone tell you we call this Fogust, not August, on the coast?” 



The next day we visited Tofino on the north side of Pacific Rim National Park.  It’s an interesting town, but no more so than any number on quaint and unique towns we have seen on our travels.  It is the jump off point to visit the Clayoquot area. We did however visit Long Beach (yes, another one – I think this is our third this trip).  It is a wonderful stretch of white sand that is considered the surfing centre of Canada.  But – wear your wet suit –the water’s cold.  They even surf as the fog rolls in.

Friday, we headed back to the east coast of the island to Qualicum Bay, so that we could catch the ferry Saturday morning from Nanimo back to the mainland. 

We’ll write to you from over there.

Bernie & Ross



Posted by Ross at August 25, 2005 11:54 AM


Oh, you make me homesick, you are on my home turf. It truely, from my point of view is God's country.


Posted by: Mary Ellen Chambers at October 1, 2005 07:13 PM

Keep enjoying your beautiful pictures and comments about your trip. Sorry haven't replied sooner but we have been gone or had other things going on. Have a couple more of your journal entries to look at. Sincerely, Bette

Posted by: Bette Andrew at October 28, 2005 04:07 PM