BC - Vancouver Island Part 3 - Pacific Rim National Park
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Pacific Rim National Park lies along the beautiful western shore of Vancouver Island. With boardwalks through the temperate rain forest and long deserted beaches with the blue Pacific rolling in, we experienced BC at its best.
|Day 4 - We had arrived in Ucluelet the day before and gotten an introduction to the area along the Wild Pacific Rim Trail. The day had ended with a spectacular sunset, so we were hoping for a good weather day for a hikes in Pacific Rim National Park. When we awoke a fog made visibility very low. By the time we left Little Harbor Inn Motel, it had risen off the ground and low wispy clouds obscured the mountains across Ucluelet harbor.
The rocks were covered with seaweed and small kelps, mussels and limpets. We stepped carefully over the slippery rocks, investigating the tidal pools left by the receding tide. Fresh sea water spilled into the pools as the surf rolled up the rocks. In rocky pools that still held water, green anemones waved their tentacles to catch passing food. Orange and purple starfish clung to the sides of the rock, squeezing into the precious remaining space that was kept wet by the waves. We went around the edge of the shore to see where the surf beat against the coast in winter. The jumble of large boulders testified to the violence of the winter storms.
We returned to the fork and took the other option. The trail ended at the southern end of Big Beach, a miles long beach of fine brown sand with an ever so gentle slope to the ocean. Waves rolled in for hundreds of meters - so much different than the steep beaches of the East Coast, where waves curl quickly and break hard. Here the foamy heads of the waves rolled gently into the beach. With the early morning sun behind us, our shadows stretched out over the smooth sand.
We headed up the road to Wickanish, a long beach where the Visitor Center for Pacific Rim National Park is located. The center held displays of native people culture, whale bones and ocean life displays. Out on the beach a large group of high school kids off an excursion bus was standing in a huddle on the beach. Large cedar logs covered the high tide line. The native people reserve lay to the south of the Visitor Center with a trail to South Beach, a protected shore where log canoes once launched. On the steep beach of polished stone, we found a bank of foam churned up by the waves from the tannin stained water along the shore. The surf was mild this day, but the rocks and shore spoke of the heavy surf that even this protected beach sees during the winter. On the way out of the area, we stopped at a circular boardwalk trail through a bog. Like many high latitude or high altitude bogs, this one was filled with stunted and twisted trees, thick peat and carnivorous plants.
We finished our day by returning to Blueberries for another delicious meal, which I topped with the largest slice of chocolate cake I have ever been served. Fortunately Julio helped out with it, but we still couldn't finish it.
We finished our day hikes with two boardwalk hikes deep in the uncut rain forest and in a recovering forest. Among giant red cedar and hemlocks, the climax forest under story was sparse in the dark, tall tree dominated section. Over in the cut forest, fir trees flourished on the edge of the clear cut, while more mature trees and finally some giants remained in the stream valley. The feel of the two sections of the forest, so physically close to each other, was so vastly different.
Next ............ kayaking in Ucluelet