Tofino, British Columbia

‘One touch of nature makes the whole world kin’-William Shakespeare.

Photo album of a two night visit to Tofino, on the West Coast of British Columbia.

This is just a small selection of photos from far too many I took. We just got back from Tofino and I’m already missing the rhythmic sound of ocean waves at night, the cool damp air, the mulchy squish of forest floor underfoot. No traffic (I realized the constant sound of traffic makes me angry). Surfers braving the frigid water. A fireplace to read by as we sprawled out on the sofa in our cosy suite. Spray from blowholes off the shoreline indicating the presence of whales. Wolf and bear territory. Nature.

Kelp on Long Beach, Tofino

Kelp on Long Beach

Sea vegetation, Mackenzie Beach, Tofino

Sea vegetation, Mackenzie Beach

Sea anemone, Mackenzie Beach, Tofino

Sea anemone, Mackenzie Beach

Tree lichen, Tofino

Tree lichen

Driftwood, Chesterman Beach, Tofino

Washed up tree rolling around in the waves at Chesterman Beach

Author at work taking photos

Sneaky shot of me by Scott

photo of photograher poring over camera

And I took a sneaky one of him!

shorebirds on Long Beach

Shorebirds on Long Beach

Seagull flying, Long Beach

Seagull in flight, Long Beach

Beach and sky merge, Long Beach, Tofino

In the other direction beach meets sky, Long Beach

Evening sun at Long Beach, Tofino

Late afternoon at Long Beach

surfers, Long Beach, Tofino

Low-key surfing as the sun sinks, Long Beach

Taking photos of waves at Florencia Beach, Tofino

Taking photos at Florencia Beach. Photo by Scott

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The Wild West Coast

Recently we hopped onto a ferry and drove for three hours on a low-key, beautifully scenic route (once out of any major cities or towns) past stately Cathedral Grove – location of towering old growth trees – to Tofino on Vancouver Island’s Pacific coast. I’d booked us three nights at a local hotel so that we could enjoy a small break from our busy schedules and listen to the uninterrupted sound of the ocean, the wind and the rain. We went with books (no bikes this time) our cameras and with the intention of long walks on the beaches and in the forest. Tofino is renowned for its rainfall but as it turned out we caught it at a time of lovely balmy temperatures and some gorgeous sun that intermittently made an appearance.

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Mackenzie beach

It doesn’t seem to matter whether the sky is blue or a moody shade of grey, every incarnation seems to suit the environment. The surfers didn’t seem to mind either as they made their way in and out of the frigid waters. Perhaps the most popular beach with tourists and surfers alike is Long Beach, located in Pacific Rim National Park itself (the town of Tofino is outside the border of the park). The always cold ocean means wearing a wetsuit year round….

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Every night we heard the ocean crashing on the beach below our open bedroom window. One of those nights I woke up to light edging around the curtains and quietly got out of bed to look out at the moon reflecting perfectly off the waves. Each day we walked and walked, ate, drank some wine and read.

We roamed from the openness of the beaches to the confinement of the rainforest walks with their remnants of ancient old growth cedar and Douglas fir trees. The forest is full of seen and unseen life amidst the decaying mulch, yet unlike the constant roar of the ocean the forest is eerily quiet, interrupted by the occasional sound of birds, a singular rather lonely sounding frog (it’s not the mating and breeding season when they’re usually in full croak) and the dripping of water from leaves after a night of pouring rain.

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Boardwalks protect the delicate forest floor.

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Glistening, preternatural fungi

Glistening, preternatural fungi

It’s a beautiful area, and still wild in places. Bears, cougars, wolves, a variety of birds, orcas, fish and sea lions are some of the species that make the area home…. we saw evidence of a bear on one of the forest walks near the water. Fishy-smelling droppings (very fresh) and further on another pile, this time full of berries. We left the bear to his or her peace and moved on to a totally deserted bog walk, completely different, just a few minutes from the forest. Acidic soil and a lack of nutrients means that the only trees that grow here are Shore Pines, stunted and gnarled….

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The start of the West Coast Trail begins in the region, a trail that sounds fantastically challenging and which seems to produce many injured hikers every season. It passes through First Nations territories that have been occupied for thousands of years and has a fascinating past as a life saving trail for shipwreck survivors and rescuers.

For the first time I did consciously think of the dangers of tsunamis, with local sirens and notices along the highway advising when you are ‘now entering’ and ‘now leaving’ the tsunami hazard zones (i.e down hills and up again). It didn’t detract from our enjoyment, rather it enhanced the sense of how vulnerable this low-lying region is, and how truly wild the west coast could be, even when it looks so benign.

Long Beach

Long Beach

 

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