Well, I can scratch “Hiking in Pacific Rim National Park” off my bucket list….
When I was studying natural resources in college, many of my teachers were from out west and they regaled us with their tales of life on the ‘wet coast.’ I heard so many stories about Pacific Rim National Park and it just sounded so exotic, with its redwood stands and and moss-draped trees. I couldn’t imagine a scenario that could take me here, other than my doing so after retirement. I made up this vague plan of maximizing my time out west by doing the West Coast Trail and then taking the Inside Passage up to Skagway to do the Chilkoot. How narrow my vision was back then!
While I’m still interested in doing the West Coast Trail, a grueling 75km trek over beaches and through rain forest, I’ve pretty much conceded that the Chilkoot will be the one and only major hike of my life. My knees haven’t recovered from those brutal 50km and have been worse than ever. Before the Chilkoot, I hadn’t had a blowout in exactly two years; I’ve had three since getting back. My current job, with its 33 hours a week of standing on a hard surface combined with a lot of crouching isn’t helping, nor is the damp weather that always seems to make the swelling worse. It’s only because I’m accustomed to this grating pain that I can do any hiking, walking, or running for pleasure. Soon as I get my Yukon healthcare squared away, I’ve conceded that I need to have a professional take a look and perhaps prescribe a brace or other supporting device.
All that to say that when I looked at the list of trail options for today, I focused on doing the ones that didn’t seem to have too much climbing or descending, but I did end up doing quite a bit of both.
I warmed up with the Bog Trail, an easy (and wheelchair accessible) loop on a boardwalk through a bog filled with stunted and twisted shorepine trees, some hundreds of years old. They looked like bonsai, making me feel very small. It was otherworldly and immensely enjoyable.
Next came the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail and its offshoot, the South Beach Trail. The Ncn Is 2.5km one way; add about 400m to go to South Beach, too. There are interpretive signs which provide information about the local native culture. South Beach is an isolated, wind-swept cove with a pebble beach. I had intended to hike the Ncn both ways, but 99% of it is on boardwalks, which were impossibly slick. After a few near misses, I decided to just hike back via the road. By the time I got back to the car, I was soaked to the bone and very grateful there was some bread, cheese, peanuts, and a juicy apple waiting for me.
Next, I stopped at Long Beach, which is famous for being the longest stretch of surf swept sand on Vancouver Island’s west coast. Surfing here is quite dangerous because of rip currents.
My next stop wasn’t on my map, so I’m not sure what it’s all about other than it being called ‘Incinerator Rock.’ The view was spectacular!
Finally, I hiked the short, accessible, trail to the top of Radar Hill, which had been slated to be a radar installation during the Cold War. There is also a lovely tribute to those Canadians killed in the Korean War, erm ‘police action’ (*cough, cough*).
The Pacific Ocean looks nothing like the Atlantic. The water is more blue than grey, the sand more white than cream. I stood in the surf of several beaches today and was convinced that I could tell just by the sound of the surf which coast I was on.
The following picture gallery has more information on the trails I hiked today: