Tagged with " Tofino & Ucluelet"
Feb 2, 2010 -

Hot Springs Cove

Well, I just had a completely unexpected amazing day. The wonders of this life never cease.

This morning, I slept in until 9:30 and was enjoying a leisurely breakfast when the manager of the hostel came to me and said that a tour company was trying to put together a trip to Hot Springs Cove and needed one more person to go. Would I be interested for the special rate of $84, taxes included?

Research about this day trip put the cost at close to $150, way out of my price range for this weekend. But $84? When else would I get to stay in Tofino for $20 a night and get to go to the Hot Springs for $84? Never.

So, my plans for the day changed very quickly!!! I only had a half hour to make a lunch (thankfully I had bought supplies last night) and come up with suitable attire since I hadn’t brought a bathing suit (I settled on pyjama shorts and a camisole!). I only had flip flops, which I was warned weren’t going to work out there, so I decided to just go barefoot. The hostel offered to lend me a towel so I wouldn’t have to dirty mine.

The hot springs are located on Vancouver Island, but are only accessible by boat and float plane. Here’s a map:

We went around the other side of Florence island to get to the cove, but came back on the side where you can see the arrows. (Picture from http://www.risingsunkayaks.com/images/Clayoquot/mapclayoquot.jpg)

The boat ride is one to one and a half hours each way, then there is a two kilometre walk up and down a boardwalk to get to the spring. It’s therefore a full day excursion.

We were only four today and everything was in our favour. The smaller group and time of year meant a more leisurely pace, we had the springs to ourselves, and the weather cooperated.

While whales can often be seen on these trips, this was the wrong time of year for that. All we saw were groups of sea otters bobbing on their backs waving their paws at us. Too cute!

The walk through the springs is through the rainforest. We had fun looking at the planks underfoot since they all had the names of ships (why, I didn’t quite catch). At one point, I spotted a board for the Stornoway and dryly commented that it must be the official boat of the opposition. A beat passed and then peals of laughter could be heard ahead of me. I love it when I make a funny. 🙂

The hot springs are nothing like those at Liard, where the springs are highly accessible pools. Here at Hot Springs Cove the springs are completely natural. You have to clamber down rocks and stake a claim in a comfortable spot if you can find one. I hunkered down in one ‘deep’ spot where I could at least be covered to my shoulders while the other lady on the trip preferred to stand under the ‘shower’, while the men moved around.

One really neat thing about these extremely hot springs is that sea water comes up and floods them, so you get a mix of hot and cold water. High tide was coming as we were getting comfy and the waves of cold water coming at us grew larger and larger. At one point, a monster of a wave started to bear down on us. I had no where to go, so I just sucked in a huge breath, closed my eyes, and braced myself so I wouldn’t be slammed against the slimy rocks. A crushing wall of ice-cold water covered me and I just rode it out, figuring the water would subside. It didn’t, so I started to climb to the surface before I needed air. My group was concerned, but there was no reason for that, everything was under control. I am at my best in water, even in less than ideal circumstances.

We had about an hour in the water and twenty minutes or so to have a picnic lunch before we had to head back down to the boat.

Facilities at the Hot Springs include a toilet at both the dock and the springs, as well as large changing rooms. There was no place to store valuables, which was fine today but would have sucked on a day with tons of people there. I can’t even fathom that place overrun with people; it must be so dangerous! Good, waterproof footwear would make the experience more fun, but bare feet are fine if you’re careful and not in a rush.

The weather was so warm that coming out of the springs with bare wet shoulders was no hardship. We did the trip in a covered and heated boat, but the few times I stepped onto the deck for pictures, I was struck by how comfortable we were; I’ve been colder in the middle of San Francisco Bay in late June. We had rain coming into the cove, but nearly clear weather coming out.

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Feb 2, 2010 -

Tofino

I’m not sure what to say about Tofino as it really hasn’t made much of an impression on me. It’s a small village of some 1,600 souls which exists at the terminus of highway four (the Pacific Rim Highway). It attracts surfers, nature lovers, and artists. Coming into town, I felt like I was in southern California (Huntington Beach, especially) since every other car had a surfboard strapped to its roof. The main reason to come to Tofino in winter is to see the storms.

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Feb 2, 2010 -

Tofino Evening

I returned home, sopping wet, mid-afternoon changed into dry clothes, and had a late lunch as I uploaded my pictures. That done, it was still too early for dinner, but I was very sleepy, so I decided to head out and see if there were any shops open

Tofino is incredibly compact, so everything is within walking distance. ‘Downtown’ comprises about four square blocks. There is a street called ‘Main’ but the real main street is Campbell Street. I strolled down it until I came to the Mermaid Tales bookshop which had lights blazing. I spent about a half hour browsing the small selection of quality books. I really don’t like to spend full price on books, but having worked in the book business I know how tough it is for independents to compete against the big chains. So, I bought a reasonably priced novel before heading back out; the cashier (possibly the owner?) thanked me for supporting the shop.

I’d been told that the Dockside Pub, on the edge of town, as good nightly specials. I wish I’d known about them last night since they had an all you can eat salmon buffet for only $16. Tonight’s special was $6 burgers (veggie or beef) and $3.50 sleeves. A veggie burger sounded good and would have been a nice frugal dinner, but it sounded so mundane. I decided that I could afford one nice meal on this trip and splurged on the ‘caramelized bourbon salmon’, served with a basmati/wild rice mixture and a nice serving of grilled veggies for a very reasonable $17. Add the sleeve (which turned out to be a wonderful Okanagan pale ale) and a 20% tip and the meal came to an acceptable $27. The salmon was sooooo delicious. 🙂 After seeing the outrageously priced offerings of the other more visible restaurants I was especially grateful to find this place.

Coming home, I stopped at the Co-Op to get lunch fixings for tomorrow and a pint of ice cream for dessert (Ben & Jerry’s half-baked, for those curious about such things 😀 ).

I got in around 7 and planned to spend a couple of hours updating the blog, but I was interrupted by a German gal who had noticed my licence plate and wanted to know if I could tell her anything about Dawson. Much gabbing with her and another gal (the one who greeted me last night) ensued. 🙂

It’s now past eleven and quiet hour has started. Just about everyone has gone to bed but one of my roomies and me who are sitting in the atrium updating folks about our lives. I’m just about ready for a shower and then I’ll read a bit before retiring (all the bunks have a nightlight that doesn’t really illuminate the room).

Since I’ve exhausted my list of affordable things to do in winter in Tofino if you don’t surf, I will not be spending tomorrow in Tofino….

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