Tagged with " Tofino & Ucluelet"
Feb 1, 2010 -

Hiking Near Tofino

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:

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British Columbia, Canada, Health, Personal, Travel, Weather    No Comments
Feb 1, 2010 -

A Tofino Morning

Quiet hour at Whaler’s on the Point starts at 11, so that’s when I shut off the computer and went up to have a shower. The showers here are very roomy and clean with good pressure. By the time I got back to the room, my two roomies were sound asleep, so I decided to turn in also. I can’t remember the last time I went to bed before midnight!

I had a pretty good night, even with one roomie snoring and there being a bright orange streetlight illuminating the room. I got up around quarter to nine and hiked down to the ‘Uncommon Bakery’ to get coffee since I hadn’t thought to bring my French press and own coffee supplies. A cup of joe was $1.75, and this with my bringing my own mug. Were my stay longer than a couple of days, I would have turned around and gone to the supermarket to get my own supplies.

virew from dorm room 'N', which is very similiar to the view from the atrium, directly below

Coffee in hand, I returned to the hostel to make breakfast and plan my day. There are numerous hiking options near Tofino, so I decided to spend my day exploring the trails. There weren’t really any other frugal options for today, with museums and shops being shut tight for the winter. I would have loved to take a cruise to Hot Springs Cove, but that’s something that my budget this week just can’t absorb. I’m just grateful to be in Tofino and getting a taste of the area.

Since all the hiking trails and beaches are located in Pacific Rim National Park, visitors require a day pass to use the facilities. At least, unlike Banff, you don’t need a pass to just drive through the park. A day pass is almost eight dollars, but the hostel rents them for just five dollars, so that was one more reduced expense.

There’s a small full-service ‘Co-Op’ grocery store in Tofino, so I stopped there to get snack materials, intending to return to the hostel for a late pasta lunch before going out for dinner at a restaurant on the edge of town offering good Monday night specials.

The sky was misting as I pulled out of Tofino and I knew that rain was forthcoming. I had brought my full rain gear, so I had no excuse not to get out into the rain forest and the beach even if spending the day by a hot fire with a good book sounded pretty appealing.

First stop, the Bog Trail…

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Jan 31, 2010 -

Whaler’s On the Point Guesthouse

Since I had no intention of driving Miranda to Tofino, I needed to find a place to stay. Research on my own revealed a serious lack of affordable options, so I turned to Trip Advisor. There, several people told me to check out Whaler’s On the Point Guesthouse, a hostel that is part of the Hosteling International system. The rates of $32 per night for non-members made the thought of sleeping in a dorm with strangers again quite palatable. But then I discovered that they have an amazing deal until February 11th: stay three nights (paid in advance) for just $60, taxes included! Staying three nights is feasible since I have four day weekends. Perfect!

When I found out about the deal, I emailed with the dates that I had off to ask if there was still space for those periods of time. My email was never answered. I called this morning before taking off and the guy pretty much brushed me off, telling me to ‘just show up’ and not even telling me that the office is closed from 2 to 4pm (thankfully I’d seen that on the website). So, I didn’t expect a warm welcome here, until I met the gal from Germany who checked me in. She was super helpful and patiently answered all my questions.

I haven’t hosteled since, oh, Chicago in 1999 I believe, and have only limited hosteling experience in Canada. So, don’t believe me, just believe the reviews, when I say that this is probably the nicest youth hostel in this country. It’s built like a mountain lodge, with lots of wood and stone. There is a lounge with a fantastic view of Clayoquot Sound and a huge, clean kitchen filled with everything you could need to cook. Some hostel kitchens in my experience are best avoided, but this one was a joy to cook in. I had packed a cooler this morning with vegetables and pasta sauce that would have spoiled by Thursday, so I made a big pot of that for dinner and will have left overs for two more meals.

There are quite a few people here, and my four-room dorm is full, but it’s definitely more relaxed than I imagine it would be in the summer time. Travel in the off season has its advantages.

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