Caution! Bears crossing!

Trip Start Sep 23, 2009
Trip End Oct 09, 2009

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Thursday, October 1, 2009

We said goodbye to Jim's mum, then we drove to Nanoose Bay, where Jim and his boat Island Prism had started their round-the-world journey.  In the years since he left, the old beaver pond had gone, but wilderness was still close- a four prong buck gazed out at us from amongst autumn leaves in a back garden. We visited Schooner Cove marina, and then commenced the drive to the west of the island.

The journey proved to be an interesting one, with many distractions.  We drove through the mountains that form the spine of the island, studded with lakes and enrobed in thick forest.  Cameron Lake was said to be the home of a prehistoric monster- Nessie's cousin perhaps?  It was noticeably absent. On the shores of the lake was Cathedral Grove.  Nothing beastly here either- other than Jim, who was desperately in need of a hair cut.  We wandered amongst the twisting cedars, glimpsing views of the lake.  Life was everywhere, each fallen log was home to a score of plants growing out of it, feeding on its nutrients.  All was rich and green. Here, once again, we found the thick-barked Douglas firs, thrusting up into the canopy.  These ancient giants restricted the amount of light that reached the forest floor. Occasionally one of these giants gave in to the weight of centuries or the push of the wind and came smashing down.  Then the race was on as smaller plants gained light at last and began to fight upwards to fill the space.

The swirling mists and low clouds gave a mysterious edge to our journey through the mountains.  Who knew what was out there, under cover? Our musings were answered when we had to stop the car as a black bear nonchalantly strolled across the road, and vanished without trace into the vegetation.

We drove through Pacific Rim National Park, along Clayoquot Sound, and arrived at the town of Tofino.  Hippies, surfers and artists call the little town home, and it has a vibrant community peppered with art galleries and bakeries.  The sun came out and we were treated to an Indian summer.

Long Beach was a surfer's mecca.  The bleached driftwood piled up like bones along the shore attested  to the power of the waves.  The prevailing wind gave the trees and shrubs a distinctive wind-swept shape.  Bull kelp lay washed up along the shore, carried in by the pounding waves.  The sweep of sand carried on as far as the eye could see. 

It was not just the weather that was wild.  Signs at the car park warned of the presence of wolves in the area, rubbish bins were a no-no because of black bears, and the local hairdresser was forced to listen to his pet being torn apart by a cougar one night.  The wild things are not far away.

The driftwood piled along the high tide line had been put to some ingenious uses.  Some logs were simply laid out as seats.  Other enterprising souls had constructed shelters, huts and tipis.  Some even had little fences around the outside.  Surfers' shelters and hippy huts.  So very Tofino. As night fell, we retreated to our hot tub to watch the full moon rise.  Set into the forest, we could lie in the warm water and gaze at the changing colours of the sky and forest, from the golden glow of morning to cool purples at night. 
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