Hot stuff

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

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Sunday, October 4, 2009

The glorious sun continued and we had another wild excursion. Our goal this time was to get to the hot springs north of Tofino.  We selected the most intrepid company, which promised the possibility of seeing a whale or two on the way.  I'm never one to pass up the chance to see a whale.  Our first viewing was a pair of grey whales, which appeared to be hunting.

Seeing the grey whales was neat, but they were far less visually exciting than humpbacks or sperm whales.  The sea otters were a different story.  We came across a small raft of animals.  They floated on their backs in that characteristic pose, or peered up as us from the water.  With their whiskers, they looked like little old men of the sea. The otters were curious creatures.  They didn't seem worried by us, and went about their business.  They dived for fish, their tails flicking up into the air as they disappeared under the surface. When they decided it was time to take a break from their exertions, they would flip onto their backs again, gently floating with their paws sticking out of the water.

The rocks at the hot springs formed natural hot tubs.  The water from the springs trickled in a steaming stream through successive pools until they met the ocean.  Just find a rock pool you like, and soak.  My favourite was at the ocean's edge.  I sat in the pool and let the hot water trickle down my back.  Every so often one of the icily cold waves would crash over the rocks, flooding our pool.  Half hot, half cold, it felt wonderfully unreal.  Then the wave would subside, and the pool would warm up again, until the next wave broke. I left the safety of that last pool, and sat where the hot stream met the North Pacific.  The water from the springs took the chilly edge off the ocean, which sent in gentle wavelets.   However, occasionally the waves would build themselves up into a big surge, full of the frigid power of the Pacific Ocean, threatening to sweep me off my perch and giving me a chilly shock.  Then the waves would calm down, and the delicious spring water would take effect once again.  And if I got too cold, I could always retreat to the hot pools!

On our return journey to Tofino, we sighted more whales.  A pair of humpbacks this time.  One began lob tailing, slapping the sea with its tail in a loud and powerful explosion of water. This behaviour is apparently intended to frighten fish into forming a tight shoal, making it easier for the whale to then sweep through and devour them.  I can imagine it being successful.  I don't fancy getting too close to an adult humpback that is thrashing its tail about. 
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