Giant trees, stone jumping and pristine beaches

Trip Start Sep 01, 2005
Trip End Sep 10, 2005

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Monday, September 5, 2005

We thought we'd make an early start, but breakfast turned into a friendly discussion on American vs Canadian politics. Then we decided to stop in Qualicum for groceries.

Our next B&B isn't a traditional B&B, it's a 2 bedroom apartment. Not knowing what the shopping situation is in Uclulet, we want breakfast supplies. The problem with shopping in an unfamiliar store, with a different variety of products, is that you tend to spend some extra time saying "hey look at this!" Well, we looked and ended up buying more than what we needed, but will eat anyway.

Qualicum is 87 miles from Ucluelet. The road thru the construction/logging/mountain areas can triple your drive time depending on the road conditions and the amount of haul vehicles.

 Our first stop is at Cathedrial Grove (or McMillians Cathedrial). Some of the trees here are over 800 years old and almost 30 feet in diameter. The first time we drove this road we almost were thru the end of the park until it hit us that darn these trees look big. Then we did a quick pull off and got out of the car to look and YEP these trees are huge. There wasn't a visitor center then. Just a sign. Now, still no visitor center, but they do have two pit toilets, which sometimes are very much welcomed.

Also added are two trails, one on each side of the road. On the westbound side of route 4 is a dirt trail. On the Eastbound side, a boardwalk trail - handicapped accessible. We decided to do the westbound today, and the eastbound on the return. The focus of the trail is on the trees. Old growth and new growth in natures environement. Your neck does get a little sore from looking up. But it was well worth it. Ironically, you are walking thru centuries old stands of trees, nature surrounds you, and at times, within 20 feet, the sound of logging trucks vibrate the ground as you watch them continue on their journey to the sawmills. Reality sucks.

Back in the car we are now driving up curvy windy sometimes gravel sometimes blacktop roads. We're anxious to get to our next stop that is not on the maps. We call it "Jump the rocks without falling into the water" You'll find it as you come down a hillside. Cars are parked usually on the right side of the road. If you see a car parked- slow down and find a spot.

There isn't a path, you have to scoot down the hill and find your own "path" thru the rocks. Or, like we and most people climbing over the rocks do - just jump across. Be careful with small children. Most of the rocks are two to three stories high. There are crevices between them. Some wide, some walkable or jumpable.

At the upper end of the rocks is a waterfall that tumbles over the hillside following a path of mini bolders on the way. At the lower end of the rocks is a steep drop off and a view to the mountains. 

Scrambling up the hill is sometimes worse than scrambling down. Back in the car we're headed for Ucluelet. We've never stoped here- always went straight thru to Tofino, so this is a first time for all of us.  

Our sight unseen 2 bedroom house looked great on the internet. Hot tub on the deck overlooking the bay, fireplace, and gourmet kitchen, large bathroom with antique claw foot bathtub. When we arrived the Raven's Nook gueshouse was a typical split level design. Owners were nice. The kitchen was under repair (and needed a LOT) of work. The hot tub was missing from the huge deck that did overlook the bay. We were told they were replacing it.

The fireplace looked nice, but we didn't need heat in the summer. The carpeting in both bedrooms was torn out, with some type of underlayment put down in its place. The bathroom was large, but the claw foot bathtub was made for baths, not showers, so the difficulty was keeping the thin shower curtain in the bathtub while you showered. Otherwise the floor was flooded, and the only place for the water to go was downstairs where the owners lived.

We decided we could live here for two nights without trouble, unpacked and headed into downtown Ucluelet not knowing what we would find.  Well, the first big bright spot on the horizon is an ice cream stand, which we will make use of at least twice before we leave. There are a lot of fishing charters in town. The Wild Pacific Trail is now on our hiking list. 

There's a huge ship docked in th harbor. It appears to be a smalll cruise ship. We go to inquire as I wouldn't mind cruising the back waters of Vancouver Island. We find out the Canadian Princess is a docked hotel. The boat doesn't go anywhere. Darn.

The grocery store is the co-op where you can buy food, sporting goods and a little bit of everything. We grab some milk and quick cook foods then head back to the house to drop them off before diving over to the Pacific Rim National Park.

Our first stop is at the Green Point Campgrounds. This is where the Ranger led programs are held. We get the schedule and decide on the indoor program for tomorrow night.

Now we can go down to Long Beach, one of the most scenic beaches in the world. We walk parts of the beach, climb some of the rocks and just breath in pure fresh air. The beaches are scattered with logs that have washed up on the sands. Eventually they are drug further back on the beach. We decide on a hike thru the forest.

It's down a long series of wooden steps. Some look good, some look a little rottern. The hike down is easy. We are on an isolated beach. Rocks and logs scattered and tossed haphazardly by the beating surf. This is what a natural pristine beach should look like. And we are the only four individuals on earth on this beach at this moment. What a feeling!

The hike/steps up the trail make us stop occasionaly for a breather. We keep looking behind us at the view. At the top we realize we have worked up enough of an appetite for dinner and head back to the house. After dinner we sit on the deck to watch the sunset then jump in the car for ice cream. Even though we are in a small development, it's quiet and restful, which gives us all a good nights sleep.                 
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