Having left the east coast of Vancouver Island we wandered our way west to Tofino and the Pacific Rim Temperate Rain Forest… probably not a good choice if you are claustrophobic. Trees crowd in oppressively. You are very small, and national park signs warn of predatory wildlife to include black bears, cougars, and wolves. Signs encourage us to be Bear Aware.
Tofino was our destination, and we were delighted with our huts directly on the beach. The tide comes in… the tide goes out. When the tide goes out, those on the beach pilgrimage out on a sand bar to the rocks beyond. The water is seriously cold – so cold that it becomes difficult to walk on the blocks of ice that were once your feet. The sand is fine – so fine that it feels a bit like talcum powder.
One of the highlights of Tofino was discovering the work of Roy Henry Vickers. His gallery on Main Street welcomes you with not only his artwork but also, for each work of art, his reflections on the source of his inspiration, enhance the viewer’s enjoyment. I was particularly taken with his picture of a pregnant sea lion, but reading his commentary about the birth of his art and the creative process really appealed to me because as a writer, I find that sometimes the writing is almost instantaneous and other times a seed germinates over years. My creative friends might also enjoy his comments on “Sealion Mother.”
Working our way south from Tofino we stop again and again to check out the trails wending through the forest to the dramatic coastline where sandy beaches give way to volcanic rock and surf. It seems like every other car has a surfboard on its luggage rack, and the owner of every surfboard has not been brought low by thoughts of career advancement or mortgage payments. After years of living in a town that is mostly retirees, I find it refreshing to see the young and restless in the pursuit of one big wave.
Driftwood lies jumbled on the beach, and man-made, driftwood structures line the shore and serve as windbreaks. The structure pictured above is particularly interesting: most people limit themselves to a tepee sort of structure, but in this case, the builder built several rooms with care. Apparently all the logs on-offer take grown men and women back to their Lincoln Log days. On the beach, far from pending deadlines and ticking time-clocks, they recall/relive more innocent days when their only task was leave home and follow mothers’ admonition to “return in time for dinner.”
British Columbia has done a great job at protecting the forest floor. Steps, absolutely beautiful steps, take tourists from the parking lots through the forest and down to the coast. We cross ravines and creeks and sometimes, actually walking in the tree canopy, we cannot see the forest floor. Trees in the Old Growth forest are truly impressive. Some are over 1,000 years old, and the Ancient Forest Alliance and the BC Big Tree Registry, keeps score. The Tolkien Giant, for example, is the 9th widest red cedar in B.C., and is 47 feet in circumference and 138-feet tall.
Given that the average 87-inches of rain a year, the forest floor is fragile. There is no telling what you will step on. I love the following photo that I took of a pile of Leopard slugs. Mark’s comment was, “It’s a slug fest!”
I’ve been really impressed with British Columbia’s acknowledgement of their First Nations people. Native arts and crafts are widely celebrated and their mythologies are prominently displayed.
That’s it for today. I can’t begin to fit it all in.