Wow, did we do it today. We drove two and a half hours on a really bad gravel road, hiked for five minutes, then drove two and a half hours back on the same road. The road got more and more desolate and more and more narrow as we drove and it had signs in some places (Be Prepared for the Unexpected – yikes!) that could have easily thrown less foolhardy people into a panic. The biggest danger was not the bears or cougars that live in Cape Scott Provincial Park, but the logging trucks that came barreling down the road from the opposite direction. Nerve wracking? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.
It was worth it because of what we did when we weren’t hiking and weren’t driving. They say that Cape Scott, located on the extreme northwest tip of Vancouver Island, has some of the most wild scenery and weather in the world. We knew that was true because we’d been there before and weren’t disappointed. So today we went to a new place and spent the whole afternoon at a spectacular beach right on the Pacific Ocean called Cape Palmerston. Not exactly a beach but instead a “cape” (rounded point on the ocean), Cape Palmerston is an outdoor lover’s paradise. It is located just outside the southwest border of Cape Scott, but close enough to be a thrill for us. As we hiked through thick rain forest, I couldn’t imagine what we would find. But what we found was amazing.
The trail opened up suddenly onto a gorgeous scene, the actual wide open Pacific. No bays here, no “close to” the ocean. This was it, next stop Japan. The rocky beach itself was small, but greatly expanded because it was low tide. The first thing you saw after the trees was water, but the next thing was driftwood. Tons of it! More than we had ever seen before or might ever see again. It came in every shape and size and configuration and poor Jim had to tote back several pieces, keep them in the truck and now has the job of varnishing them as soon as they dry out. What are we going to do with them? Who knows, but it doesn’t matter. Maybe I’ll just look at them for a couple of months and then deposit them on another beach. Doesn’t matter but it sure makes me happy.
In addition, huge headlands were visible on either side of the small beach, making exploring a joy. The headlands consisted of giant black rocks that were completely covered during high tide. But now, there they were, waiting for us to climb on them. First we went to our right and found all kinds of inlets and creeks and back routes behind the rocks that got us to another small beach. After coming back from that, we went left, intending to eat our lunch as far out on the rocks as we could and watch for whales. Wow, what a climb that was. The route and every step had to be carefully planned out so as not to end up in a tide pool, in seaweed up to your knees or on rocks from which you couldn’t go any further. At times, it was like climbing a mountain and required both feet and hands to get you where you wanted to go. But finally we were at the top of a very big (house size) rock, looking out at the beautiful Pacific Ocean in all its glory.
And then it was time to go back. Good thing, because I was getting a stiff neck from turning around and looking for bears, knowing that we really had no good escape route. I sure wasn’t running back over those rocks when I could barely climb over them. So back we went, but now it was raining and the rocks were not only difficult (think rock climbing for retirees) but also wet and therefore slippery. Slowly, slowly, don’t break a leg and quit looking back for Smokey the Bear. Relax. Enjoy. Ahhh, there’s the beach. Phew.
And then the two and a half hour ride back. Cape Scott had once again lived up to its reputation, but I don’t think we’ll go back for a few years. Too much else to do on this island and in the world. And tomorrow, onto Telegraph Cove where the whales are congregating and waiting for us. Can’t wait.