I’m re-blogging this Cape Scott ‘photo adventure’ post from my son Robin and daughter-in-law Nici’s blog (here) because the pictures are outstanding so I just HAD to share it! When my grown children go on these trips and blog about it, I feel like I’ve been there with them even though I’m thousands of kilometers/miles away. Also ‘along for the ride’ on this adventure at Vancouver Island, Canada was my other son and his wife. My two sons have always shared a lot of interests and experiences even though they are 11 years apart in age. They used to volunteer together at the Eastern Ontario Biodiversity Museum where they catalogued much of the ‘Carleton Collection’ when Rob was in University and my other son was a pre-teen. So it’s no surprise to me that they still hang out together usually in the wilds of British Columbia, now with their life partners.
Cape Scott by Nici
Nissen Bight sunset
At the longest time of the year, us four adventurers drive north on Vancouver Island until we can drive no more. We have reached Cape Scott park, a wild corner of the earth bursting with living things, and haunted here and there by the memories of old human settlements.
The Cape Scott trail winds through old growth forest over old log and plank roads and plenty a mud hole. The sides of the trail are strewn with ripe salmonberries on which we gorge as we walk.
We arrive at a private paradise – Nissen Bight. Salmon are leaping from the water, grey whales are a near constant presence, spouting and sporting in front of the beach.
The slanting evening sunlight brings everything alive with colour before painting it with shadows.
Robin rigs up a character-filled shelter to shield us and our worldly goods from the occasional rains.
This expedition is the first real test for our homemade rocket stoves – and they pass with flying colours. It is a joy to cook on the tame fires contained within the nested cans. A few handfuls of twigs or driftwood and you have a hot meal.
At low tide we explore the lush seaweed gardens on the rocky headlands. We harvest several delicious varieties of seaweed to add to our meals, and steam freshly plucked mussels in a splash of seawater on a bed of seaweed – positively divine.
The beach is a fine place to frolic and play – we surf using a tide-strewn body board and life ring, and play a game of cricket with ball, bat, and wickets made from a washed up float and driftwood. The water is clear and much saltier than I’m used to. One of my favourite things to do is run barefoot along the thin leading edge of the waves as they slide up and down the beach.
As it is just past the Summer Solstice, the days are gloriously long, and we see fantastic sunsets around ten o’clock (also known as “mussel eating time”).
On the rocky headland bordering the beach. Behind the white clouds, far off in the distance are the snow-capped mountains of the mainland, which can be seen on a clear day.
The sun sinks over water and the beach beyond.
The elements of rock, water and air.
One day we do a 23.5 kilometer trek to the Cape Scott lighthouse, passing several beautiful beaches along the way, each with its own unique character. This is Experiment Bight, its pale surface made up of shell fragments from shell middens left by the native peoples of the area in the olden days.
The trees are mainly Sitka Spruce, Western Red Cedar and Western Hemlock – some so well girthed it would take 5 people to give them a proper hug.
Guise Bay used to house an army barracks during WWII. Unlike the other beaches, it faces west, and catches a strong breeze off the Pacific.
Rambling over the dune meadows at Guise Bay.
Two waves of settlers tried to make a go of making a living off the land at Cape Scott – their artifacts are scattered all over the park and give me a poignant feeling. Weathered tumbledown fences, ornate doors from wood stoves, leather boots, saws, even the wreckage of a community centre and a creepy old well. I think it was a good life – hard, with lots of setbacks, but peaceful and fulfilling. The enterprise ultimately failed not because of the harshness of the land – although the storms could be fierce – but because transportation of the agricultural goods the settlers were trying to bring to market was so difficult due to the rough, rocky seas and the huge distance over land.
During the war there was a radar tower at Cape Scott. The army built these plank roads on which to rumble through the forest. They are now a strangely beautiful part of the landscape.
We reach our farthest destination – the Cape Scott lighthouse, complete with patriotic picnic table.
An unnamed beach on the west side of the cape.
The hike out – four weary travellers sprawl on the boggy shrubs, still 11 kilometers from their goal.
About now Robin goes salmonberry crazy – risking his life for more handfuls of sweet berries to shove in his mouth.
The boots of the Bogusdown clan (our newly acquired trail names), clockwise from top: John, Tom, Gabriola, and Saturna.
Glory and Trumpets! We have made it back to the parking lot, bearing heavy packs and headfuls of happy memories to last a lifetime.<
I love reading about my kids adventures. Please check out Rob’s blog for more stories on their travels around the North American West Coast http://birchandyew.blogspot.ca/?wref=bif .