Cape Scott

A few days ago I finally completed my write-up of our 6-day trip to Cape Scott, already a year ago now! Although I’d published the summary post soon after returning home, it took months for us to sift through all the photos and for me to rediscover our notes to help me write up each day on the trip.

Looking back on a trip it’s sometimes hard to remember just how it made you feel, and when you do remember, was it just euphoria talking or was it really as good a trip as your words say? I quote my opening line: “Wow! I don’t remember the last time a hike so clearly won me over.” And instantly I’m transported back to those big open beaches, the dense forest, and the sense of wilderness.

I think what contributed to how we felt about this trip was the fact that we weren’t expecting to be wowed in the way that spectacular mountain scenes do. The beauty of the place crept up on us and was just there for us to experience. The rest was up to us to be open to that.

If you haven’t done any coastal hiking, then I highly recommend Cape Scott. I would also suggest that you wait for a good weather window, though that is tricky given the logistics of getting there. But it’s worth it. Who can resist such idyllic beach camping?

Nissen Bight, 4 Aug 2016

Not bluebells

Fields of camas – I was amazed to see so many around the park! Such a beautiful sight! I think I’ll be spending more time here next spring…

Recently I’ve been seeing lots of camas (and other wildflower) pictures from various Instagrammers and it’s been making me want to drop everything and head over to Vancouver Island (or one or more of the Southern Gulf Islands) to check out the spring wildflowers. Vancouver seems a little lacklustre in the spring wildflower department by comparison, and the only ones I make an effort to photograph are white fawn lilies and trillium.

I hadn’t even thought about looking for flowers at the time we arranged a trip over to Vancouver Island to visit some friends, but the sight of all those Instagram pictures had me suggesting we head into town for the afternoon. And I was really quite blown away by how extensive they were in Beacon Hill Park. I didn’t expect that at all, thinking that with it being a city park that it would be dominated by cultivated flowers and manicured grass. So it was a wonderful surprise to find the park has patches of unmanicured meadows and trees. And the camas was growing everywhere! I’ve never seen such a bloom. My first reaction was that I was seeing a field of bluebells, but I was delighted to find that it was a lovely spread of camas instead. They even look similar when first budding and I really had to look twice in a few places.

So my mind is made up: I think I need to make a spring pilgrimage to southern Vancouver Island every year now… πŸ™‚

Whale’s tails

This is about as close as I want to get to a humpback while sitting in a kayak! I was amazed at how easily the sound of their exhale carried over the calm sea – we heard them long before we actually saw any. A real treat! A great day out with North Island Kayak.

Our rest period between backpacking trips involved a few days near Port Hardy, one of which we spent sitting with our bums inches from the water in a double kayak. Early in the day there was a suggestion that we might see killer whales – that would have been incredible, as kayaking in Johnstone Strait with killer whales was one of those must-do things I had at the back of my mind. Alas, that turned out to be not the case but we did find humpbacks.

We were paddling on flat calm seas, a heavy mist hanging low over the water when we heard it: a loud exhale of breath. We stopped to work out where the sound was coming from, and there in the distance we saw it – the characteristic bump of the back of a humpback. And I have to say, I was a little nervous. A friend of ours had had a very close call with a humpback while in a kayak when it surfaced directly underneath his boat. But in this case the whale stayed well away, sticking to what seemed to be a good feeding ground while we hung around near the edge of one of the Pumper Islands. We watched for a while before the whale dove one last time, when it was time to move on and join the playful sea lions instead.

Beach bear

It’s waterfall/wildflower/wildlife Wednesday, so I’m posting one of each from our recent Cape Scott trip. If you go down to the beach today, you’re in for a big surprise… The two of us were just about to exit the forest as we reached Experiment Bight when we looked up and saw this bear digging in the seaweed on the beach, exactly where we were going to hike. It took over two minutes of bear-soothing chatter to get it to move along far enough for us to make a quick move over the shingle and out of its way. As it walked past, I swear it gave us the most reproachful look ever!

It's waterfall/wildflower/wildlife Wednesday, so I'm posting one of each from our recent Cape Scott trip. If you go down to the beach today, you're in for a big surprise… The two of us were just about to exit the forest as we reached Experiment Bight when we looked up and saw this bear digging in the seaweed on the beach, exactly where we were going to hike. It took over two minutes of bear-soothing chatter to get it to move along far enough for us to make a quick move over the shingle and out of its way. As it walked past, I swear it gave us the most reproachful look ever! #wildlifewednesday #bear #blackbear #capescotttrail #capescottprovincialpark #experimentbight #hiking #backpacking #camping #optoutside #explorebc #explorevanisle #vancouverisland #bcparks

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It took us until our fifth day to see a bear. We’d had a close encounter of sorts at Nissen Bight, where a bear had ripped apart a log right next to the food cache while we were relaxing on the sand. I always want to see bears, but I have to admit this was about as close as I ever want to get to one. Even though this was a peaceful encounter (we had time to switch lenses on the camera!), there was always that thought at the back of my mind about dealing with an angry bear. Thankfully we just had to deal with a grumpy bear who just wanted to seek out breakfast. Once we were past we looked back to watch it dig into the next patch of seaweed in search of tasty morsels. Tasty to a bear, that is.

The King of Gentian

It’s waterfall/wildflower/wildlife Wednesday, so I’m posting one of each from our Cape Scott trip. King or blue gentian lined the trail at most of the boggy sections, adding a splash of colour to an often uninviting landscape. The nice thing about these sections, though, was that they were brighter than the deep rainforest. Plus they smelled just like the New Forest where I grew up. Loved it!

Gentian is another one of those flowers that stops us in our tracks, much to the amusement (and bemusement) of our hiking friends. We’re not sure why, but it could be that it’s relatively rare (if locally abundant). There’s a spot near Vancouver where this blooms in late August (called Blue Gentian Lake for obvious reasons!) but it’s always nice to find it elsewhere. We found our first patch on the way in to San Josef Bay, and then more (much more!) in the peat bogs as we neared the northern coast. We saw so much that in the end even I walked past without stopping to take pictures. Eventually…!

Fairy glen

It’s waterfall/wildflower/wildlife Wednesday, so I’m posting one of each from our Cape Scott trip. This little fairy glen waterfall was the source of our drinking water at San Josef Bay. It might look pretty here but it was the colour of tea, and had a taste to match!

We’d been warned about the state of the water on the Cape Scott Trail. At San Josef Bay, we had to hike through to the western end of the second beach to find this little trickle. But what a pretty little trickle! I loved the double cascade and the way the water foamed slightly and how it spread out over the surface. It was tricky keeping the camera steady enough for this as it’s about a quarter of a second exposure. I find it much easier to brace myself when using the SLR for these kinds of photos; holding the little compact camera out in front of me (and in portrait orientation) required me to be very calm and relaxed, and to remember the trick of taking the picture as I exhaled. Of the 4 that I took, it was my second shot that was the winner.

Then there was the matter of the water that we’d filtered – it truly was the colour of weak tea but I have to say the taste was much milder than I expected, so we were quite able to drink it straight from our Platypuses.

Cape Scott

Cape Scott 2016: 60 km of coastal rainforest and beach hiking. Six days of beautiful sandy beaches, the waves lulling us to sleep, eagles & ospreys, water the colour of tea, and a bear that didn’t want to be disturbed from its beach breakfast! πŸ™‚

Not much I can add to that really – I was blown away by how nice it was, and the trip far exceeded my expectations. We weren’t expecting to see sand dollars, but of course they’re still a novelty for us so we couldn’t help but collect a few of the best specimens on the beach. It’s not for us to take them home so we thought we’d just take a photo to remind ourselves, especially as we’d collected a nice array of different sizes. Initially I was just going to line them up in size order, but then I got the idea to create a spiral pattern. Maria then added the words, and finally the little heart in the middle πŸ™‚ That pretty much sums up how we felt about the trip.