I can't really put my finger on it, but somehow over the last decade Canada has eluded me in all except one occasion on a trip up to Vancouver. There it is, just to the north, with all its majestic forests, mountains, and coast line. 10 years since I've moved to the northwest plans were finally made to head beyond the borders, crossing the pudget sound for Vancouver Island.
Between the long drive up to the Olympic Coast, the intricacies that go into taking a ferry ride, and the distances marked in kilometers to our home base in Tofino, British Columbia it was going to be a long day. To help break up the drive Jen, Lefty, and myself made a late drive up to the coastal town of Port Angeles, bordering the Olympic Peninsula. We arrived in time to see the amber silhouette of Vancouver Island. The mornings views brought promise as we stacked into the boat and drifted off away from the docks. Looking back at the Olympics were a quick reminder we have incredible wild places right at our back door.
Victoria was waiting though so we put our focus back north, towards the green hills and glaciated ridgelines. Victoria was a stark difference from Port Angeles, boasting incredible city parks, an avid outdoor lifestyle community, and more delicious plant based food options than I could comprehend. It was a young and thriving city that was the gateway for travelers across the globe.
We wouldn't spend too much time here though. Our sights were set on Tofino and word from the locals was to put some kilometers between us and Victoria before the maddening traffic jam of rush hour started. Rolling out of Victoria the scenery began to pour in. The two lane road climbed up and down from post card vistas of the waterways and mountainous islands close by. As the route began turning west inland the Insular Mountains took front stage. The mountains seem to climb straight up from the small valley floors that were scattered with massive old growth conifers I'd only compare to the Redwoods of northern California.
The day was warm so when we started skirting around Sproat Lake Jen made the call to look for a pull off. Time to let lefty stretch his legs and possibly find a swim spot on this tempting glacier water. First pull of we took held a trail. We followed down hill to the waters edge. It was too perfect coming to this swim spot overshadowed by mountains and glaciers on our first day. I threw on the birthday suit and jumped into the crystal clear water. I floated in the sun spinning around to take in everything. Words can't describe, and this was only the first day.
Driving away from the lake, climbing up the pass on the twisty, sometimes backwards roads we knew we were coming close to the western edge of the island. And thats the thing about the Pacific Northwest. You don't get a break between the Mountains and the Ocean. They might as well be one and the same. Looking back as we drove north into town you got a glimpse of what was towering above us along that whole drive. pockets of lakes energized by the tall snowy peaks that stood behind us.
Let me give you a quick description of what Tofino is all about. If you took the back to earth vibe of coastal Northern California, peppered it with Austrailian and French Canadian Dialects and accents, added a strong native american historical element, and painted it with the wild places you'd only expect from the southern Alaskan territories you might begin to imagine what we were facing.
The cabin we were staying in was a few minute walk across the road. And as the best things always happen when you least expect it, we happened to be visiting on the weekend of the Vans Duct Tape International longboard competition. I had plans far back when we first talked about the trip to paddle out for a few waves myself. You know Jen and Lefty had to get in on that as well. It was wind swept and choppy, but the layout in the cove created some long rolling waves. We took in as much as we could handle before setting back on the edge of the beach to watch the longboards begin rolling in.
Minus the time spent relaxing in a cabin coated in skylights and eating delicious cuisines we made it a point to get in what sessions we could in the nearly constant empty skatepark. To be honest I'd go back just for that park. An easy fun ride. Add in the bald eagles hovering above the field adjacent to the park for good measure.
Packing the car up for the drive east then south, stacking in the ferry once more, British Columbia gave us one last reminder of what we were leaving. Just a little taste of the land of Canada to beckon us back. And it worked, cause I have plans to head north and explore more very soon. Thanks to Jen and Lefty for celebrating for this old guys birthday in the best way possible. Days like these are what I live for.