Sunday, July 27, 2008

Vancouver Island: Pacific Rim National Park

I felt exhilarated seeing the Pacific Ocean from the beach of Vancouver Island. The immense power of the ocean struck me with awe and wonderment. The journey here was clearly worth the effort. Getting there had not been easy. Our drive cut from the east side of the island in Parksville through narrow, scenic mountain passes taking us as far west as possible. After nearly 2 ½ hours, we reached the prize at the end – the Pacific.

We climbed down the short set of stairs from the parking lot to Florence Bay. The sandy beaches invited us to walk this nearly deserted place. Seaweed shaped like small palm trees lay toppled on the beach. Another tubular plant with onion shaped bulbs lay in long tangles. Leafy kelp had washed ashore too. When I held one up, its length stretched longer than my 5’3” stature.

Stacks of weathered driftwood lay scattered on the beach. I found a piece that looked like a Pirates’ sword lost in a shipwreck and washed up in the tide. Some driftwood had once been massive tree roots twisted and hollowed in a natural sculpture. Backed against the earthen hillside, logs, some more than 30 feet long and striped of their bark, lay like natural sets the stadium bleachers. They didn’t roll when I climbed on top to watch the surfers ride the waves.

Of course, I had to sample the water too. I waded in the water without getting soaked as deep as my Cabalas shorts would decently allow. The water felt icy cold and I welcomed the warm sun when I could no longer feel my toes.

At the Wickaninnish Centre, the staff eagerly talked to me about the seaweeds we found at Florence Bay and the ocean mite that nibbled on my leg when I waded in the water. They were a friendly group giving their full attention to my questions. The exhibits were informative too. They included a whaling canoe, murals of ocean life, whale bones, and history of the Nuu-chah-nulth-aht First Nations people.

Though the interpretive center contained many interesting displays, I felt drawn to its deck overlooking the ocean. This is truly what I wanted to see. Long Beach stretched north. It is the longest stretch of surf swept sand on Vancouver Island. I stood there spellbound a long time watching the endless waves hit the sand and tide pools. The ocean is a vast exhilarating wonder.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is part of Canada’s system of national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation. The Pacific Rim includes the coastal plains portion of the Pacific Coast Mountains and the nearshore waters of the west coast of Vancouver Island. In January 2000, UNESCO designated Clayoquot Sound as a world biosphere reserve. Pacific Rim is a core protected area of the biosphere preserve.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

From: Rathtrevor Provincial Park Campground we followed

Hwy. 19 north to Hwy. 4 west to Ucluelet/Tofino


No comments: