Vancouver Island is a terrific place to explore. We knew it well from numerous trips over the years on BRAVO and our sea kayaks, but had never really explored inland. It's a huge area, over 12,400 square miles, with lots to see, including remote beaches, high mountains and glaciers, and old growth forest wilderness, all steeped in a rich maritime heritage and climate. Here we go.....into the rainforest.....
We came across this log carrier in one bay. We stopped along with several other gawkers, thinking it had run aground. It looked like the tide was going out, and it was starting to list to port. There were a couple of tugs milling around, we figured they were standing by to rescue the stricken ship. All of a sudden, with a huge roar, the logs all started to slide off the side of the ship into the water. The tugs corralled the logs into a log boom, and the ship slowly righted itself. It became obvious that it had dumped the logs intentionally, all in a days work. Amazing!
We headed north to Strathcona Provincial Park, in the central interior of the island. The park has beautiful mountains, glaciers, and streams, and we took advantage of some great hiking on some of the trails.
|We all were ready to cool tired dogs in the stream after a tough hike.|
Leaving Strathcona we headed north up to Cape Scott on the northern tip of the Island. Did a good hike through old growth forest out to the beach.
In spite of years of over logging, much of Vancouver Island is still wilderness. Though we never saw wolves or cougars, they were obviously around, as were bears, both grizzlies and black bears.
|Bear vaults were provided for hikers to safely stash their food.|
|Relics from logging days of the past, slowly being reclaimed by the forest. This one at Ronning's Garden.|
Vancouver has long been home to many tribes of indigenous people, or First Nations. We took the ferry over to Cormorant Island, for a visit to Alert Bay, a native island community of approx 1,300 people on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island, between Port McNeil and Telegraph Cove. Cindi and I had visited Alert Bay some years ago by sea kayak, and were eager to return.
They have a fantastic museum, the U'Mista Cultural Center. Unfortunately it was closed on the day we were there, so we could only see the exhibits visible outside. Though the village has a certain forlorn quality to it, especially when visited on a classic Pacific Northwest overcast foggy day, we had a great day walking the island, and finding fine examples of indigenous artwork including beautiful totem carvings at the cemetery.
|Sign in the ferry terminal men's room|
Just before hopping aboard the ferry to leave Vancouver Island, we stopped in Victoria, on the south end of the island. It happened to be the day before the start of the main, 710 mile leg of the annual Race to Alaska, or R2AK. This race is a fairly grueling 750 mile voyage by any non-motorized boat, from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska. Teams attempt the race on everything from high tech racing sailboats to kayaks and stand up paddleboards. To deal with times of light or no wind, most of the serious sailing entries have bicycle powered propeller drives on the stern. Talking to the participants, they can get up to 2 knots of speed on some of the boats with their bike drives.
Though it is somewhat whacky, at least when compared to more traditional sailing ocean races, this can be a serious test of skill, navigation, and endurance. The first boat to finish gets a $10,000 prize, the second boat gets a set of steak knives, and that's it for the prizes!
|This team from San Francisco ("Team Shut Up and Drive") could have 4 cyclists on the stern at once. They finished in 3rd place.|
|Last year's winner, the all women's crew "Sail Like a Girl" was back to attempt a repeat performance|
|While most teams were joking around during their last minute preparations on the dock, Team Sail Like a Girl was all business! Though they didn't win this year, they still came in a very respectable 4th place.|
All in all, a great few weeks on Vancouver Island, before heading over to the mainland of British Columbia for several weeks. Stay tuned.....