Friday, 18 November 2011

Tofino, Ucluelet and the Pacific Rim National Park

So right now I'm with Jenny at the deserted 'Surfs Inn' guesthouse in Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island. After being dropped off near 'Goats on the Roof' in Coombs I met up with Jenny on the Tofino bus. Tofino is a small and seemingly sleepy town on the edge of Clayoquot Sound where many whales can be seen at the right time of year. Unfortunately though this isn't the right time of year. In the spring 1000s of grey whales pass Tofino on their migration northwards from Baja California. The southward migration occurs sometime around now, but they don't seem to be swarming past Tofino!

With sunny, but cold weather on our side we hiked where we could around the coast (Tofino's coast is somewhat inaccessible though), hoped to see otters and whales but didn't, purchased some overpriced food in the co-op, cycled the 35km round trip to Long Beach and walked to Schooner Cove along a slippery boardwalk through pretty trees. For some reason everyone seems to rave about 12km Long Beach (apart from Joanne..) and without a car we really thought we had to cycle there. It was nice, but a bit disappointing to be honest. We really are quite privileged to have grown-up in the southwest of England and to have traveled half-way round the world without flying.

Sunshine doesn't last forever and we discovered that torrential rain does hit the west coast (at least the guidebooks got that right). So in the wind and rain we walked along the same bit of coast again and thought the Pacific was starting to look much more like an ocean than a lake (as it usually seems to). Snowflakes were falling from the heavens as we awoke from our last night's sleep in Tofino and it was quite wintry. On our bus trip to Ucluelet we drove through beautiful snow covered trees.

After dropping our (many!) possessions at this hostel, where we are the only guests, we headed out onto the 'Wild Pacific Trail' along the rugged cliffs of Ucluelet. The waves crashing over the rocks and the rain/sun/snow combination made for nice light. Hoping to photograph sunrise over the lighthouse we got up at 7.30a.m., but sadly I'd forgotten that the sun rises earlier now that the clocks have changed. Although in hindsight it is pretty good that we weren't sliding and slipping our way through the dark and icy streets. Despite Ucluelet getting far less attention from most people than Tofino we are quite charmed by it.

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