Ucluelet and Tofino are located by the Pacific Ocean on Vancouver Island ,British Columbia, Canada. National Park, whales, coastal hiking, fishing, boating, kayaking, information.
Ucluelet & Tofino Wild Coast and Islands
Arrived on Vancouver Island by the ferry from Horseshoe Bay
to Nanaimo. One day before our next 'exchange' appointment in
Ucluelet, we head towards Tofino, a small seaside
fishing village located about forty km north of our destination.
The crossing of the island is longer than expected, as the road is very winding and hilly , and slippery on the corners. It is a dead end road, beyond which is the Pacific Ocean, and then... China. The route goes through magnificient rain forest with old and colossal sequoias.
Mac Millan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove)
It is one of the most popular parks in British Columbia's Protected Areas system.
You stumble on this tiny piece of magnificent forest in the heart of Vancouver Island, half-way between Parksville and Port Alberni.
Established in 1947, The Mac Millan provincial Park is witness to the kind of rain forest which used to cover the whole island years ago. The most ancient Douglas-Fir trees are 500 years old.
If you continue a bit further towards Port Alberni, in the middle of woods is hidden the old McLean sawmill, a local historic site which still works and gathers timber as in the old days. A watermill gives power to the machines, and inside it's wooden channels we discovered, a mass of red colour : big spawning salmons , jumping up against the water stream , trying to reach the place of their birth, in the upper creek.
It is here in Tofino where a man
from Germany came to lose himself, and manage the motel-restaurant, alone . The dining room is a bit over elaborate and inundated with his country's music : "To you like it ? This iss a goot mussic".
The rythm of this traditional country music and his accent reminded us of the beer waltz in Munich.
Fish and chips, a glass of red wine and we are full and satisfied.. One more original person who does not miss his country of origin and who runs a business in his own way, even if it doesn't please everybody.
The room is clean, simple, and cheap , but the breakfast supposed to be served between 8 and 11 o'clock doesn't exist any more. "It's closed ! I open at 2 pm !" the innkeeper tells us, still with his strong German accent, in spite of the fact that he moved to Tofino 40 years ago.
The natives and the people
living on smaller, neighboring islands come over to Tofino to resupply themselves with fuel for their boats, food , and then, in one strike of the engine, they disappear to the horizon.
And also small seaplanes landing almost wherever they want... smoothly and easily.
People here are very nice and relaxed. Two young guys are having fun fixing the engine of their small boat , as is their little dog : jumping back and forth from the deck to the quay.
The sign by the road heading to Ucluelet indicates a viewpoint at Radar Hill. We pull over to the right, and our car climbs up to a small parking lot with a view over the rain forest, this humid jungle with impressive tree trunks. After about 2km the thick forest eventually meets with the ocean ,
Two determined hikers with small backpacks head towards the tiny trail sinking into this virgin forest. Taking advantage of their momentum we decide to follow them . A
few seconds later... the path quickly becomes rough, climbs down, cluttered with roots and flooded with mud. I've known identical trails on Reunion Island. Climbing down , we look carefully where we
put our feet . Trying to keep our balance , and constantly changing our rythmn , tires us maybe the most.
The forest is really virgin, fortunately the trail is well opened up and it does not rain. Persevering in this fight with nature, eventually, and like a miracle, we end up on a fine sandy beach where the salty marine air fills our lungs.
This must be a place where some ships cast anchor to drop off men, arms and supplies before facing lady nature in all her dimension. There are no more islands on the
horizon, the next stop would be China. We are at the end of the world here.
We get back up to our small car by the same trail without anymore adventure. Here the nature is still , a black and blue bird posing on a branch of the nearby tree is watching us.
Adventure and tourism; I'm looking for the third dimension , I might find it the next day:
Ucluelet looks like Tofino but bigger. The waterfront houses built on pillars and lined up along the seafront are more like big cabins, with large decks facing the inlet .Wooden stairs allow its owners to get to the floating quay; ideal promenade and atmosphere guaranteed.
At the end of the pier is
berthing the Zeal, a fishing boat with its crew on board.
I give them a hand to put back the protection tyres between the hull and the quay. The skipper Jim is a friendly and direct man and invites me on board and introduces me to the members of his crew. One engineer in charge of the machinery, two men refurbishing the kitchen, and another one standing and eating soup from his yellow oilskin.
James, an auto mechanic from Yellowknife in the Northern Territories, Dwain, a professional fisherman, Dave, the chief engineer and Darren or "Whity", a casual cook, a lawyer in his real life and also the son of the Zeal owner.
The weather is bad: the wind is too strong, and the sea is too rough, to weigh the anchor and tow the nets. Yesterday night, we experienced even a kind of hurricane, brushing against the coast. The boat will stay tied up to the pier and the man will do some small repairs.
.It reminds me of my L'Etoile; the work is not what's missing and the next season is a bit like the next trip on the sea. I'm always used to comparing the L'Etoile to a cargo boat with its central heating acting as the engine room, its patio like the deck of the ship and my guests make me travel. There's also the captain , and the ship can sink at any time. The crew is much more smaller but I is not Canada.
Jim, the skipper, makes me look around his boat; cabin with bunks for the crew, kitchen, gangway, the hold with ice to store the fish, engines room, the deck with all the nets and eventually the wheel room with the real wooden rudder and copper barometers of all dimensions.
The computer with large screen connected to the Internet and GPS serve the pilot to know permanently the location of fish. "It's a good job, we earn our living well," says Jim to me and makes himself confortable in front of his rudder.
Outside, the weather doesn't change at all and the boat pitches and tosses gently on its backwash; the rain and the wind are even stronger now. We feel great, warmed sitting at the big dinning table in the kitchen with the stove on, sipping our beers and eating delicious sandwiches, served willingly by the chef.
.Before Dave, the engineer, returns to his hold dirty with oil, I entertain the crew with my lap top and digital photos. Seen from a fishing boat in British Columbia,
the Cevennes mountains, and the small medieval villages like
La Garde-Guerin seem to be far away and have an effect on sailors making change
their ideas. 5 months of work and 7 months of travelling,... that would really please the skipper.
We exchange business cards and shake sincerely our hands. We'll meet again for sure.
We've just lived the real welcome, the welcome we hardly can find ! As an innkeeper, I retain this spontaneous, unexpected and relevant lesson given to me by group of sailors.
L'Etoile Guest House
Old romantic Hotel, L'Etoile Guest-House is a mountain retreat in the South of France. With a beautiful park along the Allier River, L'Etoile Guesthouse is located in La Bastide-Puylaurent between Lozere, Ardeche and Cevennes. Many hiking trails like GR7, GR70 Stevenson trail, GR72, GR700 Regordane way, Cevenol, Allier river, Margeride, Gevaudan. Many hiking loops around L'Etoile Guesthouse. The right place to relax.