Tofino, Ucluelet and the Rainforest

Go Figure…. you go to a rainforest, its sunny and hot, until you have to pack up your tent and leave! Two days ago I did the short run out of Nanaimo over the pass west to Ucluelet (affectionately known as Ukee) and Tofino. The road is an amazing motorbikers road, especially after Port Alberni. There are many winding hills and turns signposted for 40 km/hr that I actually slowed down that much to get around!

Surf Junction camp ground is an interesting place. I think the sons and daughters of hippies had to find a way to make a living so they can surf all summer long so they created a campground. All of the staff surf and look the part, dreads and all. The girl who booked my site and was at the front desk could have been straight out of the movies. As I arrived she came out to check out the motorbike and we had a quick conversation about how she wanted to get one. Later she took to calling me “Motorcycle Man”.

Tofino is about 40 km North of Ukee. A quick drive through Pacific Rim National Park and you come to the end of the road. Tofino is located at the end of a peninsula but with islands all around it contains an amazingly protected harbour. This allows for beautiful scenery and an excellent location for boats of all kinds as well as the other major transportation method on the island, float planes… they are everywhere! With nothing to do this is an excellent location for just sitting out on the pier wasting time watching people come and go.

I am not a fan of salt water, and seeing that my trip so far has been about trying to stay dry, rather than surfing I decided to go whale watching. Truly this was more about checking out the island from another perspective but getting the chance to see a humpback whale at relatively short distance was fairly cool. For the most part it would come up, breath (at which point one of the ladies who worked on the boat would always yell “Thar she blows!”) 3 or 4 times and on the last would raise her tail way into the air and submerge. The guides did explain that during feeding they would dive down under a school of fish and breech straight up to swallow them but I get the feeling that that is not as common a thing to see as they let on.

After the successful 3 hour tour the afternoon was spent hiking in the temperate rainforest of Pacific Rim National Park. Seeing that bugs seem to be absent from the entire island I figured that they would all be here but the no bug theme continued. In fact there must be wildlife around but they were very silent. The only thing that you can hear are the birds which must have very little in the way of predators because they are very loud! The trees are amazing, full of mosses and very green. At ground level the undergrowth is amazingly thick and the people who built the boardwalks (the only way you can hike in the area) must have had a hell of a time in their construction.

And so today, I woke up to the rain, and lots of it. In the end you just have to understand that you will have to pack up a wet tent, go out in the rain and ride wet yourself. I had meant to go all the way south to Port Angeles today but when it got too hard to see I had to bail on that idea and stay in Nanaimo again. I used AirBNB to find a $20 hostel for the night so I could dry myself out and head off again tomorrow.


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