June 29, 2017
The sound of waves crashing on the shore just outside. Sunlight filtering in through the blinds. Birds calling overhead. Morning in Tofino. Bliss.
After driving for about 5 hours through huge forests and mountains, Nathanael and I arrived in the small seaside town and settled into our cabin by Mackenzie Beach. Dropping off our bags, we hurried across the lawn to the sandy shore. Nearly seven years had passed since we'd last been in Tofino, but it felt familiar. Maybe that's because we already knew that to one end we'd find great rocks for climbing on and watching the waves while at the other end there's a small stream that leads past a cave to the ocean. Or maybe it's just that feeling of being at home on the west coast.
We spent many hours on the beach, exploring tide pools, watching a few brave swimmers in the cool water, and meeting friendly dogs happily chasing balls across sand and waves. Our first full day we were greeted with a late spring storm as the fog rolled in and the wind picked up...and up...and up. That cold, damp air that can wash across the coast even in summer sent us inside for coffee and naps. After everything these last many months, it seemed as though nature was insisting we finally take a break. "Stay inside and sleep...no fear of missing out...just sleep". So we did. And as we rested, we realized just how tired we've been. If we weren't so obliged to return to Victoria on time, I'm sure we could have pulled a Rip van Winkle.
The next day was calmer but still quite cool. We drove into town and wandered through the Eagle Aerie Gallery, appreciating the art of Roy Henry Vickers and the accompanying stories of their significance. There was one work in particular that caught our eyes, of an owl, called Whozat. Owls are special to us, because a long time ago we noted how Flurry would observe us, her eyes flicking back and forth, as watchful as an owl. And so, we nicknamed her Little Owl.
At the midway point in our trip we were still debating whether or not to book any wildlife watching trips. I loved the idea of going bear watching, but it was still chilly and quite windy, we'd underestimated the weather a little with our packing, and so we weren't really feeling like going out on the water. I guess that gives us another reason to return - third time's the charm, right?
So instead of heading onto the water, we went into the forest. The next day we took the trail to Schooner Cove, and oh is this ever scenic! The forest is enchanting, and there is a boardwalk in varying states of repair from the trailhead to the beach. There are lots (and lots!) of stairs, so it is not accessible unfortunately, and the boardwalk is quite narrow in places so you need to take turns with people coming from the opposite direction. But those walkways in the forest make for some great images. When we'd started the trail, it was bright and sunny but by the time we got to the end, at the north end of Long Beach, the fog had rolled in again. I think for most people the trail takes 30-45 minutes. I couldn't tell you how long we spent, except that it took longer than that because I was stopping to photograph every other scene.
That evening we caught an amazing sunset off of Mackenzie beach, and knew the weather had warmed up because the bugs were out. Oh man. Did they ever get me! I was happily shooting away when the light dropped and suddenly this bug was in my face. I swatted it away, again and again, but somehow it managed to bite me multiple times. Oh well, that sunset was worth it!
Unfortunately, our last full day in Tofino was a little disappointing. First we were going to hike Tonquin trail, but it was closed off. So instead we decided to try the Tofino Botanical Gardens. There weren't many flowers, considering we visited in late May. However, there is a scenic lookout over the ocean and nearby islands, and some cute and curious farm animals. So it's part garden, part hobby farm, and part forest. Unfortunately for me, while ducking under many low-hanging branches on the trail, I managed to trip over a large tree root in the forest trail and smash my knee. At least I didn't land on my camera! Back near the cafe, a goat, a sheep, and several chickens kept watch as we briefly wandered around a few raised beds of herbs. We returned to our cabin and enjoyed one more sunset off Mackenzie beach before returning to Victoria the following morning.
This was a much needed R&R trip, but I'm looking forward to a more active trip the next time. What are your favourite things to do in Tofino?