Monday, October 5, 2009

The Road to Tofino

Vancouver Island, perched on the western edge of Canada, is a wondrous place. Its eastern shore is protected, with soft gentle islets lying betwixt it and the fjord-carved mainland. The western shore has a completely different personality with a harsh but compelling beauty: big waves, fog-enshrouded beaches, treacherous islands and the Graveyard of the Pacific. Getting there is an adventure in itself. Recently, my dearest and I travelled the road.

A few miles west of Parksville, we entered MacMillan Provincial Park and Cathedral Grove, like a sombre deep canyon, with grand tall trees filtering the sun. This stand of old growth forest is just like a mighty cathedral. We wandered in awe amongst Douglas fir and western red cedar that soared skyward like turrets and flying buttresses. Some trees exceeded 800 years in age with a girth of over nine metres. Shafts of golden light angled down to the dusky forest floor like sunbeams through high stained-glass windows. Traffic sounds were replaced by silence. The occasional chirping of birds sounded like monks quietly chanting. The air was still and full of spirits. Amongst these ancient creatures, moss covered logs and ferns, I felt a reverence, a spirituality, a deep intimate closeness with nature.

We followed the road to Port Alberni, the Salmon Capital of the World, and then entered Sproat Lake Provincial Park. A short walk took us to one of the finest panels of prehistoric petroglyphs (figures carved on rock) in BC, named K’ak’awin. These are likely the work of the ancestors of the Hucasapath First Nation, who have traditionally occupied this region. We looked at nine figures carved into the side of a small cliff on the edge of the lake. Most of them featured some sort of whale. A few had what appeared to be dorsal fins; another had a wolf-like head. Do they represent a mythical marine creature, perhaps an ancient Loch Ness monster? Scratching our heads, we drove westward, heading for the surf and sand of Tofino.

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Cathedral Grove






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