Friday, July 11, 2014

Wild Side Trail

The stars finally aligned and we got our "window" to head to Flores Island last week. Great weather, a lack of work commitments and good midweek ferry conditions (i.e. no weekend chaos) finally fell into sync so we threw together our gear and hit the road. Flores Island is the largest island in Clayoquot Sound, about 40 minutes northwest of Tofino. It contains one of the largest tracts of continuous old-growth forest on Vancouver Island and is home to one of Canada's most beautiful beaches, the endless sands of Cow Bay. The island is inhabited by members of the Alhousat Nation, concentrated in a small community on the east shore, and this village served as our stepping off point for the Wild Side Trail, a 10-km trek we'd targeted for a 3-day coastal adventure. The trip was great - we explored vast tracts of unspoiled beach, spotted grey whales close to shore and, much to our delight, watched wolves combing the beach in front of our tent at dawn on our final day.

Marina at Alhousat, where our water taxi docked.

A "culturally modified" redcedar along the trail.

Wolf tracks were plentiful along the beach. New ones appeared each morning as the tide washed the sands clean.

Elise found a huge clam shell, perfect as a breakfast bowl.

Juvenile bald eagle hunting from the rocks.

As we broke through the forest and reached the west shore of the island, the beaches really opened up. The views were stunning.

Our tent site at Cow Bay.

Elise was obsessed with bull kelp, and kept dragging pieces up and down the beach. Her "pets", she said.

Cow Bay, voted one of Canada's top 10 beaches. Lots of whale activity and kilometers of golden sand with virtually no humans in sight.

Sunset at Cow Bay.

The sand dollar collector, complete with full pockets.

And the final haul...

Bridge across Cow Creek, the only decent water source on the entire journey.

 A pretty impressive sitka spruce complete with fishing float to mark the way.


Final night at the "dune camp".

As we unzipped the tent at 6:00 am on our final morning, intent on catching the 8:30 am water taxi, we were treated to the highlight of the trip as a pair of wolves trotted across the beach. I guess Elise had been a tad worried, because she excitedly exclaimed, "They weren't even interested in our tent!".

Getting absolutely swarmed by the "rez dogs" on the way back to the water taxi. A final cultural hit to finish a fine trip.

Bring on the summer heat!

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