Tag Archives: vancouver island

Cape Scott

Earlier this summer I made the long journey up to the northern most point of Vancouver Island and spent 5 days exploring the area in Cape Scott Provincial park. I have never explored the much of northern Vancouver Island but it has always been a place I have wanted to see more of. Cape Scott is an interesting mix of natural beauty and history. It is the site of a number of separate attempts at early settlement and later on a top secret radar instillation that is now home to a lighthouse. After a lengthy drive on winding roads to get to Port Hardy you turn off for the final part of the journey to access the park, 65km of gravel roads that passes through the the small town of Holberg before reaching the trail head. From the trail head there are a number of options but we decided to setup a base camp at Nels Bight, a 2400 meter long sandy beach about 17km from the parking lot that includes a ranger cabin. This central location provides a good starting place to explore the beaches in the area.

_D8C8575_web

Hiking through lush forests en route to Nels Bight

Nels Bight is a stunning beach that offers stunning views and a fantastic place to watch the sunset. Over the next 2 nights we experienced very different weather patterns, our first night was clear without a cloud to be seen. Waking up the next morning we got to see something a little different as a heavy cloud had rolled in, while the it was sad to loose the sun the fog and cloud made for some unique photo opportunities.

The sunsets on a beautiful evening at Nels Bight

The sunsets on a beautiful evening at Nels Bight

Fog and clouds shroud Nels Bight

Fog and clouds shroud Nels Bight

Under the cover of cloud we made our way towards Guise Bay, Experiment Bight with the Cape Scott lighthouse before returning back to base camp at Nels Bight. Guise Bay was one of the more stunning beaches that we got to see, had it been warmer out it would have been something you could almost imagine as being tropical.

Looking over Guise Bay from the sand dunes between it and Experiment Bight

Looking over Guise Bay from the sand dunes between it and Experiment Bight

Guise Bay was the site of a number of building from a secret radar station at Cape Scott operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, the current site of the lighthouse was also used for this installation and in fact the lighthouse sits on the same foundations as the old radar dome. Signs of these prior uses are clearly visible, some more than others such as the old plank road that leads from Guise Bay to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is somewhat utilitarian and is not what one would think of when you think of a lighthouse, it is simply a light mounted on a short tower located on the highlands of the cape. Experiment Bight is separated by a small band of sand dunes from Guise Bay, these sand dunes are not something that is commonly found on Vancouver Island so it was neat to explore them on the way over to Experiment Bight.

Looks out towards Guise Bay through a gap in the sand dunes between Guise Bay and Experiment Bight

Looks out towards Guise Bay through a gap in the sand dunes between Guise Bay and Experiment Bight

Flowers grow in sand above the high tide mark at Experiment Bight.

Flowers grow in sand above the high tide mark at Experiment Bight.

By the time the sun was setting it appeared that the fog and clouds that had hung over us all day was starting to clear making for a very different sunset compared to the previous evening.

Twilight as the last of the sun shines through a break in the clouds

Twilight as the last of the sun shines through a break in the clouds

After a day of fog and cloud we once again woke up to beautiful clear sunny skies, this morning we packed up camp and made our way over to the less popular Nissen Bight for the night. The relatively short hike over to Nissen Bight passes through the main Cape Scott settlement area which has a number of remains of attempts to tame the area by settlers in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s although some did stick around until the 50’s most had left with the onset of World War I.

Old tractor at an old homestead site

Old tractor at an old homestead site

Nissen Bight and Fishermans Bay are very close to each other and can be accessed by a short trail or tide permitting over the beach. Nissen bight offers a less populated camp site although the water source is some distance from the main camping area. Nissen bight is also the start (or end) of the North Coast trail.

Sunset as viewed from Fishermans Bay near Nissen bight.

Sunset as viewed from Fishermans Bay near Nissen Bight.

After a night at Nissen Bight it was on to our final camp destination at San Josef Bay before heading home, although it was a long day of hiking it was easy going as it is mostly flat (or downhill) the whole way. San Josef Bay is a stunning white sand beach which has some unique sea stacks and caves between 2 bays. The sea caves and 2nd bay are only accessible when the tides permit, there is a steep overland route but it looked rather difficult. It should also be noted that while San Josef Bay does have a water source it is located at the 2nd beach which may be cut off due to the tide to keep that in mind when planning (we collected water at Eric lake). San Josef Bay is a popular location for day hikers or less adventuress hikers as it is a short few kilometers from the trail head so expect it to see more crowds than other beaches in the park.

Sea stacks at San Josef Bay

Sea stacks at San Josef Bay

Cape Scott is an iconic hike and is well worth the journey to get there. It offers an amazing selection beautiful natural sites with some neat history which is not something you experience at most hiking destinations. While the hiking is relatively easy the distances getting out to the beaches near the cape are long and depending on the conditions can be a challenge in that regard.

 

Posted in camping, hiking, park Also tagged , , |

Winter Camping

When you tell someone you are going to go winter camping you tend to get a bit of a strange look in return. Winter camping while sounding daunting can make for a some stunning scenes if you are prepared for the conditions. A few weeks ago I headed up Mt. Becher in Strathcona Provincial park by first hiking past the old Wood Mountain Ski resort which is always a bit of a strange experience. This is a trip I have done before but this year mother nature really wanted to supply the real winter experience. The first 2 days consisted of heavy snow but we did get a very brief break in the weather which teased the views you can get.

_D8C4245_web _D8C4288_web

On the day we left we where rewarded with some better weather that allowed for some spectacular views of the Comox valley and the snow covered trees from the previous few days of snow.

_D8C4265_web_D8C4471_web

Sleeping accommodations can vary, while the most obvious solution would be a tent with snow you can use it to make a shelter, in this case a snow cave which are surprisingly warm.

_D8C4395_web _D8C4401_web

The view from my tent was hard to complain about…

_D8C4420_web

And the descent back home through a winter wonderland.  _D8C4607_web

Posted in camping, hiking, landscape, photo Also tagged , , , |

Fog

This winter was a little strange, it was much drier than usual and strangely warm. What this did mean is it seemed like there was a number of days when everything was covered in a thick blanket of fog. This made for some unique opportunities to put a new spin on some locations I have visited in the past to get some new photos.

_D8C2743_web

_D8C3064_web

_D8C2940_web

_D8C2731_web

_DSC6745_web

_D8C2702_web

Posted in Flickr, hiking, landscape, life, park, photo Also tagged , , |

December Storms

The past few days have been a wet and windy affair with heavy rain and winds. Yesterday I was fed up of being inside so I decided to brave the elements and go down to Cattle point. I have to say that there where not many other people out enjoying the weather other than a few people kite boarding I was alone.

Posted in Flickr, landscape, park, photo Also tagged , , , |

Spring Storm

The beginning of April here on Vancouver Island started of with a bit of a bang. On Good Friday a unseasonably violent wind storm ravaged the east coast of the island causing some severe damage to property and knocking out power to over 100,000 customers. Although there was a wind warning in effect for the area no one was expecting the 144 km/h winds that did come. I was up in Lantzville for the long weekend and braved the storm twice to get some photos. It turns out taking photos in extreme winds with driving rain is pretty difficult!

_DSC4706_web

_DSC4825_webThe usually clear water was churned into a muddy froth.

Although most people where staying at home it seemed that number of adventurous people decided to make the most of the stormy weather.

_DSC4876_web
_DSC4904_web
_DSC4924_web
_DSC5038_web
During a short lull in the winds a number of people did come down to the beach to check things out.
Posted in Flickr, landscape, life, photo Also tagged , , , , , |