Firstly, we would like to apologise for the lack of posts over the past 6 weeks. We ‘dropped the ball’, as far as the blog was concerned, as the end of our trip got closer. We are now back home, safe and sound. Read on to find out how the last few weeks panned out.
It had been a little over two months since we had travelled the highway between Prince George and Prince Rupert on the Yellowhead Highway. On that occasion, it rained most of the way. This time, there was a bit more sunshine so we enjoyed some of British Colombia’s finest views along the road.
Arriving in Prince Rupert we restocked, washed and dried out things after a few wet days and prepared for the ferry trip down the inland passage to Port Hardy on the north coast of Vancouver Island. We also ‘bumped’ into Daniel and Jennifer whom we’d met a few weeks earlier in a campground near Skagway. When you bump into people you’ve met elsewhere it’s a bit like catching up with family! There is so much to share.
The 18 hour ferry trip from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy on north Vancouver Island included a couple of stops at communities along the way. The tiny coastal villages are serviced by ferry and have beautiful, recently upgraded marine facilities. The big modern BC Lines vessel ‘Northern Adventure’ was very comfortable and had very few passengers this late in the season. The trip was completed in near perfect sailing conditions; the water was glassy for most of the trip and the sun shone. ‘The best sailing day all summer’ the third mate informed us during our visit to the bridge!
This section of the Inside Passage is spectacular and includes sailing down the narrow Glenville passage where the cedar and pine forests rise steeply from the water’s edge up 1000 metres on one side and 700 on the other.
At its’ narrowest, the passage is less than 500 metres wide and the water approximately the same depth! From bright sunshine when we entered the passage, we were suddenly engulfed in a thick fog, which reduced visibility to almost zero for about 30 minutes, necessitating the use of the ship’s fog horn every two minutes.
The trip went fairly quickly with many whale sightings including humpback whales breaching spectacularly, killer whales surfing in the wake of the ship, dolphins, sea lions and bald eagles. We docked at Port Hardy at 1.30am, drove to the closest campground and slept well!
Vancouver Island is close to 500 km’s in length and given we were in no hurry we decided to have a good look around as we headed south.
The main road winds its way down to Victoria along the northern side of the island where the big island is separated from the mainland for much of its length by smaller islands, many of them inhabited and accessible by ferries. We spent a very pleasant couple of days on Malcolm Island near Port Hardy.
A beautiful campsite on the beach – a beach strewn with timber of all dimensions, from enormous cedar logs that have ‘escaped’ from saw mill catchment areas, to complete trees that have fallen into rivers and been washed into the sea and up onto the beach.
Much of the timber has been floating around for a long time – the biggest collection of driftwood we’ve ever seen. This amazing sight (to us!) of timber washed up on beaches is very common on all the beaches around these parts. On Malcolm Island we spent 4 hours waiting at a point in our campground known for being a ‘rubbing beach’ for Orcas.
There had been whales there just two days prior to our arrival, rubbing their tummies on the steep pebble beach. Despite the beautiful day, a scenic spot on the viewing deck and perfect water, no whales turned up the afternoon we were there.
Most of Vancouver Island is very heavily forested and there is evidence of the logging industry everywhere you travel. Clear felling of sections of the forests stand out but management is apparently very strict, according to locals. We walked through a number of beautiful old growth temperate rainforests where huge Douglas Fur, Western Red Cedar and Sitka Spruce trees have escaped the wood fellers 100 years ago and continue to astound people with their magnificence today! Trees up to 1000 years old can still be found in some of the more remote parks that cover large areas of the island. It truly is beautiful temperate rainforest, but as you may imagine, rainforest requires rain and rain it did!
We spent over a week on beautiful Vancouver Island, before having a quick look around the Butchart Gardens (where it actually sleeted and my goodness that was cold AND wet!) and the city of Victoria before hopping onto a ferry to Port Angeles, Washington State.