Hot Springs Cove

Some days are just the right amount of perfect.

I spent last week in Tofino with my sister, brother-in-law and my niece and nephew (16 and 17 yrs old). On Tuesday, we embarked on an excursion to Hot Springs Cove, located 26 nautical miles up the coast from Tofino, British Columbia in Maquinna Provincial Park. Located at the mouth of a narrow peninsula, the springs are perched right at the water’s edge overlooking the open ocean, and are accessible only by boat or plane.

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We opted to take a 20 minute float plane for the trip up to the springs and then the hour and a half covered boat on the way back for the chance of seeing whales on the return.

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The float plane ride was great. The day was sunny and clear with medium winds so the views were spectacular and the landing only a bit bumpy.


Once we got to the dock, reaching the hot springs required a 2 km hike along a boardwalk through old growth forest.   The boards had various names engraved into them, I’m assuming as a thank you for donations. There were ship names and drawings, milestones of school outings, couples names and even one “Patricia Richardson, will you marry me?” (no word on the answer).

The springs are located in a rocky cove, requiring some scrambling down through the rocks to access the pools. But, once you get there, they are lovely and warm (if somewhat crowded in late July). The springs have a water flow of 5 to 8 litres per second. The hot spring is a result of surface water flowing through a “fault” to a depth of about 5 kilometres. The water is geothermically heated to a temperature of at least 109 degrees C before pressure forces the water back to the surface and discharges through fractured rock at a temperature of about 50 degrees C. (kudos to my sister for some of the shots of the hot springs, she scrambled up some rocks to get better shots!)

We lounged in the pools, had a snack and then hiked our way back to the dock in time for a drink at the on-dock cafe only to discover that our covered boat had broken down and so the excursion company (the wonderful Jamie’s Whaling Station) had arranged for us to join one of the zodiac whale watching boats for the trip back to Tofino. Which was a much more fun way to travel than a covered boat! Although, I have no idea where they scrounged up survival suits for us!

On the way back to Tofino, we rode the waves and got sprayed by the sea, saw several bald eagles and then cruised by a bunch of sea otters, floating on their backs with their hands and feet out of the water to keep warm.  And then, we had the amazing experience of watching a mother gray whale and her calf feeding.

Gray whales migrate between feeding and breeding grounds yearly and reach a length of 14.9 meters, a weight of 36 tonnes and live between 55 and 70 years. They are also really hard to photograph! Hard to see, and then they slide under the water before you can aim and click.

We ended the trip salt-encrusted from the zodiac ride, hungry for dinner, and contented from a rather perfect day.

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Tofino

Sometimes, I forget how lucky I am.

In July, I spent a week in Tofino with my sister and brother-in-law and my niece and nephew who travelled across Canada to spend time with me. Lots of the pictures from the last month have been from that week. Looking back through them, I realize how lucky I am to live so close to such an amazing place. And, to have family that I love spending time with.

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Tofino is located on the west coast of the West Coast of Canada in Clayoquot Sound. That is, the west coast of Vancouver Island. From Vancouver, you take a ferry across to the Island, then drive all the way across the island til you get to the Hesquiaht Peninsula and travel to the end on the only road. There you will find Tofino.

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Incredible long beaches with big waves that roll in off the Pacific ocean just ready to be surfed. Huge cedar trees, hundreds of years old and some over a thousand. Incredible marine and terrestrial wildlife – whales and seals and sea lions and eagles and bears and wolves. Oh my!!

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Tofino’s economy is based on eco-tourism. Surfing, kayaking, whale-watching, hiking, sailing, bird-watching. Storm-watching in the winter. They’ve got it all. A wide range of artists and artisans and First Nations culture.

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The other economic staple of the region is forestry and logging. In the summer of 1993, environmentalists and First Nations groups spear-headed a large, mostly peaceful protest against the intended logging of old-growth forest. Dubbed The War in the Woods, over 800 people were arrested in Canada’s largest incident of civil disobedience.  Due largely to these protests, which gained world-wide attention, and a Greenpeace-initiated boycott of BC forest products, an agreement was reached between environmental groups, First Nations groups, the Provincial Government and MacMillan Bloedel, the logging company. There has been mostly peace in the woods since then.

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For us, the week consisted of surfing, sea kayaking, whale-watching, kite-flying, long walks and bike rides along the beach, great food, a trip to the local aquarium, lots of photography and art, and a crazy game app called Space Team, where we all had to try to work together to fly a space ship. It mostly resulted in us yelling crazy instructions to each other as the ship eventually crashed into oblivion. If we ever get invaded by aliens, don’t rely on us to hijack and fly the alien ship!

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It was a great week. The kids are teenagers now so they finally sleep in (yay!) and they both now like sushi (double yay!).  And, my sister and I had lots of time for long talks, as opposed to our regular, cross time zone text-chatting.

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People come long way from all over the world to visit Tofino – UK, Germany, France, Australia and New Zealand, China and Japan. And, here it is right in my own backyard.

Yup, sometimes I forget just how lucky I really am.  May I never take my many blessings for granted.

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