Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia – Sea fog at driftwood beach

We drive by Cowichan Lake another time since we want to reach Port Alberni via logging roads. We pass Nitinat River that flows into Nitinat Lake, the only tidal lake in Canada that’s connected with the sea at high tide, not at low tide. Now in late summer it shall be the best time to angle salt water fish caught in fresh water. In Port Alberni we take Hwy # 4 west. This stretch is said to be Vancouver Island’s best. And really: it is beautiful here. The partially narrow road winds up and down, from left to right, and sometimes very close to the rock faces. The road follows funny Kennedy River whose bed is shaped by huge roundly smoothed rocks where you can climb on in many places.

Arriving at the coastal road from Ucluelet to Tofino a surprise is waiting for us: fog. The entire coastline is covered. We go to Ucluelet, a not completely crowded but also not exciting tourists’ village. In the Pacific Rim National Park we stop at Long Beach, a several kilometres long sandy beach that is meant to be the most beautiful in British Columbia. Huge driftwood stems lie at the beach, washed ashore by waves not to underestimate. Quite a few strange rubber snakes lie about. They are a couple of metres long and narrow to one end. The thicker end leads into a ball where half meter long rubber bands are fixed. The rubber-like material of the hose is one to two centimetres thick and extremely stable. The objects are bull kelp that grow in the North Pacific’s cold shallow waters and grant many hundreds of other species food and habitat. The thin end is equipped with some roots with which the plant cling to a stone on the bottom. The ball is the buoy that keeps the algae upright and leads the plant to surface and light, the rubber bands are the “leaves”. The ball is filled with enough carbon dioxide for buoyancy to suffocate a small chicken. Bull kelp belongs to the world’s most fast growing living things. On sunny days they shall be able to add 60 cm in length, in the average still 20 cm. Their maximum length is around 30 m, but they live only one year. Then they die and are washed up.

Swimming is only for stalwarts due to cold water and undercurrent, but the coast is famous surf area. You can walk along the beach and through the bordering forests, but visibility is so poor today. The area is known for sea fog even when the sun shines behind the mountains. For curiosity we drive to Tofino at the end of the road. The touristy village is not really worth seeing and consists of hotels, restaurants and outfitters. You can book canoe and kayak excursions, surf courses, whale watching tours, angling trips, and even recreational scuba dives. Besides that there is not much to do than eating and sleeping.

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