I think too often we don’t do enough adventuring in our own back yards. Our recent trip to Bamfield was an example of a great adventure close to home. I had been to Bamfield many years ago but Heather had never been.
Bamfield is a little town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Our friends have had a little cabin there for a number of years and we’ve been trying to go for a visit but the timing just hasn’t worked out. With our retirement, the schedule has opened up and we actually got out for a visit. It was fantastic!
You can get to Bamfield by a 2 hour trip down the Alberni Inlet along some rather sketchy logging road or by water via the Frances Barkley from Port Alberni. The Frances Barkley is a cargo/passenger boat that is run by Lady Rose Marine Services out of Port Alberni and is a really cool trip. It goes down to Bamfield Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday so you can either go for a full day return trip or do like we did and stay overnight for a couple of nights.
We had a great view of all the seiners working down the Alberni inlet and the scenery was pretty spectacular even with a grey day.
The trip down to Bamfield takes about 4 1/2 hours and the Frances Barkley stops on the way down to deliver cargo, mail and passengers as needed. On our trip down we stopped at Kildonan, Haggards Cove and a youth camp before making our way into Bamfield.
Kildonan’s floating post office is the only floating post office in Canada (and maybe North America?) and used to be a big fish canning plant.
Haggards Cove has about 1/2 mile of road that goes nowhere (it is on an island) but it looked like every place there had a car, truck or quad. Go figger.
In Bamfield, our friends met us at the west dock. Bamfield is on an inlet and is split into west and east sides. The east side is the big city with the road access to Port Alberni, Bamfield Marine station, pub, motel, building supply store and market. The west side has the boardwalk, Coast Guard station and a couple of stores. How do you get from one side to the other? By boat of course. Once we got off the boat we headed off to the cabin. On our way we ran across a young bear that was on the beach looking for some seafood. We didn’t bug him, he didn’t bug us.
We took our gear up and got settled in to our guest suite (full bath and hydro – not exactly roughing it). Then we went on a nice hike around the property, had a great salmon dinner and packed it in for the day.
The next morning was an early start to a busy day. The men got up early, had a coffee and then were on the water to see if we could catch any salmon. Talk about a no hassle fishing trip. I didn’t fish much when I was young. Mostly because my dad was an avid fisherman (some would say obsessed) and his idea of a fishing trip was to leave before dawn and come home after dark. I did not share his enthusiasm so needless to say fishing was not one of my favorite father/son bonding times. We headed out to the wall just off the entrance to Bamfield, threw in the lines and trolled for about an hour and a half and were back at the cottage around 7:30 for breakfast. My kind of fishing trip! We caught and released a couple of small ones and one other we considered keeping as it was legal size, but in the end let it go as well.
By the time we got back the clouds had burned off and it was looking like a beautiful sunny day. It was so peaceful and quiet as we had breakfast on the deck and the water was flat calm. So relaxing!
After breakfast we headed out and did a road trip to Pachena Bay to do a little hiking. The weather was fantastic.
Pachena Bay Bay is the beginning/end (depending on which way you’re going) of the world famous West Coast Trail which runs 75 km between Pachena Bay and Port Renfrew and takes about a week to hike. It was originally a lifesaving trail but is now part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. We checked in at the Parks office to register that we were going to hike a portion of the trail and then hiked up 4km which gave us a taste of the trail. I’m thinking this might be an item to put on my to-do list of local adventures.
After our hike we headed back to the cabin had some margaritas, and a good dinner and turned in early again.
Our last morning was a little bit foggy. Fog changes everything. I think it kind of mutes life. We had a sort of lazy wake up, had coffee and took our time getting organized for the trip back.
After breakfast we went and picked some kale from the garden and some salal berries to take home with us. Salal is a wild bush that grows all through the forests on the island. We were introduced to chocolate covered salal berries this trip which and boy are they tasty. I remember trying salal berries when I was a kid and was not impressed. I preferred salmon berries, thimble berries and huckleberries. But add chocolate and man they’re good.
We finished getting all packed and ready to go and then headed over to the west side of Bamfield to hike over to Brady’s Beach and see the sights along the boardwalk. No bright sun, but still nice and warm. By the time we did our tour of West Bamfield, the Frances Barkley was just landing.
The boat does this kind of west/east thing. It stops at the west side dock, drops off day trippers and freight. Then it heads over to the east side dock, picks up West Coast Trail hikers, and other passengers and drops off freight for the east side. Finally it goes back to the west side dock where it picks up the day trippers and also transfers any freight that has to be moved from the east side.
Because we arrived just as the Frances Barkley was getting in to the west side dock, we went on a bit of a tour of the rest of the inlet and then headed down to the east side dock to catch our ride home there.
We checked out the gift shop on the dock and then when the Frances Barkley arrived we hopped on and began our trip home.
Our trip back to Port Alberni was a straight trip with no stops, so we got back to the wharf at 5 pm and friends who had kept our vehicle out at their place on Sproat Lake while we were away, arrived with our car. Wait a minute!! I almost forgot. Best bacon cheeseburger I’ve had in a long time came from the galley on the Frances Barkley. How good was it? Heather, who can take or leave a hamburger at the best of times (and who I can always count on to give me her leftovers) scarfed hers down in record time and was seriously considering getting a second. It’s not as if we were exactly starving either. Man it was tasty. Big thumbs up.
What a great trip. Now I know this has nothing to do with metal or wood or my many projects, but sometimes you just need to clear out your brain and this was a fantastic way to do just that. Heather and I both came home refreshed and energized. What a way to start retirement.
More projects are in the pipe now. Matt and I are working on the firebrick forge and I have a table to finish. Stand by.