Tofino

I’ve wanted to go to Tofino since I moved here (which was almost 6 years ago, good grief). It’s always described as a small town but I think you’ll find it’s a bit bigger than you expect, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Great for surfing (which I’ve never done), the outdoors (which I do a lot) and food (which I’ve done since birth). Actually, “food” doesn’t do it justice, it’s some of the best dining I’ve had in Canada!

This was also a chance to try out my new Sony a6000!

Day 1: Getting there + Ucuelet + Food Find

From Vancouver you’ll have to take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo and then drive the full length of Highway 4 to get there. Takes a while and you get to stop at Port Alberni and several lakes.

You’ll know when you’re close when you see the Pacific Rim Visitor Centre, there you can go right (South) to Ucluelet or left (North) to Tofino. Since it was a good break in the weather, we decided to head to Ucluelet and do the Wild Pacific Trail.

After this, and with the weather setting in, we headed up to the Tin Wis Resort for our first two days. Really nice place I have to say. Every room seemed to have an ocean view, and our one also had the grounds as well. Didn’t spend a huge amount of time out there given that we were in the middle of winter.

After that we headed into town and ended up into Tofino itself, we spotted a pub and thought “that will be a cozy place for a quick dinner”. It was Shelter, and was a full blown restaurant with a pub feel. Food was fantastic! We knew that Tofino had a reputation for good food but didn’t expect to be falling over it this way.

Anyway, home, up somewhat early the next day as the morning as it was expected to not be rainy (this was playing on our minds a bit as you can probably tell).

Day 2: National Park Exploration

We knew today would be the one we would dedicate to the Pacific Rim National Park. This is where the main set of beaches and surfing spots can be found. It’s also worth noting that I became a Canadian Citizen in October last year… so I have a Cultural Access Pass that gets me into the park for free!

Anyway our first stop was Wickaninnish Beach and the Kᵂisitis Visitor Centre. Surfers were out and we got talking to an Aussy who had moved here and done much the same thing I did 6 years ago, except she was surfing rather than skiing, and we talked about the glorious Cultural Access Pass that was saving me a few dollars a day. 🙂

Eagles started to make an appearance too, but didn’t get any good photos yet

While we were at the Visitor Centre, I read a few concerning signs about Unexploded Ordinance. Tofino, during World War II, was a military firing range and it seems not all of it went bang when it was supposed to. (As I was looking for a link for this, I found this list of UXO Sites and saw there are a few near my house!)

We headed over the rocks and went to the South Beach nearby, well worth it if you get a chance

After that, we had quite the debate about where we should go for lunch. I was firm that I wanted to go to Tacofino at some point this weekend, but Tripadvisor and several friends were mentioning the Wildside Grill. In the end, Wildside it was.

After that, we headed for Long Beach and more Eagle spotting.

Finally, we headed up Radar Hill, site of, you guessed it, an old Radar Station, where there is a memorial to Canadian Forces during the Korean War.

The views we got were not as spectacular as the ones on that page.

Anyway, back to the Tin Wis, where I managed to get a good panorama and just decided to have pizza for tea as we were going to a more fancy place tomorrow.

Day 3: Hotel change, more beaches and trails and Tacofino

No photos of this one, but I headed up to the Common Loaf Bakery for an awesome breakfast for both of it.

We roamed the beach near the Tin Wis after checking out (“roamed” sounds like a great word doesn’t it).

Then we went to the Tonquin Trail as the weather was nice and we wanted yet more roaming!

After that, we could finally scratch my Tacofino itch! Headed off to Chesterman Beach to eat it.

The Eagle eyed amongst you might have spotted a building on the peninsula, that’s The Pointe Restaurant, where we would be going later.

Anyway, we headed to our second hotel, the Pacific Sands Beach Resort. Watched the end of the Superbowl then did a little exploring on the beach.

We watched the end of the Superbowl then headed out for dinner. The Pointe was certainly fine dining if I’ve ever seen it.

Thing is, I didn’t take many photos of it. Was fantastic none the less! Excellent staff too!

Day 4: Heading home

Well it was rainy, so one last breakfast stop at Common Loaf then we headed home.

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Keith’s Hut

We did this trip in February 2014 but, for very good reasons I don’t want to discuss, had to delay posting this until now.

A few years ago, we heli’ed up to Keith’s Hut only to find that it was full, and that the heli was unwelcome. We decided to repeat the trip, this time on snowshoes for me and up the traditional winter route.

As I’ve been doing recently, here are the resources:

We set out early from the parking (just off the highway, probably space for 15-20 cars) and the forest section at the start was narrow and tricky. The elevation was gradual but present, and continued as we started to open up into the meadows. Eventually we were deep in the valley before it opens up into a very large bowl. You go to your right (the Eastern side) and make your way up through another wood then loop round into the hut.

Sounds easy? It’s not that easy when you can see, hear and know of all the avalanche risks. We went up on a moderate risk day but it soon became clear that slopes were slipping due to heavy wet snow. We took a conservative, planned approach and were all in possession of avalanche safety gear (all but one person had AST1 and that person was drilled on what to do). Unfortunately it looks like I’ve lost it now, but the other skiers and I were mapping out the avalanches on Backcountry Navigator. I won’t soon forget hearing those rumbles down the mountain.

Anyway, we pitched up at the cozy hut with solar powered lights, an out house and a wood stove. The upstairs is ladder accessed but I chose to stay downstairs for the night, reading a book on my phone (yes this is perfectly possible to do).

The next morning we headed down. The avalanche conditions were much worse. Woomphfing sounds under our feet were making it clear that (what I believe) was an early evening weak frozen surface layer covered in heavy wet snow. This promptly collapsed under us and we had many, many sink-ins that we needed our shovels to get out of.

Pleased to see the cars again!

Lindeman & Greendrop Lakes

Finally! A post that happened reasonably close to the time the hike took place!

Last weekend we were planning to head to Brew Hut and Brew Lake for a summer trip, but the weather turned poor. At the last minute, I identified Lindeman & Greendrop Lakes near Chilliwhack as an alternative.

As always, the links:

The trail starts out level as you enter the forest but then hits you with 300m elevation gain, then you realize it’s coastal rain forest and start to sweat. One thing watch out for deceptive trail markers. We were following them and went in the wrong direction a few times, do not assume you should pass beside it in the same direction, look for the next marker and the one after it.

After about 30 minutes of climbing we reached Lindeman Lake. There are campsites and bear caches here, and it’s more popular with day hikers. You can proceed round the Northern side of the lake (your left) and cross your first boulder field. Then it’s a walkway and some creek scrambling.

You have some more boulder fields ahead. Watch your footing. There are forest sections too and some undulation, but most of the uphill is done. We headed through the forest (again keep an eye on your trail markers) until eventually the sign for Flora Lake comes up. Head past it in the North-Easterly direction (Greendrop is not on the signpost) for another 500m (perhaps 1km). Eventually you’ll see the forest clear and the bear cache/toilet sign to your right. You’ve made it.

There are 2 campsites at Greendrop. The first has two pads and a lot of space (good for larger groups) but not a lake view. If you head round on the Southern side of the lake (to your right) you’ll find a second one, this time just one pad but there is easily room for two tents, perhaps more, and a better lake view. We set up there.

That evening we chilled out and caught up (been a while since I’ve done an overnighter with our usual group) and I discovered I had forgotten a fork in my hurry. My new Kelty Cosmic Down 41 was just right! Well worth the $150 for a summer bag.

The next morning we headed up the Southern side of the lake for a bit. It looks like a path but it becomes clear it’s overgrown and involves a lot of climbing. We turned back as we didn’t think it was passable.

On the way past the first campsite we had to do some cleaning up as the group before us had left, among other things, glass jars of died Krill! Annoying we had to carry it out for them honestly. Clean up after yourselves!

Then it was back to the cars and I had to go off and do a few Chilliwhack jobs.

Well worth it and a great random find!