We’ve had a very exciting few days. We planned an overnight wild camping trip to the world-famous Hot Springs Cove in Tofino. At 15:30 in true Indiana Jones style we boarded a miniature seaplane for the 20 minute flight from Tofino over to Maquinna Provincial Marine Park (The Hot Springs Cove). Needless to say I was slightly nervous having never flown above the ocean in anything so small.
Our trusty pilot Shaun of The Tofino Air Company soon dispelled any of my fears with his trusty handshake and calm, reassuring nature. The day was cloudy with the mist slowly dropping around the mountains. Our seaplane made it’s take off on the ocean, there we were flying high above the roaring Canadian sea “chocks away”. The sound of the plane was so loud we needed ear protection. After a few minutes of abject fear I got my groove back and relaxed enjoying the breathtaking views of Tofino’s neighbouring islands, luscious green forests and endless ocean.
After a perfectly executed, smooth landing we hopped off the plane at around 16:00. Arriving on the island was pretty incredible, with the last of the tourist boats leaving for the day we had the whole Island to ourselves. We walked along a 2k boardwalk trail to the Hot Springs to see what they were like before eating dinner.
Created over 160 million years ago under extreme fire and pressure, the “igneous” and “metamorphic” rocks of Hot Springs Cove create a place of dynamic geological activity. The rocks form a serious of pools filled with hot water that you can bath in. This part of Vancouver Island rests on an unstable portion of the Earth’s crust, known as a “fault”. This major fault, extending offshore from Mate Island, north along the West side of Hot Springs Cove to Hesquit Lake, is associated with intense heat and pressure generated from deep within the Earth.
Sharp Point Hot Springs, ranks as a major thermal spring in Canada. The hot spring is a result of surface water running through the fault. The water is geothermal heated to at least 109 degrees C before hydrostatic pressure forces the water back to the surface and discharges through fractured rock at a temperature of about 50 degrees C. With the combination of the heated water, the rain water running from the hills and the ocean sweeping in with the tide, the water temperature in the Hot Springs is like that of a hot bath.
On approach the Springs smell a bit like rotten egg from the sulphur although once you get down to the pools it doesn’t really smell very much at all. After the boardwalk you reach a clearing where there are beautifully constructed wooden changing rooms. Steam rises above the pools creating a pretty primitive, eerie setting, it would be easy to imagine prehistoric animals or mystical beings roaming around.
After seeing the Springs we walked back along the boardwalk to eat dinner (we ate an incredible Vegetable chilly, prepped earlier in the day) There is nowhere to buy food on the Island and no fresh running tap water, only a small ‘snacks’ box on the dock replenished by the Park Keeper each day, so one must go prepared. We waited until midnight then embarked on our twilight trek through the rainforest. The shadows seemed to be creating some fairly vivid illusions of fairies and dinosaur skeletons for some of our fiercely imaginative group members. Four of us made the trip, Our Terry, our two new buddies Dan & Ric and of course, Moi.
We got changed into our bathing suits and climbed into the pools by moonlight, we managed to light candles around the pools enhancing the magical nature of the Springs. We bathed in the hot water by candlelight for hours talking and laughing. By around 3am the rain was coming down by the bucket load, it was incredible to lay back in the toasty, warm water whilst the cold rain fell on your face.
Eventually we got a couple of hours sleep. There is a basic campsite on the island with clean long drop toilet facilities, however by the time we left the pools we decided just to wild camp in our sleeping bags in the wooden changing room hut, instead of walking back along the 2k trail to the campsite. I dedicated around 3hours of the designated sleeping time to curling up in my sleeping bag freaking out at every tiny noise I heard, convinced I was going to be eaten by a bear or wolf or cougar or some kind of hound. In the morning we dived straight up and back into the pools for a morning dip.
We jumped on one of the regular tourist boats back to Tofino. The waters were pretty rough, which is why I have no photographs of our boatride to share (I was so focused on not being seasick!). On route our Captain (Tim) stopped the boat as we sailed past a grey whale, the grey whale was breaching, it’s whole head jumped up out of the water. Tim told us the grey whales are approx 40feet long. I’ll never forget seeing such a beautiful creature of such enormous proportions and a truly incredible 48hours.
‘Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.’
(-Ralph Waldo Emerson)
The Fabulous Times