This morning we woke up in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
I’ve driven most freeways, motorways and scenic byways of this province, from Spuzzum to Bella Coola, and I can now add the Pacific Rim Highway to the list. Yesterday the narrow, winding road that is Highway 4 led us down toward Pacific Rim National Park like a glacier-fed creek heading toward the open sea.
Crossing Vancouver Island to reach its Western shore is an experience unlike any other. Just past Coombs and before you hit Port Alberni you’ll find Cathedral Grove, which is reminiscent of driving through Redwood Park in California. The ancient Douglas Firs and Red Cedars, some almost 10 meters in diameter, act as majestic welcome poles as though you’re venturing down the private driveway of the Pacific Ocean.
As previously mentioned, I’ve driven up and down mountain passes and gravel roads that run along rushing rivers. What makes Highway 4 different is really the trees. It wasn’t until I went to Prince George last winter, and Chilliwack Lake in the spring, that I realized I had not laid eyes on an old-growth forest during my adult life.
Now I’ve seen old trees and stood finger tip to finger tip with 8 others to give a Redwood a giant bear-hug while it was measured. However I have no clear memory of seeing an un-touched, un-logged, and completely virgin forest — and when you see one, you’ll know.
Dead trees stick out like massive pins in a lush green cushion. They are worn, grey, cracked, and crooked behemoths. I was told once that it’s almost haunting to witness.
Further down the road, deciduous trees flank the highway when it opens up to let in pockets of sunshine through the clouds. Lush green leaves on the branches watch their yellow and orange counterparts tumble to the ground and crunch under the tires of the passing traffic.
We had great company for dinner at The Pointe restaurant, enjoying a 260 degree view of the coast as we sampled the catch of the day from Tofino, paired with cheese from Cowichan and wine from the Okanagan.
Retiring to our Northwest-facing room for the evening we turned out the lights and turned on the fireplace. We opened the sliding glass door as nature provided the soundtrack to our evening.
The beat of the falling rain was drowned out by the rushing water below our balcony. Every few minutes one wave would have more force than those that came before and it would make a loud “tharump!” as it crashed against the jagged shore.
After our journey from downtown Vancouver, across the Strait on the ferry, and along a Highway new to us both, we rested our heads just feet away from the crashing waves of the Pacific.
We sat in darkness and watched the water, lit only by moonlight and the intermittent orange glow from a lighthouse in the distance, and fell asleep.