Recently, we hiked the Lone Cone Trail up the mountain on Meares Island, near Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. You have to hire a boat to take you over to the island—on a wave-smashing ride—and it’s a very difficult trail, with a steep incline, and many times we didn’t even think we were on a trail—you couldn’t really tell trail from non-trail. It usually takes about five hours, but it took us over six due to the truly treacherous conditions—it was one muddy, aggressively ascending, tree-blocked, gully choked amazing experience. The craziest part is having to clamber up a ravine of huge fallen tree trunks and limbs…like, literally crawling up it over top of these fallen trees. We’ve hiked mountains in Australia and California but nothing like this.
I asked Ann what she learned from the experience and these were the top five things:
1—Little trees are my friends.
2—Rocks with green moss are not my friends.
3—Not all mud is squishy.
4—I can climb over a sh*tload of solid tree trunks on an extreme incline.
5—Jeff’s feet are bigger than mine, so I can follow in his footsteps.
More about the hike under the cut…
We got to within 15 minutes of the top when the weather changed and rain came gusting and all we could think of is the mud down below becoming impassable. Remarkably, our legs were still in good shape at the time we turned back, but it turned out we needed them to be in good shape, as the surfaces became slicker and certain obstacles on the way up that hadn’t been that big a deal were much worse climbing down.
There was an the abandoned village at the base, which was fun at first because we thought we’d entered a horror movie—taking one too many lefts and winding up back at the village, before finding the true trail head. There were also wild cattle and tadpole clusters and amazing cedar smell…and with the fungi and the moss and the light through the huge trees and the crazy proliferation of flowers and lichens and finches…and the thing in its den that snarled and spat at us twice, once on the way up and down…it was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. Cell phones didn’t work during most of the trail, no one else was on it, and on difficult trails like that there’s an intensity of concentration you need that means we didn’t think to get a photo of the log-choked ravine, because we were too focused on getting the heck up it on our hands and knees.
Our reward, afterwards? An amazing meal at the Shelter Restaurant in Tofino: Their Tofino surf bowl (salmon, wild rice, bean sprouts, spicy yogurt, basil, fresh marinated carrots, water chestnuts, shredded cabbage, and more—delicious), island brie on homemade bread with garlic and apple, seared salmon on shrimp risotto, and goat cheese cheese cake with blackberry compote, along with great local beer…Good thing we were hiking a lot…
Later, when we returned to Victoria, and I led her onto this long narrow concrete pier with no guard rails, which left us both feeling dizzy, Ann say “You only seem happy when putting my life in danger.” Me: “I thought it would be short and simple!” Not narrow unrailed and high up with a plunge to an ocean below sprouting with jagged rocks that made us both want to get down on all fours and slink-crawl forward like our cat when we put tape on its back….
We also got to see orcas. Alpha males. Traveling pairs. Teenage males messing around. Dozens of ’em, all around the boat. Jumping and cavorting. Belly roll with fin wave. Fluke flipper whatever smacking the water. Up periscope vertical eye spy with just head and front flipper exposed. Very near. An orca flipper (fin?) has very nearly the same bone structure as a human hand.
More on wildlife, meals, adventures, in a later post…