Continuing our journey south down the west coast of Vancouver Island, our next stop would be somewhere along the west coast of Nootka Island. The rabid surf enthusiasts among us – everyone except me, were hoping to find some clean peeling waves down the west side of Nootka. As we sailed briskly along through the tail end of the previous night’s storm, Harry pinpointed one spot on the chart a friend had told him to check out. When we arrived at said spot later that morning, huge white spray erupted over two large reefs, together which framed a dip in the coastline that somewhat resembled a bay. The shore here was fairly straight and exposed, but there did seem to be an area in between the two reefs that was significantly calmer, and at least not exploding. The lefts and the rights had already been spotted, and wet suits were on just as soon as we anchored. The Boat pitched deeply side to side in the swell, but our anchor seemed to be holding. Since I had no desire to paddle into those rather violently breaking waves smashing onto a rocky reef, the crew dropped me off on shore to walk the beaches.
Surprisingly to me, there were a number of people hiking along the beach, and as I walked I eventually came to an area where quite a few people were camped next to a shimmering waterfall. Having not seen many other people at all since leaving Port hardy, aside from in the tiny town of Kyuquot, I was surprised to see so many hikers and campers there. Still, it is a spectacular coast. Pebble beaches and rocky bluffs spliced by waterfalls alternate with long stretches of smooth sand. Despite the human visitors, the sand was still peppered with wolf tracks. Since the swell was mainly breaking on the reefs off shore, the beaches on this part of the island were relatively calm.
After walking for an hour or so, I turned and started heading back to meet the others. I quickly realized that the tide had come up quite a bit higher than I had anticipated. In some places, it had come up all the way to the rocky bluffs, and in one place, to the base of a waterfall. I was worried about slipping on the rocks and dropping our camera in the water, so I kept my boots on my feet and just charged ahead through knee deep water.
While there was some interest in staying the night in that spot to allow for another surf session, I vetoed that quickly as the boat rolled on it’s side and back again, dishes clinking and pictures falling off the wall.
In retrospect, the only thing I regretted on this trip was skipping over the Hesquit Peninsula. I would have liked to have visited Cougar Annie’s gardens and the rest. I suppose that’s for next time. We sailed straight to Hot Springs Cove and the name-sake pools on the tiny Openit Peninsula.
While there are many hot springs in other parts of British Columbia, there is really only one on Vancouver Island. There are a few other warm springs, but Hot Springs Cove is
the only one that is actually very hot. It makes sense then, that it is an extremely popular tourist destination all summer. An almost constant stream of visitors pour out of whale watching boats and float planes, climbing out of red survival suits on the small dock. When we arrived there, it was swamped to the point that we had no interest in battling hoards of Vancouverites, American and European Tourists for a spot on the rocks. It sunk in at this point, that we had now lost the remoteness of the previous weeks. We were back in the land of human activity.
We bided our time till the sun was setting. Then the float planes were no longer rattling in and the last whale watching boat had left, so we made our move. Plodding Along the Board walk in the dimming light we found we had the famous hot springs all to ourselves. Cold ocean waves flood the lower pools, while directly below the waterfall is steaming hot. A hot cleansing soak was a joy at this point in our travels.