Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Adventure Number 11: Florencia Bay

The Tree House

This past Friday evening Natalie and I along with Sheena made the three hour drive across Vancouver Island to Ucluelet. Natalie's Grandpa and Grandma's house was our destination for this visit, and we would also see her Uncle and Aunt. I try to get over to the west side of the Island at least once a year. The property that they own is so impressive. Reg and Kelly are die-hard gardeners and landscapers.  The rugged piece of land includes many meters of trails, rock piles, moss gardens and palm trees. He has been growing from seed many varieties of palms for about fifteen years and the count on the property is exceeding 275 individual trees. Bamboo grows next to western hemlock, Fishtail palms next to western red cedar. The mix is beautiful along with the various driftwood sculptures and hidden frog statues. It is a place that a person can sit and think. Peaceful and serene. A new addition to the trails are cement walking stones that elevate the trail above a particularly marshy section of forest. One of Natalie's favorite places is the tree house that was built many years ago when her mom was little. She has to go have a look on every visit.

Natalie loves the cement brick road

We were blessed by the good Mother with beautiful clear skies on Saturday morning. A frost had laid overnight, and disappeared rapidly as the glowing orb warmed the air. We ate breakfast and sat on the south facing side of the yard, overlooking the vegetable garden, soaking up the rays. It was decided that we would cross the highway and walk the 1.4 kilometers to Florencia Bay. Florencia Bay is located with in Pacific Rim National Park.  The park is best know for Long Beach and its growing surf culture, the West Coast Trail for hiking and the Broken Island group for paddling. The park stretches 125 kilometers from Tofino southward to Port Renfrew.

Florencia Bay

Florencia Bay has been a favorite beach to visit since I first started going west about a dozen years ago. The fact that the trail head is just across the road from where I stay makes this so easy to access. It takes about 30 minutes from the time we leave the front door to get to the beach. The foot only path is packed gravel with a couple of small rises. It is a fairly easy walk for anyone with decent fitness and mobility. The hardest part of the trail is the 170 steps that are at the top of the hill above the surf. Before one can access the beach, the stairs must be ascended. Coming up this stair case can be a lung burner. Last summer I ran up and down them with Natalie's 10 year old cousin. That was wild!

Tangled Driftwood

The beach was a tangled mass of driftwood from the winter storms. The top of the staircase had an unusually large pile of garbage from people beach combing. Floats, Styrofoam, plastic bottles and shoes all make up the pile. One bottle was some kind of beverage with what I assume was Japaneses writing on it. That is a long trip across the Pacific. The sun was in full force for the end of March. We had a delicious meal of crackers, goats cheese, veggie pate and smoked salmon, with stuffed dates for desert. Natalie soon was aching to play in the water. We convinced her to remove most of her clothes and just get her t-shirt wet, so she would have something dry to wear on the walk back to the house. She was hollering and screaming at how cold the water was, jumping and running from the waves. I just sat back and laughed at her good time. Sheena also got in for a swim. Not this cowboy, brrrrr.  Another thing I appreciate about this beach is that it is usually very empty. This day it was busier that normal, but that was to be expected on such a magnificent day.


After a few hours and a couple of tears because her legs were cold and the sand was scratching her while trying to put her pants and socks on, we left the beach. Natalie and I counted the stairs on the way up, and playing a game tossing Dusty around while we walked back. This was the first time she didn't cry on the way back in her life. I was a very happy guy. I suggest if you wish to find a more secluded place to enjoy a west coast beach, forget Long Beach and pay a visit to Florencia Bay, bring a picnic, and get lost in the sights and sounds of the Pacific coastline. Find Adventure.

Watch the waves!


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