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Pacific Rim National Park Reserve Victoria

29th May 2010

Rain Forest, Shorepine Bog and Victoria

    The morning was chilly, I could see my breath as I headed to the washrooms. Breakfast was porridge and coffee. I offered the young couple at the next pitch some coffee too. They were Germans who were travelling through Canada before heading down the west coat of the USA. Vancouver Island must have held a special charm for Germans, there were hundreds of them all over the island. We shared experiences of various campsites, and the cost of living over here. It gave me the chance to polish up my German linguistic skills too. I learned that they were both architects, who had packed their jobs in to travel. On their return to Germany, the girl preferred Berlin, but the bloke wanted Hamburg as a base. Both are stimulating cities. I spent a while with my son in Berlin and really enjoyed it. In my teens I worked as a trainee in Hamburg for three months, so I have a fondness for that city too. I hoped it would work out for them.
Sleeping Quarters from the Rear
Sleeping Quarters from the Side Door
    I motored up to one of the trails on the Reserve, the Rain Forest Walks, though sadly only one was open. I had thought the Schooner Cove forest I visited yesterday was natural, untouched forest. This rain forest was an order of magnitude more natural and unadulterated. It was dense, almost impenetrable. There were living trees, collapsed decaying trees, shrubs and undergrowth in every square centimetre. Spanish Moss clung onto branches for dear life. Left alone for 100 million years and this could become a coal seam. Wooden walkways gave access to insignificant humans. Below, streams could be heard but not seen. A real temperate rain forest. This side of the island receives 120" of rain per year. The east side receives 40". Over the Strait of Georgia, Vancouver receives 60" per year.
Rain Forest
    I came across a display board with hand drawn illustrations of the various trees to be found. I was able to distinguish the hemlock from this. It had the usual needle leaves, but the branches drooped, a bit like a weeping willow, though not as pronounced. The Hemlock's bark is smooth like a deciduous tree. Unfortunately the drawings were not good enough for me to identify the other trees. I cast my eyes around and spotted a Hemlock tree, which I went to examine.
    Just then, by the uncanniest coincidence, who should walk by but the couple I met yesterday in the Schooner Cove forest, the chap and Lady Avatar. We exchanged pleasantries, and I shared with them my new found knowledge. The guy seemed to appreciate it. Our paths crossed again later on the trail, but this time the dainty Lady Avatar was crouching down in the undergrowth off the beaten walkway. No, she wasn't answering a call of nature, she was photographing a slug. Her other half explained to me that she was heavily into slugs. I asked if they had spotted a Banana Slug on the trail, which I knew to be the biggest slug in the world, growing to 9" in length, and inhabited the island (having read that on a display board). She had seen a big one on the trail. I was peeved that I missed it.
Shorepine Trees
    After the rain forest, I visited the Shorepine Bog Trail. This unique environment supports only a narrow range of plants that can survive the acidic conditions. Trees, deprived of adequate nutrition, may suffer stunted growth and malformed limbs. Shorepine roots struggle to absorb the few nutrients and minerals available in the acidic, waterlogged soil. It is thought that a lack of the mineral phosphorous inhibits upward growth of the tree-tip, causing it to branch sideways - a kind of chemical pruning. The resulting tree often resembles a gigantic broccoli. Here, the Shorepine dominated the landscape and provided a beautiful contrast to the rain forest.
Driftwood on Wickaninnish Beach
    It was only a short journey down to Wickaninnish Beach and Florencia Bay Beach. Wickaninnish Beach was a wide arcing sandy bay with half a forest washed up as driftwood resting against the dunes. A group of surfers were out amongst the surf. As I walked down onto the beach two surfers were walking up with their boards. "Hey, we are surfers", they shouted, "we are surfers". I resisted the temptation to say, "Gee, and I thought you were candlestick makers".
    The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve was an absolutely beautiful, unspoiled area with plenty to interest folk. Long may it stay like that. I savoured the salty air before leaving and tackling the five hour drive down to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. I observed the sign at the start of the journey which said "No services for 85km", and filled up my tank accordingly.
Legislative Buildings
    I drove straight into the city centre and then spiraled outwards to find some accommodation for a couple of nights; I didn't want the hassle of parking outside the city and commuting in. Just as I was homing in on an inn, the charging circuit warning lamp came on. Damn, I had that fixed not too long ago in Seattle. I decided there was nothing I could do about it till the working week started, and I would probably like to be back in Vancouver to get it looked at.
    Once established in a Traveler's Inn on Douglas Street, I walked to downtown, did a quick walk along one of the waterfronts, and had a Thai meal. I started with a hot and sour soup. Crikey, that was hot, sheer anti-personnel fluid.
    Walking back to the inn, I noticed how like an English city this was. Grand looking hotels that would not look out of place in Harrogate or Bath, and hoards of young people pouring in and out of pubs (mind you it was Saturday night). Everywhere you looked tourists were strolling taking photos as if there was no tomorrow.
    Today, the 29th May, was a special day for me. I remember exactly what I was doing a year ago; hot air ballooning in Tuscany with Niall, Liz and Chris. Two years ago I was with Alan and Rex passing through the Crinan Canal in Scotland, and sailing down past Arran and Bute to Largs. Fond memories for this special day.
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Pacific Rim National Park Reserve Victoria

Uploaded from Traveller's Inn - City Centre, 1961 Douglas Street, Victoria, BC V8T 4KT on 31/05/10 at 09:30

Last updated 5.6.2010