Sand dunes, logs and bogs

We had a slow start this morning – I had work to do and the girls are feeling tired.  It must be all the fresh air – we’re just not used to it anymore!  It is lovely to be spending 10 hours a day outside though, we’ve missed it…

Lunch was first on the agenda and by popular request we went back to Tacofino for a Mexican inspired lunch before heading off to explore the Pacific Rim National Park some more.  The park is supposed to be one of the most beautiful in Canada and it is stunning, with rugged coastlines, mountains, rain forests and sandy beaches, as well as lots of marine and other wildlife.

First stop was some sand dunes on Wickaninnish Beach so we could roll the children down them!  Alas, the sand dunes have been closed due to unexploded mines dating back to the second world war when Canada was expecting an invasion from Japanese landing craft along the coastline.  The girls were all for playing on them anyway, but we were less keen…

Instead we balanced on some of the many, many logs that get washed up on the beach and found shelters that people had made from the wood.

The storms here are pretty ferocious in the Winter.  So much so, that Tofino is now almost as busy in the Winter as it is in the Summer with people arriving to storm watch.  Imagine the waves that tossed the log above on to the beach.

Or all of these:

You can’t really get the scale from this picture but these logs are all the trunks of fully grown cedar trees.

We particularly liked the large log above as it looks like a sea monster up close:

We headed to a rain forest trail down the road from the beach.  But a rain forest trail with a difference.  The ones we’d seen so far had massive red cedar trees which grow very tall and wide – up to 55m tall – and shorepines that grow to 30m high.  The trees at Shorepine Bog are very old (up to 300 years old) but very small, hardly taller than us:

The landscape is quite barren and the trees look like overgrown bonsai trees – all gnarled and shrivelled.  Unfortunately the trail has no information at all about why this is the case but it turns out it is due to the nature of the bog as one of the most poorly draining ecosystems in the park and with 300cm of rain every year this is a big problem.  Nutrients are in very short supply in this acidic soil so growth is stunted and at best, twisted.

The sign at the start of the path warned of cougars, bears and wolves but to the girls disappointment (and our relief) we didn’t see any wildlife at all.  Tomorrow we move on to the capital of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, Victoria.

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