Places / Wild

Cape Scott

Exploring the Northwestern tip of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

The seclusion and remoteness of Cape Scott beckoned us from our home in Vancouver. With some friends coming for a visit from NYC, the time was right to catch the first ferry of the morning and begin the long journey to the top of Vancouver Island and the Cape Scott Provincial Park trailhead. It was late afternoon by the time we arrived at the trailhead, some 6 hours of driving after a 2 hour ferry later. It was late summer, the sun was shining and we started our hike in good spirits with Eric Lake as our first objective.

With a few rain drops starting to fall along with the last of the light, we hunkered down in the Eric Lake campsite at 3.5km in, itself a pleasant, tent-pad enhanced bit of forest to rest up for tomorrow’s longer haul. It’s a 17km hike from the trailhead to Nels Bight where we plan to pitch our tents and the next morning we are off and walking! In short time (the trail is almost all flat) we heard the sounds of the ocean and popped out to find ourselves on Nels Bight, our home for the next few days as we explore Experiment Bight, Guise Bay and Cape Scott itself. One of the best backpacking experiences I’ve had.

Sun rise on the BC Ferry crossing the Salish Sea
Sun rise from the top deck crossing the Salish Sea.
A wooden boardwalk through the forest to Eric Lake
A wooden boardwalk through the forest to Eric Lake.
Hikers in the deep forest of the Cape Scott trail
Hiking the old homesteaders & telegraph trails.
A sandy Pacific beach at Experiment Bight
Experiment Bight.
Limpids fill a tide pool amongst the rocks.
Every crack of rock is filled with life.
Flotsam is personaized and hangs as a trail marker in Cape Scott.
Flotsam turned trail markers between the Bights.
Hikers along a lush forest trail in BC.
The lush trail from the Bights to the Lighthouse.
View from a lighthouse towards the Pacific
Lighthouse views: Lanz, Beresford and Sartine Islands.
A feather sits in a glass bottle.
Scavenging for old wood, rope, glass and feathers.
A messy tangle of Bull Kelp.
Hikers walk along a boardwalk in Cape Scott Provincial Park.
A sensitive section of the boardwalk trail to the lighthouse.
A man with colorful socks and Patagonia shoes.
Smart footwear for boardwalks, but mind the damp.
A creek reflects two hikers on Nels Bight, Cape Scott.
Creek mouth near the Nels Bight water source.
The sun shines on Experiment Bight.
The sun shines on Experiment Bight.
A woman rests beside a water source at Cape Scott.
Pondering the water source on Nels Bight.
A woman relaxes in a fighing net hammock.
Taking a break in a scavenged fishing net hammock.
Fires burns at the campsite on Nels Bight.
A beach wood campfire on Nels Bight.
The sand ripples after the tide goes out at Cape Scott.
The tide recedes and leaves natural patterns to consider.
A woman jumps into the air at sunset on the beach.
Jumping for joy as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean.
A man runs to his woman while the sun sets at Cape Scott.
Hustle towards your sweetie for that sunset moment!
The forest is damp on the Cape Scott trail.
Humid under sunny skies, the forest breathes a damp air.
A sign points to the dyke trail.
Homesteaders built dykes, pasture & community out here.
Cape Scott boardwalk hikers.
The landscape feels quite unusual in places.
The Northern Lights shine above Cape Scott campsite.
The Northern Lights on our last night on the beach.

Cape Scott Provincial Park offers an incredible, remote location battered by Pacific storms with strong winds and heavy precipitation. We planned for the worst, and were rewarded with the best. That’s backpacking for you, happy to have the extra layers. Next time I will do things a little differently. I will wear sensible shoes – not my usual mountain-grade stiff-soled Italian leather boots. No, these are much too slippery to navigate the boardwalks and roots. I fell dozens of times, no joke. It was like walking on ice. Next time: soft-sole boots equipped with removable spikes. I’ll also pack my fly rod as the salmon were enticing us from the ocean at sunset every day.

A note on wildlife. While there is an ongoing ‘Wolf Advisory’ and both black bears and cougars are numerous in the park, we had no such encounter. We did find out there was a cougar on the main trail the day we hiked in, so it’s a matter of chance and timing to see one. I was certain we’d see wolves, and while the rangers we met see the mega-fauna weekly, we missed out. Which is OK, the sea life, birds and the natural beauty of the place were all we needed. In the morning fog, these predators are on the beaches and can mistake a human for prey, so keep your wits about you and don’t go jogging alone in the mist!

These images are available for editorial licensing and as archival prints for personal or commercial use, please contact me for additional info. This is a small sample of the work from this set and I will be returning to explore more summer 2017.