West Coast Vancouver Island

Sea Otter Cove

Saturday, July 20, 2013S.V. CAMBRIA

We were a little surprised that we weren’t alone when we arrived in Sea Otter Cove yesterday evening: There were two other sailboats, travelling together, already moored in the bay.  One of the couples stopped by when I was taking Sally to shore and told me about a short trail on the southern beach that leads to San Josef Bay.  “Short” appealled to David who normally has no interest in walking, so we went after lunch.  Now.  What they didn’t tell me is that the trail forks after a few minutes and we should go left.  Being right-handed, I naturally chose the wrong path.  We made it.  But at times the going was rough and I drug David through dense patches of bramble and salmonberry bushes, passing a pile or two of bear scat along the way.

San Josef Bay

We finally broke through the bush and made it to the beach, which was well worth the effort.  San Josef Bay is rugged and quintessentially Pacific Northwest:  Debris from storms gathers along its beaches – driftwood, netting, floats and even packaging with Asian writing.  And hills covered in cedar, Douglas fir and Sitka spruce line the shore to comple the picture.  The shoreline is somewhat protected by reef and kelp beds and most of the beach remains small rocks and pebbles that are interesting to comb through.  While looking around I also found the upper section of a cougar’s jaw – a stark reminder that we’re back in cougar territory and I need to be extra vigilant when taking Sally for her walks (they primarily reside in the southern third of British Columbia and most attacks over the last 100 years have occurred on Vancouver Island). 

David enjoying the view

Debris on the beach

Uplifting on San Josef Beach

After walking from one end of the beach to the other and filling our pockets with interesting rocks, we took the proper trail back to Sea Otter Cove.  While it took us more than thirty minutes to walk to San Josef, the return trip couldn’t have taken much more than ten.  Live and learn.  Once we got back to the boat, I couldn’t help myself:  I had to hike to Lowrie Bay.  We’re only going to be here for one full day and, if we ever come down the West Coast again, I seriously doubt that we’ll return to Sea Otter Cove – it’s just too shallow.  So I donned my gum boots in preparation for a muddy trail (which I got) and jumped back into the dinghy. 

The trail to Lowrie Bay takes you through rain forest, bog and mud (heavy on the mud) and leads to along, white sand beach open to the northwest with an incredible vista out to the top of Vancouver Island – the perfect spot to view our recent accomplishment.  The beach is wild and windswept and, like San Josef Bay, collects debris on its shores, making it interesting to comb as you walk barefoot in the sand (gum boots will only take you so far).  It’s also lonely and isolated, and I missed having David there with me to share it with.  So my stay was short and, after quickly walking from one end to the other, I took the trail back to Sea Otter Cove. 

Looking out to Cape Scott from Lowrie Bay

Later on we pulled out the charts to plan our next step and are beginning to get excited at all the possibilities this side of Vancouver Island offers.  After only one day along the West Coast, we think it’s rugged, windblown, and wild – not unlike the west coast of the US but with safe, natural harbours along the way.  And while this may not be the most beautiful section of British Columbia that we’ve seen, we have a feeling it’s going to be our greatest adventure yet.  So bring it on . . . .

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