As much as we would’ve loved to dawdle longer in Ucluelet, we were on a tight schedule, so after a whirlwind two days and three nights on the west coast, we started back to the other side of Vancouver Island.
The western section of Highway 4 is narrow and winding, with rock on one side and water on the other. Witnessing this loaded truck trying to negotiate a tight corner, I can understand why there’ve been some tragic accidents over the years.
Here’s that serendipitous tale I spoke of last week. While on the ferry to Vancouver Island at the start of our trip, I’d struck up a conversation with a young woman. She asked if our travels would take us to the Port Alberni area, and I said we’d be driving by twice, but not staying there. She told me of an enchanting and relatively unknown place called Hole in the Wall. She promised it was worth a visit. I made note of how to find it and, on our way through that morning, we kept an eye out for the Coombs Country Candy store, which she’d said is across the highway from the trailhead and a good place to park the car.
Just in the nick of time, Hubby spotted a road sign with exit directions for the store. He popped into the store to ask the helpful clerk how to find the trailhead. I can only imagine how many other tourists have done the same thing. Crossing the busy highway was a bit of an adventure in itself, but soon we were safely on the trail.
The unmaintained trail is hard-packed dirt, and there’s a fairly steep, rutted slope near the beginning, but the majority of the short walk was quite easy.
What a delightful setting. I’m so glad we took the time to search out this hidden gem.
Hubby crossed Roger Creek to have a closer look.
Stuck on the other side, I cursed my injured foot for preventing me from investigating the interesting volcanic shale rock.
We met a trio of men while there, and a discussion ensued as to whether this was a natural or man-made phenomenon. I was quite positive it was artificial, not only because of the perfect roundness of the hole, but also because of the large concrete foundation on the bank directly across from it. A quick internet search reveals that it’s indeed man-made. There was a water reservoir in behind that massive rock formation and, long ago, a waterline through the blasted-out hole served as a shortcut for the town’s water supply. Nowadays, it’s simply a gorgeous and intriguing waterfall.
Back at Coombs Country Candy, we admired the flowers while cooling off with delicious homemade ice cream cones.
The huge trees lining Highway 4 as we neared Cathedral Grove Park hinted at what was to come.
Cathedral Grove Park has looped trails on both sides of the highway. We opted to do the southern side first.
It’s hard to comprehend the breadth and scope of those massive trees. I’m afraid our photos don’t do them justice.
Whenever possible, we used ourselves as scales.
The largest tree in the park is an 800 yr-old Douglas fir. At over 250 feet tall and 30 feet around, trust me when I say it’s beyond immense. And impressive. Totally awe-inspiring.
This is a Western Red Cedar.
After wandering through all those majestic giants, we crossed the congested highway to the northern loop. The trees on this side aren’t quite as large or old, but there are still many points of interest.
This tree, which is basically two trees growing from the same trunk, is called a school-marm. I have it on good authority that this old logging term has rather risqué origins.
The trail is gorgeously green and lush, with ferns growing everywhere.
We stopped for a picnic lunch at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, which is located about three kilometers south of Parksville on Hwy 19A.
There are many walking trails in the park, and I’d have loved to explore a few of them, but time constraints limited us to a short beach visit.
At Moorecroft Regional Park, situated further south on Hwy 19A, we took the Vesper Point trail, which has several small coves to stop and admire along the way.
We arrived in Nanaimo around dinnertime. After checking into the Howard Johnson Harbourside, Hubby went off in search of pizza, while Roxy and I settled into our room.
The hotel was exactly what we expected, modest and clean, and reasonably priced. Its location, just off the Nanaimo Harbourside Walkway, was the main draw for us. After we’d eaten, we wandered out to the walkway. The evening weather and the harbourside were both lovely.
Hubby took a try at tickling the ivories on the street piano.
We enjoyed listening to a talented street musician. I wish I could recall his name.
Roxy posed for her obligatory photo.
It takes a certain talent to patiently balance rocks like this. I, unfortunately, have neither the patience nor the talent.
At the end of the walkway, we relaxed on a bench and took in the scenery.
Another very full day had come to a close, and I went to bed that night in complete awe of the beautiful and diverse province we live in.