life

Wild West Coast

View of the beach emerging from the private trail from our campsite.
View of the beach emerging from the private trail from our campsite. Photo: M. Cockayne

I am so incredibly fortunate to live on Vancouver Island. As I said in my last post, I was off camping last week at Pachena Bay Campground which is on the west coast near Bamfield, BC. The drive is an adventure in itself, two and half hours on dusty, bumpy logging roads from Port Alberni. Every teeth-chattering, slow-going minute is worth it once you arrive, though.

As it turned out, the first day was the nicest weather we had so it wasn’t exactly the tropical vacation we hoped for. When you’re camping in a coastal temperate rainforest, you take your chances. Instead of sweltering in the heat wave the rest of the island and most of North America it seems, was suffering, we were in our layers of fleece, toques and rain jackets.  Like most MSers, I’d rather a bit of fog, wind and misty rain than having the carnival of symptoms start when my body temperature rises.

Fog descends into the trees, creeping in from off the ocean.
Change in the weather, the fog rolls in.
Fog obscuring the tops of trees at the edge of a sandy beach with driftwood.
Fog is a regular occurrence but often blows off later in the afternoon or early evening.

When the tide is out, the enormous beach triples in size, impossible to capture in a photo. One day, we walked far out along the beach exploring tide pools towards the beginning of The West Coast Trail. We were going to walk a bit of the trail until we got to some of the ladders, which we have done in the past. Almost there, I looked down and saw this:

Fresh bear tracks on a wet sand beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Would you turn around or take your chances? Photo: M.Cockayne

Fresh bear tracks leading down a wet beach on the west coast of Vancouver IslandThe beautiful patterns in the sand with the fresh bear tracks leading away made the moment magical. And sped up our pace on the way back! Photo: M. Cockayne


We knew we were in bear and cougar country but seeing fresh evidence that we were right on the heels of Baloo? Yes, we turned around and headed back towards the main beach. ☺️ (Photo credits to Miranda Cockayne as my dinosaur of an iPhone died.)

Four days and nights of living in the forest, sharing secrets and too many laughs with one of my longest (not oldest, see what I did there? 😉) and dearest friends, building fires on the beach, watching the ospreys and eagles diving into the ocean, unplugging from the world (for the most part, they have wifi at the main office now), and plugging into the inspiration I always feel when I remove myself from the manmade and reconnect with the natural world.

Old growth cedar trees, ferns, bridge, west coast trail
The West Coast Trail. Photo: M. Cockayne

It’s even worth the week of recovery from not sleeping and just being out of my usual routine. No matter how careful I am about eating well and hydrating, I never sleep well when camping or away from my own bed, actually. Are other MSers and chronically ill people the same? Does a change in your routine inevitably exacerbate your symptoms?

One thing I will make sure we do next year, is go on a Kiixin Tour.

“Kiix̣in is the site of a 19th-century village and fortress that exhibits evidence of occupation dating to 1000 B.C.E. Today, it remains a sacred site to the present-day Huu-ay-aht First Nations.”

Thank you to the Huu-ay-aht First Nations for sharing your amazing piece of paradise!

Have a wonderful week everyone!

❤️ Amanda

11 thoughts on “Wild West Coast”

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