The supposed job of a travel writer is to tell stories of travel, to bring faraway journeys close to home, to capture experiences in a vivid way. I’ve been doing that professionally for almost ten years yet here I am, just back from one of the most unique and exhilarating trips of my life and simply short of words.
It’s been exactly one week since I left New York City and flew into Vancouver for my weeklong research trip in British Columbia. After one lone day in the city, I moved on the explore the BC’s countryside.
I spent two days on the BC’s Sunshine Coast, at Rockwater Secret Cove Resort, glamping (read: glamorous camping) in one of their fabulous tenthouse suites. Mornings were a real treat, waking up at sunrise to the view of the Pacific stretching before me, unobstructed save a few verdant branches. On my last night, I enjoyed a long soak in the tub taking in the views of the ocean and daylight disappearing on the horizon.
At this adorable property popular with honeymooners, wooden boardwalks connect the tents to the main building, through a thick forest of tall cedar and douglas fir trees.
At pristine and largely unknown Lake Sakinaw, home to the charming Sakinaw Lake Lodge, we took a scenic boat ride passing First Nations pictographs (rock paintings) and fishing cottages. A short hike took us to a stunning viewpoint as eagles flew overhead.
The mountain biking in the old-growth forests was too challenging for yours truly, the roots and rocks making me very nervous and shaky. Walking my bike along the single and double treks was equally beautiful and a lot less terrifying.
After two short seaplane rides, the next stop was Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, one of the most remote destinations I ever visited. Reachable only by floatplane from Vancouver or water taxi from the small town of Tofino, it sits amidst the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve, with its old-growth temperate rainforests protected by UNESCO. Surrounded by rugged and wild landscapes of Vancouver Island’s untouched west coast, the resort is every bit as “remote, refined and remarkable” as its motto claims.
After our orientation session the first evening, during which we learned what to do if we come face-to-face with a bear – which happens on a regular basis! – we saw a big black specimen walk right past us on the way back to camp. He didn’t seem all that scary but I certainly wouldn’t wish to have run into him at night on the way to the showers, located a substantial walk away from the tents.
The highlights of my Clayoquot stay were many. One misty morning out on the slightly stormy Pacific, we saw humpback and gray whales come up for air, blowing water and taking dives back into the ocean depths. Another morning saw a small group of us mountain bike to the trail head for Penny Falls, which we climbed using ropes and holding on to tree roots and stones. The waterfalls we reached at the top were worth the effort – and I can say that even after the slippery hike back down.
There was so much more – sea kayaking through narrow canals of the estuary that surrounds the Clayoquot camp, a hike along the First Nations trail on Flores Island, horseback riding through the lush rainforest picking salmon berries as we rode past, playing Robin Hood during an archery session…
A fitting finale to my Canadian wilderness journey was the flight back to Vancouver in the co-pilot’s seat on a tiny floatplane, one of four seaplane rides I took in one week. As we flew across snowcapped mountain peaks, glacier lakes and on to the Pacific, it dawned on me that I couldn’t have asked for a more adrenaline-filled and fun way to end my British Columbia experience. I felt literally on top of the world. What a shock to be back in New York.