August 20 – We have been camping for five nights now on Mussel Beech. We are about 30 km south of Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island. We drove 17 km down a logging road to reach this camp ground. It is rustic and wild. We are camping beside the Pacific Ocean. Our tent is nestled under large Red Cedar trees but our cooking area and camp fire face the Broken Islands Reserve and the open ocean.
When we wake up, the Broken Islands are hidden by a thick layer of fog. As the day warms, the islands and distant mountains emerge between the blue sky and the open water. At high tide, the water is 60 feet from our camp fire. At low tide, 250 feet of jagged rock lay between us and the water’s edge. The fissures in the rocks form tidal pools that are teaming with inter-tidal life; green anenomes, orange and red starfish, hermit crabs, and a dozen other creatures with names unknown to us.
We spend our days cooking, reading and stoking the fire. We walk the beach. We scan the ocean and sky for wild life. In the early morning, the ocean is still and quiet. A Stellar Sea Lion surfaces near the shore. She looks around then sinks slowly back into the water with her nose in the air. A few times each day, a Bald Eagle flies over our campsite carrying fish to a nest built high in a tree behind us. At dusk, a family of River Otters skirt the edge of the shore, their bodies undulating in and out of the water with skinny tails flashing in the air. They climb onto the rocks. One has a large red fish in its mouth. They eat, lick one another clean, then slide back into the ocean.
One day, a pod of Orcas travelled past the Broken Islands, cutting through the water with black dorsal fins. They were followed by White-sided Pacific Dolphins that sailed across the water flashing grey backs and white sides in deep arcs. This afternoon, on our last day at the campsite, two Humpback Whales – a mother and her calf – appeared this side of the Broken Island. Their spouts sprayed into the air, then long black backs rolled over the surface of the water, and then black-speckled white flukes (tails) flashed into the air as they dove deep into the ocean to feed.
At night, I lay in my tent engulfed in darkness, lulled to sleep by the rhythmic crashing of waves on the rocky shore. I lay there, comforted by the thought that the sea lion and otters feed offshore while I sleep. I lay there thinking that while the ocean and trees make this place beautiful, the wild creatures that call this place home make it magical.
- Of Sunsets and Sea Lions: Kayaking the Broken Islands (deliberatelydelicious.wordpress.com)
- Lions(sea), otters and whales oh my! – Seward, AK (travelpod.com)
- Endangered Whales Flock To California (huffingtonpost.com)