Snuggled Bumper to Bumper along a Short Twisty Windy Road

I swear to you what I am about to say to you, “is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. So, help me God.” Or at least some version of it. A microcosm if you will.

A handful of years ago, a young woman and a young man, decided to get married in a far off distant beach town called Tofino. In order to arrive at this beach town destination, one must make their way onto a ferry or an airplane. And if, you chose to travel by airplane then there are three airports for you to choose from;

  1. Comox Valley Airport (YQQ) or
  2. Nanaimo Airport (YCD), or
  3. Tofino-Long Beach Airport (YAZ)

And if you chose airport #1 (YQQ) or #2 (YCD), or option #4 which is catching a ferry from the mainland. Then you will need some sort of land transportation to travel with around or rather through the island. The roadway you will need to take, whether you are going up or down, is Island Highway #19. #19 intersects into Highway #4 near the town of Coombs on the Eastern side of the Island. Once you are on Highway #4, its a short windy twisty road West about 160-kilometres (99-miles) or approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes which is strictly dependent on road conditions, weather, traffic, and ultimately how many stops you make between, point A (Coombs) and point B (Tofino).

 

On our first crossing through the centre of Vancouver Island, we were snuggled bumper to bumper with other tourists in the middle of late September. Thankfully we were outside of “rainy season” and far enough away from “summer season” which would have made some of us believe that it should have been a more vacant roadway, than it was.

However… the magical mystery behind the twisting turning curviest road EVER driven, lead us to a park called MacMillan Provincial Park. Pulling up to the packed parking lot, we slowly drifted around, until some handsome couple hopped into their BMW and sped away. Drastically backing up the mini-cooper, we slid into the newly departed stall. Hopping out, we unpacked our hiking trail bags, and skipped across the highway to the trailhead.

MacMillan Provincial Park is no slouch at 301 hectares about 16-kms east of the town of Port Alberni. As we meandered on the trail, we spotted a couple of signs indicating those ever so, fair warnings about “stay on the trail,” and “don’t feed the wildlife,” and “if you spot a fire, call 9-1-1,” and an illustrated version of “if you see a Bear… slowly back away, make yourself bigger, DON’T RUN, DON’T TURN YOUR BACK, DON’T PLAY DEAD!,” and my all time Canadian favourite thing to say, “Use Your Bear Spray.” Huh, bear spray I should buy myself a can of that, I thought to myself for like the 1,000th time, now that I live in Canada!

Back on the trail, the wife in tow, my camera popping off photo after photo after photo (I am certain I did this. I might even find them again, someday, to share with you but for now, you’ll have to just appreciate my recollected ramblings). So, there we are, neck and neck, kicking up the dust on the old wooded boardwalk when we spot a tree!

It’s a Douglas-fir (just like the signage next to it says), and the thing is more than 800-years old! The tree stands at a mere 9-metres (29.5 ft) in circumference! The tree is astonishing. Every person stops and looks at this tree. They stand next to it with their family and friends, to take their portrait. Everyone is astounded at the site of this first tree. Which equates in my photo-popping-paparazzi head to, THERE’S GOTTA BE A BIGGER ONE IN HERE! or Over There… 

We make our way, around the 1-kilometre boardwalk, seeking out other REALLY BIG TREES inside the 157 hectares of Cathedral Grove. Back at the trailhead, we smile, wave at oncoming cars, run back across the street to the parking lot, toss off our soaked hiking packs and quickly maneuver the mini back onto Highway #4, to continue heading West towards Tofino.

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