Spellbound, on Long Beach

Long Beach is, as it’s name suggests, a l-o-n-g stretch of near-perfect sand that extends, spectacularly, almost 5km along the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island, in the heart of Pacific Rim National Park. We headed out to explore it, early one morning, once the tide was fully out.IMG_1740.jpg

The soft morning light was reflected in all the water that was trapped between the ridges left by the retreating waves. But… and here’s the surprising part… the water lying all over the beach was not left there from the waves, as you might think, as the tide was on its way IN. It was running off the land, from the impenetrable barrier of rainforest that stood, resolutely, against the sandy shore. In this area of the world, the rainforest oozes into the sea, feeding it with a constant supply of land water, even when the skies are not opening up.

IMG_1745.jpgYou can see this interesting occurrence in the patterns of eroding sand on the beach itself. We were there when the tide was on its way in, and yet these sand patterns were flowing with water toward the sea. The water, leaking onto the beach from the rainforest, makes such beautiful patterns as it works its way through the sand ridges carved into the shoreline by the ocean waves. IMG_1743.jpgThe feathery lines in the sand, like little deltas branching out, reminded me of the stalks, bulbous roots and leaves of celery bunches. Lying in repeating patterns all along the beach, they lay testament to the continual flow of water from land to sea here.

IMG_1733.jpgThe beach was aglow in the soft morning light, catching the puddles and rivulets as the water they were releasing made its way to the sea.

The sound of the ocean here is different than expected, too. With the ferocious visual pounding of the surf and crashing of the waves, you’d imagine you would hear its match in sound. Yet what rumbles, rolls and thunders in your ears is a constant roar …. not the wave-retreat-wave-retreat sound you’d get in nature relaxation music… rather, it is a background noise of  constant, thunderous roaring throughout the landscape. Like an angry beast awakened, never to rest again.

IMG_1793.jpgWith catastrophic waves like that pounding the shore, not much makes landfall that hasn’t been bashed, battered, and beaten into oblivion…transformed… into soft sand. But occasionally there are wonderful treasures coughed up by the sea, waiting for you to explore…. beautiful nature bits that hint at the life that lies and thrives off shore, deep under the frothing and seething anger of the waves.

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A mussel, with a sponge attached, dislodged from its rocky home, makes landfall on the beach.
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This beautiful butterfly will soon be transformed into the sand that surrounds it.
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All that’s left from a gigantic crab lies on the beach, looking like a UFO with strangely captivating pointillism patterns on its back.
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Sponges and kelp shards, beautiful in their own, rubbery ways.
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And then there were the soft coral tips….and here’s the gory part…
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… looking quite eerily like the carnage from some horrific, finger dismembering, battle.

Always destination oriented, be it a peak that must be climbed, or, in this case, the end of the beach to be reached, we needed to reach the end of the beach… the point at which we could go no further, cut off from the beach by the dense rainforest, impassable cliffs and/or the encroaching sea.

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There we found a rocky point that just beckoned us to explore… to have a wee bit of scrambling adventure.
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The rocks were huge and piled with massive driftwood tree trunks.
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This photo looks back from where we’d come from. It’s truly amazing the way we can have huge swaths of landscape to ourselves, especially in the off-season, here in Canada.
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That’s Bill there, in blue, to put these rocks and logs in perspective.

We scrambled around… and some of it involved all four paws on the rock (hands and feet) to climb up to the top of the rocky point. And there, we found 2 red adirondack chairs!

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Look what we found! Red chairs! What are they doing there?

Our national parks here in Canada have started this fun game, of sorts. Called the Red Chair Program, they place pairs of red Muskoka Chairs (named after a beautiful area of Ontario) in the craziest places in the national parks, clear across the country. We’ve found them in Jasper & Banff before this and they’re always in the most unexpected places!

Here they were a short scramble up some precarious rock, with the surf pounding all around, and perfect foot rests in front. And the views! Wow. Right in front of us was an amazing natural spectacle: a show of the waves blasting up and out a rocky island with an explosive psssft like water blasting out of a whale’ spout.IMG_1792.jpg

img_1798After taking in the show for a while, and watching some cormorants play on the rocks off to the side of us, we reluctantly headed back down the beach through a light drizzling rain. The weather was turning, but it was still beautiful! We were getting a bit chilled. Once back in Tofino, we stopped for an oatmeal ball and a coffee at our favourite coffee roastery. It had been a beautiful morning.

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Looking back at our red chair spot… that rocky spit that extends into the sea is where we found the chairs.

Here’s one last look at Long Beach… and a wave goodbye from the two of us to each of you! Thanks for stopping by!


For more experiences of our 2017 Trip to Tofino, go here….  And check out more hikes from Canada and our adventures around the world here.

16 Comments on “Spellbound, on Long Beach

  1. Hi Sheri, I love the beach. Those tips of coral look like carrots. I was thinking that the water draining into the sea, possibly full of nutrients might attract lots of small fish ? I guess it might depend on how rough the water is. I’m loving your little time lapse videos. Is the camera on a tripod or have you taught the dog a new trick? Beautiful shots oh and the red chairs – classic. Great idea. I have mentioned your blog on my last post.Not sure if you have to approve the link. Louise

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  2. Cant tell you how much I enjoy your writing Sheri! I look forward to each new one! ( even if I’m enjoying them at work in the mornings! )

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      • It’s probably not so much the size – I’ve seen some pretty big holdfasts – bull kelp gets huge. Surface texture’s probably a better indicator, unless they’ve deteriorated a lot holdfast surfaces are smooth, whereas sponge surfaces tend to be more finely faceted.

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      • Hmmm. You’ve got me thinking now. They were really quite smooth, but thicker than my thumb. And goodness knows there’s a lot of kelp forests off those coasts. That’s probably what they were. But why were there so many in only one spot on that entire beach? It really did look like a massacre.

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      • Well, I was referring to the masses attached to the mussel and the “kelp shards” photo. As for the carnage photo, I don’t know what that is, I’d have to have a closer look. Size wise it could be kelp stalks, but it doesn’t seem like they’d be such a uniform size, I’d expect something more like your kelp shards. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before. Even the local corals don’t grow like that. Maybe it’s something man made that came off a freighter and bobbed around the ocean for a few months.

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      • That’s a little hard to describe. Consider that sponges are filter feeders, so they need small pores for intake and they’ll usually have a larger opening for exhaust. You’ve probably had a close look at the kelp, probably bull kelp as that’s very common. It’s airtight, so the fronds can float towards the sunlight.

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  3. I love it when I find a beach lover. It’s just music to your soul. Just north of where I live, on the north east coast of England, are craggy and wonderful beaches and to the south, cliff top walks. I’m spoiled and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂 🙂

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    • Lucky you! Those would be some spectacularly rugged beaches, I’m sure. The closest I’ve been would be exploring beaches along the Dingle Penninsula in Ireland many, many years ago. (And, of course, the Cliffs of Mohr… though we were lucky to have that spot all to ourselves when we were there in the winter of 1989… I hear it gets bus loads and intense crowds there now.) Think of me next time you put on your wellies and slicker and go out for a walk on a wonderfully rough and rugged beach!

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