Thursday, July 13, 2017

Recovering on the Hesquiat Peninsula -June 29-July 3, 2017

Some of the fascinating rock sculptures on the Hesquiat Peninsula.
Recovering? Well, you might say I had some unfinished business on this hike. In 2013 upon our return flight from hiking this remote peninsula on the west coast of Vancouver Island, our Beaver floatplane crashed, with two fatalities, and myself and a friend knocking on heaven's door.

This was my first time back to this area since that accident, so as the trip organizer I opted to take the water taxi from Tofino, rather than fly. Our boat took inside channels to the east of Flores Island, but once we passed Hot Springs Cove the swells became much bigger, and on the west side of the Hesquiat Peninsula the swells were about 2 meters high at times. Quite swelly for a herring skiff!

June 29th

After a 4-hour boat ride from Tofino, some of it cold and rough, we were glad to land at Escalante Point at 11 a.m. 

Yahoo! We're here!
The point is at the northwest point of Hesquiat Provincial Park. We hiked south along the outside of the park, around the tip, past the First Nations' Reserve, and up the east coast of the park to Boat Basin. The first day, June 29th, we had a mix of sandy beaches, rock shelves,
and rocky terrain like this.

David high-stepping it across Little Escalante River

Some natural wonders.

Scrambling around the "gulch" at the 6 k. mark.

Our campsite at Barcester Bay - 12 k.  An ideal spot sheltered behind sand dunes, although we had about a 500 meter walk back up the beach for our drinking water. 

(It was eerie camping here. Upon our return flight the last time, the pilot had radioed that he was "heading over to Barcester Bay." However, shortly after that we hit a big spruce and never made it.) 

Happy Birthday David!

The ending to a perfect 1st day. 

June 30th

Crabby morning sun salutations on June 30th

Some of nature's art

Ah! Does it get any better than this?! We had a leisurely start to the day, as we only had 6 k to go. 

Although it was just 6 k., it was slow going. 

A wonderful amble at low tide!

Our campsite just north of the First Nations' Reserve at Homais Cove, 18 k. 

A picturesque water source, but a slow walk upstream.

Wet coast wonders!

Ah! This is the life!

Margaret fashioning one of her  beach shrines


July 1st 

Great walking on the morning of Canada Day

And some more fabulous beach art

One of the many wolf tracks we saw; but alas, no wolf sightings. 

Michael displaying a whalebone

Art rocks!

Estevan Point Lighthouse with amiable lighthouse keepers

We took the remains of the old plank road for about 1 k. south of the lighthouse in order to avoid some of the "boulder hopping." The road had gone from the Hesquiat Reserve to the lighthouse, but hasn't been used for decades. It's now swallowed up by the rainforest for much of its route. 

The beach of a billion boulders! Glad it wasn't wet, like it was the last time I did it. 


Our campsite in Smokehouse Bay, near 30 k. 

As the tide ebbed, scads of cute crabs scuttled for the water.

More of nature's art along the shore

But getting water here was a challenge
Our water source here was a mere trickle, up in the forest

We cached our food each night, away from the four-legged visitors.

Rick the fire starter

"Oh Canada!" We celebrated Canada Day in high style with sparklers. 

This was an exposed campsite, but luckily the winds were light

July 2nd

It started drizzling just as we left camp but let up after 2 hours. 

The drizzle didn't make the footing any easier!

Rather than walk on the wet rocks some of us preferred to walk on the seaweed up on shore

The Hesquiat Reserve - only a few people live here now, although there were four or five hundred residents in years gone by. 

One of the abandoned houses

A small graveyard

The bay between Anton's Spit and Le Claire Point provided some wonderful walking (and refreshing swimming).

Fantastic rock shelves as we near Le Claire Pt. 

Nearing our last campsite

Looking across Hesquiat Harbour

Our campsite near Le Claire Point (43 k.)
I amused myself making some rocking art


July 3rd

We were up earlier on July 3rd, as we wanted to get on the trail by 8:30. 

A much more rugged section this day. It took some of us 2 1/2 hours to walk the 6 k to Boat Basin. 

It was a higher tide this morning, necessating us to clamber up over headlands 

One of the many eagles we saw along the way

Cougar Annie's Garden

At Boat Basin we toured "Cougar Annie's Garden." Ada Annie Rae-Arthur homesteaded here in 1915, preempting 117 acres and clearing five acres for her garden, bearing 11 children, and outliving 4 husbands. Ada lived here for seventy years, but as she grew old, her beloved garden became overgrown, and it's only though the funding and energy provided by the Boat Basin Foundation that  the garden exists today.

Peter Buckland of the Boat Basin Foundation hews a cedar shake

Annie also ran a post office

We also walked through the "Walk of the Ancients"

Our campsite at Boat Basin
I had planned for us to return to Tofino by water taxi on the 3rd, but it was too rough, so four of our group were able to fly out in the late afternoon, and I booked two more Cessna's to come pick us up at 7 a.m. on the 4th. 

Yes, that's a pair of underwear. I made sure I put on my clean pair, because last time I didn't and ended up in the hospital wearing grotty gotch! As the nurse cut them off of me I said, "If I'd known this was going to happen I would've put on my clean pair." So I didn't take any chances this time!

As the plane approached it was too much and I had to turn away. The crash still haunts me....

The first Cessna arriving 

and then departing as the second arrives

A smooth, clear flight on the return, and for that I'm grateful, and much more!


  1. Amazing hike, John. Thanks for sharing your experience and photos.

    1. Thanks Wally. My pleasure once again.

  2. Great photos John Boy. I always enjoy them and your descriptions and commentary. Thank you. I guess your heading for Saskatoon this week-end. Have fun.

    1. Thanks Ron. Yes, in Stoon from the 15-19.

  3. Thank you John. I am happy that you have faced your fears and were able to fly out of there. I felt for you as I read your comments. You should write a book.

    1. Thanks Arlene. Yes, I've started a memoir, but it's slow going!

  4. Looks like a great trip John and, as always, your photos are beautiful. It took some serious inner calm to get on the plane. Good strategy on the clean gonch.

  5. Thanks for this report. We were on Nootka Trail at the same time you were doing this. Heading out on Hesquiat this year!

    1. Thanks Mike. And I'm going back to Nootka this year>