Preparing for the Broken Islands
Saturday, August 1
After our relaxing down-day on Gabriola, it was now time to prepare and position ourselves for the next phase of our trip - a four-day sea-kayaking outing off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Apart from Arn, we were joining up and travelling with a whole new set of people, all from Arn's family: his wife, kids, parents, as well as his brother and his brother's partner. Pretty much the entire Hyndman clan!
We took a late morning ferry off of Gabriola, then drove Brian down to the Nanaimo airport, sending him off on his return flight to Ottawa. We then returned to the city center to meet up with Arn's immediate family, who had driven up from the Victoria area to meet with us. After a nice lunch at the local eatery "2 Chefs Affair", we picked up a few camping items from the local Canadian Tire, then headed west towards Port Alberni. Port Alberni is a town located at the end of a long, long inlet that opened out onto the west coast of Vancouver Island, and it was where we'd be catching a ferry the next day that would take us to the start point of the kayaking adventure - the Broken Islands Group, part of Pacific Rim National Park.
Along the way, we stopped at the height of land along the Alberni Highway, where the road passes through a lake-filled notch that cuts through the main Island Range. At the far end of the notch, a grove of old-growth fir trees is protected (somewhat ironically) by a park established by a forestry company. We stopped here for a little mini-hike and break.
The grove of trees (known as Cathedral Grove) spreads away on both sides of the highway (or, you could say that the highway cuts through the grove). On both sides there is an easy, curated walking path. We got out and did both sides, spending about an hour in total. There are many beautiful examples of giant Douglas Fir trees here, some up to 800 years old. A short and worthwhile stop.
Finished with our visit to Cathedral Grove, we continued west on highway 4, immediately dropping in elevation towards Port Alberni. It is probably only about a fifteen minute drive from the grove down to the edge of the town, and soon we were looking for the sign that marked the motel that we all had been booked in for the night.
We met up with the rest of Arn's family at the motel, then headed off to the Little Bavaria restaurant for supper. I'm no expert, but the food seemed pretty decent for an out-of-the-way Canadian forestry and fishing port.
Once back at the motel, we prepped for a different sort of multi-day outdoor adventure. No backpack to fill this time - it was all about separate little bundles and lots of dry bags.