Port Hardy – A Playground of Wilderness Activities
Northern East Side of Vancouver Island BC
Although there are only 2 ways you can get to the island, Airplane or Boat, there are several routes to choose from.
However, the more scenic route is following Highway 19a north as far as it will go, which is to Campbell River. From there, you’ll end up on Hwy 19 and continue on your way to Port Hardy. I prefer this route for its scenic drive and the small communities to explore along the way. It’s a much slower paced drive, but worth it. Have your camera handy!
Located on the most Northern East side of Vancouver Island BC, the community of Port Hardy sits along the ocean’s edge. It’s a population of approx. 4000 people which more than doubles during the summer months with tourists who want to experience the island’s many outdoor activities, i.e. Hiking, Whale Watching, Kayaking, Diving, Camping, Wild Life and much more.
One of the first things you should do is head to the Visitor Information Centre, located on the main road. You’ll discover a vast array of information that will guide you during your stay. The staff is very friendly and knowledgable as well, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and get their opinions, its well worth it.
Port Hardy is also represented by the nearby community of Fort Rupert & Kwakiutl First Nation. The Kwakiutl are known for their carvings, especially their magnificent totem poles. I’ll be writing more on the Kwakiutl shortly, however check out the photos I captured so far – Kwakiutl: A Visual Experience
There are hiking trails in the immediate and surrounding area, but one of the most rugged and challenging hiking trails that attracts people from All Over the World to Port Hardy is the Cape Scott Trail / North Coast Trail – it will ultimately test your skill, endurance and exploration for days on end. In order to get to the start of the trail, a boat will shuttle you to Cape Scott and from there…. you’re on your own.
During the early spring when the ice and snow is melting, there are sections of the trail that are very hazardous and it should not be attempted due to the flooding and impassible sections. For example…
I met Gabriel, a solo hiker from Paris France, who survived 2 days on the trail and had to turn back for safety reasons. He had been hiking in a section that is not recommended during the spring thaw because of the waist deep freezing water that floods part the trail on the most northern east section. He was completely drenched from the waist down, cold, and would have been stuck for several days in this environment. Lucky for him he was able to get out and return safely.
Vivian, a solo hiker of the Netherlands, decided not to try the trail, due to the flooding.
As you can tell, If you’re going to test yourself on this amazingly beautiful trail that is world renown, plan accordingly. Also note that you are in bear country, don’t take the warning lightly. Be aware and be safe.
Where to Stay – There are a couple hotels in Port Hardy, but the more popular places to stay is either the local hostel – North Coast Trail Hostel, or the many camping sites. Book ahead of time!
Although I happen to know the owners of the North Coast Trail Hostel , I promise to give you my unbiased opinion. The owners are super friendly! The hostel is very clean, comfortable and very well maintained. Its also much bigger than any pictures I’ve seen of it. You won’t be disappointed. There is a coffee / tea shop to get to know other travellers of all ages, share your stories, ideas, and a few laughs.
A couple interesting facts …..
According to www.tourismvi.ca & www.visitporthardy.com – The “First currently known site of human habitation on Vancouver Island as discovered in an archeological dig in Port Hardy, dates back to circa 5850 BC”
The Carrot Campaign – Historical Site
Located right beside the Visitor Information Centre, a huge wooden carrot with a sign describing how the Government made a promise is 1897, but didn’t follow through until the late 1970’s. The community felt that the government was dangling a carrot in front of them for all those years.
…. Part 2 coming soon …