Don’t let the following discourage you, because once you get to see the pictographs and the landscape they are located in, its soooo worth it.
There are 2 challenges you’ll have to contend with.
The first is the trail itself. It consists of steep jagged rocks, tree roots, and at times narrow footing. It’s not a long trail, 0.5 km loop, but you do have to watch your footing.
The second challenge is at the end of the trail. This is where most people let their fear take over and don’t go any further. But if you want to see the pictographs, you’ll have to walk along the edge of the rock face while being very careful not to slip. If you slip… you’re sliding 15’ down the smooth & slick rock face, where you’ll be swimming in Lake Superior.
It’s a little nerve racking and adrenaline pumping fun!
Oh, and they only way to make this attempt is when Lake Superior is calm, otherwise forget it. The wrath of Lake Superior’s waves will take you out.
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.
After traveling by ferry to Nanaimo, you can take Highway 19 north to Port Hardy, which is the fastest way by vehicle, approx. 4 1/2 hour drive.
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 capturedso 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.
While you were sleeping…I was already out exploring!
Absolutely Amazing to have these tunnels
all to myself!
Standing alone, in and around the tunnels, soaking in the sights & sounds while feeling the history of it all. I was getting lost in the moment of the environment without any distractions, it was really an amazing feeling that I don’t know how to explain.
At one point, I stood in the middle of a tunnel and waited for a few seconds, hoping my eyes would adjust to the darkness, listening to the echoes of the dripping water. A little eery, but very cool! (I’m glad no one said “hello”…..I would have soiled my shorts) Also, how many people actually get to stand in the tunnels alone, and just listen?
Once you’re past the tunnels, there are a couple trails to walk. The one I took was approx. 3 km (round trip) of a fairly flat and straight forward path.