Saturday, August 18, 2007
Wilderness Camping on Nootka Sound - West Coast Vancouver Island
I just returned home from a classic Vancouver Island wilderness camping vacation. A small gang of 4 of us spent 6 nights roughing it around beautiful Nootka Sound on the island's North West Coast between Gold River and Tahsis.
We discovered our camp site thanks to the invaluable Backroads Mapbook. We looked for a forest rec site along the Tlupana Inlet across the bay from the Cougar Creek Rec Site. The inlet is just north of Bligh Island, an early landing site for Captain John Cook who 'discovered' these waters back in 1780 or so. We were hoping for a more secluded location than the 50 spot site with boat launch. Luckily for us there's a logging strike going on right now, and the log dump on Head Bay was completely deserted.
We got to witness a very short commercial Sockeye Salmon opening. At least 40 boats descended on our little bay, with more filling the other inlets around us while they anchored in anticipation of the opening. Some of them waited from Friday till Tuesday at 9 pm, when they finally started dropping their nets for the fish. They fished for five hours, and in the morning when we got up, they were gone.
We also got to display just how terrible we are as fisherman. Although we fished a little each day, it wasn't until Tuesday morning that we showed some actual commitment to catching the salmon we've been trying to catch. We paddled out before 6:30 and within a half hour could see the big Chinooks jumping everywhere around us, clear out of the water. We had a better chance of one jumping directly into the boat than we did of catching one on our hooks. We tried every lure, depth and technique we could think of but came home skunked anyway.
We visited the old Marble Quarry, which was the source of the original limestone for the BC legislature in Victoria. We got in some freshwater bathing on the Deserted River, near the Deserted Lake Rec site which was fuller than we wanted when we first arrived (4 other parties) We also visited the Upana caves and the town of Gold River over the course of the 6 days we spent there, paddling, hiking, fishing and relaxing. We saw black bears, bald and golden eagles, herons, seals, salmon, stellar jays, sea slugs, red snapper, otters and more on this wilderness camping trip.