We will take a float plane from Gold River to our access point at Starfish Lagoon on Nootka Island. You will experience amazing sandy beaches, interesting sandstone formations and true old growth rainforest. We finish our journey at Yuquot or Friendly Cove where Captain Cook first made contact. We will visit the local First Nations family, the historic church and the coast guard lighthouse. The area around Nootka Island is believed to have been inhabited for thousands of years. There is evidence to suggest that human presence at Yuquot at Friendly Cove dates back at least 4,000 years. The area’s inhabitants were first called Nootka by James Cook in 1778. As was the case when cultures with different languages met, communication was reduced to gestures and drawings, which were often misinterpreted. Although there is some debate over the origin of the term “nootka”, the best guess is that it comes from “nootk-sitl” meaning to go around or make a circuit. It probably was used by the inhabitants to indicate that Nootka was an island, and not to their name. The people who claim Nootka Island and who maintain a presence at Yuquot are the Mowachaht (“place where the deer come from”). This trek, on Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast, promises and delivers a great wilderness experience.
Day 0: Arrival in the Comox Valley. This denotes the day or days spent on Vancouver Island before the listed start date of the trip.
Day 1: This morning we will pick you up from your accommodations in the Comox Valley and bring you to our base of operations where final pack checks and equipment are sorted out. Next we have a 2-3 hour drive to the west coast of Vancouver Island and the community of Gold River.
After arrival in Gold River, we will immediately fly by floatplane to Louie Bay on Nootka Island. Our pilot usually flies us over Friendly Cove, the end of our hike, and along the stretch of coast we will be hiking for a bird’s-eye view of our journey. After landing in Louie Bay, a short hike will bring us to the west coast of Nootka Island and our first campsite on a beautiful sandy beach.
Day 2: Today’s hike is a full day with a wide variety of rain forest and beaches, from sand to small boulders, forming our path. Our goal is Calvin Falls, a fantastic spot to enjoy on a warm day. This is our longest day km wise at approx. 15km’s.
Day 3: Beano Creek is our destination today. Beano often has a perfect swimming hole to enjoy after a day of hiking. We will cover approx. 10km’s today, all on the “beach”. Of course “beach” can have many meanings!!
Day 4: Today’s hike more than any other will be dictated by the access to available water at camp. We have a special camp in mind. Flexibility is the key today.
Day 5: Our final fuller day of hiking will take us just short of Friendly Cove. The terrain today is varied as we climb in and out of the rainforest onto pocket beaches. Each small beach has it’s own special character and are full of stunning views and possibly treasures from the sea (Japanese glass fishing balls anyone!) Tides will dictate some of our route and options.
Day 6: We will arrive at the village of Yuquot and Friendly Cove before noon. Yuquot is the traditional village of the Mowachaht who have lived in the region for over 4000 years. Spain and England alternately occupied the area. It was during Cook’s third voyage around the world in 1778 that he was forced to make repairs to his vessels in Nootka Sound. In recognition of the friendliness accorded him and his crew, he named the area Friendly Cove.
Of special interest here are the lighthouse and the elegant little church with spire that rises above the surrounding brambles. The church is no longer used for services because of the relocation of the Mowachaht to Gold River, but serves as a museum of replica houseposts.
In the late morning we will be returned to Gold River by floatplane. We will lunch in Gold River or Campbell River before returning to the Comox Valley and a well deserved hot shower!