You maybe wondering "What's up with the salt and pepper
shakers and 'Cape Scott Seasoning?'" Well, these are
in reference to a metaphor John and I came up with as we
progressed through our trip. Since Cape Scott gets the most
amount of rainfall of anywhere in North America, we saw
lots of different types of rain. Soon, we began to call
it "seasoning" as it seemed that Cape Scott was
prepping us for eventual consumption. Being english majors,
John and I soon ran with the metaphor, using it to describe
the many different types of rain we had dumped on us. From
a light seasoning, to a heavy marinade, we were well seasoned
by the end of our trip. We grew to enjoy periods of 'blandness'
when the Cape would spare us, usually just to let the seasoning
soak in a little bit, apparently, its all about LAYERING
the seasoning! So, I hope that explains my title bar a little
This trip was initiated by Tom Obrien, as he had a week
off from school, as did I, and soon we convinced John to
skip his school and Kevin got some time off work. We quickly
organized ourselves, purchased any necessary gear (which
the most important part was GATORS and RAIN GEAR!) and set
off on our adventure.
We left Victoria at 3.30am on sunday morning and started
our drive up the Island. Since we left so early, we had
no traffic and were able to get to Port Hardy very quickly.
We had some breakfast, picked up a few last supplies and
headed out on the logging roads to the trail head. We got
on the trail about 1.30-2 and started hiking to our first
camp site at Eric lake. This was a short 4km day, so we
could ease into our trip, make sure the boots were fitting
okay. We had a gorgeous afternoon, with sunshine and everything.
Little did we know what was coming! But we setup camp, and
relaxed on the side of the lake. This lake was very flat
and the beach was full of the best skipping stones! So,
we skipped rocks and just enjoyed our isolation and excitement
of being out in the wilderness. We had dinner, and tried
to light a fire, but the wood around there was way too wet,
so we called it a night and climbed into the tents.
Well we woke up to the sound of heavy rain. As it turned
out, John and Kevin got a little wet that night as their
tent's groundsheet started collecting water underneath them
and soaked the tent a bit. We had some breakfast, packed
up and were out of there pretty early due to the heavy seasoning.
This days hike was very long. We had a good 18km to cover
to get to our next campsite, so we pushed on. We saw two
guys on their way out of the Cape and got on update on what
was happening at Nels Bight. At lunch we stopped at the
old community centre from the Danish Settlement of 1900-1907.
Here was a sign board telling us about the settlement attempt
and also quite a lot of old equipment left behind. We saw
a rotting old building, old washtubs, buckets, even an old
till used to turn up the farm land. After our lunch, which
was quite bland due to the lack of seasoning, we continued
on our way.
As we headed down into Nels Bight, we saw more and more
reminders of the past settlers. At times it can be quite
spooky as there was no other people around and just these
ancient reminders of failed attempts to make out an existence
here. We pulled into Nels bight at about 3.30 and started
walking along the incredible beach towards the ranger cabin
we could see. When we got there, we saw that some other
people were staying in it, so we setup our camp further
down the beach. We had a great setup, with our tarp and
tents all able to stay sheltered and relatively bland. We
were able to finally get a fire going and we had the best
rice and beans dinner I have ever tasted! We stayed up for
a bit watching the fire and soon called it an early night
after a long day!
The next morning we woke up and surprise! It was Raining!
So, we decided that today we were going to move into the
Ranger Cabin for a night and dry out a lot of our 'seasoned'
equipment. We waited most of the morning for these 3 high
school kids to organize themselves and leave. They were
definitely slower than molasses in January. Soon, we were
able to get in, spread out and relax a bit. We took today
off and just chilled. A couple hours after we moved in,
a family we had seen back at Eric Lake soon hiked in and
came straight for the cabin, alas we had to share. They
were nice, a quite easy to share the cabin with. We made
a nice dinner and played some cards and just hung out. Also,
this day three Canadian Forces guys showed up. They were
bomb ordinance guys and had been called in by the Lighthouse
keeper to dispose of an unexploded phosphorus flare. These
guys however, were the biggest bunch of whiners I have ever
heard! They had horrible equipment and just whined about
how they could not sleep in a tent and how they could not
get a fire going or anything. Not a confidence building
representation of our national forces.
This day we had big plans! We got up early and took off
for a day hike to the lighthouse! It was a 12km trip round
trip, and we did not have to take our packs with us! It
was heaven as we floated along the trail and got to explore
so much more. We headed off into the rain and made some
good time. We saw Guisse Bay and Experiment Bight, two amazing
beaches of sand and great surf. We also came up to the Sand
neck, which is an entirely surreal and kinda creepy place.
The lighthouse actually sits on an island and the water
in between has been displaced by a giant sand dune. It was
reinforced by a fence built by one of the Danish Settlers
and now is quite large. We saw some fresh bear tracks on
one side and lots of reminders of the family that once lived
One of the most interesting aspects of the Sand neck was
that it was a feasting area and also fighting area for the
first nations tribes of the area for many years. Eventually,
the local tribe, the Nahwitti, came to feel that the place
was haunted and then avoided the area.
We contained up the trail on our way to the lighthouse.
Soon the trail widened quite a bit and actually became a
pseudo-road! There were two planks on each side and it was
quite rotten, but it used to be a road! Then we came upon
some buildings that were rotten, but not quite as rotten
as all the others we had seen. I later read that there was
a "secret" radar station out at Cape Scott from
1941-1945 during second world war. There were over 50 men
station here in a top secret installation because radar
was still a classified technology. They came out here and
built the station, and small road to link the lighthouse
with a lot of their cabins and storage depots.
The lighthouse compound was very well maintained and was
quite unusual to see considering the surrounding environment.
We were suprised! There were many well kept buildings, a
nice lawn, and everything in its place. The only thing slightly
off was a strange buoy painted with smiley face. The lighthouse
is not that high, because it sits on a large hill. There
is a fog horn closer to the coast, since this light gets
socked in with fog quite regularly.
We then had a small lunch and turned around and started
hiking back to the ranger cabin and our packs. We wanted
to continue our days hiking and get to go see Nissen Bight.
Plus it was getting crowded in the cabin. When we got back,
the Canadian forces guys had moved into our spots and some
surfers had showed up. I could not believe they had hiked
Surfboards, Wetsuits and all their camping gear in. Unbelievable!
Well we headed up the trail after changing socks for a dry
pair to begin the 6 km hike to the former saw-mill and boat
harbour of the Danish Settlers. Along the trail we ran into
a Cadet troupe on their way in. They seemed to be a haggard
and tired group of young teenagers! But we trudged on and
eventually at about 5pm we pulled into Nissen Bight. We
had heard from the surfers about a good campsite down the
beach and we were on the lookout for a "toilet seat"
to mark the camp spot. Well we found it and were quite impressed
with the setup. We quickly setup our camp and decided to
try and start a fire. I went off for fresh water, which
was a big problem in this bay. The water was very far away
and quite pain to get to. We could not get a big fire going,
as none of the medium sized wood would catch. The wind was
picking up and we were very tired, so we decided to climb
into our tents and dry out. We then cooked our dinners in
the vestibules and pretty much called it a night.
Throughout the night the wind howled and the rain came
down. It was incredibly stormy and quite loud. The Cape
was announcing who was boss! Tom and I were quite good in
our tent, but John and Kevin were facing the wrong way and
their tent took the brunt of the winds' force, pulling out
a few pegs.
We got up early and had to cover ourselves from the HAIL
that was coming down, and begin to pack up our camp. We
had a quick breakfast, broke camp and raced the tide back
up the bay to the trail head.
Tom's knee at this time was quite bothersome for him as
he had hurt it hiking. So, Kevin and I helped him by carrying
some of the load so we could still make good time on the
way back. We hiked all day and got back to the truck around
3pm. We had some coffee, put on some dry clothes and then
headed out on the road back to Victoria!
This trip was definitely a challenging, extreme event.
I enjoyed immensely and actually started to miss being outside
all the time when we got back to civilization. I think the
most enjoyable part of the trip was going back into time
and seeing the remains and remnants of the Danish Settlers.
A very interesting story for anyone who hikes this beautiful