Hiking the Nootka Trail (5)

August 31  Yuquot


We broke camp early on a dazzling morning, reluctant to leave the cove for the long hike ahead. The trail required travel over headlands with beautiful forest and spectacular views and along small beaches passing a bead curtain waterfall, a thunder hole, ponds and meadows, and a log bridge.  The grandest of the headlands is Maquinna Point, where the coastline turns from facing the open Pacific to Nootka Inlet. We stopped there on a ledge of grass, wild onion and paintbrush to share our last lunch provisions, walk on the jagged abrasive rock and enjoy the 240-degree view. After that we started losing interest in spectacular prospects in preference for flatter ground. The last cove visited by the trail was dominated by a marooned pleasure boat, quite new with hull intact but windshield, cabin and motor smashed and cannibalized.




The trail emerged onto the long beach that belonged to the settlement of Yuquot, or Friendly Cove, some of whose history I had read in White Slaves of Maquinna, John Jewitt’s early nineteenth-century account of being held captive by the Nootka chief for two years mostly in this location. (Heritage House Publishing, Surrey BC, 2000) It was the Spring and Summer residence of the Nuuchanulth tribes who resided along the protected beach in long houses that they disassembled every year and transported to their Winter residence up the inlet at Tahsis.  Friendly Cove was also the center of the otter trade during the late18th and early 19th centuries, at one time the most important port north of Mexico. During this time the otter population was virtually wiped out and the native population of the area declined from 200,000 to 40,000. The otters are now making a comeback.


The beautiful views along this beach all seemed to center upon the church with its steep red roof and bright white walls. After Peter’s swim, my nap and Paul’s water gathering, we walked along soft sand and then through the outflow of a tidal lagoon where an older man sat between a small tent and a kayak.  He was waiting for the wind to die down so that he could paddle around Maquinna Point to Calvin Falls to meet a friend of his kayaking from the other direction.



We continued along the beach to a campsite by a seastack, close enough to Friendly Cove to get us to the dock in time for our pickup the next morning. As we unloaded packs, Peter said, “A perfect trip. Cue the whales.”  Within a few minutes the action started out in Nootka Sound, not too surprisingly, since the Indians who lived here were famous as whalers.  First, two Orcas spouting way offshore and coming closer.  Then out near the horizon catching the late afternoon sun, continual explosions of a surfacing humpback, and finally an Orca coming in close enough for Paul to catch him on camera “skyleaping,” a wild behavior that seemed to have no purpose but to entertain us. Peter cooked dinner of beef rotini generously purchased from the Powell River outfitting store, enriched with chanterelles remaining from the earlier harvest.




Hiking the Nootka Trail (6) »

For a full photoset and slideshow of this days sights, go here

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