the north island report: whale watching, little huson caves park, zeballos

While we had family visiting, we did a little more exploring of the North Island. 

We went to Telegraph Cove, a historic village and tiny tourist resort just south of Port McNeill, which is the easiest place to pick up a whale watching boat, a guided kayaking trip, or similar excursions. There are a few companies doing similar things out of Port Hardy and Port McNeill, but they mostly cater to tour groups. If you're on your own, not with a tour, Prince of Whales is your best bet.

We did the same trip with my mother in 2019, but this never gets old. Since we don't own a boat -- and never will -- I'd be happy to do this annually. We're surrounded by water, but normally can only enjoy it from the shore. It's well worth spending some cash now and again to be on the water.

We had spectacular weather, which certainly increases the enjoyment! The waters of the Broughton Archipelago, just off the east coast of Vancouver Island, are smooth and dark -- rich with organic material that sustains large populations of marine life. We saw a huge number of humpbacks, including two pairs of mothers with calves, copious sea lions, and a raft of sea otters -- dozens of them swimming, playing, and relaxing. No orcas this time, unfortunately, although they have been spotted all summer.

As I've said and written countless times, there is something so magical about seeing animals in their own environments. I enjoy any glimpse of wildlife, but for me, none is more beautiful and mysterious than marine mammals. I am fascinated by their very existence, these creatures with whom we have so much in common, who evolved on land, yet must continually swim to the surface to breathe. Seeing them in the wild is breathtaking.

[While riting this post, I discovered that our photos from the first time we did this, in 2019, were on wtmc but not on Flickr. I'll fix that and post an update.]

On a different day, we visited Little Huson Cave Park, then continued on to the tiny hamlet of Zeballos. 

Like most of the accessible sights in this area, the caves are not a big deal, but something to do if you're curious and passing through. Shortly after we moved to this area, we did something called the Alice Lake Recreation Loop, a drive through logging roads with stops at various points of interest. The stops were pretty interesting, if unspectacular, and it was a clever idea to collect them into a driving loop. Little Huson Cave Park was very much like one of those stops -- a short hike into the woods (always nice), some limestone outcroppings known as karst, some caves to look at it. It's not far from the "highway" (Route 19), so might be worth a stop. 

Zeballos is a tiny community that was once a gold-mining town. With a population of around 100, it's too small and underserviced to be considered a village. Our library in Port Hardy often donates surplus and discarded books to Zeballos' little volunteer-run library, but I had never been there. No one I know has been there either! 

From Route 19, north of Woss, it's about an hour's drive down an unpaved logging road, to a collection of tidy little homes on an inlet. There's supposedly a lodge and a fishing expedition service, but I don't know if either are still active. There is nothing else. (I knew this in advanced and had already told our guests what to expect.) Now I have become the only person in my workgroup to have actually visited Zeballos. 

Now that my brother and sister-in-law have visited twice, we may have exhausted all potential sight-seeing in our area. We're not campers and do short day-hikes only, so the options, although beautiful, are limited. Next time they come up from Oregon, we may meet in Victoria. 

1 comment:

Amy said...

The whale watch sounds amazing.