Great Scott!!!

Between a new job and a hectic summer full of fieldwork, I managed to have a lot of fun but no time to let you know. Sorry about that. I’m here now to remedy that…

Sometime earlier this summer, we decided to take full advantage of the unbelievably comfortable weather and make the trek out to the Northwestern tip of Vancouver Island. Cape Scott is a beautiful and remote part of the world and though it often appears pristine at a glace, there is a long history of people doing their best to tame this section of the wild Pacific coast.


Intrepid adventurers, early in the day (as evidenced by the smiles).


Enjoying someone else’s bridge-building expertise.


Big old dead cedars


Success! Looking northwest to the sun and probably Japan


Dendritic grains


Sunset silhouettes

The natural beauty of the area is obviously the primary attraction, but the more we learned about the numerous failed attempts at European settlement the more engrossed we became in the history. In 1899 and for the few years after, a community of Danish settlers came ashore near Hansen Lagoon and fought hard against the elements to hew a fishing village out of the dense forest wilderness and tidal lagoons. They banded together and spent an entire summer building a earthen dike to protect their settlement and agricultural fields from tidal influxes, but were given a harsh introduction to the power of the North Pacific as a huge storm surge smashed the dike apart and flooded the area during its’ first winter. Over next summer they rallied again to rebuild but the devastation was too complete and their resources were too depleted to make a serious claim on success. Within a few years, the settlement attempt was abandoned and the settlers moved on.


Picturesque Guise Bay


Hiking through the abandoned harvest


Panoramas for daaaaaays; weary hikers taking in some beach life


Supergreen sea lettuce peelers


Paipo exploration along Experiment Bight


Claiming space on the buoy tree


Hiking back out beside Hansen Lagoon

The next round of settlement came after World War 1 when the government offered free land to people willing to settle back around Hansen Lagoon and make a second go of colonizing Cape Scott. After the promised road to Holberg never materialized and the gradual realization that year-round shipping of goods via boat to Port Hardy was not feasible, the second attempt petered out leaving only a few folks happy to spend most of the year in rustic isolation. Since then, the landscape has done its best to reclaim any trace of human existence with only a few scattered artifacts to show for the efforts of hundreds of people over two decades. I take some solace in that. Now, the hike in tells the whole interesting history though moss-covered mounds, ancient trails, and grown-over springboard cuts – if you know where to look.




Resting the blisters


Monster trees have witnessed the whole of human habitat in the area, from the local Nahwitti First Nations to the Danes and their fellow Europeans


After hiking the Paipo over 30km in and our of the Cape, I finally managed to get wet back down in San Josef Bay. If nothing else, I gave the local cedars some hope that they can eventually end up as something awesome that gets to play in the ocean.






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