Hot Springs cove, located in Maquinna Provincial Park, is small and narrow. Halfway up is a public dock that leads to a boardwalk trail two kilometers to the hot springs. On the trail are large twisted cedars and lush vegetation. Yellow lily like flowers called skunk cabbage, a sign of spring, grew abundantly on the board walk.
With only the slightest smell of sulfur a spring feeds its way out of the bowels of the earth about one hundred yards from shore making its way under the boardwalk and into a pool before cascading in an eight foot steaming waterfall. The water falls upon rounded rocks and filling several pools on its way into the sea. A few types of algae grow in the pool but with the exception of things I can’t see nothing else appears to grow. Less than ten meters away, as the sulfur spring water feeds into the sea at the tide line, the sulfur-rich water appears to have no ill effects on the fist sized mussels , kelp, sea grass, purple and orange starfish, and neon purple and green sea anemone that crowed every spare bit of rock reached by the sea.
The tide goes in and out and with it pools of various shapes and sizes and temperatures are created as the waters mix. After being cascaded on the rowboat with variations of cold for over a week, the waterfall was a bit much, and my extremities stung as I eased into the pool the size of long hot tub.
Hours passed like sleepy minutes as we gingerly made our way barefoot and nude to each of the pools testing the waters that for the morning. Before small stout taxi boats arrive from Tofino with tourists, the spring was ours alone to enjoy. My favorite spot was mid tide line that I shared with several hundred mussels. Then, I got hungry enough to put on clothes and cook food with Greg and Markus at a spot just overlooking the pools.
Several boats, engines whining as they shot into the cove had arrived and a consistent trickle of tourists began to arrive. Four were not tourists, but family. Jen, Dylan, Ocea and Rio, Markus’s sister, partner and their two kids, three years and four months had come to visit us from Tofino. Markus ran to meet them at the dock.
The day before Markus had called Dylan via the sat phone. After making the decisiton to stop at the cove and not knowing how long we would have to stay we figured it would be nice to see if some bonus supplies could be procured. Markus’s family did not disappoint. Two steaks each, fresh veggies, salad, and some beer would augment daily rations.
I had met them on the dock in Vancouver but had little time to interact in the chaos. The hot springs provided a more relaxing atmosphere to get to know them. They are kind, fun and happy people, and although not my family it felt just as good to see the love between them and Markus. He held Rio, who was very tiny in her warm polar bear onesie, while Dylan and Jen enjoyed the springs with Ocean. It was her first time to the springs and she was very excited and apparently fearless of the hot water. Our time was too short with them, and we walked them back to the boat to say goodbye. Depending on the weather we would see them in Tofino.
We made a fire. It began to rain as the coals heated up to temperature and we cooked the steaks in the rain. Red meat and animal fat are extra special good after days of rowing. Veggies were cooked. Salad was eaten and washed down by beer. The walk to the hot springs settled the meal, and the wet did not bother us in the steaming water. Necklace anodized, hot shower makes drying off easy in cold.
Authors Note: Hot Springs cove became a necessary destination due to gale storm warnings and high winds off shore. Adam, Rick and Markus rowed the last four hours until we reach Hot Springs cove. Greg and I slept, arriving at the dock at the very end of our sleep shift. I love those guys. The three of them went directly to the hot springs while I waited for Greg to complete interview with The Bob Rivers Show and packed food for the two click hike out there. We passed Rick and Adam on the way back. They were falling asleep in the springs and decided to make their way back to sleep in the boat.