Hot Springs & Magic

The most amazing hot springs you will ever soak in……

That line is what drew me to Hotsprings Cove almost twenty years ago, but it is the magic of the place and the magnificent ever changing scenery that has kept me here. Even today, each trip to the springs feels like the first time. The light in the ancient forest is never the same, and I constantly wish I had remembered my camera, as I walk out to soak the days aches away.

My brother came to camp here in 1978, when the only way to arrive was chartering a floatplane , or hitching a ride on one of the  local fishing boats that puttered up from Tofino. It was his idea that I check out the area as a place to live when I returned home to Canada after living abroad for twelve years. Times have changed and there are now three scheduled flights a day back to town, but the magic remains the same. It is  still an awe inspiring walk ,through groves of huge cedar trees, past peek a boo views out to sea, until you arrive at the mist enshrouded source of the springs; where the water bubbles out of a cleft in the black rock, before tumbling over a ten foot waterfall, into a series of pools,and finally out into the wild Pacific Ocean. You drop your clothes at the shelter, and ease yourself in the scalding pummel of the waterfall, before working your way downstream to soak in the long pool, and drift, while searching the sky for eagles soaring on the updrafts off the point. That is an average day here, and the reason I love the place and the lifestyle.

The cove has a long history. Of course it would , with a natural wonder like the hot springs just there. Three different First Nations groups have been using the springs as a sacred healing ground for as long as the ice has been gone.  At the turn of the century, Ivan Clark came on a steamer, and set up the first store, in a tent, where the public dock is now. A bustling community grew, with a store, a school, a church, two fish packing plants, and even a couple of boat building yards, and two hundred fishing boats based out of the cove. All that is gone now, and survives only as photos, memories and rotting remains hidden beneath a mantle of trees.

When I came twenty years ago, even the little floating store that had lingered on selling bread and food basics to the fishermen was gone. There was a park now, instead of a town, and an empty dock, and of course, all that magic….

The tour boats take the guests to see wildlife on their way here, but the bay is teaming with its own array of wonders. Herring, salmon, bald eagles, kingfishers, and humming birds abound. On the beaches bears, pine marten, and occasionally wolves can be seen, and in the last five years, the once extinct sea otters have made an amazing return. Killer whale come right into the cove during salmon season, as well as grey and humpback make an appearance in early Spring, during the herring run rubbing themselves up against the Innchanter to scratch an itch. That is a experience not to be missed.

It was the atmosphere of the place that really caught me; the wildness of the sea, and the shelter of the cove. Silent forests that felt like forever, hiding secrets that even after twenty years I still have not completely explored.  There have been midnight excursions to the hot springs, and late nights paddling home, when the cove was brilliant with the cool green glow of bio-luminescence. Nights lying on the deck , watching the blaze of stars or the swirl of northern lights wash the sky. I spend all my spare time exploring in my kayak or skiff, searching the secrets of the shore, and the things that lie hidden just beyond the dark fringe of trees.

There are a dozen places to kayak to if you only have an hour free; up the channel beyond the old village site, or to the warm water seep on Mate Island, or to the back of the bay to watch salmon run up the river.

Only ten minutes away in the skiff, Flores Island has a series of beaches that are bright and white, where you can  idle away the day  in sun and solitude, or include a few favoured guests to an impromptu picnic at the secret lagoon on Crazy Eagle Beach. If I only have an hour or two , my favourite get way is a trek up the Hootla Kootla river to the lake,the lukewarm swimming pools and the waterfalls. The open atmosphere of the wide beaches, is such a contrast to the mossy closeness of the old growth forest, and it is all here, just a few minutes away from the Innchanter.