The forest environment was my workplace for nearly 20 years travelling throughout the Prairies, the far north and the Rocky Mountains. When I left the profession of biology for a new career as a professional photographer in 1996, it was only natural that I would continue to work in the forest environment. It was not only an environment that I was familiar with and knew very well, it was also one that I truly enjoyed being part of. During my employment with Forestry Canada, I was fortunate to have visited many scenic locations, including several of western Canada’s national parks. While I never worked in Pacific Rim National Park on Canada’s west coast, it’s a place that I visited every time I stepped onto Vancouver Island. Being from the island, my wife and I would visit her family every second year or so and, over the years, made it a tradition to explore the park.
Pacific Rim National Park soon became one of my favourite parks. Tucked into the southwest end of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, it boasts an area of about 511 sq. km (197 sq. miles) including both marine and terrestrial components. The park is shadowed to the east by the Vancouver Island Range (formerly known as the Vancouver Island Mountains) that extends the length of Vancouver Island. The park faces west to the Pacific Ocean, the earth’s largest ocean.
A steady stream of moist air masses from the Pacific Ocean during the fall and winter months drops much of its precipitation on the forests below as they meet the mountains. On average 300 cm, or 120 inches, of precipitation are deposited in the area each year, which meets the minimum amount of precipitation required to qualify as a rainforest (the minimum requirement is actually 250 cm of moisture, or 100 inches, per year). During the drier summer months, precipitation often presents itself as fog.
The park is essentially divided into three separate units: Long Beach — the coastal region from Tofino to Ucluelet, which is also the most popular; Broken Group Islands — an area accessible only by boat consisting of over 100 small islands and islets in Barkley Sound; and the West Coast Trail — a 75-km (47-mile) trail along the west coast of Vancouver Island from Port Renfrew to Bamfield.
To read more of Mike Grandmaison’s feature “Pacific Rim National Park” please pick up the Fall/Winter 2014 issue of OPC today, or subscribe!