When I first visited Cape Scott Provincial Park (now almost 2 decades ago!), I scratched the surface of something incredible. Over time, it called me back again and again. It wasn’t any one thing that I found that I was looking for. It was more the feeling of the place, like a drum beat deep within. Big. Spiritual. Knocking at my heart to let it in. I started delving deeper into the North Island – speaking with locals, visiting the museum and reading what I could find. I “discovered” that the human history of the Cape Scott settlers, remarkable as it was, wasn’t all there was to tell. North Vancouver Island has been the territory of the Kwakwaka‘wakw people for millennia.
As I hiked the beaches and trails of Cape Scott and the North Coast Trail, I followed ancient tracks and untold stories. The terrain is hard, but the land is beautiful. The isolation and solitude is its own reward. The remoteness of north Vancouver Island has created a paradise for the animals that live here – coastal wolves, bear, deer, elk, mink and eagles. One day, I followed the tracks of a wolf pack along a sandy beach. They had been running, at least six of them. As we walked, the lines of their tracks became more chaotic and tangled; they were everywhere. A frenzy. And then… I found a deer leg. Further down the beach I found the bloodied scull cap with the antlers still attached. Two nights later, the shadows of the pack cruised by our camp fire. We heard them howling in the forest. On the hunt again.
I wanted my guidebook to benefit the people of the North Island, who are full of generosity, tenacious spirit and respect for the land. But, I also wanted the book to contribute to a greater understanding and respect for the traditional territories in which the park is located, and of the wildlife who live here. Wolves, in particular, have a unique place in this coastal ecosystem.
From my home in Victoria, I feel so far away from Cape Scott. But, every year, when summer fades to fall, I think of it. I imagine the damp coastal rainforest, shrouded in mist, settling in for another season. I imagine the animals of the North Island enjoying true solitude, free for a time from hikers and tourists. In my mind’s eye, I watch the tracks being washed away by the tide.
I appreciate the work and dedication of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation. I am happy to support their Safeguard Coastal Carnivores initiative through the donation of proceeds from the sale of my book.1
About the book
Cape Scott and the North Coast Trail
Hiking Vancouver Island’s Wildest Coast
by Maria I. Bremner
“Part trail map, part field guide, part regional history, Cape Scott and the North Coast Trail is the first comprehensive guidebook about one of Vancouver Island’s most iconic destinations. Each year, thousands of backpackers and nature lovers head to the northern limits of Vancouver Island, bound for the jewel of the region: Cape Scott Provincial Park and the recently completed North Coast Trail.” Find out more.