Back into the middle of the Island we drove this morning, on the only major road which leads away from the coast. If it hadn't been for the surprise near the end of the road, we would have been disappointed by the ride. Waterfall 'Bob'
First we passed Upper Campbell Lake, glassy with wooded edges. The forest had once grown right down to the shores, but now much of the shoreline was plain dirt together with the stumps of amputated trees. It wasn't beautiful.
There were some cabins along the lake shore, but no signs of life; probably the cabins are occupied only when people are fishing and/or boating.
The town of Gold River was equally unprepossessing: a small lumber town with "the greatest salmon fishing." The main road actually continued on to Tahsis and then through the back country to Port Hardy, but we elected to follow the red line on the map down the Gold River to a fjord leading to the ocean.
The interior of British Columbia is mountains and forests, speckled by logging operations. In most cases the goal is to slide the logs down the mountains to the rivers, then down the rivers to the shore, where they are towed by boats to the mills. But there are a good number of logging trucks today, sometimes giants wider than one lane of the highway, and as tall as a house. Waterfall 'Elsa'
But the most interesting sights for the tourist are all the forms of water: lakes, rivers, streams, brooks, rivulets, cascades, rapids, and waterfalls. It rains all the time, the rain falls as snow on the mountaintops, it's above freezing at the shore, so there is always snow melt and runoff. But especially so now, in the spring, as more of the winter's snows melt. There's even a glacier on Vancouver Island, at about 6000 feet.
So we drove along enjoying the cascades. Steep hills border the Gold River, and soon we were seeing water pouring over the rocks in little waterfalls. Then bigger ones. Then there was a sign saying, Scenic View Point. As we approached there was a green railing on either side of the road, and lots of mist.
Holy Cow! We were driving across the middle of a two-stage full-blown giant waterfall! There was no name on the map, no name on the sign (a project of B.C. Milennial with the cooperation of industry to provide the parking areas.) There were two such waterfalls right next to the road, about 500 meters apart, and the water roared down into the tumbling, roaring Gold River in the Log chutes canyon below.
So, since there is apparently no known name for these waterfalls, we'll call them Bob and Elsa, respectively. The locals might have other names for them. But if you go to Gold River and follow the red line to the fjord, you're sure to pass the Bob Waterfall and the Elsa Waterfall -- they'll knock your socks off.
The road ended at a mill site which appeared to be unused; instead the logs were being skidded down to the fjord for towing to other plants. In the summer you can book passage on the M.V. Uchuck which takes supplies and passengers to the nearby, but isolated coastal communities. There are also seaplanes, which provide the only reliable year-round transportation to many coastal villages. We took pictures of the lumber operations and the docks.
Returning back to Port Campbell, we passed a woman walking down towards those lumber docks. We had seen her close to Gold River on the way down. She didn't appear to be carrying anything, but it was about six miles each way to the town of Gold River. She seemed happy enough to be on foot, returning our wave with a smile.