VIDEO: Massive waves destroy chunks of Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail

Some viewpoints will be closed for the foreseeable future because you won’t even know they were there

The largest waves to hit the West Coast in recent memory hammered Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail last week smashing viewing decks, destroying bridges and sending benches flying.

“Waves picked up benches weighing close to 1,000 pounds and flung them 50 feet,” the Wild Pacific Trail Society’s President Barbara Schramm told the Westerly News on Monday. “These waves shifted decks that are the size of a small house.”

She said various sections of the trail are now inaccessible and that the heaviest damage was done to the northern area around the trail’s Artists Loops section.

“It was repeatedly struck over many hours. It wasn’t just one wave. It was a continuous process,” she said. “We really do need the public to pay attention to the closed sections. They think, ‘Oh well, it’s no big deal, but they’ll encounter having to wade through a creek.”

She added the trail’s Lighthouse Loop section, which features the popular Amphitrite Lighthouse, was also affected.

“To the north of the lighthouse, there’s huge bites out of the trail,” she said. “There’s some viewpoints that will be closed for the foreseeable future because you won’t even know they were there.”

Schramm said the society is currently assessing the damage and putting a strategy together for repairs.

“There’s also sections inaccessible by equipment, which makes it a lot harder,” she said. “We’re looking at hand-work. These places are inaccessible. You can’t bring an excavator in and pick up a deck.”

She added the damaged viewing decks were shifted by the waves, but did not blow apart thanks to the work of Wild Pacific Trail creator Oyster Jim Martin.

“What’s amazing is that he constructed these so strong that they didn’t fly apart. They just got shifted off their foundations,” she said. “Imagine something strong enough to shift these massive decks, but they were so over-engineered that they stayed in one piece.”

The repair costs are currently unknown, though Schramm noted, “It cost tens of thousands to put it in, so that’s what we need to put it back.”

“We don’t have the money it’s going to take to replace these bridges and decks. It took 20 years to build what’s out there with a slow trickle of donations,” she said. “We’re reliant on donations. This is not a taxpayer’s burden.”

Donations can be made through the trail’s website or Facebook page.

“Small amounts from a lot of people would go a long way,” Schramm said adding the trail is an important local feature to support. “There’s nothing like it in the world and it’s worth rebuilding what was damaged.”

While the waves roared through, many locals and visitors descended on the trail to experience the ocean’s power and Schramm was happy to see Ucluelet’s district office working diligently to ensure stormwatchers stayed safe.

“The district showed up all hands on deck and physically prevented people from hurting themselves. They were amazing,” she said. “Everyone did their jobs really, really, well.”

She said tourists continue flocking to the trail, particularly around the lighthouse, and she urges locals to spread the word about being CoastSmart.

“We’ve now become famous as storm-central,” she said. “We’re being flooded with people wanting to see these waves and my personal fear is that they will put themselves in harm’s way. They’ll go out beyond the trails and get themselves killed.”

Anyone heading out to the trail must stay away from rocks and closed areas.

“A wave weighs a tonne per cubic metre,” Schramm said. “People think they’re just going to get a little wet. Would they stand in front of a semi-truck barrelling at them at 60 miles per hour? Of course not. But, that’s what a wave is. They don’t get that sense of fear that they should…A wave that can shatter a house shouldn’t be played with.”

Schramm has lived in Ucluelet for about 30 years and said she’d never seen anything like Thursday and Friday’s storms.

“I think this is an extraordinary event, but, with climate change, we can’t rule out that this becomes more frequent,” she said.

Just Posted

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Tier 3 Bantam Championships

“The packed arena and electricity within was fantastic.”

Port Hardy RCMP issues warning about recent overdose

“Our primary concern is public safety. We are urging the public to be aware of what is circulating.”

Port Hardy RCMP looking for volunteers who are interested in public safety

“The volunteer program will include community and crime prevention programs”

Suspicious fire in Alert Bay burns two homes, spreads to nearby bush

Police say underage suspects have been identified

VIDEO: North Island Bantam Eagles tie Dawson Creek Canucks in front of massive hometown crowd in Port Hardy

The Tier 3 Bantam Championships continued in style last night at the Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena.

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Fire crews battle large blaze at Courtenay hostel

Courtenay Fire Chief Don Bardonnex said nobody was injured

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Most Read