Goldstream Provincial Park

If I am learning one thing by studying abroad, it is how to make the most of my time in between intense periods of study. That essentially translates to trying to keep my weekend’s free of assignments so I have hours to spare to explore the island. A visit to Goldstream Provincial Park, just outside of Victoria, was near the top of my to-do list so I could see my first salmon run!

I met up with some other exchange students in the pouring rain to catch the bus to Langford, where we then caught a cab to the middle of the park. 

While the rain had almost stopped, mist was still rolling past Mount Finlayson.

Walking away from the visitor’s centre, we turned down a path and found the river that runs through the park. We had been warned that things get pretty busy during salmon season and as we approached the water, it was clear the run had started.

Although, I was wholly unprepared for the amount of dead fish I saw!

There had been a lot of rain the week prior which meant the river was higher than normal. As the water level dropped, a lot of fish had been stranded on the bank. They were easy pickings for the seagulls – the juiciest part are the eyes!

We even found some eggs!

A volunteer (tasked with the wonderful job of pushing the dead, beached fish back into the water) told me that these Pacific salmon differ from the Atlantic species in that the vast majority will die on their journey. Atlantic salmon have the sense to turn around and get back to the ocean once they’re done spawning but the Pacific species… get stuck.

But it’s okay. The tons of salmon that are left over are valuable food sources for many creatures in Goldstream including bobcats and bears!

By this point in the day, it was lunchtime and we were all getting hungry. We continued down a path to a nature hut that overlooked the off-limits area around the start of the ocean cove. We couldn’t see much wildlife from the observation hut but we got a fantastic view of Mount Finlayson in the sunshine.

We had our packed lunch on the picnic benches, sharing food and stories… all the while being watched over by these bald eagles! 

After lunch, we explored the park’s incredible forest.

These trees were enormous!

The group for scale
When I head home at the end of December, I think the sheer size of the nature out here is one of the things I’m really going to miss. 

I had heard a rumour of something very special on the western side of the park, but it involved getting across the highway. Once we discovered a tunnel underneath, we found ourselves in a dry riverbed blanketed in leaves.

Continuing down the ‘river’ we found Niagara Falls!

Not quite like the larger waterfall back east that it’s named after but still impressive. I haven’t been up close to many waterfalls and I was amazed how windy it was!

© Kristian Tyse Nygård

Obligatory group shot!

But the waterfall wasn’t the special thing I had been told about! We hiked up and beyond the waterfall and its canyon, way, way up into the beautiful forest until we reached this! An old, abandoned railway trestle!

…which of course, we just had to cross. There was a lot of quiet screaming from all of us as we slowly made our way over the gorge.

It was a long way down.

To make matters worse, I kind of have an irrational phobia of bridges… I know logically and scientifically they’re safe but they still make me uncomfortable, which gave me an extra boost of adrenaline.

© Kristian Tyse Nygård

But we couldn’t resist dancing with death a little further and lying down on the tracks! Unfortunately, one of my friends discovered when we stoop up that her phone had dropped between the sleepers into the gorge. Whoops!

Despite all we had seen, we had covered only about a third of what the park has to offer by the time light was fading. All the same, I had a fantastic day out at Goldstream even if I was frantically studying for a midterm on the bus there and back! 

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