Vancouver Island’s Wild West Side… Pipestem Inlet in Barkley Sound

After a couple of days in Ucluelet, we set out farther into Barkley Sound. Along the way I spotted the remote campground I’d stayed at five years ago… where my only visible neighbor was a Black Bear who strolled the beach about the same time each morning.

It was Muscle Beach Campground, and here’s the link to my writings about my visit by land…  British Columbia’s “Big Island” 

This was the campground I drove to on a long, narrow, dirt/rock path… brushing foliage along both sides of The Beast… braking for Black Bears… and ultimately reinforcing the ground beneath my jacks with large chunks of driftwood, just so I could settle in my own little paradise facing Barkley Sound.

Funny… although I confirmed that it was accessible by “big rig” before booking… the owner told me during my visit that mine was the largest RV she’d had out out there, and seemed especially proud that said RV was driven by a woman. She even brought her mom out to meet me during my visit. 😁

Just enough breeze in Barkley Sound

Muscle Beach Campground from the water


We were headed to Pipestem Inlet, which took as past numerous islands, and through Toquart Bay before arriving at our destination… Cataract Cove. We had the entire Inlet to ourselves… with the exception of one Humpback which we observed from a distance.

As soon as we dropped anchor we set out to explore. As I rounded a corner in one little lagoon I spotted a Black Bear foraging on the shoreline. I quietly moved closer, watching and photographing as he made his way along the shoreline. He watched me as well, once he figured out I was there.

Balanced round rock, Cataract Cove

Black Bear cruising the shoreline in Cataract Cove


Although they can swim, this guy went to great lengths to avoid getting wet. I was quite prepared to catch him if he fell… with my camera that is… but with amazing agility he made his way across an invisible ledge. John was not too far behind me, taking it all in too.

Black Bear avoiding a swim in Cataract Cove

…a perfected balancing act

Black Bear, Cataract Cove

Doing what I do…


As we came out of that lagoon I could hear the sound of a waterfall, and it took me awhile to realize it was on the far side of Pipestem Inlet. I was amazed at how far the sound traveled, and peddled across to investigate. Although barely running at the time, I can imagine it’s quite impressive in the spring.

Trickling waterfall in Barkley Sound

John and Zephyr, Cataract Cove

Summer Breeze at anchor in Cataract Cove, Pipestem Inlet in the background

Cataract Cove, Barkley Sound


After finding Cataract Creek too shallow to paddle, we went back to Summer Breeze to gear up for a longer expedition… up Lucky Creek. The entrance to this creek is very shallow, and crossing it… in and out… is best timed within an hour either side of high tide. Knowing that, and because it was a fair distance across the inlet, it made sense to put the motor on Zephyr. (Something we rarely did)

This would turn into another one of our favorite excursions. Even by motor Lucky Creek was tranquil and enchanting, and led us to a lovely set of waterfalls at the end.

Mouth of Lucky Creek, Barkley Sound

Waterfalls on Lucky Creek

John caught me doing what I do

At Lucky Creek Falls

John and Zephyr, Lucky Creek

Double waterfall, Lucky Creek


Note the grooves and bowls and pockets formed by the constant pounding and flow of water since this creek was formed.

Goblet shaped waterfall, Lucky Creek


As it turned out, that wasn’t the end. We tied Zephyr off and climbed to a beautiful oasis beyond… pools and cascading waters as far as we could see. Be still my heart! We would have swum across and kept on going if only we’d had a dry bag for our gear!

Upper Falls on Lucky Creek

Pools above Lucky Creek Falls

Lucky Creek

Colorful rock on Lucky Creek

John found a chair! Lucky Creek

Clear water and beautiful rock along Lucky Creek


It was really tempting to stay an extra day, just to go back up Lucky Creek with dry bags, a  wider lens and water shoes, but we still had so much to explore in Barkley Sound. The Pinkerton Islands were calling our name, as was the Broken Group.

At our first opportunity, I sent a text to a photographer friend who was traveling this same coastline a week or so behind us… telling him not to miss Lucky Creek, and be sure to be prepared with a wide angle lens and dry bags for his gear. I haven’t heard yet if he made it.

Lucky Creek

I see a heart! One that would not exist at a higher or lower tide. Lucky Creek

Pipestem Inlet


We were feeling pretty darn happy as we motored back across Pipestem Inlet. It was a day full of fresh air, exercise and nice surprises, and that always puts a smile on my face.  Despite the over abundance of miserably wet days, we’d been cruising through, it was hard not to feel blessed as we looked across the water to see Summer Breeze at anchor… drenched in warm evening rays of sunshine. It filled me with hope, and as you will soon see, hope does win out.

Summer Breeze at anchor in Cataract Cove


Pinkerton Islands and The Broken Group are up next, and well worth the visit. Stay tuned!!



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