In 1945, 12 RCAF members took off from Tofino Airport in a Canso military sea-plane. Upon lift off, the port engine quit cold. Additional to the men aboard were also four 250-pound depth charges and 750 gallons of fuel. Pilot Ronnie Scholes explained that they were too low to turn or gain altitude and had to crash head first into the forest.
Amazingly, everyone survived without any serious injuries and were rescued in 24 hours after a night spent in tents made out of parachutes.
The plane still remains hidden in the depths of the Pacific Rim National Forest in a trail that is extremely discourage by the park board to find and use. Many have gotten lost in the forest-marsh and required rescue teams to get them out. In an odd twist, the park board have now heavily marked the trail to the point that there are dozens of ribbon markers every few metres and a rope to follow for more than half of this, in hopes that if you do manage to find the trail head (not an easy thing to do), you’re sure to be ok.
It took me close to a solid hour of searching and going into false, dead end trails to even find the trail head. I wore knee high gum boots for this hike as I had read numerous times that it was very muddy in the winter. What no one stresses, and should be stressed is that there actually isn’t a trail. It’s an hour and a half hike through a marsh-swamp where if you lose sight of trail markers, you are immediately and completely thrown off of your direction as marsh this deep leaves no clear markings at points. It’s easy to see how you could get lost out there as had the rangers not marked it so well, I would have definitely been lost and was by myself (don’t do that).
All this said, it’s a stunning exploration, which makes you appreciate that most hikes to beautiful things are because there was an ability to get to it on some level in the first place. This plane chose a location that would never have been turned into a trail making it one of the most unique hikes I’ve ever been on. You pass by perfectly symmetrical ponds only realize that they are detonated bombs that have created their own eco system. Upon finding the plane will stop you in your tracks in awe.
I had considered not going as there was a serious cougar warning in Tofino and was by myself. Upon asking a friend what he thought of the experience, he had called it “haunting”. I was sold.