Ucluelet’s top attraction has added another jewel to its breathtaking crown.
A wildly one-of-a-kind crow’s nest viewpoint was unveiled on the Wild Pacific Trail during a celebration last month.
“This has got to be one of the most premier views on the whole trail,” the trail’s innovator and manager ‘Oyster Jim’ Martin told the Westerly News after a ribbon cutting ceremony on Oct. 22. “The view up the coast, and the headland adjacent to this provides spectacular wave action when the ocean’s angry.”
Wild Pacific Trail Society members and supporters hiked their way along the eight kilometre trail to experience and celebrate the unique new feature perched between the trail’s Artists’ Loops and Ancient Cedars sections.
Society president Barbara Schramm beamed with pride as she stood on the steps of the new viewpoint to thank Martin for his artistic vision and tireless work ethic that has been forging the trail along Ucluelet’s rocky coastline since 1999.
“The trail society felt it was important to acknowledge not just this perch, but the last few viewpoints that have been built in the last two years and also the entire sweep of the trail. We just owe Jim everything and we think now’s the time to acknowledge that,” Schramm told the crowd. “As we know, Jim’s quite the artist…This perch was about 10 times the work that Jim thought it would be…This and all the other pieces are a tremendous legacy and I just want to thank Jim officially for all the work he’s done.”
Ucluelet Mayor Marilyn McEwen also spoke at the event, heaping praise on Martin and the society’s board of directors.
“The 26-plus years that we’ve been here, it’s been a real pleasure to see how this trail was born and has evolved. Jim just has the foresight to create these beautiful lookouts and portions of the trail,” McEwen said. “I’m just so pleased to have another part of this trail. It’s our showpiece, I would say, of Ucluelet. It’s our biggest asset as far as I’m concerned.”
Martin was met with enthusiastic applause as he stood on his new creation to explain its creation to the audience.
“I wanted to do something different. A legacy viewpoint, or call it a masterpiece viewpoint, and the result of having to satisfy the engineer,” he said. “This was probably my fifth or sixth design submission.”
He said he had another plan in place for the spot that the district signed off on, but when he began to dig he found roots that could not be damaged, sending him back to the drawing board. He also recalled spending a day collecting logs along the beach to use as steps, just to have that plan nixed when he discovered the “perfect” log afterwards during a formidable hunt for a stick suitable for the right-curving handrail.
“I needed a handrail and this is right turning…I develop the formula I need and then I go out ‘shopping’. Everything out there was left hand…This was the only one and luckily it was the perfect one…This came down from the lighthouse. I went everywhere looking for a righthander. And, what do I see on the beach, but this great big fir log,” he said.
“This is what I wanted to build once I saw that log. This will last forever and it’s not going to move.”
This is the second crow’s nest Martin has installed along the trail and he told the Westerly he is “very happy” with how it turned out.
“The initial crow’s nest type things were the painter’s perches that I put in on one of the Artists’ Loops. Kind of pop ups in the krummholz layer of the canopy to afford people a view they wouldn’t normally get. That led to the first steel cage crow’s nest. Those are put in a position where you cannot build a traditional viewpoint. You have to come up with some way to utilize a stump or, in this instance with the second one, a root. If you want to put a viewpoint there you have to use a little imagination and make it work,” he said.
He added that he “went back to the drawing board a few times” as he worked out a design that satisfied his creative vision while also passing the district’s requirements.
“I would imagine, with the way it’s built, it would add 3 or 4 per cent to the quality of the trail and the experience overall because it’s so unusual and so unique,” he said.
“I wanted another viewpoint and satisfying the engineer resulted in the design you see. I went to the drawing board a few times and worked it out with him so I could meet the criteria that’s required by the district.”
He suggested during the ceremony that the new crow’s nest might mark the end of viewpoint building along the trail, but hinted at a few future possibilities being considered.
“This was the most remote site to build a viewpoint and this is the heaviest viewpoint I’ve ever had to deal with,” he said. “This was the result of all of the new requirements and I put my little take on it and did the saw work and stuff to give it that real crow’s nest look and satisfy the engineers. I’m real happy with it of course. I think it’s really a good end to the viewpoint building, if that’s where it ends.”
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