West Coast Trail
The Fellowship of the Rain
June 18th to June 24th, 2003
This was the second time that I was about to
embark out on the trail. This time I had a bit more insight into what it
was going to involve and what to expect. Ever since the last trip, I have
wanted to go back and do the trail again. For months now I have jokingly
said to my hiking buddy Jim Horn that we should do it again this year.
He's returned the favor a number of times and made the same comment to me.
But given our schedules we always brushed it off as not feasible given
that we are already heading to the Chilkoot (Alaska/Yukon area) this year.
One afternoon Jim and I met up for sushi and decided that afternoon -
let's go for it! So we did. I called the reservation line to find that
June was still reasonably open and that the dates we wanted were still
available. Also began checking with other services like the ferry, the
Juan de Fuca express, etc.
ClubTread was here
We managed to get everything booked and then began
our preparations. One of the biggest preparations was what to bring. There
was alot of debate over that as we took everything, including the kitchen
sink, last year. Last year Jim's pack was over 75 and mine was over 85.
Those were crazy weights to be dragging with us so this year we started
weighing things out more and got those weights down. Jim managed to bring
his down to just over 50 and I brought mine down to just over 70.
This year we also went with another friend of
ours, Todd Martin, aka the Hiking Nut. We told him of our plans to do the
trip and asked him if he wanted to join us. He hmmm'd and haw'd for about
30 seconds before having his arm twisted into going.
The days leading up to the hike have been crazy.
Jim and I have been madly trying to get things in good shape so all of our
clients are happy while we are away. To complicate things further, I got
the flu (or food poisoning) two days ago. I was violently ill for all of
Sunday and wasn't even sure if I was going to be able to make the trip. My
situation improved over the next couple days and I began to feel stronger,
although not 100%.
Hiking Day 1 (June 18th, 2003) - Gordon
River to Camper Creek
I was up till about 3am working on things only to
find that I got insomnia after that. I was slated to get up at 5:30am this
morning to get the last few things together before Jim and Todd arrived. I
tossed and turned trying to find a comfortable position where I could
catch even an hour of sleep. No luck. It looked like I was going to have
to just rest as much as possible prior to going. I was originally going to
drive the group to the trailhead but Todd agreed to let me rest and do the
Todd does his part to make the ferry
Squeeked on the ferry!
We left my place shortly after 6am and made our
way to the ferry. Being in the truck with Todd was like riding shotgun with
a rally sport driver. Our plan was to catch the 7am ferry and then continue on
to the trailhead. We arrived at the ferry terminal to be told that we were
at risk of making this ferry. And it was close indeed! We managed to get
on to the ferry and only six cars after us made it on. Whew!
Eyes off my hashbrown!
Wake up Jimbo!
We made our way out of the car deck and headed up
to get some breakfast at the White Spot on the ferry. I bought a few extra
items that I would use as my lunch before setting out on the trail. I
tried to score as much rest as I could on the ferry and in the truck. We
got off track a little on our way to the trailhead and ended up going
through downtown Victoria - that's okay though as it was a nice drive. We
made our way there and arrived at the trailhead office at about 11am.
Wildlife sightings, rescues, etc.
We originally were going to fast-track the
orientation session, but we found that we had actually missed the ferry
crossing and would have to wait until 1pm anyway. So we opted to listen to
the presentation again this year. The office is a little more high tech
this year. They have a computer and an LCD projector for the slide show.
Mimi from Parks gave the presentation - she was actually the person I
spoke to the day before to ask some last minute questions of.
Mimi does her presentation
She went through the different legs of the trail
in her presentation. I asked some specific questions about particular
areas and didn't get the answers I was looking for. It would seem that
parks is wanting you to follow a more strict route now - reducing the
amount of offshoots one would (or could) take on the trail. She also
talked about the wildlife warnings. There were cougar warnings this year,
and many sightings. It would seem that the cougars are no longer afraid of
people and in some cases have been acting aggressively. On the previous
day when I talked to her on the phone she indicated that the wardens
almost shut the park down for a bit the previous month. I called the Juan
de Fuca Express service and confirmed our spot for the 24th. He indicated
that he was going to be in Bamfield on the 23rd so if we happened to
finish early we could catch it then as well - not too likely though as we
are hoping to spend a day between the Falls and the Bamfield trailhead;
most likely at Tscowis given the recommendations we've had from fellow
On the shuttle to Butch's
We completed the orientation and hung around a
little longer. We then drove over to the Butch's ferry service and asked
him the best place to park. We opted to park over near the TrailHead Motel
since we would be taking the Juan de Fuca express back and it was nice and
close to the wharf. We parked our vehicle at June and Stan Medd's place
and they shuttled us back to Butch's. Their price was to be $3/day. Not
too bad. We had to interrupt Butch's golf driving practice. They had a
little setup and were whacking balls across the water. Butch took us
across to the trailhead and along the way we inquired about hiking right
to Camper. He said that it would be a long slog and that we'd likely be
looking at 8hrs to do it. He mentioned that we'd be able to camp at a few
other spots before Camper if we didn't make it all the way (150 yard creek
or at KM 66).
Boarding Butch's boat
We arrived at the trailhead and hopped off his boat. We got
the last bit of pack adjustment done, a few trailhead photos were taken
and then we were off at 1:30pm.
Me getting off the boat
at the trailhead
Pacific Rim Park signage
The plan for the day was to completely bypass
Thrasher Cove. Jim and I had done it last year and thought the beach
wasn't really worth stopping for. There is obviously the interest of many
to take the route around Owen Point, but we wanted to skip that this year.
The thought was that if we can skip Thrasher and go directly to Camper,
that we could take some time later in the trip to relax.
||Thrasher Cove Junction|
Remnants of the old telegraph line
We made pretty good time along this stretch even
though the terrain was rough. The trail itself was very dry. There were a
few muddy sections, but nothing like the year before.
Given the lack of
rainfall, many of the little creeks that also run across the trail were
not present. I'm glad that I had opted to take the 4L of water with me - I
basically used it all that day.
Quick stop at Logjam Creek
so Todd can fill up
Along the way, I photographed all the KM markers.
We did this so we could better assess our time for future visits (I can
glean the timestamp off the digital file after the fact.) Our times were
pretty good I thought given that we took alot of photos and spent extra
time at some of the lookout points and points of interest. I have included
those times in a table to the left for reference purposes.
Passing by the old donkey engine
Gotta love those ladders!
En route we stopped at a few of the points of
interest. One that we passed was the derelect donkey engine. It is an
interesting piece of machinery.
Also, as you follow the trail, you can see
portions of the old telegraph line. Had to be careful we didn't trip on it
as it crossed the trail in some places. A short while after the donkey
engine, we crossed the highest point on the West Coast Trail - not that it
makes too much of a difference given all the up and down.
This length of the trip did take its toll on me. I
was really starting to tire by KM 66.
Prior to that I had some bursts of
energy and seemed to be going without a problem.
This year we took the
inland route from the Thrasher junction to Camper. It is a pretty slow
going route. It looks fairly straightforward on the map, but I think it
was almost as slow as the first part of the trail.
Todd is awarded first fall
There is a section
around the viewpoints where the trail from the BA rejoins the inland trail
that are boardwalk. I had a chance to try out my korkers. They actually
worked very well, although they did feel a little more tiring to walk in.
That would be the last time that I used them on the whole trip - although
I'm still glad I got them because I don't think I'll be so weather
fortunate on future trips.
View from the first BA point
Upon approaching Camper we hit a set of ladders
that descended down to the creek. I started to go down the first set of
ladders and then felt all screwy/dizzy. I clutched on to the ladder and
then stepped back up. The lack of sleep was really starting to get to me.
Jim climbed back up the ladder and snagged my pack for me (thanks Jim).
was only a short "moment" and I regained myself and made my way downt the
rest of the ladders. We completed our hump to Camper and found ourselves
at the Camper Creek cable car. Jim and Todd made their way up, packed
their stuff and started across. Todd accidentally dropped Jim's hiking
pole in the creek. I then took the cable car across and we found a place
where we would set up our camp. Jim and Todd went over to the creek and
Todd managed to get Jim's pole. We then immediately set up our tents and
began cooking dinner. I think we surprised a number of people at the
Camper campsite as we set up our camp at about 10pm and had dinner going.
We had a number of people come over and talk to us asking where we had
started from. Quite a few were surprised we did it all in one day. I don't
think it is a particular difficult thing to do, but it was just tiring as
we had all the travel earlier in the day and started on the trail so late.
Its rather amusing really, as our knickname amongst some of the people
there for the next couple days was "the latecomers". Reflecting back on
the trail, Todd had a spill or two and I had one assisted spill. I think
Jim got through without any.
Some of the many
obstacles along the way
Our camp at Camper Creek
We watched the sky as it became more and more
cloudy. There would be no looking at stars tonight. Shortly after dinner
we decided to turn in. The plan was to head to Walbran as the next
campsite. We knew that this was going to be some work as well since we'd
be tackling all the ladders. I took a couple gravol tablets in hopes that
they would help me sleep. I really needed it at this point given that I
had now been up for 42 hours straight. I also started to notice a little
bit of schaffing from the supid label in my underwear - ripped that out,
but a little too late as it would aggravate me for a few days
after. I called my wife once I was set for bed and had a quick chat with
her. I was surprised to find that I was getting a digital signal.
Hiking Day 2 (June 19th, 2003) - Camper
Creek to Walbran Creek
Camper Creek Cable Car
Slept for a few hours and then found myself
needing to hit the toilet at 3am. I tried to talk myself out of needing to
go and waiting until morning, but that wasn't going to happen. I found my
way by light of the headlamp and then got back to finally get some decent
rest. I only awoke a few times that night and got up just after 7am.
On this trip I brought a couple packages of
oatmeal for each day. I was going to try to have a hot breakfast each
morning. Once breakfast was complete, we broke camp shortly after 8am. I'm
feeling a little better today - the rest did some good. The plan is still
to head for Walbran and begin our day by making our way out of Camper
using the ladders like we did last year.
A fellow came by our camp as we were packing up
and said, "good morning latecomers!". We talked with him for a few
minutes. He had done the trail a couple years ago. He asked us
which way we planned to go that day and we indicated that we were going to
go up the ladders out of Camper. He questioned our logic on it and said
that the trip along the shelf wasn't a big deal. Last year the native
woman doing trail maintenance told us the same thing but we opted for
inland. This guy was pretty convincing so we thought what the hell,
let's go for it.
Crossing the creek
Working our way through
a surge channel
At about 10am, we headed out and walked
across a log to get across camper to the other side where we'd be taking
the shelf. We then continued along the shelf for a short distance before
getting to a couple of small surge channels. They weren't a big deal to
cross, especially since the tide was out. There were a few greasy rocks,
but we figured as long as we were careful we'd be okay.
Shelf on the way to Sandstone
Floats on the shelf
The plan was to continue along the shelf until we
reached Sandstone Creek. We made our way to the point where we would drop
off to Sandstone. The trick was getting down to the creekbed from the
shelf. We did this by removing our packs. Jim slid down the shelf to a
large boulder. We then passed the packs down to him and he laid them on
the boulder. Jim then slid down off the boulder to the creekbed. Todd then
slid to the boulder and passed the packs down to Jim. He then slid down,
and I slid down. Wasn't a huge deal, but fun nonetheless. Todd had his
first injury - scraped his arm on some barnacles on the way down.
Climbing down on the boulder at
We didn't really feel like pushing our luck with
the other surge channels as we heard there are impassible headlands ahead
so we went up Sandstone. We went up Sandstone a little way and Jim
and Todd made their way along the left side of the creek. Being the
brilliant adventurer I am, I decided to take the middle route up the side.
That proved to not be the swiftest of moves as I ran out of handholds near
the top. The damn rock was pretty polished - and with big hiking boots and
a pack on my back it was impossible to pull myself up. Todd made his way
over and stretched out his hiking pole so I could grab hold. After Jimbo
took a few entertaining shots, the two of them pulled me up on my belly.
Hindsight is always 20/20.
We then made our way part way up Sandstone and
came across a couple of other hikers. We asked them how their boots were,
they replied "soaked". I had heard that you could bushwhack your way up
the side of the creek. Jim did a quick check and said to heck with it. So
we put on our sandals and climbed up the creekbed. The cold water was very
soothing on the feet and we were so glad we decided to do this.
Bridge above Sandstone Creek
We continued along the creekbed until we saw the
bridge above. This was the time we decided it was time for a break and a
snack before continuing. We thought the shelf/Sandstone route was a very
good one and we plan to do it that way in the future as well. It saves all
the ladders out of Camper. We'd still have to look forward to the Cullite
and Logan ladders, but we found that we weren't tired from having to do
the first set.
So this was shaping up to be pretty cool - two things Jim
and I hadn't done before on our previous trip we got to try so we were
Climbing up the rope
out of Sandstone
The area under the bridge was a cool little area.
It was nice and warm given the sun was out and when I stood in some of the
more remote pools of water they were warm from the sun. At about 12:30, we
finished our lunch, put our boots back on, and climbed up a rope to the
left of the bridge. Along our way we could see the clouds starting to
come in again.
Jim climbing one of
the many ladders
We continued our trek to Cullite. There was lots
of mud and roots along this particular stretch of the trail. We finally
hit the first set of Cullite ladders going down. There was another group
starting to make their way up, but they were pretty tired and more than
happy to let us slip by. At the bottom of the ladders we looked at the
cable car. It was about 2pm by this time. We had taken it last year,
but weren't enthusiastic about taking it again.
We find that by the time
you load and unload everything you blow away a good 20-30 minutes. So we
scoped out the creek and found that it wasn't too bad to cross - which we
did. It was deep in places, but as long as you stay on some of the rocks
it was fine.
Climbing the Cullite Ladders
Once across, it was time to make the climb back
out of Cullite.
This was a little tiring, but a heck of a lot better than
trying to do some switchbacks. The stretch between Cullite and Logan
wasn't too bad. There was some good boardwalk in places. Along the way we
came across a grouse and some baby chicks. We took a few pics and then
moved along so not to scare the chicks away from the mother. Also saw a
few garder snakes along this area as well. It still hadn't rained, so the
boardwalk was dry and fast to travel on.
Descending into Cullite
Crossing the Logon
Climbing the longest ladder
We arrived at the first ladders of Logan and made
our way down. I was the first to cross the suspension bridge - to be
honest I just wanted to get it over with. My center of gravity is quite
high given that I am so tall and the pack doesn't help any. I slinked
across the bridge as quickly as possible. It really gets a good sway going
about 2/3 of the way across - even though I was the only one on it at the
time. I took a couple shots of Jimbo going across the bridge and then made
my way up the ladders on the other side.
Todd, whatcha doing
on the ground?
The new boardwalk that was to follow Logan was a
It allowed us to walk on relatively flat and easy terrain and
rest ourselves. We came across a very large bear scat on the trail. Must
have been one hungry bear the day before. We made pretty good time along
the stretch between Cullite and Walbran. The group we had talked to at the
bottom of Cullite said they did that stretch in 2 hours 45 minutes; we
ended up doing it in about 2 hrs.
Engraving our names in the mud
Arriving at Walbran
We got to camp at about 4pm and set up our camp
right away. We were one of the first groups to arrive and we got a great
spot in the driftwood that cornered the ocean and the caves across from
the Walbran. I gave my wife a quick call at work at 4:30 to tell her all
was well and then we planned where we would have our fire.
Room with a view
I organized my food a little bit and then went to
the creek to wash up. I stupidly left some of the food in a ziplock bag
tucked under a log. A crow managed to pull out the bag, open it, and take
one of my Clif bars. Of course he couldn't have taken the peanut butter,
he had to take the chocolate one. I could see the crow across the other
side of the Walbran enjoying my bar. I remember thinking I hope he chokes
This was definitely more relaxing
than the previous night. We got to eat dinner at 6pm rather than
after 10pm. Todd started to play pyro and has a good fire going. We
scoped out the creek crossing for tomorrow. It looks like it is going to
be really easy to cross. We plan to cross it in sandals like before and
then boot up on the other side.
Killer whales passing by
Eagles diving for dinner
From camp we could see all sorts of wildlife. We
saw a couple seals in the water bobbing around. Also off in the distance
we spotted a pod of killer whales. That was a nice sighting as you usually
only see grey whales off the west coast in that area.
We could see eagles
flying around. Their nest was across the Walbran in some trees on the
headland. A few of the eagles were flying out to the ocean and we saw one
do the dive to the water and catch a fish - truly a majestic sight.
Our Walbran campfire
We returned back to our campfire and relaxed more.
We reflected on the hiking we had done thus far and were proud of our
accomplishment. We had done the hiking in two days that we had spent three
doing last year. The main part of the hump is behind us now. Mainly what
is left now is some long stretches, but easier travel. Tomorrow we plan to
head for Cribs. Also looking forward to stopping at Moniques along the
way. I asked some passing hikers along the way about what her specials
were this year and inquired about the crab burgers. They told me that she
had salmon or some other kind of fish burger. Either way was fine with me
- I'm going to have one. We thought about the time that was required last
year - it took us 4hrs to reach Moniques from Walbran. So we figured if we
leave at around 8am, we'd be there for lunch.
This year we also were
thinking that we'd wade the Carmanah instead of taking the cable car.
As the sky darkens we are presented with a
beautiful sunset. Off in the distance we can see clouds rolling in, but
the weather continues to hold out and deprive us of the rain we're not
craving. Jim and I talk about our favorite campsites and mutually agree
that this is one of them. We can hear the waves crashing methodically,
something that just brings on relaxation. We decide to pack it in at about
10:30pm as we plan to get up at about 6am the next morning.
Hiking Day 3 (June 20th, 2003) -
Walbran Creek to Cribs Creek
I awoke at 6am to begin my day. I only woke up a
few times in the night but other than that it was a great night. I started
to really fall into deep sleep shortly after 4am - it would have been nice
to have spent a couple more hours catching up on sleep. While I was
getting myself together Jim and Todd were up and looking out towards the
ocean. They spotted a couple grey whales passing by.
Looking back down the beach
There had been a very short dizzle at about 5am
that only lasted a few minutes. I wasn't sure what the day was necessarily
going to hold for us given it was so clouded over. Over the next couple
hours we had the occasional little bit of rain and I covered my gear that
was yet to be packed with my tarp. I finished packing up and we
left the Walbran camping area at about 8am wearing our sandals. The
first thing to do would be to quickly wade the creek and then boot up. The
cold water felt very refreshing.
Jim recovers after his spill
Eagle watches the ocean
We crossed the shipwreck we had seen before that
was laying on the shelf. I went up a little closer for a re-examination
and some additional photos. Also along the way we saw an eagle perched on
the rocks on the shelf. We wandered closer and got some nice pictures of
it. The shelf was pretty slippery in places.
Jim hit a real slippery patch
and had the worst fall of the trip.
He didn't hurt himself,
but it was
amazing to watch
- extra style points for that one!
As we rounded the
headlands, we could see the Carmanah Lighthouse off in the distance. This
was a good thing as we knew that meant Moniques was fast approaching.
Put me down buddy!
Crossing Carmanah Creek
Do I have to put these back on?
As we approached the Carmanah Creek we thought
about how we were going to wade it instead. Upon arriving, we realized
that it would not be possible to wade in boots so we needed to change into
our sandals. It is amazing how refreshing that is. I think I would likely
wade most creeks using sandals - unless they are too deep or fast moving.
We got across, booted up, and made our way to Moniques. You could see her
establishment in the distance - almost like a mirage. We knew that cold
drinks, burgers, and chocolate awaited us there.
What a lunch!
We arrived at Moniques at about 11:15am. We made
pretty good time and actually shaved off more than an hour from last year.
We chatted with Monique a little bit. She was in much better spirits this
year compared to last year. We found out that she had been sick the
previous year because of some medication
she was taking was bringing on other illnesses.
We found out that the burgers this year were cod and
halibut. Jim and I ordered a halibut and Todd ordered a beef burger. After
I finished my burger, I went and ordered another, this time a beef burger.
The burgers were a little more expensive than I remember from last year
($10 each), but we would have likely had them anyway even if they were
more. My final bill came to $28.50 and included 2 burgers (1 beef and 1
halibut), 2 Snickers bars, 1 Mr. Big bar, and one can of Canadian.
Good till the last bite!
While sitting out enjoying the sunshine in front
of Moniques, Todd played fetch with Moniques dog. The dog, named Soiux,
was quite well behaved and was very fast to retrieve the sticks. As we
enjoyed our food, a couple other groups from the other direction showed
up. One group actually passed by without getting anything! That's hard
core. I don't think I could have passed up a burger.
Climbing out of Carmanah
We left Moniques and climbed the ladders and
stairs upward to the Carmanah Lighthouse. We wandered around the grounds a
little taking photos. We then started down the stairs so we could take the
beach route. Mimi at Parks had previously mentioned that the stairs were
out and that people would need to go inland, but we had heard since that
there was a ladder that was lashed to the bottom. About half way downt the
stairs we ran into some park rangers. The rangers told us that it would be
tough to get around the point on the route we were taking - we were
actually on the wrong staircase. Doh! We chatted with them for a few
minutes and then they led us over to the staircase we wanted - over by the
helipad. The one ranger we talked to was from Victoria. He had an
arrangement where he works for one week and then has one week at home.
Tidal pools full of life
We made our way down the stairs and at the bottom
found that there was in fact a missing section. A metal ladder was lashed
to the bottom and we made our way down it. We hopped down to the shelf and
walked along. It was very easy going and quick to travel on. The tidal
pools were beaming with sea life. We saw starfish, crabs, urchins, and
many others I don't know the names of. We also got to see the sea lion
rock this year. It was near seeing all of them perched out on the rock
This stretch between campsites today had quite a
number of sea stacks - incredible to walk by. We arrived at Cribs at about
2:30pm. We were the first ones at camp and set up our tents. We had a nice
area sectioned off that would be used as our kitchen. Jim and Todd had
brought some beers from Moniques and put them in the creek for chilling.
We then went down to the reef, climbed up, and watched the waves break at
Jim sets up the clothesline
We had an opportunity to do some cleaning - both
our clothes and ourselves. I broke out the camp soap and tried to de-stink
as much of everything as I could. It wasa nice sunny day with a
light breeze, so we made a clothesline to dry out our stuff. Getting into
camp really early that day was great as we had tons of time to kick back
and take in the area.
The afternoon weather was fantastic - its hard to
believe that I was worried about rain only a few hours ago that morning.
The weather does change quickly though as clouds started to roll in late
afternoon. Still no rain yet, but I'm not holding my breath.
Looking back down the beach
from the Cribs
The campsite continued to be relatively quiet with
only a couple smaller groups arriving. This unfortunately didn't last long
as a very large group from Tsusiat Falls arrived early evening. They ended
up setting up their "tent city" right beside us and we felt a little
cramped. There are no bear boxes at Cribs, so we went into the woods
behind the beach area and hung our food in the trees. We noticed alot of
other people saw us doing this and soon the trees were riddled with
The ocean crashes over Cribs
The campsite itself was pretty comfortable. We had
found a couple big chunks of styrofoam that made very comfortable (and
warm) chairs. We relaxed after dinner and chatted amongst ourselves after
dinner. Todd decided to turn in and Jim and I continued our conversation.
We then decided to walk out to the reef to check out the waves come in. It
is a really neat thing to do later at night as it adds a little more
excitement. We also had a chance to experiment a little with some night
time photography - shooting the fire, lighthouse way off in the distance,
and some of the lit up tents.
It was a quiet neighborhood
We called it a night at 10:40pm as the plan was to
be up at 6am tomorrow and be on the trail by 8am. It is going to be a long
day tomorrow at 17KM of travel. Last year, this was my toughest day so I
had that in the back of my mind the whole time. Today was 11KM, but it
wasn't too bad. I gave my wife a quick buzz to let her know all was well
(still on digital signal I might add), and then I hit the hay.
Hiking Day 4 (June 21st, 2003) - Cribs
Creek to Tsusiat Falls
The morning sun warms the camp
Last night I had an incredible sleep and only
awoke once at 4am. At 5:30am I woke up and then was up by 5:40am. I was
the first one up in the group, for a change, and went over to collect the
food cache. The plan was to leave by 8am as it would be a long
Old outpost cabin
Shortly after returning back, the guys were up and
breakfast was cooking. We got our stuff together pretty quickly and we on
the trail by 7:40am. We followed the beach till we got to the headland and
then made our way up. There was a new ladder there this year which made it
a little easier to climb.
Remains of the Santa Rita
wreck of 1923
The area following the climb was pretty overgrown.
We whacked our way through it and eventually came to a more open forest.
We made pretty good time along this and arrived at teh Cheewat at about
9:40am (2 hours).
The Cheewat has a cool suspension bridge and we took a
few candid shots there. We never did run into the mother bear and cubs that
had been seen between Cribs and the Cheewat.
Crossing into the Ditidaht
Cheewat suspension bridge
After the Cheewat, the trail improved greatly as
we crossed through reserve lands. There was tons of boardwalk - some new
and some old. All was very quick to travel on though given that it was
still dry. There was one area that was a little flooded and some of the
boardwalk dipped into the water. It wasn't a huge deal to cross, but
Anchor on the shelf
We also followed some trails along the top of the
headlands and had some great views of the ocean. We also saw and took a
few minutes to photograph, the anchor on the shelf. It was about this time
that we were passed by a trail runner. He had started at 4am from the
We continued our trek to the narrows and made it there
by about 10:45am.
We immediately saw Pat there and greeted him. He
remembered us and we went and chatted with him. (Pat was one of the trail
maintenance workers that we chatted with last year at the narrows and
subsquently camped with them at Tsusiat Falls. We camped and had breakfast
with him and his collegue Dart.) We saw the usual cooler with drinks and
went over and grabbed one. We also had an opportunity to order fresh crab
Anyone for crab and beer?
Hanging out on the dock
We chatted about various stories of boats going in
and out of the narrows. Also found out a little more about the village,
which is actually 22km further up. Leon went and got some fresh crab from
the traps and then prepared them. We also met Leon's uncle, Louie, and
talked with him a little bit. We asked Pat where Dart was hiding himself,
and Pat indicated that he was at the Cheewat doing some repairs. Its too
bad we missed him as it would have been nice to have seen him again. We
also talked to Pat about the trail runner - apparently Pat nabbed him when
he crossed since the guy didn't have a park use pass. Pat radio'd to Butch
at the other ferry to get him when he gets there.
Bear emerges from the woods
While there, a black bear emerged from the forest
further up the narrows. We looked at it from a distance and photographed
it. The guys at the narrows had a black lab. It obviously didn't care for
bears because when one of the guys said "go get him", the dog took off
down the ramp and chased the bear away.
See ya next year Pat
I enjoyed my crab lunch and pop. I was really
craving some caffene. I had three barq's while I was there. Got another
barq's for the road and the bill came to $20.
Looking out at the ocean
from the narrows
We hung around for a while longer and then got
shuttled across the narrows by Leon. On the other side of the narrows we
saw a couple groups, one that was a little in trouble. They were
supposedly getting off the trail here and were going to take the boat to
Trail along the headlands
We took the boat with the three other guys that we
had been paralleling along with. We gave them about 10-15 minutes head
start so we wouldn't be walking on top of each other. We were moving
pretty good along the trail. We actually ended up catching up to the other
group and went past them. Along the way, something that kept ringing in my
ear was that there is a bridge was out somewhere. I couldn't remember
for the life of me from the orientation where it was but we eventually did
come across it. We were forced down to the beach access point - that was
actually quite nice because we hadn't taken that route before. We made our
way down and hit the beach. The sand was pretty soft and it was pretty
warm out. We headed inland at the first opportunity we had.
The hole in the wall
We made very good time on the inland route
although it too was quite overgrown. At the second last beach access we
jumped out to see the hole in the wall off in the distance. At this point
we made our way along the sand (and the shelf in places) eventually
getting there at about 2:15pm. We were quite fortunate this year. We timed
the tides perfectly and were able to cross through the hole in the wall,
thereby avoiding the grunt over the headland. The last stretch to camp is
a tiring one of very soft sand. We rolled into camp at 3pm and were again
the first ones there.
Our camp at Tsusiat
We scoped out the place and set up camp right
away. One of the unusual things I noted this year was the creek was
flowing in the other direction from the falls. Its amazing how that place
changes from year to year. We looked back and could see the other group of
three coming. They arrived about 15 minutes after us.
We loomed around the area a little bit and took a
ton of pictures of the falls. Its hard to believe that I only took two
pictures of the falls last year - more than made up for it this year
though. About this time I just drained my first battery for my camera (and
over 512MB of Flash memory). Lucky I brought two batteries. We explored
the area a little more and checked out the washroom area. It wasn't the
most convenient to get to given the new creek orientation. They also have
a bearbox at this campsite now.
There are lots of crows at the campsite. You have
to really watch your stuff - as I learned earlier in our trip. We had this
one flock that was circling as they chased a raven. Todd took the
opportunity to fire a bearbanger into the flock of crows and scare the
hell out of them. I don't think they came back for the rest of the
We set up our kitchen and where we were to put our
fire. At about 6pm, the other group that had two adults and two boys
arrived. I felt bad for them that they got to camp so late - they looked
Looking at our camp from above
I've been wanting to check out the top of the
falls a little more and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. I told the
guys that I planned to head up and check it out. Jim decided to come and
Todd stayed at camp. We climbed up the ladders and then made our way
towards the falls. We explored the really rough and boggy trails that led
to the edge of the cliff. We got a few pictures of the campsite below, but
good views of the waterfall.
We made our way back through the brush back
to the trail and crossed over the bridge. We then checked out a trail
leading off to the edge of the falls. This presented itself with a
slightly better view of the falls. Jim leaned out to take a photo and was
basically right beside it. When we got back to the bridge, I took the
opportunity to play around in the creek above and to wash my feet from the
Playing in the creek
Descending the ladders to camp
We headed back to the ladders and down to camp.
One of the guys that has been chumming up is sitting with Todd. When we
got to the fire Jim jokingly said, "making friends with the neighborhood
kids Todd?" ha ha Todd wasn't as amused as we were. We got all our stoves
going and then made some dinner. While eating dinner, Todd looked over at
his lil buddy and asked for a little privacy while we ate. He darted away
pretty quickly and went over to the other guy's campsite to chat with them
for a bit.
Look at that fire!
After dinner, we stoked the fire and got it going
pretty good. I roasted the remaining marshmellows that I had brought with
me. It has been scortching hot today. But as with the other days, it
started to cloud over yet again as the evening drew to a close. We were
yet to see any stars. We spared ourselves the heat and alot of effort in
the sand today by taking alot of the parallel inland route. Todd turned in
early at about 9:30pm and Jim and I packed it in at about 11pm. I
gave my wife a quick call to see how she was doing. It sounds like it has
been raining in Vancouver all week. Have we ever been lucky.
I'm hoping for another good sleep - I'm getting
more used to the tent. The sounds of the ocean are very soothing. At this
campsite, there is the constant sound of the falls. The noise doesn't have
a lot of rythym - almost like filling a pot in the sink. Its too bad in a
way since the sounds of the waves are so beautiful.
We saw quite a number of whales today. It was
amazing watching them go by from the shore. We've been quite fortunate on
our trip spotting all the wildlife.
Jim scores a cool
night shot of the falls
Earlier in the evening, Jim and I talked about
what the plan is. We're debating whether to more evenly split the days or
make tomorrow a shorter one. We decided what we would do is examine the
camping as Tscowis and make our decision then. If we not feeling like
staying there, we may move on to stay at OJ. We won't be in a huge rush to
get out of camp tomorrow - most likely will be last or second to last to
leave. (Funny considering there are only 3 groups at Tsusiat). We
anticipate the young guys will leave early. Its funny as they commented a
number of times on how fast we zip along considering our pack weight.
We're basically on par or better each time with them. Doing the trail
has seemed a lot easier the second time around - but a whole new set of
stories and explorations.
So we plan to leave camp late and take the ladders
up to the mainland trail tomorrow. The ladders aren't a big deal, but more
work with boots and a pack. I can hear the other groups still murmoring
around their campfire. I'm about to turn in as its already midnight. I
still can't get over the fact that there are only three groups at this
camp site at the moment.
Hiking Day 5 (June 22nd, 2003) -
Tsusiat Falls to Michigan Creek
It was nice to get a little time to sleep in this
morning. I needed a little extra R&R as my sleep wasn't as good as I
had hoped. I woke several times throughout the night from being too hot,
then too cold, etc. For some reason I was having a heck of a time
regulating my temperature.
I finally dragged my butt out of bed at 8:30am and
milled about the camp for a few. It was then time to have a nice
breakfast. So far I've been holding to my vow to have a hot breakfast
every morning - I tend to stray on that after a few days. It was nice to
kick back and have a coffee and oatmeal. Todd and Jim added a little more
material to the fire and got it going for a little morning fire action.
While we vegged out, Todd decided to go after the
crows again. This time he decided to bait them. He took part of a bar and
went and put it up on a log and then began to walk away. Jim and I were
supposed to keep watch. We could see some crows in this tree way above.
All of a sudden this crow comes out from inside this bush that was close
by. It was amazing at how sneaky they are. He managed to scare them off
long enough to get a little distance. The crows then swarmed the bar and
Todd fired a banger at them. Bang! Right in the middle of the crows. Nice
Snap, Crackle, and Red
We figured the plan would be to head out at about
11am or shortly thereafter. We started packing up at about 10:20am and
weren't in any kind of rush. At about 10:45 the three guys that had been
paralleling us along the trail left camp. They were headed to either
Darling or Michigan. They hadn't fully decided yet.
Our departure shot
It is a little cloudy today. Not sure what the
weather is going to do. If it is anything like all the other days, the
cloud will burn off and we'll have sun in the afternoon. We finally got
the last of our stuff together and made our way out at about 11:45. The
other group that is at the site is still milling about - tents still up.
They will be a while yet.
Another old cabin
We made our way over and across the logs that
littered the beach to the base of the ladders that lead us out of the
Tsusiat campground. It wasn't nearly as pleasant climbing the ladders with
packs, but it is over fast. We hiked over the bridge across the creek and
then made our way along the headland. This part of the trek was fairly
fast moving as there is alot of boardwalk.
New cable car platform at Klanawa
As we approached the Klanawa River we talked about
how we might try wading it. We had waded pretty much everything else so
far and didn't want to waste time on a cable car. When we started getting
closer, we realized that wasn't going to happen. Its funny how you forget
things from the previous year. We got to the cable car at about 1:40 in
the afternoon. The cable car was nice and shiny so to speak. It was newly
built - they must have pulled down the old one from last year.
Todd and Jim started climbing the ladder to the
cable car and we saw a couple on the other side pulling the car. At first
they were pulling the cords to bring the car our way. I thought to myself,
"that's awfully nice of them". Then the car stopped and started coming
their way. Then it stopped again and began our way again. I was a little
puzzled, but the car eventually came to our side.
Crossing the Klanawa
As it turns out, they were starting to pull the
car the wrong way and realized it. When they realized it, they corrected
themselves, but then not having been on a cable car yet got worried and
decided to have us go first so they could see it in action first. Jim and
Todd loaded their packs and hopped in. I climbed up the ladder and
assisted in getting them across. The couple then loaded their stuff, and
came across towards me. I helped them out of the car and they returned the
favor by holding the car for me. I also made sure that i had a good clasp
on my poles as I didn't want to risk dropping them. I was then shuttled
across the creek while taking pictures along the way. This is the longest
of all the cable cars we traveled on.
We made our way inland for a very short stretch
and then got out to the beach. There was a little sand at first but soon
we were hiking on shelf. We continued on the shelf until reaching Trestle
Creek. This was the same stretch as we did last year that was recommended
to us by Pat and Dart. It is very fast moving - especially since the shelf
had already been drying in the sun that had revealed itself.
Rest break at Trestle Creek
We went across a few of the boulders and relaxed
by the same tree we rested at before. It was nice to park myself for a few
minutes and have a snack. I looked over and noticed a large anchor sitting
on the rocks not very far in front of us. I was amazed at how I walked
over it both this year and last year and didn't even notice it.
climbed up on the little ridge above for some arial photos and I toyed
around trying to move it. While this was going on, a fellow on the other
side watched in amusement. I sauntered over to say hello and chat with him
about the trip. He was making his way in the direction opposite to us. He
is from Maryland and is visiting BC by taking in a number of the scenic
areas and hikes.
Trying to drag the big anchor
Old donkey engine
As we proceeded down the trail we came up to the
second donkey engine that can be seen from the trail. We also checked out
the grader that is along the trail a short distance past the donkey
engine. We pushed on and eventually
reached Tscowis Cove. We had talked about camping here all the way along
There is a cool bridge that crosses the creek and gives you
views of the upper parts of the small waterfall there. Once we
crossed the bridge, we descended some ladders to the beach area and had a
It is a very nice camping spot - we noticed it was very windy
though and didn't offer alot of shelter. I made my way back along the
beach to capture more pictures of the waterfall and surrounding area from
the beach vantage point.
Tsocawis suspension bridge
Waterfall at Tsocawis
At this point we had a decision. Do we stay here
or venture to the next spot. Even though it was a great campsite, we
couldn't bring ourselves to camp here. We had only traveled 8km so far and
felt like we were only beginning to stretch our legs. The next plan of
attack was to hike to O.J. and then reassess our situation. O.J. is about
another 2km away.
Tsocawis Patrol Cabin
We hiked inland for alot of it even though I
peered through the trees at the shelf below thinking that might have been
a better route. We still made pretty good time though. On our way to O.J.
we passed by the Guardian Cabin and chatted with the guy there. One of the
reasons I contemplated O.J. as a possible destination was because I
read in one of my books that there was supposed to be a cool canyon to
dayhike to about a km in from the beach. We asked the guy about it and he
said he had hiked up that area and that there wasn't really anything
there. I'm not convinced that there is nothing there, but we weren't
ambitious enough to find out this round. He indicated that there is a nice
cave at O.J., but that there was only room for one tent. This didn't sound
overly appealing. He also noted that the forecast for today and tomorrow
is a 60% chance of rain and that O.J. might be a spot we should
consider. We thanked him for his advice and continued along.
Upon arriving at O.J. we assessed our situation again. Shall we
stay? We looked down towards the beach and didn't see anything too
appealing. There also didn't appear to be an easy way down to it. We
thought, "ah forget it". Let's check out Darling Creek instead.
Log crossing at Darling Creek
Darling wasn't too far away and we arrived at it
relatively quickly. We stood at the creek that Jim and I stood last year
trying to assess the best way across. Last year Jim and I had decided just
to walk through it because we didn't care about swamping our boots (we
were going to hike right out). This time we noticed there was a log that
was laying across the creek. It wasn't overly stable, but with the use of
the poles we made it across. Todd decided to dash through the creek
instead of taking the log. To my surprise he didn't get his boots all that
wet. (The cable car at this creek is out, and by the looks of it, it has
been out for some time).
We had a snack at Darling and thought about how
crummy we thought the campsite was. It was on a fairly steep angle and
didn't really seem all that appealing. On the other side of the log the
camping was a bit better, but then we'd need to fuss in the morning. So we
finished up our snack and headed out for Michigan. By this time, one would
think we can't make up our mind! At least the three of us didn't care
where we stayed too much and had enough energy to keep going. I jokingly
said a few times that it might be neat to hike out. Earlier when we were
hiking on the shelf Jim and Todd somehow read my mind and thought that
maybe I would be thinking some sort of insanity like that. Hehehe - they
know me all too well.
Old tree decorated with floatsam
We arrived at Michigan and saw the three guys
there. They were all laying down napping - I think they had probably
pushed themselves a little hard that day and needed the rest. We ended up
scoring a better camping spot a little further down the beach. We relaxed
for a little while and then decided to set up camp.
We had a decent camp set up with a cool little
area for our kitchen. I managed to find another small log to lean against
this larger one. That combined with the pad from my backpack made for an
awesome chair. After dinner, we collected wood and started to make our
fire. Todd and Jim got a nice fire going. There wasn't alot of wood at the
campsite so we needed to travel a ways to get the next batch for
The three guys came over to join us. Todd gave
them all a hard time about not bringing any wood with them. Todd was a
little irritated that the past few days they would come and enjoy the
fires we created but not make much effort to help with them. While at the
fire Todd decided to entertain us with his final bear banger. He walked
out towards a crow that was sitting on the shelf. He pretended to have
some food in his one hand while he took aim with the other.
psssssssssssssst bang! Nice shot Todd! That time we almost had crow for
Boots in the bearbox? Huh?
Two of the guys took off back to their camp and
then the last guy headed back. We had the fire to ourselves before hitting
the hay. We got our stuff together for the food cache and went over to
pack it away and hit the washroom. When we found the bearbox we noticed
the people who were camping in the bush campsites had actually put their
boots in the food locker. No food. No toiletries. Just their boots. That
added a little more to our amusement for the evening.
Jim's the new hellraiser!
Before we headed back we poked around trying to
find more stuff to burn. We found a number of floats and other things that
would yield some big flames. Todd thought Jim and I were nuts at first but
then decided to join in the fun and carry some stuff back to the fire. Off
in the distance, we could see two fires burning. As ours got bigger, one
of the fires at Darling got bigger. I jokingly said that they were trying
to compete with us. We had to put that to an end. Jim and Todd each tossed
in a large float. It was unreal. What a fire it was. I snapped a few shots
of Jim in front of the fire. He looked like something out of Hellraiser.
The fire was getting a little too big for our liking so we tried to calm
it down some by pouring a good 8L of water on it. It was still going
pretty good even with all that water.
Todd decided to pack it in at 10:45 and Jim and I
decided to stay up and chat a while longer. Eventually we turned in at
around midnight. Just like today, there is no big rush for tomorrow. We
don't have to be anywhere or catch any sort of transport so it doesn't
really matter when we leave.
The plan is to lollygag around in the AM and leave
somewhere between 11 and 12. We figure we'll be done by 3 or 4pm. We plan
to check out the Pachena Lighthouse - something that Jim and I didn't get
a chance to look at last year. Also we will look around the trailhead
office - last year it was closed by the time we reached it at 8pm. Once at
the office, the plan is to check out, call the cab, and make our way to
the motel. Once at the motel, we'll get cleaned up, look around Bamfield,
and get some dinner at the pub.
I relaxed in my tent for a while before
finally drifting off. I reflected on the week that we've had so far. It
has been has been an amazing time and we have had extremely good fortune
with the weather. It began to cloud over again earlier in the evening
and I can't help but wonder if we will get rain again tomorrow. I jokingly
said to Jim earlier today that I should dayhike to the lighthouse and back
so I can get some pictures while it is still sunny. But he is confident
that it will clear again as it has been all week.
Hiking Day 6 (June 23rd, 2003)
I awoke this morning to the sounds of Jim and Todd
wandering around camp. I opted to just continue laying down for a little
while longer before poking my head out at about 8:30. I had an alright
sleep but again suffered from waking up several times throughout the
night. When I emerged I saw that Jim and Todd had finished breakfast and
were planning to inspect the fire. The three guys had already left earlier
that morning at about 7:30 as they had to dash out to catch the trailbus
that leaves early afternoon. It will be interesting to see how they make
out since they didn't have any reservations.
Fleeting shot of a passing Orca
Jim mentioned that there was a very brief rain
shower earlier that morning - I was dead to the world after 4am (finally)
so didn't even know it had happened. While milling about, we saw an Orca
out near the reef so we decided to walk out and check it out. We didn't
really get any great photos, but it was cool nonetheless.
We headed back
to camp and I got my kitchen gear and some oatmeal and went to join
Jim and Todd at the fire. I made up the last of my breakfast as we kicked
back for a few minutes. We figured we'd pack up and head out at about 11.
The past couple days have really been nice - not having to rush around in
the morning, eat, get packed up, and take off is a nice way to wrap up the
Best head back before we
get cut off by the tide
Washroom at Michigan Creek
A short while later we began to pack up our gear.
We saw the two fathers and two sons coming down the beach after having
just crossed Michigan. We suspected that they had camped at Darling, a few
KM down the beach. We waved at them and they waved back prior to making
their way back into the bush. We finished our packing and then were on the
trail by about 11:20. We were glad that we had made our way to Michigan as
we only had 12km until we would hit the other trailhead. We headed away
from our camp backtracking a little down the beach. We then made our way
into the bush and rejoined the main trail. The hike out of Michigan Creek
is the last of the grunts we faced. We steadily climbed as we hiked on
eventually getting to a point where it levels off shortly before the
junction to the Pachena Lighthouse. Along the way we ended up catching up
to the fathers and sons. We greeted them and made our way past as they
took a short break. When we arrived at the lighthouse junction, we
immediately made our way off the main trail. This was an exciting time for
me given that I hadn't seen this before. And better yet, the sun was out -
only a few broken clouds.
Lighthouse grounds gate
We went through a small gate that led us on to the
grounds of the lighthouse and housing units. We made our way up a cement
trail and saw some of the people who were working there. After a brief
conversation, we looked around the lighthouse and had an opportunity to
take some photos.
It was interesting to see the foghorn up close - the
same foghorn we heard last year moaning off in the distance as we hiked
out in the pouring rain. It was also nice that it was relatively clear
last night. On nasty evenings, the foghorn will sound the whole night
through, and given the lighthouse's close proximity to Michigan Creek it
makes it difficult for some to sleep.
Base of the lighthouse
On our way back out we chatted briefly with the
same people who had greeted us when we arrived. They told us how we can
expect good weather for the next several days thinking that we were headed
in the other direction. When we told them that we were actually just
finishing the trail, they looked rather surprised and commented on how
refreshed we looked.
The two fathers and their sons
We headed back through the gate and down a small
trail towards the main trail junction. Upon arriving at the junction, we
met up with the fathers and sons again and highly recommended to them that
they check out the lighthouse. They headed down the trail to the
lighthouse and we made our way down the main trail.
Jim and Todd work
their way up a ladder
I had a fair amount of energy that I wanted to
burn off so I picked up the pace a bit. About a km or so I arrived at a
bridge and hung around for a bit to take it easy. A few minutes later at
about 12:45 I could hear Jim and Todd rounding the bend. I took an
opportunity to snap a few photos as they used the ladders and crossed the
bridge. Jim asked how I was doing and I told him I just wanted to burn off
some excess energy and get a little Jim-time. He understood and was cool
We then climbed a bit of a hill and were back on
track. As we headed down the trail Jim said that he had no problems if I
wanted to continue ahead at a faster pace. I was very appreciative of
Jim's understanding and continued along. It was nice to toss on the cruise
control and zip along the trail. I did some quick math in my head and
thought to myself that it would be cool if I could make it to the
trailhead by 2:00. I'd need to keep a decent pace but it was doable.
KM marker 1
Another old cabin
It was a fun to clock my times against the km
markers. It was nice to see them this year - last year Jim and I only saw
two markers - km 11 and km 7 if memory serves me correctly. Even given the
hills, I'm pretty confident I kept an even pace. I was quite surprised
that my times per km were all over the map - some with a large deviation.
I think some of the km markers at that end are a little pooched as I have
a good sense of speed vs km coverage from my bi-weekly stints around
Campbell Valley back at home.
The bridges at this end are nice
As I continued along I thought to myself that I
was going to wait just before the trailhead so the three of us could cross
together. I didn't take any munchie breaks - only stopped for a second or
two a couple times to drink some water.
At about 1:50 I crossed a small bridge that is the
commerative of the 75th anniversary of The Royal Corps of Signals. I
briefly paused to take a picture of the plaque and then was on my way. At
about 2pm I crossed the last of the bridges. I was fiddling around with my
camera in one hand, my hiking poles in the other as I was making my way
down a set of shallow stairs. Leave it to me to almost stumble and fall
down the stairs only a few minutes from the end. I didn't end up falling,
but it made me think how silly it was to be doing 3 things at once. I
motored along and went through a little gated area. I still planned to
wait for Todd and Jim at KM0 and followed the path just past the trailhead
office. To my surprise there was no KM0 marker - I had already gone
through the finishing point. Argggg. I had forgotten how anticlimatic the
finish was last year as well. In fact, the trail isn't overly interesting
from the point between the lighthouse and the trailhead. Oh well, it was
too late now to wait, so I took the opportunity to check the place
Trailhead office on Bamfield side
I sauntered over to the trailhead office and took
off my pack. I found myself wandering the grounds a little snapping
photos. It was nice to see the place again and actually have time to check
it out this time. After a little meandering outside, I went inside the
building to look around. It is a neat looking structure. I chatted with
the Parks Canada woman for a few minutes about the trail, etc. She asked
if I saw any guardians and I told her we had met a guy at OJ and also saw
Pat at the narrows. She is native as well and knew of Pat. I couldn't
recall the exact description of the guy we met at OJ so I wasn't able to
tell her who it was we saw there. She asked me about checking out and I
told her I wanted to wait for my friends and she understood.
to her on how the number of evacs went up. I told her that it was 13 when
we left and now it was up to 18. She indicated that sometimes they are out
of date as they have to wait for reports from others before making the
changes. Even though, 5 evacs in the 6 days we were gone seemed like alot
given the awesome weather we were having. I asked if she had seen 3 young
guys come through the office and inquired if they had taken the bus. She
said that while she was on lunch 3 guys did come and check out. Apparently
one of the guys wanted to take the water shuttle and the other 2 wanted to
take the bus. The two overruled the other since they didn't really want to
spend a night in Bamfield. We were happy with their decision as we wanted
a little privacy on our trip back on the boat.
Bulletins - evacs have gone up
during the week
Beach area at trailhead
I snapped a few photos and then made my way back
outside. I decided it would probably be a good idea to confirm the Juan de
Fuca express so I called them and confirmed. We were good to go! I let
them know that we were cool leaving earlier than the scheduled 1pm
departure and could leave at 10:30 or 11. After getting off the phone, I
was thinking that it would be fun to snap a shot of Jim and Todd as they
came down the trail. I periodically looked down the trail and finally my
curiousity got the better of me. The beach area was calling so I wandered
over to have a look. I had a brief look at the beach and snapped a few
photos. By this time it was about 2:30 so I decided to go back to the
trailhead office to wait.
Just as I came out to the clearing I saw Todd
motoring along. I snapped a photo of him, and then a shot of Jim as he
came into view. The three of us went back to the trailhead and I found a
log I could rest my camera on. Score! Got a shot of the three of us at the
end - looking just as happy as the photo at the other side.
Posing at KM 0
Shuttle van drops us off
I chatted with Jim and Todd for a few minutes and
then went back into the building with them. I quickly checked out and
while they were checking out, I called the trailhead taxi to come pick us
up. Todd and Jim emerged and only a minute or two later the shuttle
arrived - that's fast service! I indicated to the driver that we wanted to
be dropped off at the Trails Motel. He fired up the van and we were off.
Once we arrived at the motel we paid our $5 each for the ride (good deal
in my opinion as well) and then made our way to the office to check
Nice digs after being
in a tent for days
We scored a pretty good room that actually had 3
beds (1 queen, 1 hidabed, and one cot). It was a decent room and was about
$150 after taxes. We each took a turn hitting the shower and getting
cleaned up. The shower was beyond refreshing. Once we got all spiffy, we
popped down the convenience store to get some beverages. I grabbed some
Mike's and Todd bought a 6 pack of beer. I also couldn't resist the call
of an Oreo ice cream bar. Nice! I wasn't out of the store for more than 10
seconds before I cracked it open!
We went back to the room, tossed our drinks in the
fridge, and then headed over to the pub. I've been waiting for this for
several days - the halibut and chips. I thoroughly enjoyed it as we kicked
back. After dinner we went back to the room to chill out for a bit. We
watched a little bit of the news to catch up with what was happening in
the world. After a bit of news, we tuned into the classic "Fear Factor".
While watching TV, there's a knock at our door. It's Brian from the Juan
de Fuca Express. He was checking in with us and inquiring if we were cool
to leave even earlier than we had originally discussed. Todd, being the
accomodating guy he is said, "sure no problem". He then proceeded to say
that we could leave whenever, even at 6am if he prefers. After we gave
Todd a smack and gagged him in the room, we chatted a little further with
Brian and agreed on 8:30. We needed to have time to get breakfast and grab
some food for lunch - the shop doesn't open till 8 and we figured 30
minutes would be enough time.
mmmm pub food
Brian left and it was back to Fear Factor. We
watched that until almost the very end. Right when the last guy was about
to take the glory for the final stunt. Bzzzzzzzzzzttttttt.. Damn power in
Bamfield goes out. Lovely. It was 8:30 at this time and about 15 minutes
later a few people from the hotel arrive and fire up the generator. The
thing was right outside our room and it was damn loud.
During this time we actually saw the two fathers
and sons. They ended up having the room next to us. We chatted with them a
little - it was nice to see them again. Their plan was to spend the night
and catch the Lady Rose - essentially the route that Jim and I did last
year. We chatted about the trail and about our final night on the beach.
It was quite amusing - our fire came up in conversation. They mentioned
that they had told their kids that they could make their final fire as big
as they wanted. They could see ours off in the distance and were building
theirs up to make it bigger. But then they noted ours became an inferno
and was the brightest fire - even on their beach!
We went over to the pub one last time to have
another drink and grab a pound of chicken wings. Once we finished up
there, we were almost ready to pack it in for the night. I went to the
phone booth and called my wife before turning in. I told her all was well
and that I would see her tomorrow evening.
Post Hiking Day - Cruising the WCT Coastline
by Boat (June 24th, 2003)
We all arose at pretty much the same time - 6am.
We all had a terrific sleep as it was nice to sleep in a bed after being
on the trail. I got my stuff together and had a quick shower to help me
wake up. At about 7:45 we made our way out of the room and headed for the
store. There was no one around at the hotel, so we didn't formally check
out but figured it would be fine to just leave the keys in the room.
We milled about in front of the restaurant and
store occasionally seeing a shadowy figure inside. At precisely 8am they
opened the door. We went in to the restaurant, ordered breakfast, and then
went to the store while it was being made. We grabbed a bunch of food as
we knew it was going to be a long boat ride, somewhere around 5hrs in
duration. We then had our breakfast and by 8:30 we were walking to the
dock to meet Brian.
Boarding Brian's boat
We boarded the boat and unloaded our packs. The
weather was still clouded over at this time but once again we figured it
would clear. I felt a little funny for the first 15 minutes of the ride,
but then all was good for the rest of the trip. Over the course of the
trip we asked Brian a little about his boat. It is a nice little boat that
can carry 12 people. It doesn't use propellers for propulsion so he is
able to get closer to whales and not cause them any harm. The boat was
built in the early 90's and he found that he needed to source out other
uses for the boat after the salmon crisis. The whole trip along the coast
from Bamfield to Port Renfrew is approximately 46 nautical miles and takes
about 5-6 hours.
Brian gives us the lowdown
As we made our way out Brian chatted with us about
the various things along the way. I think that was probably one of the
best things about the boat ride - Brian's ability to talk about any
portion of trail from a coastal point of view. Brian grew up in Bamfield
and knew the area well. As a child he hiked portions of the trail along
the coast. He has never hiked the whole trail in one shot, but he has
pretty much hiked the entire coastline including the areas that involved
jumping into the ocean wearing a wetsuit.
Cape Beale Lighthouse
Shortly after leaving Bamfield, we proceeded
around Cape Beale and could see the lighthouse. This is the 3rd oldest
lighthouse in BC, established on July 1st, 1874. Immediately following
Cape Beale we looked over that Keeha Bay. It is a really nice sandy beach
that can be accessed from the Cape Beale trailhead (about 3.5km in).
We then passed Clutus Point and Pachena Bay came
into view. I could see the beach area off in the distance that I was
checking out just yesterday. It was an interesting perspective seeing it
and the things to come from "the other side". One of the particularly
enjoyable portions to this particular trip was seeing everything that we
saw, but from a distance. Also, the commentary from Brian was fantastic.
Any question we had about some landform he knew the answers to - and there
are "local" names for most of the things we saw too.
Another thing that I had heard when booking the
boat originally was that Brian is an avid whale watcher. This was to prove
to be a wonderful trait for us as he would specifically go to the areas
the whales were going. Brian takes photos and detailed notes on the whales
he sees each trip that he makes. Over the years he has begun to notice
patterns in their movement. Alot of the work he does, also goes to
researchers/scientists that are studying these beautiful animals.
We saw a number of whales between Pachena Bay and
the Pachena Lighthouse. The clouds still were milling about when we
reached the lighthouse, but we remained positive that it would still clear
up and were thankful the rain was holding and the cean was calm.
Shortly after the lighthouse, the Michigan
campsite came into view. It was really cool seeing the campsite off in the
distance where we had camped a couple nights ago.
We could make out the
unusual looking tree with floats right beside where our tents were.
There were hikers that were gathered near where our fire was. We jokingly said
the embers were probably still hot. We also spotted the whale we believe
we saw at Michigan that we were looking at a few days prior. A few minutes
later, we passed by Darling and could see the remains of the cable car
platforms off in the distance.
Old cable crossing at Darling
Next came O.J. We hadn't actually gone
down to the O.J. beach area so it was good to see what the campsite was
like. We could see the cave from the ocean as well. It pointed right out
to the ocean - In a storm, I don't really know how much cover that
spot would really give, but then it may look alot bigger when you're in
The next point of interest was Tsocowis Creek. Off
in the distance you could see the creek and the bridge that spans the
creek on the headland above. About this time, the sun started to peek
through the clouds and glisten on the water. Billy Goat Creek was next and
we could see the small waterfall that released the water out to the
We continued along and came to a familiar spot -
Trestle Creek. This is where we made our way back inland after the stint
of shelf walking that we did from Klanawa.
Along the way to Klanawa, we
could make out hikers cruising along on the shelf. I found myself almost
wanting to get back on the trail at that point. We saw a number of whales
in this area including some that were a little more on the playful side.
Eventually we made it to Klanawa and could make out the cable car hanging
in the center suspended between the two platforms.
Klanawa cablecar crossing
Hole in the wall
Off in the distance after rounding a small unnamed
point we could spot Tsusiat Falls. But before we could make it there, we
encountered another pod of whales. Being distracted from the falls for a
few minutes, Brian circled around a bit with the boat trying to get us
closer to them. I got a number of photos of the falls with my zoom lens
and then turned my attention to the hole in the wall - just down the
beach. After grabbing a few photos of the hole in the wall, we spotted
more whales. This is where I got a good photo of one of their tails as it
drifted below the surface.
At nearly 12 noon we came to the Nitinat Narrows.
Brian forewarned us that the opening to the narrows goes by fairly quickly
so we should have our cameras ready. We jokingly told him that if he went
up the narrows, that we'd buy him a crab. We all laughed and then pressed
on. Shortly after the narrows, we passed by a wreck nestled on the shelf.
We never got a chance to ask Brian which one that was. For the next little
while there wasn't much in the way of points of interest to look at so we
took the opportunity to wander a bit and have some lunch.
Cribs isn't as scenic
from the ocean
While eating, we passed by Cribs. From the water
Cribs didn't really look all that awe inspiring. If we hadn't been
watching for it, I think we could have easily missed it. The reef hides
alot of the beach behind so we were unable to spot where we had
Sea lion rock
The next point of interest we were expecting to
see was the Carmanah Lighthouse. To our pleasant surprise, Brian indicated
that there is a really busy sea lion haul out rock before the one that we
normally see from shore. He referred to it as Vertabre Rock. He took us
really close to it and could spot some really cool lions. After buzzing
that, the lighthouse came into view and we could see the smaller sea lion
rock that we saw from shore. I was surprised at how many there were on the
first rock we passed.
The Carmanah Lighthouse stood proudly on the end
of the headland at Carmanah Point. By this time most of the clouds were
gone and we were able to take some great photographs of it. We started
talking about moniques and thinking back to the burgers we enjoyed on the
beach. When we got closer to Moniques we could see her establishment
glistening in the sun and hikers off in the distance migrating towards it
with the same salivation we had.
Sea lion sits up
Brian mentioned that he actually brings in alot of
the food for Monique. Its funny because I was wondering about this - we
figured they brought it in along the road.
Brian said he frequently brings
the burgers, beer, bars, etc. He also mentioned that he brought much of
the supplies that are being used to build the house that is presently
being framed in behind the trees. Apparently it took two fully loaded runs
to bring in the lumber. We then leave the lighthouse behind and press
forward towards Carmanah Creek.
From the water, the cable car looks so
long. I am glad we opted to wade the creek this time around.
Carmanah cable car - long!
A short distance later we come to Walbran, one of
our favorite campsites in the park. From the water, the caves don't look
nearly as deep, although they provide a pristine viewpoint while relaxing
The next interesting viewpoint is the "Bell". I
don't know if this is an official name, but Brian indicated that it is
commonly referred by that name.
It is supposed to be a classic spot for
group photos. I'm not entirely sure why, but... Right after the bell, we
came to the Adrenaline Creek surge channel. I've always wondered what that
looked like and now we've got a look at it. Brian was telling us of the
people he has shuttled, the Adrenaline Surge is very popular with West
He tells us that there are two things that they insist on: taking
the Adrenaline Surge and completing the trail in 3.5 days. There might be
a little stereotyping there, but I'm sure he's based it on alot of
conversations with people. He also noticed the best way to cross it. He
said most accidents occur because people slip off the rock. He recommends
you first have a pole - two is even better. What you want to do is toss
down little rocks/sand to the rock below to provide more grip on the rock.
He said that shoes work better than boots, but just wearing your wool
socks is even better.
Logan Suspension Bridge
As we arrived at the next little gulley we could
spot a long line going across and disappearing into the trees. We're at
Logan! Its the suspension bridge. Its funny how small that bridge looks
from a distance as compared to when you are crossing it above the
Brian noted that there is alot of "sidewalk" along
where Logan is. He said that area used to really "suck" when he was
younger as there were alot of obstructions. Things have gotten alot better
now that ladders have been built in and out of both Logan and Cullite.
We mentioned to Brian that this native woman last
year claimed that she hiked from Camper to Cullite. Last year she
told us to take that route and that it would save us alot of time over the
inland route. Last year we opted not to take her advice and went inland.
This year, our memories of before as well as another hiker we were talking
to in the AM convinced us to try it. However, we didn't try for Cullite.
Instead we stopped at Sandstone and waded up. Brian indicated to us that
he doesn't believe her that she took the shelf all the way to Cullite -
because he has done it. From Logan itself, to a point he referred to as
"White Spot", he said it is really easy going. White spot is a white
coloring on the rock which is always there. He said that it is actually a
common boat calling point. After White Spot you get a number of
obstructions that impede you.
Along the way to Cullite and past Cullite, he
pointed out a number of obstructions that would be classified as
"impassible". The difference between what he did, and what normal hikers
do, is that he was wearing a wetsuit. In some places you have to enter the
water to get by. A spot that is difficult is a point right at Cullite
where you would need to get off the shelf. It didn't look overly appealing
on how you would get off the rock. He indicated that it is called
"Swannie" is called that because you need to swan dive into the water.
There is also a cave that you need to get by that is called "smoothy". Its
called smoothy because it is near impossible to cross without entering the
water - the rock is far too smooth.
We were pretty much convinced out of ever trying
that route and continued on to Sandstone Creek. From the water, the little
shelf we got off on to the boulder paled in comparison to the jump that
would be required at Cullite. Thank goodness we didn't try it.
The next interesting landform was something that
he referred to as "the bowl". Apparently it never gets wet. About five
minutes later we came to our first camping spot along the trail this year
- Camper. From the water the campsite looks rather non-descript with the
exception of the cable car tucked off in the distance. The camp came and
went quickly and we moved on to a few more landmarks that we had never
First there was the "three brothers". This is a
rather simple rock formation that is three rocks that appear to be resting
on the shelf. Immediately following comes the trinity caves. I could
quite clearly see why the beach access wouldn't really be a preferred
route. You'd need to either bushwack up the headlands or go for a swim.
Brian told us that he had seen a couple guys from Australia attempting it
As we continued along we came to the "wind
tunnel". We didn't actually see this one from the beach either - Brian
told us that it would have been something we walked right above on the
trail. There are a couple surge channgels that would need to be crossed in
order to make it to the wind tunnel. Something Jim and I haven't tried as
One last formation is a fairly large flat area that they often
refer to as "moonscape" or the "football field".
This is around the area
that Jim and I took the BA route from last year to avoid the surges. As we
moved along we told Brian about our shelf walk last year and one of the
memorable spots was where we needed to lean back over a surge channel,
standing on a 45 degree angle greasy rock face while holding on to a
rope. He almost instantly replied, "Oh! Heartbeat Ledge". ha ha! I'll
vouch for the name.
Illusive Owen Point campspot
Just as we were about to round the Owen Point,
Brian pointed out a nice little sandy spot that he said is good for
camping - it holds a couple tents. It is nestled in the rocks behind.
There isn't a water source, but it is a great place to stop if you are
making your way out and don't want to stay at Thrasher.
At Owen point we could see Owen Island. It was a
treat to see the large sea stack again - especially since we had bypassed
the beach route this year. Brian had his daughter take the helm of the
boat for a few minutes and while we settled up our bill. It was a great
trip and we got excellent value for our money. We spent 6 hours on the
boat hearing great stories, watching whales, and recanting our trip play
by play. We saw a total of 44 whales today which was alot - Brian's record
for a single day along this coast was 56. We had a number of whales that
were really playful, including "cookie cutter" that actually brushed the
Looking back at the boat
Black bear at the Juan de Fuca
We hopped off the boat, said our good bye's and
then headed down the dock. We settled up with our parking at June and Stan
Medd's place (also a great service) and then we were off. We hoped to
catch the 5pm ferry and be back on the mainland by 6:45. Todd took it a
little easier on the way back but still made really good time. In the Juan
de Fuca park area we actually saw two black bears. Funny - we only see one
the whole time on the trail and in a few kilometers we see two on the
road! After some photo opps, we made it to the terminal. Good fortune came
to us as we made it on to the 5pm ferry - whew! We headed up to the main
deck to get some White Spot for dinner.
After dinner, we looked around the
boat and actually saw two pods of killer whales. I had just 2 photos left
and managed to take them. That was basically the end of my flash memory
and the very end of both my canon batteries for my camera.
Pod of killer whales
This was a fantastic trip - it brought back alot
of memories and more importantly created alot of new memories. I
didn't find it as difficult as last year, but I think it was a
combination of knowing what to expect and also the fine weather we
experienced (maybe in a little better shape and lighter pack too). We made
some intelligent choices as to where we would travel inland and when we
would hit the beach. I didn't hit the wall so to speak on any of the days
really, except maybe the first day (but I figure that was an exception
from not getting any sleep). I had no spills this year which is most
amazing (unless you count the body check Todd gave me on day one). The
group size of three I felt worked very well. It gave each of us time to
work as a group and take some moments to ourselves without leaving someone
by themself. On the trail, we showed great teamwork and comradery. My
thanks go to my hiking buddies Jim and Todd for making it a most memorable
trip - you guys were great. Only 12 months till we