WCT 2003 - Fellowship of the Rain

Author Jim Hamlin


For more West Coast Trail info, check out the ClubTread West Coast Trail page

West Coast Trail
The Fellowship of the Rain (What 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 driving.

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 ClubTread members.

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

Boarding Butch's boat
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).
Me getting off the boat
at the trailhead
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.

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.

Time Marker
13:59 KM 74
14:32 KM 73
15:15 KM 72
15:58 KM 71
16:50 Thrasher Cove Junction
17:24 KM 69
18:15 KM 68
18:45 KM 67
19:08 KM 66
19:34 KM 65
20:11 KM 64
20:37 KM 63

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.

Todd is awarded first fall
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.
View from the first BA point
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.

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).

Some of the many
obstacles along the way
It 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.

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
Sandstone Creek

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.

Climbing up the rope
out of Sandstone
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 quite pleased.

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.

Climbing the Cullite Ladders
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.

Once across, it was time to make the climb back out of Cullite.

Descending into 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.

Crossing the Logon
suspension bridge
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 real treat. It allowed us to walk on relatively flat and easy terrain and

Engraving our names in the mud
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.

Arriving at Walbran
Room with a view
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.

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 on it.

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.

Evening sunset
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!

Put me down buddy!
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.

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.

Chez Moniques
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.

Style points!
Good till the last bite!
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.

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
Carmanah Lighthouse

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 barking away.

Sea stacks

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 our feet.

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 hanging bags.

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 day. 

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).

Crossing into the Ditidaht
Tribal Lands
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.

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 interesting nonetheless.

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 Bamfield trailhead. We continued our trek to the narrows and made it there by about 10:45am.

Anyone for crab and beer?
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 again. Yummy!

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 the village.

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.

Tsusiat Falls

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 evening.

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 pretty exhausted.

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.

Playing in the creek
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 mud.

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 shot Todd!

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.

Trying to drag the big anchor
Jim 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.

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 the trip.

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 look around.

Tsocawis suspension bridge
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.

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.

Campsite kitchen

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 refueling.

Lookout crow!

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 dessert.

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.

Best head back before we
get cut off by the tide
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 trip.

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.

Pachena Lighthouse
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 with it.

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
Almost there!
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 out.

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.

Bulletins - evacs have gone up
during the week
I commented 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.

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.

Posing at KM 0
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.

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 in.

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.

Neeeed foood

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.

Grey whales
Pachena Lighthouse

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.

Michigan campground

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.

Old cable crossing at Darling
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.

OJ campground

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 it.

Tscowis campground

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 ocean.

Trestle Creek

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.

Klanawa cablecar crossing
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.

Tsusiat Falls
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.

Nininat Narrowss

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 camped.

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.

Carmanah Lighthouse

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.

Chez Moniques
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.
Carmanah cable car - long!
From the water, the cable car looks so long. I am glad we opted to wade the creek this time around.

Walbran Creek

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 at camp.

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.

The Bell
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 Germans.
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 creek.

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. 

Sandstone Creek

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 bowl

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 seen before.

Three brothers
Trinity Caves

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 once.

Wind Tunnel

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 of yet.

Heartbeat Ledge
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.

Owen Point

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 boat.

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.

Pod of killer whales
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.

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 return!