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So before I start I just wanted to say a few things.
First, Thank You Heather for setting up this trip and allowing me to come, it was the best adventure I have ever been on!
Second Trail Names: So I came up with my own trail names for each member of the group, myself included.
Heather - Chatter
Wes - Goat
Wolf - Semi (My trail name came about because of how I move on the trail. The flat areas, Flat out no stopping, the up hill, down hill, twisty turning, root covered, mud covered, and just about everything else, I move much slower, just like a Semi. Although I am sure their are other reasons some may call me semi. :D
Also, here is my Picasa Web album, their is 420 pics of the entire trip. Un edited.
My West Coast Trail Adventure!
Probably the hardest think I have ever done, but by far the best hiking trip I have done. At least to date. :)
6 Days and 5 nights on the Trail, 7 nights over all.
Day 1, May 08, 2012
We meet at my place in Everett, WA at around 07:00 and were on the road to Anacortes by 07:15. I had made reservation for the 8:55 ferry and we arrived with plenty of time to spare. The crossing was 2.5 hours and Canadian Customs services was fairly easy, although she did a double take when we told her we had all just meet and were now going to spend a week together on the west cost trail. That was really funny after the fact, but made us a little worried at the time!
From there we drove to Port Renfrew, it took less then 2 hours, quite the road along the cost. We stayed at the Trailhead Resort and after attending the 15:00 orientation and paying for the permits $127, and the river crossings $32, we were done for the day. The trail buss would pick us up at 08:15 the next morning for the three hour slog to Bamfield. Dinner was at the Country Kitchen and it was very good.
Day 2, May 09, 2012 (Start of the trail)
After an early night we all got up and going early to have breakfast at the Country Kitchen and then catch the bus. Breakfast was very good too and the bus was very close to being on time.
After loading up we rode the buss over private logging roads for about 2.5 hours and got dropped off at the trail head. After checking in with the ranger and turning in our “pink” copies of the permits we make some final adjustments and loaded up and hit the trail.
So from here on to the end of the trail all items in italics will be side notes about the trail and how to make it easier. So do the opposite if you want it really hard!
After walking down to look at the big beach at Pachena Bay and taking a few shots we back tracked a little and headed down the trail. Our plan was to hike about 14K to Darling River and set up camp there, for the first night. About a half K down the trail we ran into our first ladder! Take the beach to save time and legs!
After reaching the top we remembered that the ranger had said something about a “short cut” on the beach. Oh well, live and learn. After a group of ladders up and then a group of ladders down, they always seem to come in sets, we were back where the beach shortcut intersects with the trail. Oh yea, Baptism by Fire, or in this case Ladders!
For the most part the trail the first day was in good shape and easy to travel. We stopped at the first light house, Pachena Light house and meet the current care taker.
We then headed back to the trail and on to Darling Creek. Reaching Michigan Creek and finding lots of people set up we were glad to be headed on down the beach. After another hour or so we were at Darling creek and found some sites to setup for the night. 14K down and lots more to go! Beach walking is best done at lower tides, the “shelf” at low tide is like walking on a sidewalk, very easy and it makes a good pace. The pea gravel beaches are tough, like walking through wet snow.
First night I set up the Shangri La between some driftwood and trees, it fit but just barely. We met a German couple and talked to them for a little while and then hit the sack. Dinner was a rice mix and salmon and the little stove worked great. It was a windy day and windy night but not every cold.
Day 3, May 10, 2012
The next morning I made breakfast and coffee in bed and really started to like the Alcohol stove setup and my big tent, well big for one person.
(My little wonder stove!)
After packing up and loading the pack we headed off down the beach for another 2K or so and then back into the trees and hills. After another 3K we dropped back down to the beach and low tide. From there we walked the beach to the first cable car at Klanawa River, the first of a total of 5 cable cars. Cable cars are fun but do work your upper body. After that we were back in the forest and then soon at the Tsusiat Falls, camp for night 2.
It had been a very hot day for hiking and the forest made it even worse as there was little to no wind in the trees. So I decided I would wash up a little and clean some of my stinky clothing. Carefully walking up to the side of the falls I reach out to get some water on my boots and the wind picked up and the water fall moved to dump right on top of me, in about 2 seconds I was totally soaked! Oh well, I was going to wash anyway; I guess a shower is a good as a bath. Great water flow, good vigorous pounding, but the heat controls left something to be desired! I think it was about 38 degrees given the time it took my head to go from normal to mega freeze brain! Got all my clothing cleaned also and it was still warm and sunny so it did not take long to warm up and get the blood flowing again. I should have set up the camera to take a video; it would have made quite a little movie!
So dinner was another rice dish and tuna steak this time, heated up with the little alcohol stove that worked great. I took a 2 liter water bladder for drinking on the trail ad a 24 oz. can of rockstar for around camp. By the way, I did not really like the rockstar, and the can had lots of issues. They are way to fragile unless it is full so I would not recommend this for future trips. That beach was crowded when we showed up and I set up next to the bluff.
There was some water dripping from the rock but not very much and I was not worried about it. Nor did I notice the tree hanging off the cliff right above my tent until I had it all set up!
That night the wind picked up a little and I got fairy cold late in the nigh (early am) I finally put a pullover on and got back to sleep.
Day 4, May 11, 2012
Waking the next morning to the sounds of the neighbors breaking camp and stuff (before 6:00 AM! – This was the group that had to hike out today, something like 25 K.) I noticed that it was damp and cold in the tent, and then I noticed that the tent was wet, Rain. No wait, only half the tent was wet! What the heck! Getting up and peeing against the side of the bluff, hey I had to go! I realized that the “rain” was the water off the cliff face.
I guess during the day it was drying in the sun, but at night it poured in all its splendor. Oh well, I just packed up the tent wet and stuck it on top. After having breakfast and coffee, I had to take care of other business and wore my sandals to cross the creek to where the outhouses were. Man, I just can not say enough about the outhouses! But what was really funny, at least to me that morning, was there was a bunch of GREAT tent sites across the river at the falls. We really should have explored there the afternoon before.
Taking off some time around 9:00 AM, I would always forget to check my watch in the mornings. We headed down the beach to Hole in the Wall and then further. The beach walk was OK, tied was too high to walk on the shelf so it was all sand walking. Not as bad as some of the other stretches, but not hard either. There is also some spots further do the beach, closer to the Hole, if the area at the falls is full, or you just want some privacy.
After the Hole, we saw some harbor seals in the water and one on a rock. At first we though it was a chunk of Styrofoam, but then I could see it move its head. Just a big fat ball. :)
Rejoing the forest we hiked to the Narrows and the river crossing that the tribe has set up. This was the first or the two $16 crossing fees. But it is not something you can swim across, at least not easily. I had the salmon, it was OK, but not that great in my opinion, Heather really like hers though. After a LONG lunch and rest we headed back out onto the trail.
Inland from this point for the next several Klicks and then a option of beach or trail. Heather and I took the beach and Wes took the trail. Take the beach! That section of trail was the worst according to Wes.
Later just before the end of the day, I went back to the beach and they staid on the trail. We both met up at about the same time at the camp for the night.
Camping at Cribs Creek for the night was nice, a large open beach and plenty of space. Their was a natural break water on this beach and it was quite amazing. Set up dried out the tent and then set up camp for the night. It was a nice night, not much wind and fairly warm. I had set the tent up inside a curved log so I think that also gave me some protection from the wind.
Day 5, May 12, 2012
Having a HUGE day ahead of us we got going fairly early, skipping breakfast because we planed to stop at the Chez Monique. So we were on the trail by around 7:30, I think. Hiking about 5 K mostly on the beach, we were their by 9:00 AM.
(Needs a new roof, I guess every year!)
But did not leave until after 12, I think it was about 12:45, so much for a quick breakfast and making good time today! But it was nice and breakfast was good once we got it. There are two dogs there, one the male is a “pup” named Bear, this is just a big loving dog that barks a lot. The other a skittish female made me more worried, but she is one of those dogs that will probably never get use to so many people. She is not dangerous per say, she’s just scared. I would not recommend trying to approach her. They are brother and sister I believe.
After our late breakfast, we headed out down the beach. Another half day on the beach and then into the woods. Again, the beach is normally much faster and easier then the trail. Deciding to cross the river at Carmanah Creek was a good decision, the creek was not very high and the cable cars are not that easy. Continuing down the beach we had heard that several groups were crossing the Walbran Crek at the mouth so we stayed on the beach and enjoyed the walk.
We saw a bald eagle in a tree, it was not very accommodating for pictures, but I did get a few shots. I thought there would be a lot of eagles up here, but I think I saw 3 for the entire trip. This is also where the sea lion rocks are. There was two rocks covered with the beast, but they too were way out and had to see. The rest of the groups we had been hiking with stopped at the Walbran Creek camp while we continued on. Oh why oh why!
The next section of trail was the peat bogs with the young cedar trees and the old pine trees, which is not what you think looking at them, as the pine are then and not very tall, but according to the rangers, some of them are over a 1000 years old. The peat bog is probably two or three times that old. It was a really cool walk, almost all board walk, and very flat. Although some of the boardwalk was rather changeling.
At the end of the bog we dropped down a steep valley (ladders all the way) to the famous or infamous Cullite Creek Bridge. This would be our camp for the night. Good thing too, as no one wanted to deal with the ladders going back up the other side. This was the only camp site that we stopped at that all the camping was under the trees. Now there is a beach, but I personally don’t like sleeping on large round rocks that keep moving with the waves!
Another bath for me in the river, cold but it felt great and I felt much better after that. Night was early as no fires in the trees, and after the long day I really needed the rest. Besides I wanted to leave early so I would be able to hike the beach to our final camp site at Thrasher Cove.
Up by 6 or so and had coffee and breakfast in the tent. Yea that alcohol stove was the ticket. Got packed up and was ready by 8, OK so I might not be the fastest guy in the morning. We, Heather and I, hit the trail shortly there after, Wes was behind us but would catch us soon. First job, get back out of the canyon. That meant climbing the ladders all the way back up, only on this side. We finally got to the top a little after 9, just about an hour to climb the ladders.
From there my plans for hiking the beach got steadily worse. Between the trail condition, the ups and downs, the ladders and the bridges, I knew I was not going to make the beach. It was almost 2 by the time we got to the first beach access and the tide was already on its way up. Not the best time to head out onto a beach that there is no escape from at high tide. So I continued to slog along the trail, up and down, up and down. By now the other two had left be to fend off the bears by myself! No not really, I told them to go a head, no use in all of us being late to camp. It was a long day for me. I finally made it to thrashers cove at 8:30 PM. Tired but glad I made it and ready to set up camp. There was another group of high school kids here, but they were cool and not to wild, it was their last night also. Late dinner by a camp fire and then off to bed.
Day 7 May 14, 2012 (Final day on the trail)
Well even if I wanted to sleep in, it was not going to happen. Nothing like a group of kid to get the day going! :) By the time I actually got out of my tent they were all gone and the beach was mostly empty.
It was warm and sunny so everything packed up dry and by 8:30 I was on the trail. The last part of the trail was mostly down hill so I made OK time and caught up with Wes and Heather at the end of the trail at 12:30. 75 K down! What a trip.
One of the highlight of the trip was just before leaving the beach, I went to was off some stuff and out cam a mink! There was a fish carcass on the beach and the guy went nuts over it. I keep taking pictures the entire time it was there. I would take a shot and then take a step forward and take another shot. He would look up but only for a second and then back into the fish. I finally got to with in 6 feet of him and them he looked up and jumped back about 3 feet, looking at me. I could just image what he was thinking, "how the heck did you get there!" Here are some of the better shots, there are more at the link.