Today’s the day we meet up with our friends. We are to be at the north side of the
Cullite Creek cable car between 11 and noon. Breakfast and pack up are at a leisurely pace. Everyone else is gone by the time we have our stuff stowed and ready to go.
About 9.30 a very fast hiker blows through the campground coming from the south. As he progresses he inquires if anyone knows L. At first I did not catch on but Debbie realizes that L is part of S & L, the daughter and son-in-law of our friends and the ones we are about to meet up with. This fellow, we will later find out is named H, tells us that S’s dad rolled his ankle within the first 3km of the trail and had to be evacuated from the Thrasher campground. S & L are still be on their way down the trail but R & J have returned to Port Renfrew. “Yipes!”, says Debbie, “J is the one that talked me into this! She is supposed to do this with me! How am I going to finish this without her!”
R has hiked for many years and been on trails all over the world, never an incident until now. This reminds us to keep our eyes to the ground and pay attention to every step.
Now, the two folks we are to meet are youngins so we are not sure what time they will arrive. We presume they will travel faster than we did so we plan on making it to the meeting spot on the early end of our estimate. Sitting on the platform at the north end of the cable car we meet every person passing by, both north and south. Some folks are talkative, some not, some are friendly, some not so much. We meet folks from all over the world, Scotland, Germany, Belgium, France, Oregon, Chicago, and Boston. Sit here at around noon and you observe quite a traffic jam. I have fun chatting and helping those that choose the cable car route to cross the creek. The creek is not high and most dance across the rocks but there are two or three that want a ride and I work up a sweat helping out.
Up to now Debbie and I have been traveling very slowly so we decide that if S & L do not meet us before noon we have to be on our way to make the next camp at a decent hour. We use the standard trail communication technique and ask a passing group to relay a message to the north bound couple. We will meet them at the Walbran camp if we do not make contact at the cable car. Not more than 5 minutes after we pass on the message S & L arrive. We have only met S a few times and neither of us has ever met L but we introduce ourselves and we light out. Up, or course. The start to this day, for Debbie and me is ladders. Another day without a warm up, seems to be developing a pattern here.
It is right on noon and we climb the ladders and break out lunch when we reach the top. Even though Debbie and I have only walked about 300M and climbed a few ladders our metabolism is starting to increase so feed time is feed time. We get to know S & L over lunch and talk about R’s misstep, the trail up to this point and today’s hike.
S & L are much younger than us and we figure they will be traveling at a faster pace so they lead off and slowly gain ground as we move along. The trail is much more ‘civilized’ from Cullite Creek to Walbran Creek than the previous 3 days.
There is more boardwalk, at least more useable boardwalk, less sucky mud, and fewer scary crossing. At least it seems that way, it may be that we are just getting used to the travel and the obstacles are not as intimidating. Today is the day of ladders but as I said earlier neither of us are bothered by them so up and down and up and down we go without much problem.
We cross the famous suspension bridge over Logan Creek without issue and we all take pictures of the crossing.
Debbie makes an interesting observation. We have passed many men, some alone, some in groups, and some with their older children (both girls and boys), but very few of the spouses are along for the trip. She wonders why and thinking out loud she says “If I can do this they can.” The trail is difficult but it is not impossible and this is proven over and over by the number of people that complete the trek each year. Come on you women out there! Get out of your comfort zone and do this hike!
We arrive at Walbran Creek campground at 3:30, only about 15 minutes after our young companions. We are picking up speed as we go, we travel 5km in 3 hours. This is cause for the belief that we will finish the walk on our pre-planned date with the bus at the Bamfield end.
The campground has a few beach sites with driftwood for wind breaks and a few forest sites. The wind is quite noticeable here and it makes it somewhat cold. We get a spot just off the beach that offers a little break from the wind and barely big enough for two tents. Our tents share a tent peg, we are that close. Nothing like a crash course “Hi, I’m Murray and we are going to sleep with inches of you tonight”.
It is amazing how much mental work is required to hike the trail. There are a tremendous number of decisions to make in less than a second. With all the sensory information we can gather we decide what direction to go, what micro route to follow, where to place our foot, what the condition of the footing is, where to place our poles, what kind of terrain we are about to step onto, we maintain balance, we are looking ahead for the next step, all this takes place in a millisecond. It is little wonder that no matter how fast our latest computer is we are not happy because it is too slow. It is also little wonder that we are mentally as well as physically exhausted at the end of each day.
So, we and our young friends are exhausted and we hit the sack early again in preparation to hike the next day. A similar but new challenge awaits.