C’est fini. The unusually high fibre diet and strange water finally catch up with me and my stomach rebels. A little worried that the morning’s events might repeat a good number of times on the trail today I skip breakfast and Debbie and I head out about ½ hour earlier then the 8:00 start time we had planned. We inform S & L and we are on the home stretch. The first couple of hundred meters is in keeping with the trail in general. NO warm up. We leave camp and immediately are faced with a steep gnarly hill. I thought this section of the trail was a cake walk??? Cresting the hill the trail does become considerably easier and we can walk fast. The start reminds us to stay vigilant and pay close attention to where we step.
The terrain from here on is rolling with more up and down than I expected but a good hike. We cover the 12km distance in 4 hours, side trips and rests included. The fastest we have gone on the West Coast Trail!
Debbie managed to stay upright the entire 8 days, I on the other hand landed on my butt 3 times, all on the same day, the day we are introduced to the beach and slide to my knee once on a seemingly dry boardwalk. All without injury other than my pride. I was trying to do the trail upright. There was one other incident when we stepped to the side of the trail to let our 70 year old Chinese friend pass and as he did so he turned to mount the adjacent boardwalk and whacked me with his pack knocking me flat on my ass. I didn’t let him live that down and teased him at every chance I got.
As we sit on the picnic bench just outside the Park Office we meet group after group of our ‘temporary friends’ as they emerge from the forest. Our Chinese friends, including the 70 year old birthday boy head straight to us and high five Debbie, we all join in. H jetted ahead yesterday to get the car for his hiking companions and he meets us with cold Cokes and a bag of chips. I had to bypass the chips but even with my stomach in marginal shape I could not resist a Coke so cold the beads of moisture rolled off the can like the sweat on my face.
The West Coast Trail Express arrives with an entire crowd of folks full of anticipation for the adventure that awaits them. We strike up some idle conversation and wish them luck as the set out in small groups.
We make our way to the bus, climb aboard and prepare for the trip around Lake Cowichan back to Port Renfrew. Half the trip is on forestry roads, bumpy and dusty. We hit the pavement at Lake CowichanVillage and the trip takes on an entirely pleasant feel. 3 ½ hours later we disembark at the Port Renfrew West Coast Trail office. R, our hobbled friend and J are at the foot of the bus stairs yipping and hugging as we step down.
WE DID IT!!! All four of us have a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. This trek is no walk in the park. It tests you to the limit both mentally and physically. I’m cocky and never really questioned whether or not I would finish, Debbie on the other hand questioned it many times but we trained hard and were as prepared for this specific task as well as anyone could be. At the end I do realize that part of the trip is the fact that “I’ve been there, done that”. Would I return? Maybe. Debbie says definitely, No, but time changes things and if the opportunity arises again…..who knows.