Sand, 2 feet forward, 6 inches back, trudge, trudge, trudge.
We have found walking in footprints makes the sand walking easier for the three followers so we walk in a line of four. Similar to when we ride, one person takes a turn on the front, uses up some energy and then drops to the back of the line, person two takes over and this is repeated over and over with the trailing 3 recovering so they can again go to the front in turn and do their part.
Then we reach a section of sandstone shelf and we motor. We still are intensely focused because of the ‘green stuff’ but our speed picks up tremendously.
Lunch at Chez Monique’s is our goal and we arrive right at noon. It’s burgers and pop/beer all around. Debbie and I pay $41 for two very large burgers and one Coke. Monique is very accommodating with Debbie’s no gluten, dairy or egg diet and gets fresh out of the garden vegetables with her patty. Expensive, but what the hell, we are literally 35km WALKING distance from the next burger joint.
Passing on the beach below the lighthouse a buck deer is feeding on the green grass adjacent to the sand. He is completely unfazed as a group of 6 of us pass within 10M.
There are a few seals playing in the water or loafing on the rocks and we pass the first of two sea lion haul outs. There are a few of the big animals sunning themselves but they are a long ways off and we need our binoculars and my long camera lens to see them.
Monique tells us how to avoid some of the muddy inland trail by accessing a small beach, walking the beach and then mounting the stairs to the lighthouse. We follow her advice to a degree but end up being lured by group of other hikers into a corner at an ‘impassable’ headland. While some of the folks try to figure out a way around the rocks I talk Debbie into returning to the stairs we had accidentally bypassed and go up and over the rocks via the lighthouse. I inquire at the lighthouse asking if the group below was in further danger if they do get passed the headland. The keeper checks the tides and feels they should be OK if the get by the short stretch of rocks. He is a very nice fellow despite the fact I’m sure he gets bothered a lot so he would be within expectations if he was a little less accommodating. When Debbie and I return to the beach the group of travelers we had left 20 minutes earlier have made it around the point and are only a couple of minutes ahead of us along the beach.
When backcountry skiing I find skinning the uptrack to be meditative. It is easy to reach a ‘Zen’ state of mind. Walking the WCT is not like that at all. The hiking is not only physically strenuous but mentally so as well and although it is repetitive it is not meditative.
I am beginning to formulate the idea that the West Coast Trail is NOT about the journey. The walking is OK, albeit very difficult, but the destinations are what’s spectacular. The settings are idyllic and the views are great. The campgrounds, although busy with people, are serene and it is here we reach a meditative state. These places are not offensive as in a front country camp ground. Nobody here is hiking in copious amount of alcohol, no one is here to party, everyone is exhausted and of like mind. The conversation centers around our common interests and we hit the sack early. All in all a good experience.
Again today we travel faster than the previous days and it looks like we are buoyed by the idea that the entire trail will not be hiked at 1km/hr. We were on the trail by 8:15 and walked into camp, 11 kms later, at 3:30. This included a long stop at Chez Monique’s. I figure our moving time for 9km is about 3.5 hours, a perfectly acceptable hiking speed.
We go to bed knowing that tomorrow is the longest day on the trail, 17km. It is interesting that the West Coast Trail tests you in a large variety of ways.