We travel short today (only 4 km) so our friend’s R, J, S, and L can catch us. We started the West Coast Trail the day before them and will meet them tomorrow morning at the Cullite Creek cable car. We do not have to get up early so we try to loaf a little. We are out of our sleeping bags, breakfasted, packed, and on the trail at 9.30am. Doesn’t sound like loafing, does it?
The trail today is much the same as the inland trail of the last two days. There are patches of ‘sucky’ mud ready to grab our boot and extricate it from our foot, but because of the lack of rain most of the mud is tramped down and very passable. Still there are foot prints that track right through the soft quagmire, either these folks want to make serious time or they really want the West Coast Trail experience and are disappointed that it has not rained more.
I view the trail much like a mountain bike skill park. There are a variety of features to overcome. They require balance, strength, agility, and quickness, both mental and physical. I think Parks Canada purposely leaves the trail difficult, to limit the numbers of travelers and to help it maintain its ‘world class’ status. As yesterday, we cross a couple of very scary log bridges. They have flattened top edges about 20cm wide and are over 20 meters long, there are some poorly placed steps as the log gets steeper near the exit. Far above the ground every step requires concentration. “Just do it.” Every piece of the journey we overcome feels like a huge accomplishment.
We meet a lot more travelers today, solo hikers, small groups of 2 and 3 and two larger groups, one of 6 from Holland and a group of American scouts numbering at least 10. Bill, a guy from Oregon is doing the trail on his own. He had never even heard of the West Coast Trail until a week ago, did some research and decided he had better check it out. We have a long chat and find out how to communicate while on the trail. He asks us to relay a message to one of the group of Dutch people traveling behind him. Which we do and that spawns a good talk with their group. Meeting people seems a big part of the trip along the West Coast Trail.
We are meeting a good number of people that are almost running along the trail. It is almost like they feel they have to finish as fast as possible. I am trying to figure out why. When walking, especially fast, we must have our head down and watch where each foot lands, so it is impossible to view the surroundings. The only time to ‘smell the roses’ is when we are stopped. The folks trying to get to the other end of the trail as fast as possible are missing all there is to see. I am not sure what their agenda is. Do they just want to say they have been there, done that, and put notch on their ‘to do list’. If one has commitments and a time limit I could at least appreciate their haste, but if not, why not take a couple of extra days and enjoy the surroundings. We have chosen 7 nights on the trail and frankly I am thinking one more would be great.
We start out the West Coast Trail with a group of 5 from Toronto. They are all in the 30’s and they have the right idea about the trail. They are also taking 8 days to hike and are constantly behind us. They are enjoying the scenery, taking photos and not rushing. It is good to know they are back there, although today they will hike on to Walbran and we will not see them for a few days.
We pick up speed a little, a good sign if we are to finish this trail by next Sunday. It is 2:30 and we arrive in camp, 5 hours to walk 4km (with breaks). Our first impressions are that the site is stunning. The beach is sloped and comprised of cantaloupe sized rocks. It is not very campable but we have our choice of forest sites so we chose carefully and set up our tent.
By 7:00 there are quite a few more visitors, some do have to set up their tents on the rocks but it is still far from crowded. I would choose to stay here again if we are ever to return.
Tomorrow we meet up with our friends and will travel the West Coast Trail as a group of 6. We will again be able to break camp late and rendevous around noon. We sleep deep and it is a good night.