There is no warm up to the West Coast Trail. 10 steps from the welcome to the Pacific Rim National Park sign we start up a steep incline with roots and rocks and mud and sketchy footing. We learn very quickly to keep our eyes on our next step, our field of vision is 600mm wide and 900mm in front of the toe of our boot. The surroundings are only to be viewed when we pause, only then can we look around. I am quite disappointed in the forest we tromp through the first day, in my opinion anyone can see forest like this 20M off any highway on Vancouver Island.
The trail at this point is in fair condition. The features (ladders, bridges, boardwalks) are generally in poor shape on this stretch. Ladders have missing rungs, the bridges have broken bits and the boardwalks are for the most part random boards that used to be attached to each other. There is much build up about the ladders but neither of us find them to be intimidating nor difficult.
The trail itself has been worn in such a way that it is sometimes difficult for those with short legs (Debbie). We both remain upright for the entire day, not even a slip. This is somewhat facilitated by the fact that there has been very little rain of late and even the mud is user friendly.
Although we are visually surrounded by forest we are never far from the water and not in the wilderness situation one is lead to believe the West Coast Trail is. All day long we can hear boats plying the waters that parallel the trail.
Synopsis: this part of the trail is 5km long and is supposed to take approximately 5 hrs. It is extremely difficult and Debbie is being extra cautious. She has not hiked on anything like this and her learning curve is steep. It takes us just under 7 hrs. In all the training we did, we did not do a 7 hr hike and we are fatigued. This morning was an early start so we are still one of the first groups to arrive at Thrasher Cove camp area.
We learn quickly there are two types of camp sites, ones on the beach and ones set just off the beach in the woods. For our first night we chose one in the woods, not as windy and a slight bit warmer but with a few, and I mean few, mosquitoes, and banana slugs that go straight for our food bag and dishes?? Don’t know why but see below.
The beach here is sand, the air is cool and the ocean water is freezing. The sound of the waves is mesmerizing and peaceful. The view from here is mediocre as Port Renfrew is within sight. Water is plentiful and accessible. We expect a crowd, this is the first camp for those heading north and the last camp for those heading south, but there are very few tents.
Things we discover about our prep. Debbie’s gardening gloves are a super investment. She can grab rocks and dirt and trees without thinking twice and they enable her to use the hand holds to get over some of the taller steps and boulders. Just because we practiced with the equipment we took does not mean we should not be prepared to repair such. My water bottle broke and I had to carry it for ½ the day. I am able to repair it in the evening with some wire I have brought. My pole, which is an adjustable height pole, will no longer stay fixed at the height to which I set it. I manage to make it work but have to constantly adjust it. A pain since I must stop each time in order not to lose the concentration necessary to navigate the sketchy footing. In this tough terrain, Debbie must sit and munch on something about once an hour. She loses focus, goes kind of pasty looking and gets shaky if she does not.
After today’s hike, Murray is body tired, Debbie too and her feet are throbbing. That’s our warm up. Tomorrow we head to Owen Point but between us and the point lies 2 kms of huge boulders.