Hiking the West Coast Trail (2)

August 12

First two hours this morning were brutal.  Climbing over house-sized, sharp, slippery boulders and huge piles of logs with heavy packs.


Steve fell twice.  I watched him go down and get back up.  Each could have been the end of his trip, adding to this summer’s 62 evacuations.


Paul, eager and strong, always in the lead.


I enjoy approaching my limit.  Pain, sweat, fatigue, and breathing hard focus the mind on here and now.

Scenery gains beauty as we approach sea stacks on the point.  Once around it, the beach flattens, the broken granite and basalt now blanketed with a wide sandstone shelf. We enter a dark network of softly sculptured channels that reflect rainbow-colored bands of algae growing on walls supporting the ancient forest above.  Views are framed by sculpted arches and windows opening inward on a labyrinth of caves and outward on offshore islands covered with the rounded bodies of basking sea lions.






We put down packs and wander through this wonderland, then sit and munch crackers and salami.  Two young women I’d greeted at Thrasher Cover come round the point carrying packs larger than ours. We share relief at the change in topography and excitement at the splendor of the caves. They set down packs and the blond removes her sweater revealing a nicely rounded belly.

A walk on the flat beach, skirting the surge channels impassable at any but low tides and then back up to the bush trail with more steepness, ladders, wooden walkways.



The history of the trail as a rescue route for shipwrecked mariners is evidenced in telegraph wire insulators embedded in tree bark.


A few old logging sites are marked by “derelict donkey” and cable.





We stop at Camper Bay, appropriately named since its every inch of beach and forest margin is packed with tents, despite the strictly limited number of permits issued.  One of the two compost toilets is filled to capacity and despite our fatigue and the beauty of the location, we’re grossed out by the smell and the traffic.  Everyone who has come here for wilderness and solitude shares the same distaste, but it’s overcome by affability.  We schmooze with the two young women, who hail from Ontario, a couple from Saskatoon who’ve taken the hike seven times before with their six children and who sit by their campfire drinking tea out of china cups and saucers they packed in, and members of an all female guided group of civil servants from Victoria.  I swim in the clear water of the lagoon created by a rock dam of the creek along the beach, and Paul cooks supper of beans, rice and bacon bits.  Afterwards I find quiet around the point now exposed by low tide.

[Full set of 196 pictures, slideshow and all sizes]

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