Hiking the West Coast Trail (6)

Monday August 16

My sleeping bag is wet in the morning fog.  I’m up early and with the help of a chunk of paraffin found in the sand, build a fire to dry it out and get warm.


We break camp late in the morning realizing that unless we slow down, at the present rate, we’ll be at the end of the trail a day early.  The fog remains, erasing the long vistas of previous days’ walks and intensifying sights and sounds close by.



I fall behind my companions, trying a walking meditation, linking the muffled sound of the waves moving in and out with inhale and exhale and with the right-left movement of limbs.  The line of foam at the margin of each wave snakes sinuously, a white bead that thickens and then quickly dissolves as the water drains backward and percolates down through the porous grains, leaving a shimmering curtain of radiance that disappears from the smooth slope as soon as it’s seen.  At the bottom, a gaping throat opens in which pebbles dance during the instant before the next wave moves forward and swallows them.

One beach is strewn with bright purple sea urchins on which crows leisurely feast.


We reach the most popular camping spot on the trail, Tsuishat Falls, but the falls are almost dry and the beach camping area is full of litter.  We decide to press on.


After an amusement-park ride in the self-propelled cable car across Klanawa River we stop to camp.


In the thickening fog, the grove of spruces by the outhouse and bear cache feels spooky.  Mist rises from the flat lagoon of the river and the ocean is still.  More people here might be welcome.  My darkening mood is dispelled by the chance to get into the sleeping bag with all my clothes on and catch up with the journal while Peter prepares dinner and Steve creates a driftwood sculpture.



The sun appears for the first time today in melancholy grandeur. The fog luminesces above the towering headland to the north backlit by a brilliant ray descending diagonally into the ocean. Then its white disk is sharply defined, but only as bright as the full moon behind a light mist. The disk moves slowly behind the trees along the ridge sillouetting their pointed tops and branches.  The oblique ray shifts hue from white to orange and  its source dissolves into a burst of radiance, then slides below the horizon.




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

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