Scenes From The West Coast Trail

November 07, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

My first blog entry has not yet gone viral, that should happen any day now. While waiting I'll post another, since the first was so much fun.

The earlier entry focused (no pun intended) on trail conditions. This one shows the fantastic scenery along the route, which after all is the reason for doing this walk in the first place.

This is the very first shot I took, within minutes strolling onto the beach at Pachena Bay. By luck we were doing the trip during a week of morning low tides, simplifying beach access logistics.

KM 0

 

The fog was moving rapidly that morning. When I reached the point on the right in the photo above, I looked back and saw Antoinette, Christophe, Julia, and Remko starting their hike. They passed me when I stopped to take more photos. Jeff was already long gone on the way to camp, so I spent most of the day alone.

 

The trail moved into the forest where there were occasional magnificent rays of light from the sun and fog. Not having any idea if this was a normal morning event, I stopped for a few shots just in case. That was lucky, I never saw this effect again.

KM 2

 

Meanwhile a wise old face in the forest watched my antics without comment.

KM 9

 

This stretch of coast is known as the "Graveyard of the Pacific", with a wreck site every 2 or 3 kilometers. At kilometer 12 the boiler from the 1893 wreck of the steamship Michigan is still visible, a silent reminder of who's in charge here.

KM 12

 

At Valencia Bluffs, kilometer 18, grey whales were feeding near the shore. In March my wife and I had been to San Ignacio Lagoon, Mexico and kissed grey whales (!!). I wondered if these had been down there with us.

Valencia Bluffs is named for the 1906 wreck of the iron steamer Valencia, when 133 people died. This tragedy was instrumental in initial attempts to construct a rescue trail on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Now it's sometimes a hiker who is rescued.

KM 18

 

Further down the coast these wave-eroded rocks mimiced a Henry Moore sculpture. Or is it the other way around?

KM 25

 

At kilometer 25 is Tsusiat Falls, a popular camping and bathing stop. We were there on a rare sunny and hot afternoon, making the bathing option enjoyable.

KM 25

 

However that weather couldn't last and by the next afternoon (day 3) we lost the sun for the remaining 4 days.

Now, this is how it's supposed to be on this trail!

KM 38

 

Jeff and I camped alone at Dare Beach (kilometer 40). The beach was covered with an amazing amount of driftwood, but even more interesting where these slippery algae covered rocks on the tidal shelf.

KM 40

 

We weren't alone at Dare Beach, but there were no other humans. This elephant seal was near our tents. He wasn't tanning, and at first we thought he was a goner. But we learned, after talking to a ranger the next day, that he was just covering himself with sand to assist in a moult.

KM 40

 

We said our goodbyes to him the next morning, and told hikers we met heading north, like the two below, to keep an eye out for him. He blended in so well with the driftwood he was difficult to spot.

KM 43

 

Next camp was at Walbran Creek, one of my favorites. The wide stream flowed out to sea passing dramatic cliffs.

KM 53

 

The tide was out in the evening. I could walk around the point south of Walbran Beach for photo-ops by the many surge channels.

Km 53

 

From here south the beach trail is marked as impassable or dangerous, and the forest is a slog through deep mud and slippery roots. The cable car crossing at Camper Creek camp is a welcome diversion. Julia and Antoinette are loading up their packs for the crossing.

KM 62

 

On Day 6 we were back on the beach at kilometer 65. The fog finally turned to actual rain.  I retreated under the overhang of a wave-eroded cliff to don my rain gear for the first time. At least I hadn't carried it all this way for nothing!

KM 65

 

Two kilometers down the beach, the Owen Point caves are reached after skirting or crossing several tricky surge channels. This could be a bad place to be stuck in a stormy high tide!

KM 67

KM 67

 

From there it's a careful traverse through two kilometers of rough boulders to reach our final camp at Thrasher Cove.

KM 70

 

Sailboats, fishing boats and the lights of Port Renfrew are visible across the Port San Juan inlet, so we know the trek is drawing to a close. The final day is only 6 kilometers to Gordon River, but roots, deep mud, and ladders conspire to make that a 5 hour trip for most people!

My pack waits for the Gordon River ferry to pick us up. Civilization is across the river.

KM 75 A great trek comes to a close.

 


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