2008-11-19 / 01:44 / dave
Let’s hope that’s not a portent.
After 4km of forest trail, I headed out to the shelf at kilometer 66. From there it’s only 1.5 km to Owen Pt, though between avoiding soaking my shoes in tidal pools and drowning in huge surge channels, I walked about 2.5. But other than rocks slick with invisible algae, it’s an easy walk. It’s also beautiful, in a post apocalyptic sort of way. I present the following two examples of the beach:
And this one looking back into the woods, which is more “post-apocalypse by Tolkein:”
I reached Owen’s Pt. sometime before 10:14 am, which, according to the tide table was the only time it was passable. The tide table was half right: it was passable if didn’t mind walking through ankle deep ocean water. Instead I peeked over the edge into the eroded-cavern-thing. It was… drumroll… anti-climactic. Maybe it’s nicer if you jump down and marvel. Instead I took advantage of the overland route someone had made out of well knotted nylon rope. On the other side of the point the shelf became soft sand. Just as I was cursing sand walking, it turned into rocks.
Rocks rocks rocks. Big rocks, small rocks. But pretty much all sharp rocks. Definitely too much for my aged New Balances and probably the most painful part of the hike.
3.5 km later the rocks became a beach. There were 4 men waving madly at the ocean. “How much further to Thrasher?” I asked. “This is Thrasher” the Bamfield Coast Guard hat-wearing guy answered. With that out of the way, I talked to them and found out that two of them were guides and the other two were French film-makers. They were worried about missing the 5pm ferry and consequently the frenchmen’s 5am flight the next day. They were trying to signal the ferry-man for an early pick-up. I tried my cell phone but got no signal. Finally they picked up their 40 kilo packs–no exaggeration, they had some big damn cameras–and started up the ladders to the main trail.
I took advantage of the peace and tranquility to relax.
Something must have worked because when I came out the world was unbelievably beautiful:
The sunshine was a good excuse to take off my shoes and eat some macadamia nuts.
20 minutes later, I started up the ladders. Monique had warned me that it was “an hour of ladders” She was wrong, but it was a climb. And after the ladders came a series of extremely steep switchbacks to get back to the main trail. The trail itself was all ups and down, it included the highest point in the entire trail and, unsurprisingly, ended at sea level. I wasn’t surprised when it only took a kilometer to catch the filmmakers; my pack was only 8 kilos.
4 kilometers later I hiked down to the shore and hoisted the orange buoy. The ferry driver showed up in a few minutes. He said it’s can be a beautiful trail but “Some people hike it in 4 days, that’s just stupid!” Since I had just finished in 4 days, I chose to interpret him as saying “You should enjoy what the trail has to offer.” I agree.
Back to Victoria
It was only a 5 minute ferry ride across the mouth of the river and then a 100 meter walk to the camp office. While I was walking towards the office a bitchin’ Camero pulled up and out stepped–if I remember his name correctly–Glen: a tall, tribal fellow. He also had a bleached mohawk and was wearing knee-high waders. He had seen be get off the trail and asked about the filmmakers. He had been working at the Nitinat ferry and had hiked out, Sherpa-ing some dead batteries for the filmmaker’s in the process. I told him they were a few kilometers behind me and he headed into the warden’s office.
I followed and gave the warden my registration info so she’d know I wasn’t dead in a surge channel or eaten by wolves. She also gave me some information on the Juan de Fuca trail and the local town. I sat down and in a head-cold haze tried to put everything together: I could camp in town that night then start hiking the next morning… but I had to get to an accessible trail head by Wednesday, since that was the last day the trail bus ran… so I’d have to figure out where I’d get out and call ahead and make a reservation… but I still needed to refill my water and maybe get a little more food… or maybe I should wait and see if I could get a ride with Team Awesome, they were talking about driving back to Victoria…
Chris and Fabian saved me. While I was blindly staring at the Port Renfrew map a tall red-headed German man (Chris) and a short blond Swiss woman (Fabian) walked up. The man said they were headed back to Victoria by way of Cowichan Lake and they’d be happy to give me a ride. “Happy” seemed a bit optimistic, since I smelled terrible, but I accepted.
They were both students at an English language school in Victoria. Chris had just bought the car from his host family so they went for a weekend trip. They had camped in Port Renfrew the night before; it involved rain, a crazy man, and dual nightmares about a firing squad and being in a tent on fire. They still seemed pretty pleased, I assume because there was some hot make-out action they had elided.
We stopped at Lake Cowichan to eat some of their left-over food. Chris used his well engineered German stove to boil water for their tea and coffee. It was cold so Fabian put on the most awesome vest ever: it was shearling and had “Hoochie” written on the front in gold script. I then noticed that Chris was wearing FUBU cargo pants. I wonder if he knows that he’s not the Us they’re referring to?
Then it was just a short drive back through the surprisingly sprawling suburbs of Victoria to the Turtle. I insisted Chris and Fabian take 20 CDN.
Inside, Sue set me up with a room. Then we talked for 20 minutes: turns out she used to be a programmer in China. This set off a string of complaints about the stress of programming, which is why now she owns a hostel. Perhaps that’s what I should do with my life?
It was dark by the time I’d showered and settled. I headed out for comfort food and settled on over-priced mediocre pizza. I watched drunk Victorian college students and felt out of place and culture-shocked; hiking was a distant, pleasant memory. Instead of owning a hostel, I might stick with my original retirement plan: mountain man.