We found together on West Coast Trail and had a good time together!
Our WCT friends are
Len (Leonard)and Rick (Richard), the two brothers
Kavan and Rebecca - the "Girls" or better the "Heavy Ladies" (because of their heavy backpack)
Jeff and Tracy - the couple
and last but not least - the "crazy" Germans
Hans & Petra
This time we started really relaxed - a little bit too relaxed as we slept too long till 7.30 and had to hurry up to catch the ferry to the trailhead. So it wasn't astonishing that I started with two different gaiters on the trail: one from Hans, the larger one on the left leg, and one of my own. It looked always a little bit funny but who cares. At the end mud will cover it all, I thought...
At 8:45 a. m. we went over Gordon River with the ferry and 15 minutes later the dance over the roots started for us. The first performance test was a very steep ladder being 90 degrees upright. I felt my heavy backpack when climbing it up. At least 18 - 19 kilos drew my back towards the beach. We stepped on slowly knowing that the progress on the trail would be very slow. We thought 1 kilometre per hour would be enough at the beginning but learnt very fast that we did 2 k per hour which gave us a comfortable feeling. Lot's of time to chat on the trail....
Hans was delighted being on the WCT again after our first hike in 2010 and took every chance of speaking to other hikers. So he got to know Rick and Leonard coming from Vancouver/Vancouver Island. Rick knows a lot about trees and Hans was happy to learn more about the old growth forest. You felt really humble looking up to the tree tops, your neck starts aching looking up so often admiring the old trees. There was a lot of second growth but in between them there were also really old trees, often sitka spruce at the height of about 40 - 50 metres. How many shipwreckers might these old trees have seen in the past?
We enjoyed the winding path going up and down, were balancing on the roots trying not to get wet und dirty shoes. It was a sort of game getting along with the special hiking demands of this trail...
The longer it took the more I wished Camper Creek would be near. We felt our feet, ankles, legs being not used to the heavy backpack and the challenging trail. Every boardwalk was a relief - we called them "highways", although they were sometimes slippery and broken.
Some nice Kanadians offered us a place at the campfire. We had interesting topics ranging from the "Blue Blubb" in Juan de Fuca Strait to World Class Seakayaking Spots on Vancouver Island. In a little cup a so called apple juice with the name "Tequila" was given to everyone. It was definitely warming up for me at that place....
There was some rain dripping on the tent in the early morning. But when we got up weather developed better.
We tried to start before 9.00 a. m. because that day would again be strainous to hike. We felt a little bit tired but still in a good shape. Up to now no blisters thanks to our sport shoes. No mountaineering boots any more on WCT like in 2010. In 2010 that had been horrible having all the time the feeling to slip away with the stiff soles.
This second WCT-section was similar to the day before. Mud pools, roots, now even wooden ladders and boardwalks. Uff! Nature around us was still amazing but it was a pity that we always had to be aware of our footsteps. So pleasure to see this outstanding forest beauty was limited by the condition of the trail. We remembered the rotten boardwalks of 2010 very well. Now some of them were replaced by new cedar boardwalks. But there is still a lot of renovation work to do. Sometimes I got the feeling maybe to suddenly break into some rotten boardwalks. Butterflies in the belly...
We met Rick and Leonard on a boardwalk section where they had a break. I learnt from Rick that the bushes all along the boardwalks are called salal berry bushes - and - the berries are edible! From now on "I ate me through WCT". The salal berries have a taste like grape or like black currents, really delicious. At the end I was really grateful to have this food source as I could save on some food during the days. Our food ressources were limited. We didn't want to carry to much weight with us and calculated with less food than last time in 2010.
Having almost hiked to Walbran Creek we met Rebecca and Kavan having a break at a nice dry place in the rain forest. At that time we didn't imagine to sit together and share a campfire with them later in the evening!
Finding a nice campsite in a quiet corner, building the tent in this booth and finding logs to get your corner done is the first thing to do at every campsite. I think it is a deep need of human being to build its home. Looking at the campsite of Walbran Creek is proof for it...
Having done this work it was really relaxing to have a swim in Walbran Creek and to warm up at the campfire afterwards. Fog came in the valley in the evening and dipped the campsite in a mysterious light. A boy from the Netherlands went on the river with a raft he found on the riverside.
I went over to Rick and Len enjoying their campfire. I got warmth back after being cooled down by the river water. Then I pulled out my "ultimative" headlamp out of my pocket showing the two the "last model of the Lupines made in Germany with 1.500 lumen". Indeed, the caves on the other side of Walbran Creek were enlighted and I was glad. What a good catch to buy this headlamp and take it with me! The Black Diamond headlamp of Len couldn't compete with it. Then - out of a sudden a blue light went on at my lupine .... and soon it was dead. Gos....., what a shame. The biggest problem for me was to ask Len to give me his headlamp for going to the toilet afterwards. You know who was grinning, better laughing at me....
Being back at my tent it was completely dark. From the far only some voices could be heard. In my opinion world was in deep peace.
The "WCT-Group" grew larger and larger...
Last evening we had some nice chats with Rick and Leonard joking a lot. And - there was a common campfire together with Rebecca and Kavine. More and more Hans and I enjoyed the pleasant company of such great people on the campsite. It was real fun to discuss with others, to share experiences and last but not least to have fun after a day of hard feet work.
Next to us a Bosnian-Serbian couple put up their tent. As I spoke to them in the morning the woman talked about their problems with a big blister at her right heel. Hans was there and could help her with special blister blasters. She was deeply grateful about the relief she felt.
It was "Chez Monique"-Day. Hopefully a big burger would wait for us at the huts before Carmanah Lighthouse...
That time we had some beach sections which were faster to hike. From the far we heard sea lions and we inspected the ocean for marine wildlife. Out of the sudden two orcas crossed the bay. We could recognize their backs and their dorsal fins. Carmanah Lighthouse could be seen from far looking like a castle on its rock. We had a complete different hiking feeling that day, feeling more like being on a beach holiday. So much pleasure!
There were quite a lot of hikers at Moniques bistro so we ordered our burger quickly. Together with a coke that meal was a little copy of a sort of civilization coming back to us. The food was good. There was even more to buy at the bistro starting from food to beer, sodas and sweets.
We could get over the last 2,5 k very fast - the belly was full and a certain feeling of satisfaction was there....
Today it seemed to be a litte less strainous although this section has 13 kilometres. And the Salal berries I was eating along the trail made me even stronger and brought me forward....
Len (Leonard) and Rick told us of a chanteralle place on the way to Nitinat. Hans was suddenly fully awake, not to say alert! Chanterelles... But the brothers were faster and came to their "hidden" place at first. We only heard them bushwhaking. Len showed me a bag with the first precious mushrooms of the forest. It was awesome! Hans jumped into the forest, too. At the end they picked so many chanterelles that the evening meal was secured. It was nice to see that even on another continent we discovered that also Kanadians can have the same passion of picking mushrooms than we old Germans...
At Nitinat Ferry Landing we had a nice lunch with a cod fillet and potatoe. The fish was excellent - we could have even one more piece.
When we arrived at Tsusiat Falls after 6-7 hours we could still find a nice place four our tent. Last night we had a lot of smoke created by the campfires in our tent. So this time we chose a pit which was located more far from the others to prevent "suffocation by smoke".
Hans helped Len to prepare the chanterelles. Len got some butter and salt from Nitinat Ferry Landing. They tasted very good - everyone of our group was fond of these special mushrooms. It was a pity that we didn't have more of them.
Thanks to Len and Rick for this special gift to our group!
At first we had the idea to hike to Michigan Creek. But all the other hikers of our group wanted to go to Darling River. There is a nice opportunity to swim under a waterfall. This convinced Hans and me and we changed the goal for day 5.
The days before we avoided to take the cable cars because the water in the rivers were so low we could wade through. But not today. Klawana River had much water and we pulled the rope for the cable car. I was second and was lucky because it is hard to pull the basket to the station, to through in the heavy backpack and to jump in at the same time. Rick and Len came up the ladder and holded the cable car so it was a comfortable ride for me.
We had several beach sections as well as some hiking in the forest. Again, the challenges were decreasing from day to day and we enjoyed it. The backpack was still very heavy (16-17 kg) and I could feel some pain in my knees.
This was real friendship - coming to the campsite we got offers from everyone of our group to set the tent next to them. I had a lump in my throat...
Len and Rick arrived earlier at Darling River campground and Len saw a black bear jumping into the forest. When he went behind him, the black bear left some droppings on the trail. Funny...
Later Len came with a Kelp plant in his hand. He went into the sea for maybe 30 - 50 metres and took it out. Everyone had the chance to get a bite. Wow, that was new to me! There was no strong taste but the structure of the plant was interesting. I could have eaten more of it. Thanks for this experience!
We all knew that this was the day of saying good-bye and I felt a certain sadness . Len and Rick decided to take a day of rest at Darling River. Rebecca and Kavan wanted to leave later next day and to stay at Pachena Bay for another day.
In the evening we came together for a group photo - our last action was to form a "WCT 2016" made of stones. Rick prepared the last campfire for the whole group and I enjoyed this feeling of sharing - sharing similar experiences throughout the day, having fun together und discussing. For me this could have never ended. But the sands are running out...
Here is a video of our "heavy ladies". The starting weight of their backpacks was about 56 pounds. At Nitinat they had still a heavy load of 46 and 48 pounds. High five for their performance!
Some more hugs and good wishes in the morning - and suddenly I felt some more weight in my backpack. Was it the backpack or was it because my knees felt more weak out of a sudden? There was a bad feeling in my belly when we headed towards Pachena Bay.
We started very early because we had to arrive at 1:00 p. m. at Pachena Bay to get the bus shuttle back to Port Renfriew. At 7:30 we were ready to go. When we walked along the beach we could see lots of bear footprints. Jeff and Tracy started 45 minutes after us. Later we heard that they saw the bear coming from the beach. What a morning!
After Pachena Lighthouse we tried to hear the sealions we remembered of 2010. But this year they chose other hauling rocks and we couldn't see any of them. But - there were some chanterelles along the trail. This time I was lucky and picked them all. I built a little shrine for Len and Rick to greet them when they will pass by the next day.
Every mudpool was now one mudpool too much, every ladder was one too much - we wanted to finish, going home to our RV and to relax. At 12:15 we arrived at the ranger station, reserved our bus seats and went to the campground office to buy some coke and chips. Every food beside granola bars, backpacker dried food and light brown water in our bottle was delicious now! We deeply enjoyed it.
The bus ride back to Gordon River was bumby. It was the best to try to sleep.
At Gordon River Ranger Station we said good-bye to Jeff and Tracy and headed towards "Wild Renfrew Restaurant". We had to celebrate the finishing of WCT with a nice meal.
Hey, my great WCT-friends! Thanks a lot for giving us such an awesome time!
Going through some strainous hiking days and sitting together at a campfire every evening meant also to exchange life philosopies...
That is what I learnt from my WCT-friends:
Rick: "Take care to find your balance in life. Nature gives you so much. That is the place to regain balance and inner calm for your whole life. A warm campfire gives you warmth for your life!"
Len: "Going through some tough experiences in life means also you come out stronger every time. So the effort going through it is worth it. There are many adventures in life. Go - find them."
Kavan & Bec: "Life is sometimes a heavy burden. But you will manage to carry the heavy backpack. You'll get used to it."
Jeff & Tracy: "Stay together and help each other. This gives you more energy. Keep your fitness in life!"