I had to catch the shuttle bus at quarter to 6am down the street from my hotel. I set my alarm and requested a wakeup call. I woke up 15 minutes before the bus was to depart. I don’t know how that happened, but I guess no breakfast. I hightailed it down to the station and just caught the bus for the 2 hour trip up the coast to the town of Port Renfrew.
At the trailhead I had to listen to a 30 minute lecture on the dangers of this trail and such. Here is the PDF for the park
I also had to pay $160 to hike the trail. This money goes for upkeep and to rescue people by chopper and boat who break ankles and such along the way. I figure it came out to about $20/day and that is about what you might pay for a campsite, so not that big a deal.
Below is a link to the trail Map that I used throughout the hike:
If you open the above map. I am starting on page 2 on the very right hand side and working my left, then moving to page 1, again moving right to left.
Here is a Wikipedia page dedicated to the trail giving you a good idea of what it is about
Basically it is a 75 km hike along the PacificCoast. You alternate between beach and inland hikes. Parts are climbing over tree roots, stomping through mud, climbing ladders, bouncing between boulders and sifting through sand. It was originally created in the early part of last century as a rescue trail for shipwrecked seamen.
Here is a decent diary of another hiker doing the trail as I used as a guide.
I also used this book:
The plan was to hike in 5 nights and catch the shuttle on an odd day at Bamfield for return trip to Victoria. I also used this guide loosely as it tells you where you should stay each night based on how many days you want to hike.
I was making a real effort to go slow and enjoy the hike. The trail is typically a little more crowded in the summer when they regulate how many people are allowed to start trail each day (60), but before June first the foot traffic is dramatically reduced and no reservations are needed. My gear list was not that different from normal, with the exception that I was bringing a tent instead of a tarp. Due to the time of year and geographic location, the trail was expected to be wet with lots of added rainfall. After all it is a rain forest we are hiking through.
A small group of us boarded the ferry for the 2 minute trip to the trailhead
I was only going as far as Thrasher Cove today. This was roughly 4 km. It was 10am, so I expected to be in camp around 2 pm. I know what you are thinking, it is gunna take you 4 hours to go only 4 km? Yes.
You can start at either end of the trail (North or South). A lot of people start at the North end. Why? I have no idea. The South section of the trail is the hardest and is slow going with elevation changes, ladders and boulders to climb. They think that you eat your food along the way and your pack gets lighter, and also you get in better shape as you go. I on the other hand think that I want to get the toughest part over when I am fresh. I do not want to be itching to get done with the trail and run smack into the toughest section.
So about 5 minutes into the trail I slipped and caught myself with my hand bringing 250lbs down on my wrist. I came within a hair of snapping it and I was that close to ending the trip right there. I had to slow it down big time. Now I had a broken left thumb and a sprained right wrist. I was not as nimble as I was when I was younger. People were actually faster then me on the trail. Unheard of!
The above are called Donkey Engines. They were used by loggers to move trees, until they realized this terrain was not suitable to clear cut. You know it has to be rough if they decided they can’t forest it.
I passed some girls going the other way. They had been on the trail for 5 days. As they passed one said to another, “did you smell how clean that guy was?” I was thinking, man I need to just move to this trailhead and set up camp there. It would not take much to impress a girl 5 days removed from civilization. But on the flipside, they would not be too attractive by that point either.
I finally came to the sign that led me down the ladders to Thrasher Cove, my campsite for the night. It was slow going. There were lots of parts where you had to step up 2 feet over a root, or up on a fallen tree. With the 50 lb pack these kill your quads after a while. Not enough lunges at the gym…or any for that matter.
The high end outhouses shown above. I never saw the inside of one, but that is a separate topic
Emerging on the beach was amazing. You felt like you were Tom Hanks on Cast Away. You are fighting through the bush for hours and suddenly it opens up on this fabulous secluded beach. The only difference being that I had all the amenities to enjoy it and Tommy had some coconuts and some FedEx boxes.
Below are a couple shots of my home for the night
The only other group, locals, that started the trail with me set up shop and built a fire. I partook in the benefits of it. They even brought frozen steaks to dine in luxury the first night.
I was content to relax from 3pm until about 10pm when I turned in. I had sat by the fire for 5 or six hours and traded stories with the group. I will describe them a bit more as we go along.