The weather was absolutely spectacular for hiking the West Coast Trail- cool, overcast and misty with lots of sunshine at times. But even the fog zone of the west coast of Vancouver Island was being hit by the unseasonable dry weather so the creeks were all very low; obtaining drinking water took some planning. While hiking on the trail other people were seldom encountered as everyone gets dispersed during the day but there were lots of people at the designated camp sites. Even so it was always possible to find a place to squeeze in one more tent.
Over the next seven days GG continued his walk, enjoying the spectacular scenery, watching grey whales feeding close to the beach, the waves crashing in, memorialized by the force required to heave logs three metres in diameter tens of metres above the high tide line, and of course contemplating all of the ships and people lost along this dangerous stretch of water.
With the trail conditions so dry, few of the notorious mud bogs were encountered, the boardwalks and ladders were mostly in great shape and 15 to 20 minute kilometers were easily obtained. Using a detailed trail map and dead reckoning, GG was able to estimate arrival times at the selected campsite while accounting for high tide conditions on parts of the trails. Roughly half of the trail is along the headland 20 metres and more above the ocean while the other half is hiking on the beach. Some days are all in the trees, some days all on the beach but mostly the hike was equally split between the beach and trees with long sets of ladders allowing access between the two. With early starts, GG was usually the first to arrive at the next campsite to get the favoured spot, have a swim and spend the rest of the day relaxing and watching the whales cavorting right offshore. One foggy day a group of First Nations paddled by in their ceremonial canoes eerily chanting as they drifted in and out of the fog.
On the second to the last morning G was woken early by his close neighbours as they packed up to begin their hike. The pair of Russians had arrived late the night before and GG had invited them to camp beside him as the majority of the other campsites were occupied. The Russians were attempting to hike the trail in three days and had 18 kilometres to travel in order to catch the last ferry across Gordon River at the south end of the trail. GG's plan for the day had been to lounge around until later and then hike 12 km to the next campsite at Thrasher Cove during the afternoon low tide.
But since he was already awake, and he had been sitting idle for 12 hours the previous day, and there was lots of time before the late morning high tide, he quickly got under way. Beach travel can be tricky or it can be easy depending on whether the walk is along loose sand or rock shelves. Sometimes there are narrow surge channels that can be jumped across, other times it requires a diversion up onto the headland to get around. At Owen Point the trail turns east into Port San Juan with Port Renfrew at the head. The trail guide suggests a tide below 1.8 metres in order to get around this Point and pass through a small cave, the alternative is to use ropes to pull yourself over the small protrusion. GG got to the Point at 9 A.M. with the 2 m tide still 30 minutes away so he made it through the cave without even getting his boots wet. Having cleared the only real time constraint for the day he relaxed his pace, took in the beautiful scenery taking pictures and even pulled out his cell phone thinking he was getting close to the end of the trail and back to civilization. No such luck. There is no cell coverage in Port Renfrew.
After soaking up the sights and taking lots of photos, GG put on his pack and turned to resume the hike along the rocky beach. He stepped on some seaweed and took a big tumble, banging his ankle hard on the rocks. It was still 4 km to the campsite at Thrasher Cove and by the time GG arrived his left ankle was swelling over the top of his boot. Once there he met a couple of hikers that had rested for the day as one of them had sprained their ankle and they offered him some Chinese medicine which helped reduce the swelling. In the morning GG's ankle was still very sore but after some expert duct tape work and encouragement from a fellow hiker, Pat, it was time for GG to stumble the final 6 km out to the south end of the trail, making it in time for the 1130 ferry crossing. The 75 km WCT was behind him and, except for a minor incident, it was a fantastic trip. After some fortification at the pub in Port Renfrew he got a ride to Victoria to visit with his sister and wait for Linda to collect him. That nights sleep was very restless so GG prudently made the decision to go to the emergency ward for X-rays where it was discovered that the bruised ankle was actually a fractured fibula! Time for a cast and crutches and a few months of frustration. An annoying end to a beautiful trip.