The End of the Trail

Trip Start Jul 01, 2009
Trip End Sep 12, 2009

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Thursday, July 9, 2009

Camper CG to Gordon River Trailhead
13 km - 8 hrs

This morning we awoke with someone other than our son in the tent. The creature that had replaced Stephane was eager to get out of bed and packed up. He was persistent, waking the rest of us by 04h45. He then efficiently rolled up his sleeping bag and mat, exited the tent, and stowed all his gear in his backpack. He encouraged the rest of us to do the same while he retrieved all the food bags from the bear lockers. I'm still not sure who this stranger was but clearly he had replaced our teenage boy with a responsible young man. Now if we can just encourage this change to take root, we may be on to something.

Taking care not to disturb the sleeping campers around us, we quetly went about our business and were packed and on the trail by 06h15. We ate Power Bars on the trail instead of having breakfast in camp. Refreshed from a day of rest, we crossed the creek on the cable car and headed up the first set of ladders. We set a goal of hiking the next 8 km to Thrasher Cove at a rate of 30 minutes per kilometer and we very nearly made it! By 10h30 we had arrived at the junction to Thrasher and there, as if by providence, was Harbinder who had just hiked up from the campground in the cove below.

There is a small camping area just off the trail at this location and it provides an option to avoid the rigourous trek down to the cove 1 km below, for those hikers who plan to stay on the inland trail. We took some time to replenish our water supply at Log Jam Creek and had a quick bite to eat while mosiquitos had us for lunch. At this point Jackie, Jodi, and Alex caught up and we had a chance to properly say goodbye. They had a deadline to catch a shuttle bus back to Victoria so they quickly pressed on.

We followed at 11h00 to tackle the last 5 km to the trailhead. This part of the trail is the slowest due to changes in elevation and all the climbing up, over, and around huge roots, massive felled trees, and boulders the size of small houses. To our delight, we caught up with Rose and Isha at the decrepit Donkey Engine at km 72.  Once again they shared tea and stories, regailing us with a harrowing tail from the day before. They had opted to take the coastal route around Owen Point and muscle their way through the boulder field. The surge channels proved to be a significant challenge due to the slippery conditions. That 8 km stretch ended up taking them a full 8 hours, almost twice as long as the inland route took us to cover that morning. The pay off, however, was a bonfire in the idyllic cove and a great evening with the Group of Six.

The last 3 km seemed to stretch on forever. Our pace slowed considerably even while we were being congratulated by the north-bound hikers who were just starting out (looking very clean and smelling a great deal better than we). We were also being cautious to avoid injury as we grew fatigued. Even still there were a few mishaps, stumbles, slipping on slick wood. At one point, Celine hard on her knee when her foot snagged on a popped nail on a log bridge. Fortunately nothing was broken or seriously hurt but it was a warning for us to stay alert. I lost traction on a root and ended up in a full "spiderman" squat which looked cool but threatened to pop the ACL in my knee. Stephane risked a suspect log off of which he fell hard, hurting his left gluteus and forearm. Again, we were lucky to escape without serious injury.

Danielle, on the other hand, was in fine form today. She was chatty, high-spirited, and energized. She was a regular billy-goat climbing effortlessly, springing from root to root and rocck to rock. Whe was our trail leader and was finding everything easy. Nevertheless, the last couple of kilometers took almost an hour each! The trail never let up, right to the end where we were thrilled to see the km 75 trail marker! We had done it!! Photos were snapped, hugs all around, and big grins lit up our features.

Stephane raised the bright orange buoy to signal the ferryman. While we waited to be shuttled across the river, Isha and Rose arrived to our hearty greetings. We crossed the water together, excited to have successfully completed the trail. Imagine our surprise and dissappointment, however, when we discovered that there was no longer any taxi service to the town of Port Renfrew another 3 km distant! Curses! And ironically, after 7 days on the trail without a single blister, Celine earned a sizeable one on the hike to town. After leaving our companions at the WCT visitor centre, we carried on up the road toward the Port Renfrew Motel where we had a room booked. And then, to our amazed delight, up pull Frank, Trina, and Linda  who had just retrieved their vehicle after having taken the shuttle from Bamfield. We swapped stories and gratefully accepted a lift to our destination another couple of kilometers up the road.

Dan, at the motel, was very kind to change our reservation (which was supposed to be for the following night) and set us up in a top floor room with a view of the harbour. Once in the room, we collapsed on the beds, overjoyed by the creature comforts. First and foremost was a hot shower for each of us and a long scrub with the bar of soap. By the tme we were finished, the bathtub was a mess! Afterwards we spent a couple of hours drying all our equipment in the sun, re-organizing our gear, resting in bed, watching TV, and doing laundry so that we would have clean clothes to wear.

That evening, we went to the Port Renfrew Hotel on the harbour for an outstanding feast and a couple of pints of beer. Stephane, Celine and I enjoyed steak, prawns, roasted potatoes, and veggies. It was such a treat to have a "real" meal after all our 10-minute-one-pot-rehydrated-specials all week. We took a box of fish and chips back to Danielle who had elected to stay behind at the motel. We then nestled down into our comfortable and revelled in having a proper pillow for the night. It had been an amazing day, with many un-looked for delights.

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