Cougar Country

Trip Start Jun 25, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Saturday, November 27, 2004

Typical of the overcautious nature of the Canadian government my departure was almost delayed for a day. They wanted me to do a two-hour induction before starting the hike. I argued the delay was unnecessary due to my extensive background as an outdoor guide. Park management was reluctant to let me loose on the trail without it because as they put it "this is Cougar country and Cougar's attack lone hikers". Cougars are reputed to have almost supernatural powers. Weighing over 50kgs, they have: the strength of ten men, the ability to leap 20 feet, stealth and a million years of evolution. All combined to create a killing machine.

I attempted to suggest to the Park Rangers that if this beast was going to creep up from behind me, jump on my back and rip out my jugular with the same ease a West African prostitute gives out venereal infections. It would be unlikely it would pause long enough for me to explain to it that it would be foolish to attack me as I have had a park induction.

Persistence prevailed; evidently the ranger could not compete with my well-honed retorts and rhetoric. Either that or he just thought I was an annoying dickhead, thus perfect panther prey.

Leaving behind the Rangers station and Port Renfrew, a town that could not decide whether it wanted to be a rural crack den or an Indian reservation, I took my first steps into the wilderness of the trail.

My Brighton boy bravado began to diminish as I entered the solumn environment with the forest. Massive 500-year-old conifers, standing over 200 feet high, rose out of the moss covered forest floor, swallowing what remained of the late afternoon light and lending an eerie underworld feeling to the temperate rainforest. One could be forgiven for expecting Frodo and Sam to step out from behind a moss covered log.

The paranoia of the ranger started to seep into my mind. Soon I was chanting under my breath the Canadianised Wizard of Oz mantra 'lions and cougars and bears, lions and cougars and bears'.

Acknowledging the fact that I would be spending four days alone surrounded by bears and cougars I spent my first night standing close to the fire practicing some Bruce Lee on LSD moves in preparation for the immanent cougar attack.

A restful sleep, in what I assured myself was a cougar/bear proof nylon tent, allowed me to rise predawn. Early enough to watch the sun rise and get the tides low enough to make it around a series of narrow headlands.

The sun slowly crept through the dawn fog, leaving a rainbow as its foot prints. In the half light of the early morn the features that make this trail world renowned began to become clear. Its scenery is among the finest in the world. Around each point lied another stupefying vista.

I've gotten used to the fact that Dopey is an adjective commonly used when describing Mellett. However, I feel it is quite likely that the few people I met in the insuing days would have described me as an inarticulate Australian, bordering on mental retardation, as I babbled "it's it's spectacular, it's amazing, phenomenal" in a glazed over daze. But the truth is the spectacular forests, pristine beaches, serene waterfalls and wild animals would be hard to describe without using clichéd words like 'breathless, bewildering and speechless'.

I never did meet up with the Killer Cougars (lucky for them). Had a close call with a Brown Bear. But I was pretty confident I could put my crocodile wrestling skills to work on that one.

The 70kms I covered in just over two days did not prepare me very well for attempting to cover the 42.3kms in under four hours my next adventure required.
For those of you who love sadism and boredom, tune in for my next update
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