OHE September 30, 1998=

Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 15:11:54 -1000
From: Grant Oka (goka@ns00.phnsy.navy.mil>
Subject: WEST COAST TRAIL PART I

WEST COAST TRAIL VANCOUVER ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA AUG 22 - AUG 28 1998

Participants: Reuben Mateo (HTMC member, Hawaii State Dept. of Land and Natural Resources, Forestry and Wildlife Division) Joyce Tomlinson (HTMC VP, HTMC Entertainment Committee) Sandy Powers (former Haleakala Park Ranger, US Customs Inspector - Alaska) Grant Oka (HTMC Trail Maintenance Crew, HTMC Pres.)

Fri Aug 21, 1998

After a long uncomfortable plane ride to SF and a long boring layover Reuben and I are finally in Seattle. We meet Joyce at the airport and Sandy in Seattle at the ferry docks. We are excited and in good spirits as the weather is beautiful (blue sky, no rain, lows 50's, highs 65-75) and is expected to hold for at least 5 more days. After a 5 hour ferry ride to Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada we are soon preparing our backpacks to start the next morning. Not an easy task with 4 people in one small motel room. I have read about and planned to hike the West Coast Trail ever since I heard someone describe the hike some years before. I feel anxious with anticipation now that I am actually here and only a few hours away from starting this backpack. We have all been travelling since early morning so lights are out early.

Day 1

We expected our hired van to pick us up at 7:30 am but after a slight delay we are off for the 2 hour ride by 9:30 am. We arrive at the Port Renfrew Ranger Station at noon and check in for our permits. Port Renfrew is the southern terminus of the West Coast Trail. I had requested permits to start the hike from the more difficult and rougher southern section knowing our packs would be heavy but counting on our energy and excitement to carry us through. Also, our mileages were planned to be reasonable.

This is a very expensive trail to hike. The total Park Service fees were $115 Canadian dollars. Transportation costs to and from the trailheads were $80 Canadian dollars. After the Ranger briefed us on the hazards of the trail (mud, steep ladders, log bridges, slippery rocks and roots, steep drop offs, incoming tides, bears, cougars, snakes, giardia, hypothermia) we head down the dirt road to the home of a native Indian named Butch. Butch would give us a ride on his boat to cross the mouth of the Gordon River to get to the trailhead. After a while (Butch was fixing a flat tire), Butch starts up his boat and our first of many hazards to come is getting into and out of his boat. Butch drops us at some rocks jutting from the shore. We jump from his boat as he throttles his engine to keep the boat against the rocks.

We start this 75 Km hike near 1:00 pm. Our destination for today is Thrasher Cove, only a mere 5 Km by trail. Our packs are heavy, the trail is muddy, rocky, and rooty, with numerous ladders, and narrow log bridges that tests our balance and the traction of our hiking boots. With the trail elevation varying between 60 and 150 meters, it takes us 5 hours to go 5 Km and reach the cliff above Thrasher Cove.

We leave the trail and drop about 150 meters by ladders and switchback to a lovely sand cove with lots of driftwood logs for wind blocks, benches, and firewood. A nearby stream provides fresh water. At the south end es a high throne of a compost toilet that is decorated with all sorts of flotsam netting and fishing floats. Its fairly crowded with about 10 - 15 tents but the large beach accommodates everyone. The weather is perfect, clear and cool. The smell of the ocean and campfire and the sand between my toes make this first tough day everything I had anticipated.


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