OHE September 30, 1998 (f)

Date: Mon, 5 Oct 1998 14:47:12 -1000
From: Grant Oka (goka@ns00.phnsy.navy.mil>
Subject: WCT Part VI resent

Day 6

We sleep late and linger at this pleasant camp site. It's a beautiful sunny day and the tide is perfect for taking the coast 3 Km to Trestle Creek where we must regain the trail. Our destination is Darling Creek, a little more than 9 Km from Klanawa. Am I repeating myself when I say the coast trek was awesome? More rusted shipwreckage, low tide sea life in tidal pools, giant trees bleached white and sanded smooth thrown up on the beach, cliffs with forest above us, ocean crashing, the crunch of sand and rocks. At Trestle Creek, we take a break. Reuben spots a water spray off shore. It is two grey whales blowing just off the rocks. We make our way out onto the sandstone shelf to as close to the water's edge as we dare to get a closer look. The are beautiful creatures.

We regain the trail and climb about 30 meters to the cliffs above the rocky shore. There are some dangerous surge channels along the coastal route for the next 3 Km until Tsocowis Creek. Near Valencia Point there is an overlook. The coast looks rugged and beautiful. In 1906 the iron steamer Valencia went aground here. 126 out of 160 people lost their lives here. Many died from exposure as they waited in vain for rescue. This short section of Vancouver Island's coast has seen many shipwrecks and was christened the Graveyard of the Pacific. The West Coast Trail was originally a telegraph route but was later improved as a rescue trail. It became known as the Life Saving Trail. Along the trail we passed many relics that were used to clear and maintain the trail, such as donkey steam engines and graders.

By the 1950's, maintenance of the obsolete Life Saving Trail ceased due to modern rescue and navigation methods. It was only hiked by the hardiest of backpackers and soon gained the reputation as one of the most grueling trails in North America. By 1969 the Pacific Rim National Park, Canadian Parks Service started its efforts to reopen the trail. Today, it is not the wilderness it once was nor is it that grueling of a trail with all the ladders, bridges, and boardwalks, but all you have to do is look 20 yards off trail to realize the tremendous work that keeps this trail open. We drop down from the trail at Tsocowis Creek and have lunch at the base of its waterfall as it meets the beach. From here we continue on the beach as the tide is rising but still low enough for us to pass. As we pass Orange Juice Creek, I investigate its hidden waterfall behind a jam of driftwood trees. It is my good fortune to stumble upon a naked couple sunning themselves. They are totally un-embarrassed and are very friendly and invite me to join them. From their accent, I guess they were German.

I politely explain that my friends are waiting for me so I just take a picture of the waterfall and leave. Soon we arrive at Darling River and make camp. It is early in the afternoon and we have a good 4 hours till sunset so everyone just relaxes.

Joyce and I head up stream and discover a very cold and beautiful waterfall. I rinse off in the icy clear water. The cable car at Darling River is broken and dismantled but crossing the river near the beach is not a problem when the river level is at its summer low. There is a bald eagle soaring overhead. We can see its white head. He perches atop a giant tree looking majestic as if surveying his domain. There is a grey whale just offshore. We see his spouting spray and his dorsal fin.

We share our evening campfire with a couple from Ottawa and talk about our experiences on the West Coast Trail so far. A clear cold last night. I linger before crawling into my sleeping bag. It is so beautiful.

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