Due to the close proximity of all the other tents we were up at 5:30 am since so many others were mulling around to get an early start on their day. Some hikers going the other direction would be hiking all the way out to the trailhead where they would catch the shuttle home; more info on the shuttle or West Coast Trail Express when we ride it out our last day!
Since we (me) was up early and my hiking partner conceded to wake up early since I was already awake we were up and ready to rock and hike by 7:20 am and from the previous evenings campfire talk about discover the "worst" part of the trail ahead. We stopped every hour for a short water break and every two hours for food and an extended break. The rainforest was a wonderland of ferns, moss, firs and foliage we had never seen before. Then along the way we hit an alpine, bonsei marshland that seemed out of a movie.
Boardwalks, a little mud and ladders made for an interesting day. This section included the biggest set of ladders, a suspension bridge, a cable car, bogs and the final destination being a sweet little swimming hole and a beautiful campsite with a view of Mt. Rainier as well as stunning tide pools. We expected far worse than it was from the scare talk the night before.
The ladders were long and at odd angles but they were possible as long as you didn't allow your mind to do the climbing and just allowed your body to do what it was good at; move. It was a tiring day as many of the days were but the rewards and views at camp most days surely made it worth the discomfort.
It took us 6 hours of hiking to reach Walbran Creek from Camper's Bay which covered a distance of 9 km over the toughest part of the trail although I still maintain that the first 5 km was much harder technically due to the rocks, terrain and climbing. Yes, there were ladders on this part that were long and arduous but not impossible. The worst part is waiting for others to climb down or up the ladder systems and required more time because of this.
We were exhausted from being up so early in the day and hiking hard, we hiked in a bit of a mist for the day but being inland the whole day on the trail it was nice to have a cool day to hike. Once we arrived at camp we just laid our tarps out and rested as the sun burned through the clouds to shine on us while we dozed on the beach. Although this was the premier swimming hole on the trail, the wind was so cold we couldn't force ourselves to jump in and have a hiker's bath. We washed some clothes, then set up the tent and enjoyed the views.
As we sat around camp and filtered water for the day we watched a family of children aged 10-14 hike in with their parents and grandparents, what a neat group to watch hike together. It would make for a lasting family legacy to hike this trail together but I marvelled at the thought of the kids and grandparents hiking over what lay ahead of them. I'm sure they completed it but wow was all I can fathom to say at the tenacity it took for them to finish it. I truly mean anyone can hike this if you are patient and believe in yourself to finish.
Supper was courtesy of Mountain House and boiling water to rehydrate it. Later that evening after we were fed and watered we headed out to look at tide pools, our first real chance to see some ocean life on the trail.
There is no way to put into words the views and expanses around us in every direction, it was stunning no matter where we were whether it was the trail, the beach, the ocean or rock shelves. When you are in this environment it makes you feel so small and you begin to realize that your small world at home is really just a drop in the bucket of what the Earth has to offer.
The air had a dampness more than usual and we were chilled and ready for bed by 8:30 pm; not your average hiker party animals by any means! We were tucked in and fast asleep quite quickly but sleep eluded one of us as her sleeping pad went flat....it seemed we rarely each had a good nights sleep at the same time!
The wind blew hard this night and lulled us to sleep along with the ocean waves crashing on shore...sweet dreams of tomorrow's burgers along the trail.
I Live Life Now,