Step by step we marched on through mud and sand and were amazed by the stunning landscape along the West Coast Trail.
Previous parts of the West Coast Trail Field Diary
Time for a lapse
The milky way from the evening before was mind boggling. Hence, I decided to do a timelapse and left the camera outside of the tent to capture a night time lapse. I set the alarm clock to 01.45 am to go outside and check whether the timelapse finished. I crawled out of my sleeping bag, unzipped the tent and pointed my headlamp around to check for any animals.
There were none.
The timelapse took 240 pictures and a quick look through the shots, was very disappointing. After about 50 shots (2 seconds of timelapse sequence) fog waves rolled in and condensation formed on the lens. Therefore, it was not a huge success, but at least we got the chance to get a glimpse at what the nightsky along the west coast trail has to offer.
Back in the sleeping bag, I instantly fell asleep. One of the most common struggles I experience when taking photographs of such wonderful landscapes, is the trade-off between night, and morning photography. If I capture the night sky, I do not get enough sleep to get up early for sunrise and be ready to perform well for several days hiking. So, this time, I did not get up for sunrise, but used the remaining hours to refill my energies.
Get up stand up
Walbran was one of the most beautiful camp sites along the way. We enjoyed the morning sun and had breakfast. It was at this point, that we realized our water supply was running short. Believe me, I was not keen at all to drink again from the shit pond (see Day 2).
Then we packed our backpacks, which admittingly takes usually a little longer for me… :)
I inspected my feet who had carried me for three days so far. There were two more days to come. Philippe carried a small step counter with him, because the company that he worked for had a challenge about which team is the most active. The step counter read more than 20’000 steps daily. Against all odds of the terrain and having vulnerable feet that usually are plagued by blisters, I did quite well. No blisters or scratches so far. Following the advice of Phil, I had bought LOWA boots before the WCT and they fit just perfectly. Finally, trekking was the pleasure I imagined it to be. #notpaidtowritethis
This was a rather dry stretch along the West Coast Trail. So, we hiked for a fair bit until we reached a tiny creek. We stopped and filtered water, meanwhile the other two hikers, who we had met the evening before, caught up with us. Their names were Jenna and Natascha and they were not that happy with the previous water source either. Furthermore, we found out that they did the entire WCT. Drinking one bottle full of fresh(!) water straight away and finishing filtering again, we wished them farewell and left.
Clear as mud
The following section of the trail lead through various types of vegetation. A common denominator among all of them was the high humidity, which created a wet environment. The roots and trunks were slippery as soap. Carefully, we climbed ladders, crossed tree logs, and balaced over boards sunken into ankle deep mud. The puddles got larger and deeper and more difficult to cross. Though, I must admit it was not as bad as I expected it to be. However, I am used to muddy environments, because I was a common foot soldier in the Swiss Army. They called us canon fodder and it was there that I had learnt that mud starts at the knee.
The best army of the world – clear as mud.
Group of Seven
Eventually we reached a cable car crossing over a river. This indicated that beneath the steal cable was a thundering stream at times. Now, there was a mere rivulet left that did not even make a sound. We chose the cable car nevertheless, because why not. It was so much fun, until we realized that we had forgotten Phil’s hiking poles on the other side. So, we walked back through the river bed.
While doing so, we found a lovely spot for having a break. The scenery looked as if we were in a Jurassic Park movie. Doo do doooo dooo do… Do you hear the theme melody?
Shortly after, the group of seven followed our decision to have a break at this spot. After following each other and meeting frequently for three days, it was the first time to meet and talk for a while. The group consisted of – you guessed it – seven people. Mike, Jon, Eve, Eli and three more, of whom I do not remember the names. They were nice guys and we talked about about our upcoming plans. Whereas Phil and I planned to spend another two days on the trail (Trasher’s Cove), the group of seven wanted to leave on the following day. According to one member, because they ran out of booze. They left soon after and were not seen again (by us). In retrospection, one member told me that he/she fell into a surge channel and was rescued. The WCT can be dangerous.
Jenna and Natasha caught up with us and came over where we ate. Jenna asked, whether we missed anything from where we had filled up our water supply. In her hand, she held the step counter, which Phil wore for his company in Switzerland. Glad Jenna’s steps counted too. The two girls were from Winnipeg (Manitoba), where I had researched for my master’s thesis (in the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives) before travelling through Canada . What a coincidence. After a short chat, our paths departed again.
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We continued along the West Coast Trail. Shortly after we came across another wonderful spot amongst the rainforest with a wonderful creek. Phil wanted to do a quick exploration into the interior. However, I insisted on continuing because we had just stopped a few minutes before. I held onto my opinion and we kept going. In retrospection, I am very sorry to not have given in in the argument, because it would have been a greater story to tell for sure. Sorry Phil.
Stories around the Firepit
We arrived at the next camp quite early. It was called Campers Bay and had some wonderful spot along the coast with lots of drift wood. We chose a spot next to a firepit and prepared our camp. After setting up the tarp, tent and unfolding the sleeping bags, I had a nap. I was very tired. Meanwhile, Phil read. Later on, some other guys hiking in the opposite direction made a fire and we joined them. Their names were Laureen and Daniel and they hiked with their mother. Such a wonderful family trip. The two girls from Winnipeg joined shortly after. We exchanged our experiences on the trail and the mother told a funny story about a bear encounter with her kids.
It happened a few years ago, when the kids were much younger. They were going to a hot spring. Suddenly, they saw a bear foraging on berries right next to the floored pathway only meters away. The bear immediately began charging [for Generation Z: no, the bear had no iphone]. You probably would expect to the mother to react instinctively, an protect her children. However, she left the kids there and run for her own life. Luckily, the bear was only false charging and went straight into the woods.
No (Milky) Way
Chatting with like-minded people around the fire pit was a wonderful experience. The following day, we had to pass Owen’s Point by 10 am, because it is only passable at low tide (+- 1h). Due to low tide being at 10am and according to the northbound hikers, we had to expect about 3 more hours hiking, we had to get up quite early. Natascha and Jenna planned to get up by 6am, which I wanted to do too. However, Phil did not fancy this as much as I did. He expected it would take us less time to get there and we did not have to get up that early. We settled our argument in Swiss manners by choosing a compromise to get up by 7am.
The skies were foggy and we hit the feathers early.
No milky way today.