Saturday, June 9, 2012

west coast trail

The word "adventure" gets thrown around a lot these days. I hear it mostly at college parties. People adventuring to the gas station to buy booze, adventuring to the park to smoke a joint, or adventuring home to pass out. These are all fine weekend activities, but I don't agree that they should be considered adventures. Adventure implies an experience that is thrilling, hazardous, and unknown. Some say an adventure is an experience you were glad happened but you wouldn't want to go through again. I know people who buy beer at the gas station every week.

Last summer I walked a 75km stretch of coast on Vancouver Island known as the West Coast Trail. For three days, my friend Graham and I bussed, ferried, and thumbed our way north from Seattle, camping along the road until we reached the trailhead in Bamfield. We packed light and ate mostly oats. Eight days later we emerged from the trail with mud in our boots, sand in our sleeping bags, and some photos.

Day three into the trail I slipped on a boardwalk, caught a nail in the knee, and thought about calling for evacuation. I stayed on the trail with Graham's reassurance and a phone call to the nurse informing me I was up to date on tetanus shots. Two people struggling over driftwood on the way to the toilets gasped at my bloodstained bandage, convinced I wouldn't finish the hike. We ran out of first aid supplies and water treatment, bumming both from other trekkers each night at camp. Groups with extra freeze dried meals took pity on our rudimentary diet and gave us their spare rations. Other hiker's maintained a far more pleasant attitude. Doug and his son Justin, of Langley, BC, had the most stoke on the trail. They have completed the route several times and referred to Graham and I as "Seattle's Best." We may or may not be the best Seattle can offer, but I'm still waiting for my first real adventure.

Backpacks with their owners mirrored behind.
Graham. The man with the plan.
Might have better luck if we spell "Bamfield" correctly.
Solid hitch.
A reminder that we are in the Canadian boonies.
The first of many gear drying sessions.
The West Coast Trail.
Ladder string from the trail down to camp on the beach.

Ferry crossing and crab shack.
Scored some prime real-estate, hard-hat included. 
Cable cars and ladders.
Longest bridge on the trail.
Shootin' the breeze with Doug and Justin.
Last ferry ride, trail's end.