Cribs Creek CG to Walbran CG
11 km - 8 hrs
Last night it had rained, so we knew we would be packing up a wet fly. Then, shortly after breakfast, a soft mist turned into a gentle shower. As things started to get wet, we put on our rain gear and pack covers, said our goodbyes to Frank, Trina, and Linda (who were heading north), and set out at 08h30. We walked almost exclusively on the beach, except for the last 2 km. With the tide coming in, the hard shelf was not always accessible nor was hard-packed sand. Instead, the footing was dominated by soft, pebbly sand that gives way with each step. It made for hard slogging. We took time on the way to Carmanah Lighthouse to watch scuttling crabs and to view sea lions hauled out on a massive off-shore rock. One male in particular was gargantuan and seemed oblivious as smaller females slid over his great bulk. We could certainly hear the ruckus they were making but this time we did not smell their pungent odour.
After ascending up to the lighthouse and back down the other side of the point, we arrived in the lap of luxury at Chez Monique. This way-station once was a rather ramshackle affair built from driftwood and polypro sheeting. It has now taken on an air of permanence with a properly framed kitchen and plenty of room for seating. Eight years ago, Celine and I savoured a crab omlet and cold beer on a hot day. This time around, we filled our bellies with a second breakfast consisting of homemade hashbrowns, eggs, bacon, toast, and hot coffee! Our four meals cost us $62 but we relished every minute of our hour and a half respite from the rain in the company of our new friends and an equally friendly cat.
We departed at 12h00 and worked our tails off for the next 4 1/2 hours. We knew it was going to be a long haul but by far the worst part was the last 2 km of inland trail "walking" to Walbran. Oh...my...GOD! Not only was it pissing rain on us but the path was slow and very demanding - tree roots like nothing before and mud holes that seemed to have malicious intent. One bog took hold of Stephane and sucked him down so that mud oozed over the tops of his gaiters, officially Christening the new hiking boots we had purchased prior to this trip. Onward we hiked but we were definitely slowing down. We hiked with Rose and Isha and the group of 6, which certainly helped our flagging spirits...not that we had any opportunity to talk while navigating the last part of the trail. The mutual support was also much appreciated when it came to hauling one another across the cable cars at Carmanah and Walbran. Nevertheless, by the time we rolled into camp, we were exhausted.In fact, Celine made the following note in her journal:
"This is the last time I hike the West Coast Trail. I will NOT be tempeted years from now to do it again. It is hard work and not relaxing....INSANE! I just want a hot holiday
And of course, as we got into camp, it started raining again...bloody rain! It was also quite a busy camp site and it was a bit of a challenge to find a good spot. Celine just wanted to crawl into the tent and ignore everyone, but that just wasn't reality. We set up the tent in the rain, then Celine and I set up the tarp, which turned out to be a godsend. We found logs to sit on and on which to do our cooking. Meanwhile, Danielle completely set up the inside of the tent (mats and sleeping bags), which was a great help. Then she and Celine went for water. Our priority was to get some hot soup and tea into our tired bodies. The evening turned out more enjoyable than we had anticipated. It stopped raining and Isha built a great campfire. We at supper early and made delicious cherry cheesecake for desert, which we shared with our friends. It was a big hit and everyone marvelled at how we had made it. We dried clothing and gear as we visited with fellow travelers around the campfire. It was a relief know that we would at least start the day drier tomorrow.