Travel Journal

Vancouver - Pachena Bay - July 15

(Thursday 26 July 2007) by Karin
Angel of Patience: If we allow a loving patience to come through, without expecting things to happen rapidly, we will come aware that everything we do has a real value. Nature gives us the greatest example of loving patience through the wonderful treasures that it creates.
Angel of Humor.
Up after a short night as packing took a while but got it all in (or attached to the outside). Pack definitely weighs more then a quarter of my weight. We'll see how that works out. Made a few phone calls before we packed everyone's gear in the van/bus and left for the ferry. Ferry from Tswawassen to Nanaimo where the West Coast Trail express picked up us for a long bumpy ride to the Pachino Bay Campground. Stopped at the Cathedral trail to see Cathedral Grove on a short loop walk that took us through a forest of giant trees. The largest are 800 years old. But most sprouted when a fire opened the forest about 300 years ago. Protected from the heat by their thick corky bark, the surviving veterans provided the seeds that have grown into the present forest. Historically, forest fires have helped perpetuate stands of Douglas-fir by opening up the forest. These trees are fast-growing and quickly outstrip their competitors in the race for sunlight. They are less tolerant of shade, however, than are Western Hemlock and Western Redcedar. Even though their cones litter the forest floor, young Douglas-fir are rare in this shaded forest. Another stop for lunch and on arrival we set up the tents. Loads of mosquitos here but a lot less when I went for a walk on the beach before going to bed.
Here some information about the trail that we will start tomorrow. The West Coast Trail (WCT from now on) is a 75 km historic trail that was constructed for the rescue of shipwrecked mariners and is one of North America's best-known and toughest hikes. It's one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever endure. It is situated between the WCT information centers at Pachena Bay, near Bamfield on the northern end, and Gordon River, near Port Renfrew on the southern end. The trail largely retraces an old telegraph route first established in 1890 and follows a rugged shoreline where approximately 66 ships have met their demise along this stretch of the "Graveyard of the Pacific". The trail itself is simply breathtaking, passing through virgin spruce, cedar and hemlock forests; across cliff tops and over suspension bridges; along stretches of deserted beaches punctuated by clear tidal pools; and up and down steep gullies and waterways. Camping is at designated sites along the route, most of which have solar-composting toilets, but otherwise you have to be completely self-sufficient. And every kilometer must be earned. The topography ranges from sandy beaches to rocky headlands with wide sandstone ledges, caves, arches, tidal pools and waterfalls add variety to the shoreline. The land of the WCT unit is temperate coastal rainforest. Some of the tallest and largest trees in Canada are known to be in or the vicinity of the WCT. During December's windstorms more then 2000 trees blew over the trail and winds toppled two cable cars and a suspension bridge. Most of the structural work is now in place. All the trees are now cleared from the trail - in most cases they have been left in place with a hole cut through the middle. None of it sounds very easy to me but we'll see.


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