Day 3 – Sunday June 3
Tsusiat Falls to Carmanah Creek – 21 km
Day 3 of the WCT was really epic. The second night, we camped at Tsusiat Falls, from which point there was a 10 km length of trail on which there was no reliable source of fresh water. We started out the morning hiking along the beach for a couple of kilometers. The weather was a bit cool, but perfect for slinging the pack on and hitting the trail. About 1km from the Tsusiat campsite was a fantastic tunnel carved through the rock that we walked underneath. Nature is truly amazing.
From the beach, we hiked inland to the Nitinat Narrows. The trail was relatively wide, although there were some steeper uphill and downhill sections than the previous day. The views from the bluffs were amazing, and there were some sections of the trail where you were right against the side of the hills.
Nitinat Narrows arrived after about 7 km. We just called across the narrows to the ferry operator, who boated over to pick us up and shuttle us across. The Nitinat Narrows is a river section between the ocean and Nitinat Lake – when the tide comes in, the water between the two is a mix of salty and fresh. We bought a crab from the ferry operator and ate it for a mid-morning lunch. The guy who cooked it for us told us it’s the only place in the world where they catch dungeness crab in a lake, but I have that as unverified information! It certainly was delicious, though…
Across the narrows, we walked along boardwalk through some pretty swampy areas, reaching Clo-oose in a couple of hours. The park warden had warned us that there was a cougar in the area between km 34 and 38, so they were asking hikers not to camp in that area. At km 37, we decided to walk along the beach, to break up the terrain a bit. It was fine sand, but the tide was going out, so it was packed pretty firmly for the most part. Just before the trail access at Dare Point, I slipped and fell on the rocks, which sucked. I added a couple of bruises and got myself pretty wet. Falling was a bit of a mental shake-up as well. It’s hard to just pick up and keep going – I found it made me a lot more timid when we walked on rocky beach with lots of seaweed. Marty also slipped on some boulders just underneath the trail access and broke one of his hiking poles. Boo.
The trail access was up a steep scramble with ladders to greet you before getting back on the main path. Just a taste of what was to come in the next couple of days, especially since the first couple days on the north end of the WCT is pretty easy hiking… We made good time to Cribs Creek, where we stopped to refill our water bottles and massage our aching feet (I did, anyways…) At this point, we’d come 17 km. Our options were to stop and set up camp for the night, or keep going to Carmanah Creek. The benefits of staying at Cribs was no more hiking after an already-long day… the benefits of continuing were a reduction in the amount of trail in the days ahead while we still had sunny weather, and… HAMBURGERS! Yes, you heard me correctly! Just past the Carmanah lighthouse is a small farm and cookshack! Of course, in the end we felt that pushing onward just had too much benefit. And we were both ready for some tasty beef!
The beach between Cribs Creek and Carmanah Creek was gorgeous. We got sand, we got rock shelf, we had it all. As we were trekking along, we noticed a large rock out past the shore… We debated whether or not there was sea life on it, until we suddenly heard barking and grunting, and looked up to see a hundred sea lion heads looking back at us! They were pretty far away, but it was still totally amazing.
At the end of the beach, we climbed ladders and stairs up to the Carmanah lighthouse. At the lighthouse, we said hello to the lighthouse keeper, and Marty asked him what the most frequent question he was asked was… He replied, “It’s usually ‘Do you like living here?’ but we’ve posted answers to the most frequently answered questions on a notice board over there” and pointed at said notice board! It made us laugh that the lighthouse keepers had a FAQ sheet, but makes sense given that there are some 6-8000 hikers on the trail every year. We checked out the information, and got an update on the NHL playoffs, down to the names and times of every goal in the series! We then headed down the other side of the bluff back to the beach. And we couldn’t get there fast enough! Hamburgers awaited!
The “restaurant” on the beach is really a large tent set up like a cook-shack with several sets of plastic tables and chairs. I had to laugh because whenever you sat on a chair, it sank at least 6 inches into the sand… it felt like being at the ‘kids’ table’ at a family get together all over again! The two lovely women working there dished up enormous burgers with bacon, cheese and mushrooms… and we pretty much inhaled them. We had a nice visit and a nice break, but it was all too soon that we had to re-shoulder our packs and trudge our way along an unforgiving pebble beach to Carmanah Creek. The creek had a decent campsite, but it was cold and windy, and we’d just come 21 km, so we promptly set up our tent, brushed our teeth, put the food into the bear bin and settled in for the night. My feet have never been so sore in my life!
And so concludes Day 3 of the West Coast Trail. An epic post for an epic day of hiking! Keep posted for Day 4 and 5, coming up next!