Day 4 – Monday June 4
Carmanah Creek to Cullite Creek – 12 km
This was what I would consider the hardest day on the trail for my trip. Marty and I woke up sore and still tired from the 21 km trek the day before. We took a bit more time than usual getting going, but were still on the trail before 8:30 am. This section of the trail started off with a cable car, but it was pretty short (a blessing!) We had looked at fording Carmanah Creek, but the water was cold and deeper than we wanted to wade through, and we weren’t doing it with boots on again! Over the cable car, it was back to the beach. The terrain was pretty varied, and we hit shelf and hard-packed sand between Carmanah and Bonilla Point. Between Bonilla and Vancouver Point, the beach was small pebbles, which was really hard to walk on, but there wasn’t a good rock shelf at the bottom of it. We were going so determinedly that we nearly walked over a dead sea lion washed up on the shore! It was enormous!! And smelled terrible. I dry heaved while Marty took a picture for me…
By the time we reached the trail access just before Vancouver Point, we’d already decided that we were going to head up and inland instead of carrying on along the beach. It was starting to get windy and spit rain a little bit as well, and we wanted a bit more shelter than the beach would provide. Of course, to get to the trail meant ladders, ladders… and more ladders.
At the top of the ladder, we began a tedious 2 km hike to get to Walbran Creek. It was slow going, what with sore feet and tired muscles, and added rain to boot. We got to Walbran Creek at lunch time, so we crossed the creek by (another) cable car, and sat on the beach next to the creek to eat. The cable car was upstream quite a bit from the mouth of the creek where it emptied into the ocean, and I would presume from where the beach trail crosses it. We watched a group of hikers going north cross while we ate; they were thigh-deep in cold water, and we congratulated ourselves on making the decision to hike inland for the morning.
From Walbran, it was 3 km to Logan Creek, home of the Logan Creek Suspension Bridge. The creek crossing had been washed away in a landslide some years prior, leaving very exposed cliff faces on either side of the ravine. The one thing I can say about this day was that it was scattered with milestones in relatively short distances – only 5 km of beach to start, 2 km of inland trail tile Walbran, 3 km to the next creek, and so on. It made the day a lot easier mentally, as it was easier to keep going with a goal of 3 km instead of the full 12…
I don’t remember exactly on what part of the trail it happened, but this was one of the days I slipped and fell (I’d had a fall the previous day as well). This was one of the most challenging aspects of this trail, I found – the mental concentration and determination required to plan each step pretty carefully and make sure you weren’t slipping or getting your boots wet. Of course it was bound to happen, and both Marty and I fell a couple of times, but this one was the most frustrating! I’d just put my foot down on a root, and the slick mud made me slip and fall sideways into 6 inches of mud. Not only did I lose my balance, but I also couldn’t get it back again to get up, because my pack had slid forward on my shoulders and I couldn’t push myself out of the mud! Marty luckily came back to help pull my pack up so I could get up again, but it was a shaking experience for me – a sobering reminder that a twisted ankle or a bum knee meant a ride home in a zodiac or helicopter… It was really tough to be so sharply focused for the full time we were hiking.
Logan Creek was crazy. We were expecting ladders, but man oh! We got ladders… The sides of the ravine were nearly cleared bare from the slide, and the ladders were steep and very very tall. The suspension bridge was pretty amazing, and the view down the creek was really neat. Across the bridge, the ladders back up were just as intense. The very last one was shaky on the bottom two-thirds, as it was only secured into the hillside behind it about two-thirds of the way up. The drop was insane, and a shaky ladder makes for shaky knees once you’re at the top! We settled our nerves with a chocolate bar…
All’s well that ends well, however. We got to Cullite Creek around 5 pm. The campsite was gorgeous – definitely my favourite of the trip! It had a lot of flat, clear tent sites up off the beach. The beach itself was bordered by beautiful stone cliffs that came straight up out of the water. It was like a campsite at the bottom of a secret cove. Someone had built a large firepit (bad someone!) up off of the beach. I debated making a fire on the beach, but in the end we decided to use what was already there. We picked a prime spot (we were the first to arrive at the site), made a fire and hung out our damp clothes to dry in the wind.
This was one of my favourite evenings of camping as well. By about 6 pm, more people had started to show up – a group of men from the Calgary area (Marty loved it, as that’s where he lived for the last ten years before moving to Victoria), two women from Vancouver (we’d started the same day as them, and I don’t think I saw them look dirty once on the trail. It was like magic!), and a couple from Switzerland. It was a great spot for a large firepit, as we all sat around and talked about the trail, other hikes, sports, news and whatever for the evening. It was by far the most social night we had on the trail, and it was really fun to make a cup of cocoa and find out about the other people we were sharing the trail with. The woman from Switzerland told us that her pack had given her blisters on the hip straps, which is insanity! It made me appreciate having good, lightweight gear for this trip – my pack was 27 or 28 lbs on the first day, including my 2 L. platypus water pack! I think I would have died if I’d had blisters on my hips… Not. even. joking.
The guys from Calgary were avid hikers and talked about how much they loved hiking on the beach because it was so different than anything they had access to in the prairies… It really made me consider how lucky Marty and I are to live on the coast, and how often I take it for granted, especially after living on the gulf islands for almost 20 years. By the time we’d all made our dinners and eaten, all that was left to do was enjoy the fire and relax for the next upcoming day. We’d just completed the most intense day we would experience on the trail, and we deserved to have an evening to have fun and chill out!