The usual morning routine. Breakfast and packing away camp. It was a beautiful morning as the fog still hadn’t lifted off the river. I was in better mood today but I think this was mainly because I know that today was the last full day. And tomorrow’s hike will be a short 10k. Perfect. I had also accepted that this was a heads down and destination based trip rather than focusing on enjoying the journey. This made it easier to enjoy.
Before we had even really started we got to Nitinat Narrows. Here we would require another ferry on the presentation of our passes. Before we jumped on it, there was The Crab Shack. The shack was in Reserve territory and was therefore run by First Nation people. Too early for me, I opted for banana bread and root beer, but Sean and Flo had themselves a fresh crab each. The proprietor pulled up the crab pot from over the side and picked put the two best looking crabs.
What happened next took us by surprise but he pulled the top shell off whilst the crab was still alive, got rid of the gunk and handed it to the kitchen crew. I assumed that you would kill the crab first before dealing with it. Not here apparently. Whilst we ate there was a charming kid, hanging off the marquee and playing with a big old axe. He must have only been 4.
Back on our way, bellies prematurely full we hop off the boat. We try to get on the back onto the beach as soon as possible. The forest is beautiful of course but when you have the Pacific Ocean to look at then you can understand why. Even if it’s harder to walk on. One thing that walking on the beach did was remind me of my summer holidays back home. There was the smell of seaweed, and the rock pools were full of small fish, crabs and anemones. I really did feel like a child again and I fancied sticking around for a long while.
It was here that Sean, carrying my pack again, gave me some advice about my poles. As mentioned on day 1, it took me a while to really understand how to use them. They were of course a dream, especially for keep balance, however on the sand it was clear that I may not be using them to my full ability.
“Scott . . .Make sure that you don’t plant the poles in front of you. Otherwise you’re only slowing yourself down.” Which of course, makes sense. I tried this and felt instantly better.
We made our last stop before camp at Darling River. It was the penultimate camp on the trail so there were a couple of hikers already set-up for the evening. Flo and Sean had a chat with them. Of course I was a little quiet because I was pretty tired by now, looking forward to the final camp of the trail. There was a pretty cool set-up here though. If you in need of relaxation, there was a home made chair and the WCT TV all set-up ready for viewing. Although there was only one channel. I came back and Flo had given the campers the lowdown of the trip so far – mainly around my over packing and the speed we were going at. It was all good to share the joke however – If you can’t laugh at it right . . . ?
We had seen many people on the trail today who had warned us that there were some bears ahead. I was excited at this prospect. I had only seen one bear so far since being in North America (excluding when in a car) and it’s always a special moment when you see them. They told us it was going to be our side of the Darling River. Walking along the beach, we can see in the distance two black dots. Low and behold there she was, a black bear with her cub. They were munching on a seal. The tide was out so we tried to make as much distance as we would between them.
We did the usual noise making. We clapped and shouted to make sure the bear knew that we were there and didn’t mean any harm. She looked up at us, stared, and continued pecking at the seal. We edged closer and continued making noise but she just wasn’t interested. Finally the cub turns around and starts walking a little closer to the tree line. Mother cub reluctantly started walking away from us. Our hope was that they would go back into the forest – because camp wasn’t too much further in the distance.
The bear and her cub just continued walking on the beach. All we could really do is follow. We still made noise and did the right thing, however this is such a busy route that the sight of humans probably doesn’t bother her so much any more.
After about a 50 minute negotiation, we decide that we can get around her at a safe distance by hopping on the rock slabs left behind by the low tide. We did this without any issue and carried on to camp.
At camp there were a lot of hikers ready to make the last hike of the trip tomorrow. There was one group of Canadians with an Aussie guy there too. A family with kids around 11 or 12 were camped next to me, a couple from the UK (Birmingham and Scotland) and then a group of 3 girls – 2 friends and one of their 14 year old daughters.
Camp was on the beach so it took a little longer to make the tent nice and secure (ever tried putting tent pegs into sand?). Once done, and the water had been filtered I joined the Canadian group with Flo and Sean. There was a big camp fire and was a perfect way really to spend the last night on the trail.
The Next Day
This was by far the easiest walk of the whole hike. It was pretty much just board walks all the way. This was so nice to end the trip on – I would much rather this than end on the terrain that we had on day 1. We would see the girls again, as well as the British couple before we reached the end. There the Canadian group were waiting for us.
I think it’s easy to forget the hard times (although I think I managed OK writing this up) and remember the good ones. There wasn’t copious amounts of smiling on my part for this trip but this picture captures the feeling at the time perfectly.
As does this one . . .