Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Sum of All Things

I'm baaaa-ack! Sorry about the two week hiatus...hope nobody threw themselves out a window or such in their overwhelming despair.

Last time I was yakking about my impending WCT trip, which was...memorable, to say the least. It started out as one might expect - with vomit. Because it was early and I was dehydrated and it's a long and curvy road from Victoria to Port Renfrew and dammit, maybe I just felt like throwing up on Langford. Oops, pardon me, that's the "West Shore" now. Man, I go away for a few years, and everyone develops illusion of grandeur. Next I'll come home and Victoria will have renamed itself Rosehip Villa Estates, Esq., or some yuppie shit like that.

Anyway - got up to the Gordon River trailhead and waited for the bus to Pachena. I don't remember what happened on the bus (I was asleep, thankfully) although I do remember that a father and son from Calgary were there, and the son had had a morning similar to mine, which made me want to give him an encouraging hug, except it probably make him throw up on me. And then I would throw up on him. And then we'd both be walking home.

So we get to the trailhead, we sign in, we get our permits and sit for the 90-minute orientation wherein a park employee tells you all the different ways you're going to die. Falling off a cliff! Crushed in a surge channel! Drowned in a river crossing! Swept out to sea! Wolf, cougar and/or bear attack! Tsunamiiiiiii!!!!

And then we left. 3pm, with about 6 hours of hiking to get to the first campsite. Now, those of you familiar with the trail might be thinking, "But you're starting at the easiest end! It's just a long, dry, flat 12km stretch to Michigan Beach!" BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG.

See, there was so much rain (did I mention the WCT is situated in a coastal rainforest?) that about 3km of the nice long dry flat stretch was impassable. So they built ladders. A MILLION OF THEM. Okay, more like a dozen. But we didn't find this out until right before we left, thereby blowing our whole "We'll do the tough end with all the ladders last, when our packs are lighter!" strategy. But we made it up the first three ladders - all 80-odd rungs of them. And then it was level for a bit, and then what goes up must come down - 60ft. Anyway, Papa Smurf went first, and about 2/3 of the way down we hear a yelp and look over the edge to see him hanging by his foot. WHOA.

But he manages to get his pack off and get down the rest of the ladder, and is all, "I'm fine, I'm fine!" So we keep going, BECAUSE WE ARE IDIOTS.

We make our way through about 9km of mudholes (and this is the part where I unabashedly plug The Expedition Shoppe in Ottawa where I bought a $300 pair of boots for half-price and let me just say that they were the most expensive shoes I've ever bought and it hurt at the time but they were worth EVERY SINGLE FREAKING PENNY because I went shin deep in mud and my socks were still dry when we got to the campsite, BOO-YAH) at a fairly slow rate, but we eventually get to the beach. We set up camp, ate dinner, cleaned up, and slept the sleep of the damned.

And the next morning, DD and I are up and fiddling about with breakfast and such, when I notice a figure hobbling its way towards our site with a pronounced limp. Hobble hobble hobble, until I finally notice that it is none other than - my father. Yes, Papa Smurf is not, in fact, fine. Papa Smurf cannot, in fact, go any faster than a slow hobble. So he and DD rig up what is possibly the awesomest crutch ever out of two old downhill poles (also worth their weight in gold), duct tape, twine, driftwood and a fleece blanket. And DD and I take what we can from his pack, and we go to make our way to the Pachena Lighthouse, about 2km back from where we are.

About halfway there, DD heads off to let the lighthouse know we're coming, drops off the world's heaviest pack which he has been carrying, and heads back to meet us. Shortly after, the lighthouse-keeper appears on the trail and examines Papa Smurf's grotesquely swollen ankle. He accompanies us back to the lighthouse, stopping only when the helicopter carrying buckets of cement (much-needed construction on the lighthouse site) passes overhead - safety first!

So we're there, and it's beautiful and sunny, and we wait while the keep contacts the wardens to send the boat for my dad, so that us two can get back on with the 10km of hiking we have left. Then, bad news - the rangers don't think they can get the boat to us that day. We're offered a spot on the lawn to camp. DD and I are mulling over heading back tonight and camping at Pachena, or waiting until tomorrow, when the keep hits on another solution - the helicopter might be able to take an extra passenger. He goes to check with the pilot, and Dan and I rearrange the backpacks - hell, if Dad's getting flown out then HE can take the world's heaviest pack.

And just as we're doing that, the keep comes back, shouting "Everyone who doesn't want to walk back, come get a ride!"

And the next thing I knew, I was getting belted into a Fisheries and Oceans 4-seater helicopter.

I'd been on one once before - when I was two. It was so AWESOME. Kinda scary, though, 'cause choppers are a pretty bumpy ride, and also my seatbelt was really loose ("That's as tight as it goes, huh? Don't worry, Glen's a good pilot," said the lighthouse-keeper) and also? The pilot HAD NO DOOR. As in, my door was closed, and DD's, and Papa Smurf's, but the pilot's had been completely removed for maneuverability reasons. So we're taking off and I'm all, oh, he hasn't closed his door yet. Oh, we're lifting off, um, shouldn't he have his door closed? Wait a minute, shouldn't he HAVE A DOOR?

But all is well, and we get to Bamfield quickly - 6 hours to get in, 5 minutes to get out. And we stayed at this fun little fishing resort called the Seabeam where middle-aged men fed us fresh-cooked oysters and prawns and we shared our falafel, which was surprisingly well-received. And then we took the bus back to Gordor River, and then we drove down to Victoria, and then we aired out all the gear that we had packed three days earlier.

I imagine there's a lesson in there somewhere, but I'm a little jet-lagged to figure it out. Unless it has to do with how hurting yourself brings awesome consequences...maybe I'll test that one again sometime.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Wuss Coast Trail

So, as of today, I think that I've spent more days preparing for this hike than I'm going to spend actually doing the hike. C'est la vie. Or, c'est la vie d'une personne anal-retentif. It might shock some of yous out there to know that despite my absent-minded, disorganized appearance, I'm actually a list-making, -checking, and -doublechecking FREAK. A super-freak, you might even say. The kind you don't take home to mother (I'm Rick James, BITCH!).

Anyway, if you broke it all down Mastercard-style, it would look like this:

Reservation fee: $25
Trail Use Permit: $90
Ferry fees: $28
Fancy organic dehydrated food made by hippies: $50
Regular, non-hippy food: $100
Seven different trips to MEC (pronounced "meck" in Ontario and "M-E-C" in BC) - easily the GDP of a small breakaway Soviet republic
Amount spent at 20-odd other stores located around the three different MEC locations visited, which we went to but wound up going back to MEC anyway, because of a)better selection; b)better prices; and c)we are powerless before the almighty MEC and its irresistible appeal to stylish outdoorsy people, or people who want to be stylish and outdoorsy: $47.12
Completing the WCT without being eaten by a wild creature, or getting into a deathmatch with Hans and Olga over the last remaining campsite (during which we will surely be bested by their incomperable efficiency) or being abandoned in a flood plain by travelling companions who are tired of participating in the eternal debate of "Last Woman Standing: Buffy the Vampire Slayer vs. Xena: WarriorPrincess", and how that depends on Xena's weapons and which season of Buffy you're talking, 'cause like, season one Buffy would get her ass KICKED: priceless. Unlikely, but priceless.

I'll prolly be on the trail next Tuesday, so if I don't post on time, don't break out the sack cloths and ashes quite yet - give me until Wednesday at least.

Monday, July 04, 2005

West Side, Bee-yotches!

Hey all,

I am in BC now. Specifically, Westbridge. If you have a spare few minutes, try looking it up on a map. Ooooweee that's good times. My internet access is slim to none, so I can't really prepare another spectacularicious entry, so, instead, why don't we all pretend that I wrote this?

Later skaters,
Travellin' Floyd