Our first day consisted of getting to the parking lot, meeting our fabulous leaders – Tessa, Ryan, and Robyn, dividing into three groups, and repacking our backpacks to include group gear. We tried hard not to fall over backwards when we put them back on our backs, and then hiked down to Sombrio Beach, our starting point, and first night of camping out. It soon became clear that we had some smugglers in our ranks. Some resourceful young men had snuck a short-wave radio into the supplies so that we could keep up-to-date on the Canucks’ progress while we were away. It was decided that the radio could stay 🙂
Although we had two days of glorious sunshine, almost unheard of in springtime on the West Coast, the trail was very muddy in places. When we started out on our first full day of hiking, the students tried to avoid the mud for about an hour, but then gave up and began to gamely plow through the puddles. We met other hikers of all ages, shapes and sizes, as well as intrepid surfers who were braving the cold water to take advantage of some impressive waves. After arriving at Little Kuitshe Creek, the students, with assistance from the guides, constructed a cooking tripod large enough to hold three big pots in which to cook our dinner, using only materials found in the surrounding area and in our packs. A soft rain soothed us to sleep, but held off for most of the next day.
Our next destination was Payzant Creek, and we shared the campsite with another group of outdoor education students. We once again went to sleep to the pitter patter of drops.
The next morning the students made excellent time packing up and getting ready to hit the trail, perhaps because they knew a schoolbus and cellphone reception were waiting for them at the end of the trail. We stopped to search out a seal grotto, but found only a deep cave on the rocky shore that emitted a deep, throaty roar with every swell. We arrived at Botanical Beach a little damp and tired, but with a sense of satisfaction and appreciation for the comforts of home.
So we leave the Juan de Fuca trail with memories of eagles, river otters, seals and black bears, as well as s’mores and real hot chocolate.
We did it!