June 30, 2016
Victoria ⇒ Pachena Bay ⇒ Darling River (14 km)
We were up at 5:30 to shower, pack, eat breakfast, store our Victoria bags, and then rush out the door to catch the 6:45 West Coast Trail Express (right outside the Museum!). The 100 m walk with our packs felt heavy.
The bus ride seemed longer than the six hours it was. The roads are very windy so I took a few Gravols by the time we got to Gordon River (two hours in) just to survive. We moved up to the front of the bus too, which seemed to help when I could at least see the road. We napped a bit, and visited with a father/daughter duo (Don and Kayla from Calgary) to pass the time. The road was incredibly rough as we got closer to Pachena Bay on the north end of the trail and it was impossible to nap. I can’t imagine driving that road every day. At least the driver let us take breaks every couple of hours.
Orientation with the park wardens was at two, so we visited, snacked, and walked to the campground’s washrooms to pass the time. I thought the baby trees growing on the building were cute:
My bag was 40-something pounds and Dana’s was 60-something, much to everyone’s amazement.
The orientation was kind of dry, but we got our permits and waterproof maps, then loaded up and started the hike around three. It was a beautiful sunny day to start out, unlike our 2010 experience.
We stopped off at the Pachena lighthouse quickly with a trio from NWT/Banff (Nate, Heather, and Sara.) Walking with our packs off felt bizarre already.
Day 1 was a bit of a mental game for me. Although the north end is easier than the south end, it’s still got its challenges, and my brain kept asking me if I was up for the next seven days of hiking with a heavy pack on my back. Of course, we pushed through and it was very satisfying to get to Michigan Creek and cross the little stream (how different from the flooding raging river of 2010.)
We had the tent set-up pretty quickly and Dana headed off to filter us some water, and then we ravenously ate our freeze-dried meals. I had Santa Fe chicken and it was actually pretty tasty.
Dana wanted a campfire, but I was too tired to build one, so we wandered down the beach to enjoy the fire that the NWT/Banff trio had going. We got to know them, and the lone hiker Mark who was camping near them.
A few whales were spouting a ways off the beach which was exciting for us inland kids. We headed to bed as the sun was setting, and I fell asleep as my head hit the pillow. Unfortunately, a chorus of birds started singing at 2:30 AM right above our tent so sleep was on and off until 6:30.