This trip marked my first venture into a different kind of backpacking, ultralight. Though I'm not there yet, I cut a lot of weight from my bag and was walking with a bag that weighed only 21lbs, this includes water and two beverages of the adult variety. My camping partners on the other hand seemed to follow a different philosophy, I don't know if there is a title for it but I'll call it maxi camping. This essentially refers to what they pack: 1/2 dozen fresh eggs, glass bottle of olive oil, fresh potatoes, onions, cauliflower, catotts and a 6 pack of coca cola! In fact the lightest member of the group carried more than fifty percent of her own body weight. As one might imagine their gate was considerably impeded.
|My set up, that bag holds about 38 litres in its current configuration and my tent is simply a tarp and my walking trekking poles. |
|some of the large bags|
We walked for about 2.5 hours. The tides were flooding so we took the headland trails at every point. We had hoped to cross the river by taking off our boots, this was hopefully going to cut off a hour of walking. Unfortunately the water in the river put the depth at about 3' at it's shallowest sections. We took the high tide route up the river. I have to say, it was a pleasant experience, as compared to the giant puddle that subsumed the trail in March. There are many giant cedars and sitka spruces as well as several examples of culturally modified trees trees (CMT). In addition to these wonders Flores Island offers up a feast of it natural beauty, including delicious bights of salmon berry and huckleberry.
|Best shot of the weekend, you can see depth in those trees!|
Thanks to Travis we were able to find the recently cleared tail section of the the Trail of Tears, from the bridge to the next beach, only about 500 meters. This route likely shaved 45 minutes off the hike, though it did bypass Don Macdonald's Cabin (The Emergency Shelter. We arrived on this beach, the final beach before Cow Bay around 7:45 PM. By this time the man with the heaviest backpack was sweating profusely. It was a warm day, in the low 20's, the sweat was telling of the labour involved with moving his gigantic bag the nine kilometers. We discussed a plan and decided that we would carry on to Cow Bay, likely another 35 minutes of hiking.
|This section of the trail was A-typical for the headlands, Which are mostly dry and on old boardwalk|
We only made it another five minutes down the beach before the two hikers with the heaviest bags expressed concern over the dwindling light and the desire to have camp organized and possibly have a fire lit by the time the sun set. The lady friend in the group had a minor crisis when one of her drinks burst in the top of her bag and filtered down through all of her clothing and down sleeping bag. She was hoping to have a little time to air her gear in the late evening sun. We caucused and came to a consensus quickly. We camped! The location had a beautiful view, not quite full west but good non the less and somewhat sheltered from the winds. The only drawback to this location, no bear cash and no water source.
The first night got a little raucous. We stayed up late into the evening, by midnight I was ready for bed but my comrades were still going strong and discussion began about going for a night swim with the bioluminescence. I was contemplating bed as the other three headed into surf just after midnight. Upon their return to the fire I was serenaded to sleep by the sweet sweet sounds of the three singing at the campfire. Or as best they could manage, I don't think that between the three of them they could remember the lyrics to even one song. By three in the morning all the campers were snug in their tents.
The next day we packed up and hiked toward Cow Bay. As expected the trip was only about 30 minutes. For a little bit of a surreal experience as we hit the beach we passed by Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo, Anna & Kristina
and one of the Bare Naked Ladies. We selected a campsite on the beach and collected the small amount of wood available on the beach and then wandered off down the beach, taking advantage of low tide. We walked a good four kilometers down the beach, passing multiple headlands. Michael and I discussed the possibility of doing the entirety of Flores Island Provincial Park. The trail does not extend the length of the Island but I think it would be possible to hike most of the coast at low tide, likely with some bush waking to make it over the headlands that may otherwise be impassible.
We arrived back at camp with many hours left in the day. The sun was high and the temperature in the mid to high twenties, perfect temperature for swimming! We hit the water... some may remember my rave reviews of the waters at Tapaltos Bay
, this water was not the same! The water was cold. Terribly cold. By the time I walked into the water up to my waist the skin of my shins was singing out in pain. Not all the areas of the bay were this cold but the main portion of the beach is fully exposed to the Pacific Ocean, bringing with it all its frigidity!
We built a fire and sat close enjoying its warmth and the coziness that comes with shared experiences, until late into the evening. When I retired for the day I was content with the day's adventure, I was left wanting nothing but the comfort of my sleeping bag.
Morning brought pure sunshine. Because I don't use a watch it was difficult to know if it was still early morning or if I had overslept. So I emerged from the cocoon of my sleeping bag and set about packing up my equipment, today we were going home.
Though the tide was high on our return trip, it was a very low high tide, this afforded us the ability to use a few of the beach routes, as opposed to the forest trails that provide the headland crossings. We did more exploring, revisiting Don MacDonald's cabin (the emergency cabin) were I stopped in to see if I could find a water bag that I lost on my first trip to the island. Though I could not find my water bag, I am happy to report that the cabin continues to be in good repair and the last occupants left it in good condition. We closed the door to the cabin and meandered our way along the trail toward the river.
|one of the beautiful headland crossings|
To ford the river barring our way home we removed our boots and waded through, the water almost to my groin. Although, one member of the party is vertically challenged and needed piggyback assistance, the crossing was made easily and before long we continued on our way. We ventured round a few of the rocky points, which required some finesse to maneuver the tiny ledges of large rocks. Regardless, we all made it to our destination easily.
The sun continued to shine throughout the day and we made the 11km back to Ahousaht in only 3 hours, including snacks and rest time. As we walked onto the dock we were greeted by a different captain who offered us immediate passage to Tofino. We took him up on his offer.
All in all the trip was a resounding success and reaffirmed my love for the small island hikes in British Columbia.
|old baldy up in the limbs|
|we are not alone, mouse tracks|