Thursday, July 9, 2009

Juan de Fuca Trail Day Four 12 June 2009

Woke up about 5:00 am, after a night of short sleeps, broken by waking up to roll over or pull more sleeping bag over me. So I had a quick breakfast of a Rebar© and Advil© washed down with the last of my water.

I was on the trail by 6:00 am, heading for Botanical Beach and Port Renfrew. The trail was good; few climbs, and lots of elevated boardwalks to keep feet out of easily-damaged areas. The last 7 km was a lot closer to an exhausted march than I would have liked. Interrupted sleep means I wasn't bouncing back as well as I had hoped. My legs were tired but willing, but my feet wasted no time in hurting. I had moleskin on all my blisters and hot spots, but my feet just hurt. It was the old brain that was the most tired, though. I was moving along at my pretty-standard kilometre every 25 minutes or so, but it was taking a lot more concentration to remember to do things like lift my feet all the way over an obstruction. Even so, I was off the trail at the Botanical Beach trail head at 9:00 am.

From the trail head, it was about another three kilometres into Port Renfrew along the paved road. I found the hotel where I was to catch the bus back to Victoria the next day. When I called to see if there was space on the Friday bus, I found out that daily service didn't start until the following Monday, so I was stuck in Renfrew for the night.

Main Street, Port Renfrew 2009

But first things first. Port Renfrew is only about 150 families in size, and mostly strung out over a couple of kilometres long strip, with not a whole lot of width to the town. So it wasn't hard to find anyplace, and I quickly found the Coastal Kitchen Café. The only real restaurant in town, its open early and serves big portions. I ended up eating there twice, breakfast both Friday and Saturday mornings. My Friday celebratory breakfast tasted great; a big load of French toast and my first cup of coffee in a month. The restaurant uses thrift-store mugs, and sitting amongst the ones to chose from was my mug. A large (two-cup) ceramic blue-and-white spackleware mug, I bought this mug back about the time the kids were first born. It was the mug I used for years on the farm—I even made a spruce cap for it so I wouldn't get sawdust in it while I was working in the shop. I think it eventually broke, but here it was, sitting on a tray in a café in Pt. Renfrew. The owner actually offered to give it to me, but after so many years, I figured it was time for someone else to own it. But is was nice to see it again.

After breakfast, I ended up walking through town and found a place that actually caters to hikers—a laundromat and (more importantly) a coin-operated shower! The general store sold me a single razor and five bucks later I felt (and looked) more civilized than I had in days.

Friday morning in Port Renfrew, 2009

I ended up getting a hotel room for the night—ever been in a place where you weren't even tempted to take the travel shampoo? Well, that was the West Coast Trail Motel. Rooms weren't bad, but I had to clean the filthy coffee maker before it could be used, and the shampoo was in little tear-open pouches. The minute your hands are wet, you can't possibly open them, so you use your teeth with the risk of having shampoo breath afterwards. And seriously, who puts two copies of the same art print in a room? You can't get two different prints for the same price? From a customer service point of view, shouldn't you tell guests that “the satellite is down and there's only one channel” at check-in? Honestly, the room was way over-priced. However, the bed was nice.

Saturday was spent drinking tea and reading second-hand novels from the rec centre—run by an amazing woman. Breakfast was again at the Coastal Kitchen Café—the “fisherman's breakfast.” This was three eggs (not local, not fresh, not free-range), “the best sausage on the Island”(not local, not fresh, almost cold, and certainly not “the Island's best”), hash-browns (very hot potato-based food-like substance), toast (thick slices, but of a mediocre bread) and the whole works cost me $8. Man, sure let me know what I have been taking for granted.

Ocean spray, Pt. Renfrew 2009

The West Coast Trail Express bus picked us (myself and the other three hikers) at one end of Pt. Renfrew and then drove through town, picking up a dozen or more people fresh off the West Coast Trail and hauled us all back to Victoria. The bus had a sign up saying “for your comfort, this vehicle is equipped with air-ride suspension.” I figure that means that for most of the ride, you're suspended in the air. But the Express is a great service, running hikers and gear from Victoria to pretty much any point along the West Coast between Sooke and the north end of the West Coast Trail. It is exactly the right scale for the job, and serves the community well.

Eventually, I made it back to Victoria, and bused home on the municipal service. Happy to have been gone, happy to have successfully hiked the JdF, and happy to be back home.

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