D Minus One (1 day before I start the trail)
I took a taxi from the motel at about 4:30 am and caught the WCT bus out front of the Royal BC Museum. This bus would stop at the south trailhead (Port Renfrew) then head to the north trailhead which is located near the town of Bamfield. The drive was roughly 8 hours along a windy, bumpy road. I kept my eyes glued to the window hoping to see a black bear. Vancouver Island doesn’t have any grizzlies, but one of the highest density black bear populations in Canada. It was sad to see large sections of the forest were clear-cut for logging.
As the bus arrived at the trailhead, it seemed like a scene from ‘Enemy at the Gates’. Where Vasily Zaytsev arrives at Stalingrad and when departing from the train, he looks around and there’s a bunch of wounded soldiers trying to escape. For me, I saw bandaged up hikers limping to the bus to get back to civilization. It was easy to identify who was about to start the trail and who had just finished. I couldn’t help but wonder, will I look like this when I finish the trail? I’m doing this trail solo… so I have more reason to be worried than others. I had been mentally preparing myself for months. Even if I twisted a knee or sprained an ankle, I had visualized myself finishing the trail and I didn’t care if I had to crawl out. I didn’t travel across Canada and to the Pacific for the first time not to finish this trail.
I grabbed my backpack from the bus and went to check-in and have my orientation at the front office. They warn you on bears, cougars, tsunamis and other dangers. I overheard a group of guys who had just finished the trail and were talking to the park ranger about a bear near Thrasher Cove campsite. The bear was trying to get into people’s packs/tents and causing anxiety amongst hikers. I thought, would I come face to face with this bear? How will I react? How should I react? Being a solo hiker is a whole ‘nother ball field.
After my orientation/check-in, I walked to Pachena Bay Campground which is for car camping. I camped there for the night so I could get an early start to the trail the next day. All the campsites are along the tree line with the Pacific Ocean just a few feet away. I hung my trusty Hennessy Hammock. I had prepared in advance special webbing to go around the big BC trees I had read about. Once that was done, I poured myself a drink of vodka, mio juice and water then headed to the beach to smoke a cigar and relax. I was finally at the Pacific, near the backcountry and about to start my hike. I was mentally and physically prepared.
I was excited.