WCT Day 7
The section between Camber Bay and Thrasher Cove (where I was going) offers 2 options. You can hike the forest route (safe – but boring) or take the beach route (fun - but dangerous). The people I camped with the night before said they were taking the forest route. My body was still fresh so I decided to take the beach route.
I was now worried about crossing surge channels. After much reading and worrying, I ended up being able to walk around them (helpful info for others who will hike the trail). It makes the trail a bit longer but if I would have fallen into one of these channels, by myself, I wouldn’t have been able to get out and the tide would take me out to sea… and I wasn’t wearing a life jacket LOL.
Since I took the beach route, I got to go through the Owen Point Sea Caves. They are a major landmark of this trail and if you skip them, you were missing out on a lot.
A few days earlier a lady had fallen near the sea caves and broke her arm (compound fracture). The rocks along the ocean get slimy and that makes them very slippery… especially dangerous because you are off-balance from a heavy pack. After this lady broke her arm, she got rescued by zodiac along with her husband. I was told that once the lady and her husband got to the hospital, the husband left her to join the trail again... like a true hiker, he HAD to finish the trail. A hiker who was traveling with this group had told me about it earlier in the trail… he, along with many others, advised me not to take the beach route... but I’m glad I didn’t listen :)
I checked out the caves and they were beautiful (watch my video below). In the video, you’ll notice one hiker almost fell. If he would have fallen on his arm, with a heavy pack, he could of broken his arm as well. He did a great save though and got his balance back – watch the video and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It doesn’t look like much when watching on your computer, but when you’re there, in the wild, the dangers feel real.
I continued along the beach and the boulders kept getting bigger and bigger... eventually to the size of houses! I had to climb around and over them.. very fun but difficult. I eventually dragged my sorry ass to Thrasher Cove to set up camp.
When you camp on the WCT, generally speaking all the campsites are on the beach along the ocean. Since the beach runs North to South, we are usually camped in a line. I was the 2nd campsite from the north end of Thrasher Cove. It was slim pickings for finding a spot so I hung my hammock above some driftwood.
The Bear Encounter
I was speaking with some friends (group of women) and they mentioned they were going for a walk along the shore on the north end. They took off for the walk and about 10-15 minutes later I saw them walk back. A few minutes after they returned, I saw a bear coming from the same spot as them. It had followed them and they didn’t notice.
It was walking towards the campsites now and my hammock was 1 campsite over from the campsite the bear would be at.
I was on the south end talking to some people when I first saw this bear, which meant I had to quickly cross the 50 m beach to at least protect my campsite. I was hoping all the other hikers would walk towards the bear too so we could stay united and confront it as a group. Use our numbers. I was disappointed when everyone else just watched and took pictures from their campsite as the bear closed in on the site furthest North (with my hammock beside it).
Once I started getting close to it, I started yelling, using my air horn, whistle.. anything but no noise would work. This bear did not give a fuck.
By the time I got to the campsite furthest North, there was one lone guy, protecting his campsite with his friends watching from 15 feet away. This guy had BALLS. He was throwing massive rocks near this bear to scare it (he never actually hit the bear, I wasn't sure if he was trying to or not). He didn't have bear spray either! As I was running up, I was watching this rock-throwing guy, and I thought he was a goner for sure. I finally got beside him and took the safety off my bear spray in anticipation of what I thought was going to be a bear attack.
It sounds crazy that he was throwing rocks or I was running towards the bear, but the reality was noise didn't work and we were down to force. The bear was clearly hungry and he knew hikers = food. It had done this before. After a few minutes, it got the idea and retreated to the tree line. This made me a bit nervous since I was going to sleep beside the tree line LOL.
Nonetheless, it was night time soon and I had to catch some Zs. Bear or no bear. No point in losing sleep. If something was going to happen, I’d have to deal with it when it did. I’ve slept many nights in the backcountry and I’ve heard very large things walking near my campsite – you need to block it out and go to sleep, otherwise you would never get any sleep.