Kilometers 0 to 2
Waking early to catch the 8:00 am ferry to Swartz Bay from Tsawwassen, I arrive excited, overladen, and anxious to hide my nervousness as I met the old friend who had agreed to drive me to the trail. After spending the morning meandering around Victoria we cruised along the long winding road towards China Beach, the southern terminus of the trail, and my starting point. In the drizzling rain we explored along the beach, skipping stones and chatting casually as childhood friends do.
Since these were the first days of May, I had decided to spend five nights – one at each of the campsites – to drag the 47 km hike into a 6 day adventure in order to catch the first shuttle of the new year back to Victoria. Therefore, with only a 2 km hike to Mystic Beach we lounged sheltered under a cedar watching the incoming tide sharing an afternoon snack before I waved good-bye and set off alone.
The easy 2 km, mostly downhill, section finishing in a series of steep stairs – some nothing more than logs with chicken wire nailed to the tops – ended at a smoothly pebbled beach complete with waterfall and rope swings. Being the weekend there were already a few groups of weekend campers laughter around fires as I set up and suddenly became acutely aware that I was going to spend the next week alone in bear country.
Light but steady rain led to an early and restless night. I lay there wishing sleep would come frozen in place as I listened to what I feared (irrationally) was a bear deciding if I’d make a tasty meal or not for what felt like hours. Luckily, I was able to laugh at myself in the morning as I discovered they were just otters running back and forth from their den to the ocean.