Kilometers 40 – 47 (+ the road walk to Port Renfrew)
The forest canopy blocked the few weak rays of light that peaked through the overcast morning, with no chance of drying my tent I shook off the condensation and got ready to rejoin the world. My anxieties that had been soothed by the trail resurfaced, plaguing me with ‘what ifs’ and instilling a need to rush. Reminding myself that I didn’t have to be in Port Renfrew until 5:00 pm I forced myself to stop, taking in the calming sounds of the forest before shouldering my pack and setting off.
I covered the trail easily thanks to the board walk that paved the most of the 7 km way to Botanical Beach. A black bear exploring the tide pools on the beach below the trail was my only brief company, I talked to him, letting him know I was there before leaving him to his meal.
Botanical beach was beautiful – everything everyone claimed it would be – huge protected coves of tide pools, their low tides allowing you to walk far onto the ocean floor. The sun came out and the wind picked up, driving away some of the day visitors and giving me free reign of the beach. I spent almost two hours crouched over the little pools, their clear waters turning them into windows showcasing the foreign world below. Little crabs and fishes darted between muscles growing along the walls, dodging hungry sea anemone tentacles and probing sea urchin quills.
By 3:00pm I was in the parking lot, throwing out garbage and getting organized before the walk/hitch hike to Port Renfrew. The few cars that did drive past me ignored my thrown-out thumb, which was fine – it was a nice day and only a couple kilometers – besides I still had a couple hours to kill before the shuttle back to Victoria. I arrived in Port Renfrew looking exactly like you would expect someone to look after 5 nights in the woods, luckily, the pub staff and patrons didn’t seem too mind and chatted with me – even bought me a couple beers – as I killed time. I was offered multiple free rides back to Victoria – sometimes you forget people are generally good – however I’d already booked and paid for the shuttle and had planned my day around that so I figured I should stick with it. I was the only person on the shuttle – making me feel silly for pre-booking – and we got to Victoria only a little behind schedule. A friend had agreed to pick me up and drive me to the ferry, I made it with just seconds to spare, tossing my pack at my friend and running to make sure I could get a ticket. On board my adventure seemed to finally hit me, and I sat in the cafeteria reflecting on everything I’d learned as I gorged on White Spot hamburgers.
Of course, there were moments I was scared, but I am confident in saying that if I hadn’t pushed myself and done a busier overnight hike I wouldn’t be as confident a solo backpacker as I am today. And sure, its not a long trail or a difficult trail but it started my journey and obsession with thru-hiking, and for that it will always be special.