My alarm went off at 4 AM and I quickly made egg sandwiches for the road and woke the kids up at 430 AM to jump in the car and head to the ferry. We were off and running at 445 AM and on the 6 AM ferry. I had a reservation but it wasn’t necessary. I hate that when you don’t need the reservation but the alternative is much worse so it was worth it for my state of mind.
The ferry ride was spectacular. The sun was shining and the forecast for the week was outstanding…nothing but sunshine. That’s saying something for the west side of Vancouver Island.
We off-loaded the ferry at 735 AM and headed straight for the trail which is a 1.5 hour drive. When we got to the trail at 930 AM it was overcast and only 14 C with a cool feeling coming off the ocean. We always lay the stuff out one last time to make sure we have everything.
By this time I’d asked the kids about 8 times how they were feeling about doing this hike after hiking the West Coast Trail the week before. They said they felt great. That was a green light for me although I asked them several more times.
I posted some signs in the car that said there were no valuables in the car. The kids thought this might attract someone but it was actually true. I completely stripped it down to nothing. There wasn’t a quarter to be found. Fortunately, our car was safe the whole time.
We got started at about 10 AM after loading our packs, getting our boots on, paying and talking to some volunteers. The camping cost ($10/night adult + $5/night kids) so $100 for the five nights which is a pretty great deal in my opinion. Sure, the only amenities were pit toilets but every one of them was stocked with toilet paper which is a bonus in the backcountry.
We arrived at Mystic Creek (km 2) in no time and walked along the beach to find the next entry point to the trail. We missed the entry and walked a little further where people had made some pretty cool rock towers. We realized we screwed up and turned around to find the trail about 400 m past where we walked. Oh well, it was a good detour.
We had lunch and filled up our water bladders at Pat Philip Creek. We then discovered that my daughter had already lost her gaiters.
She tied them on to her backpack but apparently they were not secured. We told several people we met on their way out that the gaiters might be on the trail and asked them to hang them up someplace obvious. We never saw them again. They were only $18 and a birthday present but she used them on the WCT trail so not all was lost.
I packed some mint Cliff bars and they didn’t score highly from anyone. This is definitely not our flavour but they were not too bad all things considered.
When we got to Bear Beach we were very happy. The sites were all tucked in the trees right on the beach shore so that you were sort of protected a bit from the wind but you had the ocean view.
We picked the site with the awesome rope swing which offered hours of fun for them. There were 3 different camping areas at Bear Beach and we stayed at the middle one. There were no other people and we had a very private spots and the kids commented that it was one of their favourite camping spots of all time. That’s saying something because we have camped a lot.
The small pebbles on the beach were very comfortable to lay on when the kids played on the rope swing.
We set up the tent for the first time in the outdoors and it sprung right up and we are very happy with the tent. It has just enough space for 3 of us. My daughter did not like sleeping 3 across so she wanted to sleep at out feet. This worked okay because none of us are very tall. I think I still kicked her in the head a few times sleeping but it didn’t change her mind.
That night we were exhausted. We were in the tent a 730 PM and I think I was asleep within about 10 minutes. We slept for 12 hours! The kid’s Canadian Tire sleeping bags really suck! I so want to go and blow $400 on bags but it isn’t in the budget so we will have to make due with layers and toques if necessary.
This first 10 km of hiking was considered moderate for the trail. There was some mud, roots and a lot of bridges of all sorts over creeks. I learned quickly that the kids are a year older and I can barely keep up to them and I am a fast hiker I think; at least when I compare myself to other adults.
You will notice that all pictures are from their backsides because I was following and just trying to keep up for the entire trip!
What a great start to our vacation!