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Michigan Creek to the Klanawa River: 10.5km

It has rained all night.

 

 

We eat a hurried breakfast, pack up, and are on our way by about 11:30am . The bulk of our gear is wet, and Mike tells me he has only one dry shirt left. Hypothermia is a concern, but itís not too cold if we keep moving... it should be all right as long as everyone can keep one emergency set of clothes dry.

 

We start out by doing our first beach walking of the trip. Itís low tide and out on the rock shelves we see the old rusted out boiler from the wreck of the Michigan that ran aground back in 1893.

 

 

 

 

Walking the beach.

Michigan's old boiler.

 

Walking the beginning of the cribs.

The cribs from above on the inland trail.

 

The rock shelves make for fast and easy, but slippery, walking. Beside me, Sean slips and does a face plant, the full weight of his pack grinding him into the rock. We all look on in horror. He didnít even manage to get his hands out to break the fall, so I in my mind I begin to imagine the sight of a horribly broken nose. Luckily though heís fine, so we haul him up and I secretly award him a 9.8 for the graceful form of his plunge. 

 

A very wet Mike and Eria check out a giant over-turned stump and a waterfall.

 Will the sun ever break through?

Boardwalks like this cover much of the inland portion of the trail.

At the crossing of the Darling River , we run into a couple of guys doing trail maintenance. With the cloud-laden skies, we are all looking to grasp any good news we can, so we ask them what the forecast is and if weather like this usually stays for long. Unfortunately, what we hear makes us think that weíre stuck with this for the whole trip.

 

We move on and find some other hikers who are trying to dry out with a fire, sheltered under a large cliff overhang that has been carved into the rock by the oceanís waves at high tide. They tell us about some unfortunate souls who had decided to set up camp last night in a nearby dry creek bed - yes, thatís right - and woke to find themselves and their gear floating towards the ocean in the middle of the night when the creek suddenly flooded! Itís kind of funny and maybe sort of gratifying to hear that there are others finding this rougher than we are.

We stop at the wreck of an old fishing vessel near Billy Goat Creek. While eating lunch and gazing skyward, we notice a small crack in the heavily overcast sky. To our utter amazement, within 20 minutes we get our first glimpse of the sun and our dampened, downtrodden emotions instantly skyrocket!

Now weíre in the mood to explore a little bit, so we climb up on the deck of the wreck and notice a log pole with a crude hoop, fashioned from an old buoy, strapped to the top of it. Unbelievably, further investigation of the wreck results in the discovery of a very weathered basketball, perhaps brought in by the trail patrol - so a game of 3 on 3 breaks out! Amazing!

 

 

 

 

Our basketball court on an old wreck.

 

The rough coast from the inland trail.

 I look over the maps and tide tables.

After soaking up some sun, we push on using the inland forest trail once again, but soon we have another problem. Mikeís knee starts acting up, probably from walking on the beach with all of its uneven footing. After a couple kilometers, it really doesnít look good. Weíre trying to hurry to make a tide crossing, but I donít want his condition to worsen. I get him to remove his pack, lightening his load by dividing up some his gear for the rest of the team to take.

 

We hurry onward, but find ourselves back at the beach with only 30 minutes before high tide. Itís not enough - we still have to do a couple kilometers before it comes in or weíll find ourselves trapped against the towering cliffs with no way to escape! I recheck the tide tables once more; there is a moment of panic as we realize there is no decent place to camp here either.

 

Then Marlin hits on a brilliant idea. He suggests we just break for a couple hours, relax, and then push our way across the beach as the tide goes back out; We should still make it to camp by dark! Itís funny that sometimes the simple solutions are so hard to find when the pressure is on. Thatís what teamwork is all about.

 

The break turns out to be just what everyone needs. We lay all our gear out to dry, wash up, and soak up some more sun! At the mouth of the creek, an absolutely huge anchor is washed up onto the rocks. I canít imagine the strength of the waves needed to push it there.

 

As the late afternoon fog rolls in, it creates an appropriately eerie setting as we continue on along the beach, passing by the site of the Valencia shipwreck from back in 1906. Most of the 126 that died on it did not perish from the actual crash: Many had been tied to the shipís masts so they wouldnít be tossed overboard by the storm, but eventually froze and then fell off, lifeless, like victims of an abandoned spiderís web.

 

 

 

 

 Can you see the large anchor in the rocks?

 

 More coast...

We arrive at our campsite at the mouth of the Klanawa River . About 50 meters from the ocean we find a beautiful place on the edge of the river, which is so calm in this spot it looks like a sheet of glass. We even have log benches fashioned from driftwood around a fire ring! I volunteer to attempt a fire with some driftwood even though it is still quite damp. Sean vigorously tries to convince me to use some fire-starter paste to get the fire going, but I stubbornly refuse as I feel my natural skill should easily be enough for the task. We continue bantering back and forth, unaware that a couple camping beside us is rolling on the sand crying from laughter.

 

Meanwhile in the background just upstream, our first adventure for tomorrow lies waiting for us - a cable car crossing of the Klanawa.

 

PS. I did get the fire going - my way!

 

 Travis does some reconnaissance.

 Camp, Day 2

 

 The cable car to cross the Klanawa awaits in the distance.

Which restaurant in Vietnam serves the rice pancake reported to 

Ďput lead in your pencilí? 

Find the answer to this plus many more intriguing questions in

Rice Crust from the Bottom of the Pot: A Journey Across South East Asia

Although in creating this site I have tried to make the information as accurate as possible, it is not meant to be a guide, and I accept no responsibility for any loss, injury, or inconvenience sustained by anyone using the information.

 

Backpacking the West Coast Trail

 © 2005 Parry Loeffler