Day 1, July 30th, Thursday:
Port Refrew to Thrasher Cove, 6 km in 7.5 hours
Map of Day1 (click to enlarge)
Everyone is up early to welcome the bright sunshine. The clouds and fog circling over the hills on
the other side of the Gordon River were ignored. We packed and were off to the End of the Line
for a breakfast of French toast and Eggs Bennedict. Our private dinning room was saved for us
from the previous evening and is already prepared. Elaine proceeded to test groups crisis
management skills by losing her wallet. She had gotten the group all wound up and was off to
wake up the local constabulary when, driving back to the campsite to search the bathrooms for
her wallet, a forgotten bag fell forward and hit her on the back of her head. It contained the lost
wallet. This was to be only one of the lucky breaks the group would get on our trip. Bill, Chris
and Warren take all the packs to the ferry, which will take us across the Gordon River. Bill stays
to guard the gear while Warren and Chris drop off the vehicles and get everyone else. Pack
weights from the weigh-in the previous evening, Bill - 68 lbs, Rick - 68 lbs, Chris - 55 lbs,
Warren - 56 lbs, Elaine - 50 lbs, Joan - ? lbs, Sandy - 48 lbs, Dana - 45 lbs, Jeff - ? lbs and
Sheryl - ? lbs.
This was our first encounter with Linda and Marilyn. They were from Olympia Washington, and
henceforth were known as the Olympians. They were registering that morning and hoping to get
on the trail just after us, on the next ferry over.
Just before the ferry crossing, Dana and Sheryl decided to make a last minute visit to the last
flush toilet they would see for a week. The locals graciously allowed them to inspect the local
bachelor pad toilet facilities; Dana and Sheryl and are scared straight. They are jokingly
threatened with a baseball bat to clean the premises before they leave. There was some
Craig and Kristy. We had expected them to be on the ferry with us, but they were nowhere to
be seen. We heard a rumor that they were actually hiking the trail in the opposite direction and
were on the water taxi going north to Banfield.
About to cross the Gordon River, all 10 of us.
The ferry (with very pleasant captain and crew) took us across to the trail head at about 9:30am.
Spirits are high and optimism prevelant as we headed off. The trail is steep and seems to climb
up and up, over, around and under mud, roots, trees, slugs, and streams. This section of the trail
is said to be the most difficult with no straight or level sections.
Narrow, slippery, twisty.
Our first log bridge: Chris shows off his flexibility.
Elaine and Sandy under a large uprooted tree.
We remain in high spirits because we feel we are doing well. Three and a half hours later, we still
havent seen the donkey engine. It marks the halfway point, and by now we should be
approaching the ladders to go down to Thrasher Cove. We continue to pick our way gingerly
along and hope that we have somehow missed the donkey engine. The group is somewhat
demoralized when 4 and a half hours into the day we finally encounter the donkey engine at 2pm.
We stop for lunch and re-focus.
The donkey engine is behind us. Everyone except Warren in the photo.
No ocean views but the terrain is amazingly rugged. There hasnt been any real rain for a few
days but mud is still prevalent. The Olympians catch up with us as do Craig and Christy. At this
point, we talked to Craig and Kristy and discovered that they had been abandoned at their hotel.
No-one had picked them up.
The donkey engine is a large piece of equipment and makes one wonder at the efforts required
to move it to this location on the trail. The 2-inch diameter wire rope is still evident, as is the
telegraph line. The engine was used to haul logs down to the water. It is built on a huge set of
log-runners and got to its present location on the hill by dragging itself up the hill. Must have been
quite a sight.
We returned to the trail after a short lunch and a much needed rest. Warren provided a loose
definition of a turtle and attached it to two slips, one by Chris and one by Bill. As the
wound down Bill disappeared over the horizon and wasnt seen again for the rest of the day.
Group spirits were somewhat dampened and any attempts at a round of Row, Row, Row Your
Boat are dashed. We finally arrived at the ladders leading 500ft. down to Thrasher Cove late in
the afternoon, sometime around 5pm. The group collapsed at the bottom of the ladders after 7
hours and 30 minutes of hiking (including breaks). Our attempt to double the average time it
takes to hike this section had been successful.
The males began to setup camp, pump water, gather drift wood for a fire, etc.
Meanwhile, a mass girlie-wash was organized and executed in the nearby stream. (Oh, the pink
haze of estrogen.)
The campsite was beautiful.
We ended up looking across Port San Juan towards Port Renfrew on the other side of the bay.
Our tents were set on sand amongst the drift wood logs. Supper was Joans Tandori beef. This
was to be the first meal at which everyone ate like pigs and eventually led to the average weight
gain of two pounds per person. A grey whale was observed 100ft. off the shore and a bald eagle
flew over the camp. Rick had hiked the whole day drinking tequila instead of water; he highly
recommends it although youll have to supply your own tequila. (If its causing a problem,
it is the problem) The rest of group considered an intervention. Elaine was in seventh heaven after
the days hike. Chris thought it was a challenge. Everyones spirits rose as we got cleaned
fed. Rick scaled to great heights to secure a bear tree (there was a set of nails in the tree which
made it resemble a ladder). Warren had to have a go too. This was our first encounter with the
modern solar composting outhouses. All were suitably impressed with the facilities. Bill was the
only male to wash while others revelled in the smell of labor and the outdoors (Joan wouldnt let
Bill into the tent otherwise). Joan lectured Bill on trail etiquette and on how abandoning ones
friends in the middle of the forest is frowned upon.
Rick confirmed that all his eggs were still intact, but we questioned whether his brain was
scrambled for bringing two dozen fresh eggs. This boded well for the mornings breakfast. It was
also good for Rick, who was looking forward to getting some weight out of his pack. The battle
for lighter packs meant that it was a continual contest as to whose meal would be eaten next.
We met and talked with a group of Brits, easily recognizable in this environment. The group of
youths had two leaders and were off on a multi event trip, including hiking the Chilkoot trail.
Elaine contemplated abandoning us for them.
Joan provided foot massages for any and all.
Sitting around the campfire, summarizing the day.
Onto the next day
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