Day Six: Wondrous Wild

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Woke up at 0800h. Our contraption of a bear hang seemed to have been a success! A couple of mice pellets and grab marks through the rain cover, but sleeping back and Ziploc within Ziplocs of food were untouched. Perhaps it was just too much work to get to.

We took our time in the morning and took a couple of photos at the falls whilst the mist seemed to have dissipated. At 1000h we began our journey and last full day on this beautiful trail. We made our first water crossing switching our shoes and gaiters for sandals instead of taking the cable car.

On the beach, we encountered what seemed to be the remains of a beached whale. What brought it there, we do not know. But it’s smell gave it away that it’s likely been there since the trail had opened this year. Flies were eating away at its no longer flesh-like body, its pectoral fins decomposed and exposing bone. It’s small size makes me wonder if it was unnatural, some kind of human element involved – noise disturbances threw it off course, or climate change affected temperatures and sea level patterns.

It’s always interesting to see how people act around animals in the great outdoors. Even back home, you hear stories about increasing bear sightings in public areas and the city putting the animal down – more often than not, it is because of trash being left out attracting vermin or feeding the wildlife… out of precaution to protect human safety rather than the animal exhibiting aggressive behaviour, we take the animal’s life in its own home. Same was seen here, a hiker last night had mentioned making a trap device with a bucket filled with water and laced with peanut butter of which she found more than a dozen in their tragic demise. Makes one really wonder, is it because we’ve become so used to living in a world we created – cars, concrete buildings, and the large virtual world we call the internet – that we’ve come to think we’re more powerful than we really are? That we’ve forgotten about the other life forms that we share this wondrous world with, and just how much we can push earth’s limits before it backlashes on us?

It is an incredible feeling sitting here in my apartment reminiscing moments on the trail, when wildfires rage the interior of my home province just a couple miles away, hurricanes storm through the south of our continent and droughts are starving those across the world. It is a privilege, one that we do not recognize often enough. There’s no way being in the rugged outdoors won’t knock your socks off and leave you breathless. It reminds us of just how small we are in this great beautiful world. Even more so, how scarily resilient we as humans are – our curiosity, relentlessness, inventiveness and ingenuity. Perhaps these are the same characteristics that have led us into this deep trouble. When whale we learn?

Simple hiking etiquette that makes all the difference in the world: Pack-In, Pack-Out.  Every bit of brought in goes back out with you, leave nothing on the trails – please, keep the wild the way it is. 

As E.B. White once said: ” It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbour seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.”

No doubt, we’ve dug ourselves a mess of a situation, and if we don’t do something about it now… Climate change will not be kind. My hope is that the same resilience will be matched with intellect and compassion – respect for the land and waters our life depends upon. One can only hope. So “Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.” But let us not sit and wait for things to happen, because – let’s face it – it won’t.

What we need more of is to get off our screens, out into the wilderness and live its wonders. To let the world inspire us. Let it remind us of our place in the world, to learn to respect the rugged and love the wild. We need to talk more about policies to protect and reduce, but even more so, we need to take action. 

IMG_8733West Coast Trail: Home of some of the largest Sitka Spruces.
As trees age, their climate benefit grows – in fact, almost 70 percent of all carbon stored in trees is accumulated in the last half of their lives. We can talk all we want about renewable energy, but that is certainly not the only solution to climate change…. “We need to start protecting these ancient giants” – David Suzuki Foundation

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Last 3km on the beach: the… longest… 3 kilometres… of the entire journey to Darling River. Each step forward was half a step back in the soft sand. We set up camp, hung up our socks and gaiters to dry and boiled water for coconut curry noodles (keep on and curry on noodle recipe) .

Then, we pulled out the marshmallows and roasted them whilst watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean as the mist rolled out. Said a couple of words about our trip over the last glimmering embers – a perfect eulogy. 24,314 steps, 16.68km

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We really have to remember that it is a privilege to enjoy the world’s wonders like this. It should not be taken advantage of, because as resilient we think we are; our life is fragile. 

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