This was my favourite day. After doing my morning rituals I walked 3km down the beach to Chez Monique (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdotGbp4rSY). This mysterious restaurant is in the middle of nowhere but is also a glorious haven for hikers. Here’s how the story goes. About 23 years ago Monique and her husband were out for a tour on their boat. They decided to stop near the lighthouse for some lunch. They set up a little grill on the beach and cooked up some hot dogs. They completely forgot about the WCT until a group of hikers came along. They remarked that they’d “pay anything for a hot dog:” And thus a dream was born. They built a cabin on the beach and set up a burger tent for famished trekkers.
I was quite impressed when I arrived. There was a quaint sitting area and the kitchen inside was surprisingly complete. I ordered the fully loaded burger with chips and pop for $22, $25 after tip. The gentleman working there also gave me one of his shoelaces, as I had accidentally burnt one of mine when I left my shoes by the fire all night (whoops).
After my hot meal I continued on and stopped briefly at the Carmanah Lighthouse. It offered a panoramic view of the Pacific. It was still sunny out so this was quite pristine. Shortly after, when I was following the path back down to the beach, I heard some kind of barking or roaring (I wasn’t sure what was going on). When I reached the shore I saw a large group of sea lions frolicking on a small island about 1km away. I dropped my bag and ran out as close as I could to them. I barked back at them and hung out for a bit and then I returned across the tricky maze of stepping stones.
When I continued hiking I drifted into a tremendous rhythm. So much so that when I arrived at what I thought would be my campsite I didn’t want to stop walking. Unfortunately my desire and mother nature did not quite align and as such I had a small disagreement with the tide. The beach itself was still fine to walk along but it was the boulder ridges that were difficult to cross. At one point I was trying to navigate the rocky jut out into the ocean in order to get back on to the next stretch of beach. The waves were very rough and all the boulders were covered in the lightning slick brown algae. When trying to work down to the next ledge I turned my back to the sea. I heard a huge wave rush up and I thought I was fucked. It knocked me on my ass and how I stayed out of the water is a mystery to me. When I finally made it across I was soaking wet but I still did a little Andrew-the-conquerer celebration.
From then on it was pure, smooth beach walking (save for one quick run around a rock wall while the last wave was pulling back out. This stretch of about 3k was by far my favourite of the entire hike. The sun was at the perfect height and intensity and I was perfectly fatigued. I was also very happy to see some more hikers off in the distance. I think this was another reason I wanted to push on before. I actually wanted to talk to some people, rather than spend another night by myself.
When I got to Tsusiat Falls I went for a swim in the ocean for the first time. It was surprisingly warm but again, pretty rough. Almost instantly I swallowed at least a pint of salt water. This would attribute to some stomach distress the next day. I was so tired after my 23k hike, tide struggles and swim that I went to bed as soon as the sun went down.