By Carisa Keates
At the start we were all hyped up and ready to take on the 3.5km trail. Having hiked many trails before I thought it would be easy and we’d be at the beach in under an hour but, I was so wrong.
One hour and fourty-five minutes – that’s how long it took for us to climb up and along the edges of the “short” trail flooded with deep, heavy, and most of all sticky MUD. If any one of us did not avoid the mud at one point in time, there was no doubt that we would be knee deep in the sinking mud. Luckily with friends like these this trail was made all the more worth it. About twenty minutes in, I missed a log, and found myself sinking knee deep in the heavy brown-black sinking mud. My ankle twisted and slightly painful, but with the grins and giggles of the friends around me I couldn’t help but smile and laugh along with them. I didn’t care how much my ankle hurt, or how muddy I was. I was with my friends and we were on our way through this beautiful jungle climbing up tree’s and grasping branches like monkeys to escape the challengingly muddy trail we had decided to venture upon.
When we had escaped the muddy path at the end, we were welcomed to the entrance of Keeha Beach by the sweet sound of the waves crashing up on the sandy beach ahead. Around and above us were the marks of hikers that had braved this trail in the past. Washed up Buoys strung along thick rope and hung from the tree tops. On them were names and signatures of those who had taken the trail just like us. So colorful, they made the forest seem like it had been decorated in a way to somehow celebrate our hard work. A welcoming party for all who had made this arduous journey out to Keeha.
When first stepping out of the forest, all we wanted to do was take off our muddy boots and jackets, and jump right into the water. And that is exactly what I did. My ankle being in a fair amount of pain at that point appreciated it too. As the waves crashed upon the sandy shore, the crystal clear seawater rushed over my feet. The ice-cold feeling travelled from the tips of my toes though my feet and up my legs. Numbing the pain and cooling me down from the warmth my body most surely gained from the hike to this destination.
Far off to the left near the rocky intertidal zone my friends and I spotted a spray of water coming up above the waves, then another. We walked along the beach toward it, and it was just what we were hoping for. Two orcas, a baby and it’s mum were close into shore. Although the closer we got the further away they moved out away from the shore and the harder it was to get some excellent photo’s with my crappy iPhone camera. Even so, for the first time in my entire life I saw two whales out in the wild. Just standing there on the beach, staring out at the water as they swum away we all stood there in the breeze, taking in the beauty of the surroundings and the amazing creatures swimming further out to sea from us. That hike was worth every scratch, every bit of mud, and every bit of pain that we had to endure to get there.
If there was one downside to this entire experience I would have to say it would be that I had twisted my ankle, and with that ankle I had to walk with my dear friends back to the car parked at the entrance to the path. Regardless of how slow I may have been, the time with my friends going back over that trail again that afternoon just flew by. Our stories, jokes, songs and laughter kept us going. In the end that last hour and a half flew by and that adventure that afternoon was worth it all.
If you ever choose to take a venture on this trail like we did that afternoon, I would recommend the following:
1) Wear clothes you could care less about and are willing to clean out by hand later on.
2) Bring rubber boots, and rain pants/hip waiters (Editor: or clothes you are willing to get muddy).
3) Bring water and snacks
4) Bring people you can tolerate: In other words…people you love to laugh with and people that will keep you going strong the whole way through.
5) A Hiking pole or good stick to check the mud depth in front of you and to balance on logs and rocks.
Editors note: Regular hikers generally take ~1h to hike to Keeha, and it is a gorgeous camping spot, with fresh water further down the beach, and the bear box at the trail head. It is VERY muddy all year round, but driest in the fall. About a third the way up the trail is a split, with the right fork to Tapaltos beach (about the same distance as Keeha) and on to the lighthouse at Cape Beale (6km, be prepared to spend all day heading there and back), and the left fork to Keeha.
Getting there: Approximately 1 km east of Bamfield, go south on South Bamfield Road for around 2km. Parking is 400m north of the trail head. Follow the old logging road in to find the trail head on the left hand side.