An abundance of tide pools nestle within the sandstone rock shelfs of Botanical Beach. Rich in intertidal life; congregations of seastars, chitons, anemones, barnacles, snails, mussels are amongst the many varied sea life that inhabit the pools.
Gooseneck barnacles are able to survive within the surf zone by attaching to the rocks by stalks allowing them to bend with the waves.
A little further out a marine forest of bull kelp provides harbour for seals and hunting ground for otter. It also acts as an impromptu anchor when pausing for photos.
We are fortunate with the weather, the wind stays down, the sea swell is minimal and even the rain clears up. A thin sheet of cloud obscures the sun keeping the temperature down and preventing us from overheating as we follow the flood tide east toward the next bay, the next cave, the next beach.
The low sea swell allows us to stay close to shore and it's hard not to venture into every inlet along the way. We still have about 20km still to cover before camp but some outstanding bays are irresistible and need to be explored.
Loss Creek follows a major cleft in the coast, the Leech Fault before the San Juan ridge. A suspension bridge over 100 feet long and 100ft above the inlet allows hikers to cross the fault.
One final kilometre and we arrive at Chin beach, our chosen camp for the night. Todd and Ukee have hiked in from a trailhead off the main road and meet us as we arrive.
We set up camp on the beach and prepare dinner before settling down to watch the waves crash upon the shore. More hikers arrive and set up their own camp. My own tent is below some large driftwood logs and discussion revolves around the stability of driftwood and in what direction they would roll if dislodged.
It's a nervous 2 hours as I lie in the tent listening to the crash of surf on the shore but not being able to see how close the waves are coming, but tiredness takes over and I fall asleep.
My luck holds out and the largest wave through the night only passed under the corner of my tent. I'm dry and I'm not crushed by shifting driftwood, eaten by bear or dragged into the depths by some monstrous kraken. The rest of the team relieved at not having to launch a rescue party for a bright orange tent floating on the tide through the shipping lanes and toward the Washington Coast make busy with preparing breakfast.
The tide is now fairly low and the rock shelfs and tide pools are exposed. The south coast fog has set in and we can hear the breakers just offshore. The swell is much larger than yesterday. An exploratory reconnaissance of the shoreline reveals that we will have to launch then punch out through the surf. One of the consequences of travelling this section of coast is that you must be prepared for adverse changes in conditions.
Images and graphics by: Bluegiraffephoto.com Additional photos by: Gina Lemieux Lysanne Lavigne