Aug 21, 2008


Valencia Bluffs, West Coast Trail – Known as the "Graveyard of the Pacific," this wild rim has wrecked at least 80 major vessels. The Valencia alone claimed 133 lives, mostly women and children. For three days in 1906, breakers ground the steamship into froth against the shale.

Outcry drove Canadians to hack a lifesaving route into the swollen knot of rainforest: the very trek we're slugging over, in fact.

Now the 75-km stretch averages at least an evacuation a day.

"Isn't it ironic that they created the West Coast Trail to save shipwrecked people, yet now they use boats to remove injured recreational hikers?" Maria points out.

"Danger as commodity," I snark, having read too much Coupland of late ... probably should lay off the Palahniuk too.

But her words roll around the ole' brain pan. Then, before I can pratfall into pop philosophy, they take on a rather vivid and nasty relevance.

David decides to race the tide, despite all advice otherwise. Safe inland, I stomp along, aghast. In all my years of guiding and travel writing, I've never heard anyone say "we don't have time to read the map. Just go!"

(Dude, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.)

The extent of his misread only sinks in later, when I'm flopped on my pack crunching trail mix and nerding over the route. "$hit! That headland's not impassable at high tide. It's impassable always."

David's somewhere at the base of the baby-killing Valencia Bluffs, the storm-torn spot that inspired this whole shebang...


  1. Tsk, everyone knows maps are for losers*

    *Well, the lost at least.


  2. What he lacked in topographical precision, he made up for in swashbuckling momentum, I'll give him that...

  3. Ta. It captures a little of the malevolent light out there ... I believe this was taken about 11.30am...