SEATTLE–TOFINO – My Aussie friend Paul ambushes me at the floatplane terminal for bear hugs and a last-minute Starsucks run. A roadie, he travels even more than I do. Thus he understands the horror of overpacking – 66lbs on a wilderness trip! – and schleps off some excess equipment to his house-sitting lair.
The propeller churns and we're off, banking over Gas Works Park and my Ballard writer's garret. Over the next week, I, my college roommate Maria and her boyfriend David will hike the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island's southwestern coast. Frequently rated one of the world's best – and most fiddly – hikes, this 75-km trek features cable cars, suspension bridges and 25- to 35-storey ladder complexes. The sort that make triathletes weep.
But the border guards are lax ("don't spit those contraband appleseeds anywhere fertile") and the pilot puts the friendly back in skies, radioing ahead to lure the town's only taxi to the docks.
Charmed, we skim northward.
If only the magic would last.