Monday, June 10, 2013

West Coast Trail Highlight-Cheewhat to Nitinat Narrows

The Cheewhat River area of the West Coast Trail is almost truly "wheelchair accessible." The wide, flat trail winds through thin-stemmed trees and salal ground cover, making it's way along about a kilometer of beachhead to the river.

At the river, a sturdy suspension bridge affords access to the other side. Because this section of the river is tidal, it is not good for getting water. There is a groundwater spring on the north side of the river, clearly marked with a wooden sign.

Marine and settlement artifacts are apparent along the way, particularly along this section, as it was settled fairly heavily at one time, with the last of the settlers finally leaving the area in the 1960's, although some have maintained ties to the area.
The next few kilometers take you along the infamous Nitinat boardwalk, known for its treacherous slipperiness. It was no exception this May 2013, as I slipped along with a school group, falling twice, on my way to the Nitinat ferry. It is a beautiful area, if you can take your eyes off your feet and the boardwalk. Looking closely, you can see occasional remnants of the settlement at Whyac.

Finally arriving down the slippery stairs at the ferry, you are greeted by the ferry operators, quietly offering up fresh crab, salmon, pop, and beer. It is a welcome rest to sit for a while before carrying across the narrows to the other side, and continuing to the next camp.  As with the other days on the trial, this area does not fail to offer up many new and different things-alongside the usual aspects of the trail: up, down, mud, roots, rocks, beach, bridges, ladders, and boardwalk.