Day 4: Payzant Creek (km 40) to Botanical Beach Trailhead (km 47)
Our last day on the trail was a short one: we only had 7kms to go! We woke up to misty treetops, and quickly packed up all of our gear, not minding that it was wet and muddy. Off we went!
This section of the trail was relatively easy, and led us on and off the rocky shore, past a stream where we could refill our water bottles for the last time. Orange bobbles marked the path on and off beaches, as they had all the way along.
As we got closer to Botanical Beach, we were rewarded by easy trekking! The path flattened, and turned into boardwalk. We passed smiling day trippers, and eager, bright-eyed hikers who were just starting their multi-day hike.
Finally, we made it to Botanical Beach! We shrieked when we got there, and opened up our (still very full) food bag to reward ourselves. We would have hung out and checked out the tidal pools for a while, but it was overcast and cool, and we figured we could come back another time for a day trip.
We were SO ready to finish the last leg of the race! (Er… hike. I’ve been watching too much Amazing Race Canada.) As we approached the parking lot and official trailhead, we started grinning and giggling and jogging! People gave us weird looks, but we didn’t stop to explain. We made it to the parking lot and went nuts!!! Shouting and hugging, we had a little photoshoot by the trail sign. After a couple minutes, the parking lot volunteer gently told us that the 47km marker was actually over by the other end of the loop trail, so we skipped over and had another photoshoot.
Then it was time for our real reward: BEER! To get to the pub in Port Renfrew town, we had to walk another 3 kilometres or so down a paved road. With our goal in mind, this didn’t seem so bad! We were hoping someone would pick us up, but we were also gross and dirty, and tbh we didn’t know how long the walk was, so we kept telling ourselves we’d only try to hitchhike if it wasn’t right over the next hill.
It took us close to hour to get to the pub, with our packs. Or, to put it in more understandable terms: we made it all the way down to zero from 99 bottles of beer on the wall! Just another one of the day’s major accomplishments.
We were only on the trail for 4 days, but did it ever feel rewarding to reach Port Renfrew and the Renfrew Pub! We were worried about our smelly, dirty selves at first, but then saw a line of packs outside the restaurant, and we knew we were in good company. Clearly, most hikers have the same idea when they finish the Juan de Fuca and West Coast trails. I could not contain my excitement when I got inside the pub and used the bathroom!! Soap! Water! Paper towel! (I got my period on the trail, so these comforts were especially welcome.)
Our beer and salmon burgers and salad tasted incredible! We ate and drank, chatted with a few other hikers, and then hung out outside in the sun, waiting for the shuttle (which leaves Port Renfrew at 5:45 pm in the summer).
The bus was incredibly stinky (people were taking off their shoes and letting their feet free!), but it was pretty incredible to drive back down the highway, catching occasional glimpses of the ocean between those towering, classic PNW trees, knowing that we had walked all that way. We endured minor injuries, bear encounters, major mud puddles, physical and psychological fatigue. We laughed lots, filled our souls with nature rather than screens, were struck again and again by the beauty of our home island, and finished the trail with a huge sense of accomplishment and pride.