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Stinging Needles
Roll in a patch of stinging nettle and you'll think it's a spelling mistake. Nettle's stinging needles, as whispy as whiskers, are hollow and filled with formic acid which can cause burning, even blistering. Though aboriginal medicinal uses were various the principle technological use was as a source of hemp-like fiber for making thread and string. Stalks were picked late in the year when prickles had largely dropped off. Fibers were separated by rubbing or beating and then spun into thin threads. Those in turn could be braided to form thicker, stronger twine for weaving fine cloth, making fish nets and fishing line and, rarely, string bikinis.
Illustration by Manami Kimura
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The West Coast Trail- Day Six E-mail
(8 - user rating)
Written by Brian Grover   
Camper Cr to Gordon R 13 km
After crossing the creek on the cable car and climbing out of the ravine, the end of the trail is a steady slog through the forest mud. Alternatives that involve the beach add welcomed variation as well as significant distance to your day. At two and three kilometres from Camper Creek the beach becomes accessible once again. Take the second access route to avoid a difficult surge channel. The rocky shelf here is passable when tides are below 2.4 metres for 1 km. Most hikers then return to the forest for the duration of the trip.

The geology along the next two kilometres of shelf to Owen Point, however, should not be missed. Known locally as Moonscape, the sandstone surfaces along the way have been uniquely sculpted by aeons of weather and water.

Owen Point itself is passable when the tide is below 1.8 metres. The beach route beyond that to Thrasher Cove is narrow with many loose rocks and can be clogged with driftwood making this an often demanding route. Cleft Falls and a series of delightful sea caves might just make following this route worthwhile however. As the going will be slow be sure to allow enough time to cover the 2½ km from the point to Thrasher Cove while the tide is out. Thrasher Cove is an attractive place to camp but those determined to reach the end of the trail before nightfall will have to climb 1 km steeply up to the main trail [km 70.] On the final 5 km leg of the journey you'll reach the highest point on the West Coast Trail, a viewpoint overlooking Port San Juan.

Shortly thereafter [km 72] you'll encounter another abandoned steam "donkey." This one was used to log the area in days gone by. This is the only section of the West Coast Trail which suffered the bite of the cross cut saw. Compare the thick understory vegetation that has resulted with the relatively open spaces beneath the canopy of virgin forest you passed through the day before. When you finally reach the trailhead at Gordon River [km 75] wait for the herring skiff that will ferry you across to the other side. Like the ferry that took you across Nitinat Narrows, boat transportation here costs $12.50 and should have been paid when you registered. The ferry operates just four times daily at 9:15 and 11:15 every morning and at 3:15 and 6:15 in the afternoon. Your Trail Use Permit is your ticket to ride. Return your permit to the Parks Canada office at the mouth of Gordon River. For those who have to weather one more night in the area while waiting for transportation there is commercial camping nearby at the Pacheenaht Indian reserve for $8 per tent per night.



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