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Salal
Though not a popular trail-side snack in modern times, salal berries are not only edible, they are quite tasty. Perhaps the "hairiness" of the berries or the grainy texture imparted by their many, tiny seeds is a turnoff to jaded modern palettes. Being plentiful throughout the coast, salal berries were an important component of pre-European diets hereabouts. Aboriginal groups generally consumed salal berries directly from the bush or processed them into a kind of fruit leather for storage. These cakes were then reconstituted with water and served mixed with the omnipresent oolichan grease. An acquired taste, no doubt. The deep purple colouring of the berries found use in dying bakets. Salal berries are presently used primarily in jams and pies. The bright, leathery foliage is commercially harvested for use in floral displays world-wide.
Illustration by Manami Kimura
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08
Feb
2007
argaiv1525
The West Coast Trail-Day Two E-mail
(6 - user rating)
Written by Brian Grover   
Michigan Creek to Tsusiat 12½ km
From Michigan Creek the first two kilometres to Darling River are beach accessible during all but the highest tides [below 3.7 metres.] The cable car across the Darling River [km 14] is the first of many you will encounter on the West Coast Trail. They are fun to ride on and will keep your feet dry but often the cable cars are out of order. When creeks are running low marching across them instead will save considerable time and energy. Whenever fording streams undo your waist belt and loosen your pack straps in the event that you stumble and have to quickly jettison your pack.

If the tides are in your favour, continue along the beach for a further 3 km until Tsocowis Creek. Though a forest route is available, most prefer the open coastal scenery and the ease of walking the beach route affords. Keep an eye seaward as the foreshore is popular with foraging Gray whales.

The next three kilometres to Trestle Creek follow a relatively easy forest footpath packed with historical relics. To find the trail from the beach, look for fishing floats hanging in the trees. Access points are marked this way all along the West Coast Trail. Be sure to top up your water at Billy Goat Creek as the elixir of life can be hard to find the rest of the way to the Klanawa River. About a kilometre beyond Billy Goat Creek pause for a moment at the Valencia viewpoint to consider the victims of the shipwreck in January 1906 which ultimately led to the construction of the Pachena Point Light Station and the West Coast Lifesaving Trail. In time the sea has claimed every last remnant of wreckage leaving only the dimmest memory of the 126 people who died on the rocks off distant Shelter Bight. Those not mercifully claimed by drowning were trapped with cliffs at their backs and impassible headlands on either side. Many faced the raging sea bravely only to be exhausted and broken by hypothermia. Amazingly, 38 survivors managed to scramble to safety.

Just beyond the viewpoint you'll come across first a grader then a steam "donkey" [km 19] left behind after completion of the Lifesaving trail in 1909. The road-wide portion of the trail extended from Bamfield to the site of the Valencia wreck at Shelter Bight, continuing on to Carmanah Point as a well-defined trail. Beyond Carmanah the Lifesaving trail was a rough footpath hacked through the forest to Port Renfrew. Though all sections have been vastly improved, today this relativity persists.

The winch on the rocks at Shelter Bight and the anchor at Trestle Creek are thought to come from the 1923 wreck of the steamer Robert E. Lewers. At low tide wreckage from the Janet Cowan which sank in 1895 can also be seen at Shelter Bight [km 20.]

Either trail or beach will take you the 2½ km from Trestle Creek to the cable car crossing at Klanawa River. Since you will have already covered 11 km since Michigan Creek some will want to stop here for the night and Klanawa River [km 23] is certainly a suitable spot to pitch a tent. Many, however, will want to push on for another 1½ km through the forest to the most popular place on the West Coast Trail, Tsusiat Falls. The sandy beach, picturesque waterfall, dipping pool and sea caves are attractive enough for some hikers to camp over for several days at a time. The crowds can be insufferable however so many others would rather opt for a more wilderness setting to set up camp. The choice is yours. Assuming you fall into the latter category and decide to stop for the night at Klanawa keep in mind that the river is tidal so you may have to go upstream some distance in order to get untainted water when the tide is in. Always taste the water first before filling up to avoid contaminating your container.
 

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