I obtained John Baldwin's map and Phil Stone's description of the route before booking one-way passage on the Uchuck III from Gold River to the log dump at Port Eliza.
The crew and passengers were quite concerned about us disembarking there, the logging road is growing in and apparently it has been a long time since anyone has ventured into this area. The initial 10 km logging road hike leads a few km inland from the coast, past a deserted logging camp to a spur at 10.8 km. The spur was completely alder-jungled for its 1200 metre length, true bushwhacking after 30 years of re-gen.
A big relief to hit the coast a bit west of the Yellow Bluff and set up camp
Camp at Yellow Bluff
Interesting sandstone formations
We hiked from Yellow Bluff to Sandstone Point on day 2 over pebble beach and sandstone shelf passing a major surge channel that required the lowering of our packs down with rope. It's about a six metre scramble down into it over very slippery rock. I'm indicating the route here with my pole
We hopped over Tatchu Creek without even taking our boots off--creek level were extremely low this time this year so water was a constant worry
Arrival at Sandstone Point Camp where we saw a huge sea-lion swim right past us through this channel out of the cove
Day three took us to Porritt Creek camp where we had a refreshing swim under the footings of a dismantled logging road bridge
Later that evening just after 6pm we were sitting on the bank of this creek right where the log footing is visible. My partner happened to look over her shoulder and said "there's a cougar right behind us!" I looked up to see an adult cougar not more that five feet behind us looking very confused as my partner and I stood up clattering on the short pebble beach between the animal and the high tide. The cougar bounded away after a moment trailing an enormous bushy tail. Once in a lifetime experience, I'd say.
The next morning at the same camp we watched a mother black bear and two cubs foraging and playing on the rocks for about 15 mimutes before they moved on--maybe 60-70 metres away only--awesone with the binocs.
Porritt Creek Beach
We saw huge amounts of animal sign on this route, much more than Nootka or Hesquiat--mostly bear and cougar with cougar absolutely predominating around Gregoire Point; dens and kitty litter all over the foreshore and tracks of all sizes thick in the sand and mud.
We explored a sea stack before crossing Kapoose Creek
A lot of marine life to see
And we arrived at our two-night camp, Sandpiper Creek, described as the finest camp on the entire west coast of VI. I would agree.
The beaches at this end of the hike up to Rugged Point are fantastic white sand separated by rocky headlands--the largest beach is over 2km long. White sand continues on the northern inside beaches as well, the location of the Marine Park shelter and outhouse popular with kayakers. We met 5 from Seattle who gave us a nice Kelp Greenling for dinner. After setting up camp on an inside beach where our floatplane pickup was the next day, we set out to get to the very tip of Rugged Point. Some scrambling and finding an overgrown trail led to massive Sitka Spruce deadfall that had to be negotiated before popping out at a beautiful lagoon
Phil Stone's directions said this could be waded, but the afternoon low tide was only dropping to 1.9 metres so it was a bit too deep. We scrambled along the cliffs quite a ways until we could drop into the lagoon to cross it. More clambering over big driftwood piles led to a secret beach and a steepish wooded slope. the directions said enter the trees here but the Spruce saplings and 8ft. Salal prevented this, So once again scrambling over the rugged rock of Rugged Point until the Northwesterly hit us in the face and we were there
Upon returning to camp the rest of the day was devoted to rest
The following morning Air Nootka was right on time despite a tad of morning fog. It cleared enough on the return to photograph some of our campsites from the hike.
We even saw the Uchuck III from the air taking people to Friendly Cove
All in all, our favorite west coast hike so far because of the total lack of human activity, the incredible abundance of wildlife, and the tricky, tide-dependent nature of the hike. People really are alone out there, it is seldom walked and only sporadically visited by kayakers. Tatchu Point is notorious for steep, choppy seas due to the chain of the Barrier Islands and the shallow waters of the Rolling Roadstead. I would recommend this hike to experienced beachwalkers who can find the logging spur and not get flustered in the 1 metre visibility of that bushwhack. Hikers need to be wildlife savvy or they'll wind up with a cougar right behind them like us!
We brought bear spray for the first time ever hiking but that was because of Phil's description of the bear "superhighway" and his photo of the massive blackie he snapped on this route. a girl I know who grew up in Kyuquot said they are the biggest in BC up there-500 pounders!
How to top this hike next year? Maybe the west coast of Graham Island-Kiusta to Tian Bay-very little info on it but I know the coast can be walked.