Hiking in the Mist

Through the Bear Patch
By Brian Payton
  |  Gorp.com

We leave Chin Beach and re-enter a forest which is deep, dark, and still. Light makes few inroads here and the sound of the waves has died with the distance. It isn't long, however, until the trail opens up into a thick hedge of salal, a native shrub that produces copious amounts of bluish berries. I notice that the huckleberries are also in season and I realize that we are dead center of a Costco-sized berry patch—just the kind of place where black bears kill time. They seem to appreciate this trail: evidence of their presence can be found in large, fresh piles of scat every few hundred yards. Curtis-Ray wonders aloud if it's just a matter of time till we come across a pile with a hearing aid in it. I laugh out loud and hope it will scare them away.

On the other side of the berry patch the trail snakes in and out of the forest offering views over sheer cliffs, rocky headlands, and surf. Then suddenly, as if on cue, a glorious sandy beach and waterfall emerge from the glistening haze. And there, right in the middle of it all, is a vision of the Swiss Family Robinson. As we approach this encampment of three - the mom, pop and grade school boy all climb aboard their red canoe and paddle school boy all climb aboard their red canoe and paddle into the undulating kelp.

We get closer and sneak a peak at their beach resort. It's all driftwood and orange tarp but it is a tribute to the creator's sense of form and function. Underneath the bright roof three hammocks swing in the breeze. It is open to the view on all sides A driftwood kitchen, table, and benches are tidy and there is even a pin-up featuring the girls of Bay Watch behind the hammock of young Master Robinson. We stake a claim to our own slice of castaway paradise, make lunch, and nap in the sun.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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