Cape Scott 2011: Ranger Cabin Adventures
This was a hike I did with my pal Melissa from nursing school, her dog Aspen, and her friend Ryan from the Strathcona Lodge. We decided to go in May because we wanted to stay in the ranger cabin, which is left unlocked in the off season. We did pack a tent and tarp just in case, you never know who could have the same idea as we did. We took three nights in total including one night at the beginning sleeping at the trailhead.
We left for the Cape Scott trailhead later in the afternoon from Victoria. Melissa had to work night shift the night previous and needed some sleep before our trek. We picked up Ryan from Campbell River on the drive through. By the time we arrived at the trailhead it had been dark for hours so we decided to pitch a tent and start the hike early the next morning.
When we awoke in the morning we discovered we were the only car in the parking lot. As we were packing up our gear Ryan was digging through all of his stuff kind of laughing... He had forgotten his hiking boots back in his van in Campbell River... All he had on were crocks, and we weren't going to turn around, so crock hiking it was!
We arrived at Eric Lake at 0845. It started to rain lightly not long after leaving the lake and I was thankful for gators. By 1145 we passed Fisherman's River and by 1230 we made it to the old abandoned settlement in the woods. I had never spent any time exploring here before and Ryan was quite keen so we took a bit of a break and wandered around. We found everything from farming equipment, to old boots, to bed frames. There were also some huge gravestones. It would be interesting to know the history behind them.
Huge old grave stone for a 12 yr old adopted boy?
Old farm equipment
At 1415 we arrived in the grassy farm area, or Cape Scott Settlement, that I always enjoy coming to. This part of the trail is open and easy to walk on. It is also the first part of the trail that you can start to smell the ocean, because Hansen Lagoon flows in here.
Open farm area
Just before 1500 we hit Nels Bight. We headed for the cabin with wet clothes and tired feet, and dropped our packs. We had it all to ourselves! We took a quick poke around and immediately began looking for dry wood to start the wood stove, but everything was wet. Ryan did eventually have success getting the fire going, but I know it took him quite a bit of time and effort.
For the rest of the day we explored the beach and looked through the cabin. The cabin had everything from a makeshift shower out back to a fridge... Which I imagine is hooked up to a generator in the summer. There were two bedrooms and a main living space with the wood stove I mentioned and a dining room table. People had left all kinds of odds and ends from the beach scattered throughout the cabin.
View from the cabin
Inside the main living area of the cabin
Eventually after a couple hours of darkness had passed we decided to tuck into bed. Ryan took one room to himself and Melissa and I took bunks in the other room. By this time the cabin was very toasty from the fire and I fell asleep on top of my sleeping bag listening to the crackling of the fire. Did I mention that the glass door of the stove was slightly cracked? I think that much of the noise I was hearing was also the glass cooling after a while...
The next morning we woke up, ate breakfast, and made a break for the lighthouse. We were on the trail again by 0800 and there were spots of blue sky and sunlight coming through the clouds. We followed the beach to the east until we hit Experiment Bight and then turned south through the trees to Guise Bay.
We arrived in Guise Bay at 0900 and spent some time exploring here. This was my first time coming this far, since my last trip to Cape Scott I was 13 yrs old and we only made it as far as Nels Bight. By 1000 we were at the lighthouse, and the weather had pretty much completely cleared up. We had a bit of a rest and refilled our water bottles with fresh water from one of the houses here (the care takers offered).
Ryan at the lighthouse
On our way back from the lighthouse we discussed how long our trip back down island was going to take tomorrow if we had to hike all the way out and then drive for hours... So we made the call to pack up camp and head for somewhere closer to the trailhead. By the time we got back to Nels bight and loaded our packs it was 1300.
Leaving Nels Bight
We didn't hike for long before we spotted the open grassy area of the old farm settlement appear on our right through the woods. Ryan suggested that it might be a great short cut to cut straight across the grass as long as we didn't hit any irrigation spots that were too deep to cross... and he was right! We knocked off a good chunk of time here and only had to leap over a few small streams to make it through. In fact eventually we were following an old trail that others must have created doing the same thing.
For the rest of the day we hiked and hiked. I don't remember stopping much. In fact, we made it all the way to the "ewok village" of tent pads just before Eric Lake. Being in the damp woods was a bit depressing compared to being in a nice cosy cabin on the beach... We tried and tried to make a fire with no success. The one memorable thing about camping in this spot was that Ryan made us dinner. He was pulling all kinds of things out of his pack that I would never bring in a million years! Vegetables, jars of sauce, you name it. He made rice and curry, it was delicious!
Ewok village camp
The next day we got up nice and early and enjoyed the short easy hike to the parking lot. We arrived by 0815. There was one other car in the parking lot, I assuming someone who went to San Joseph Bay for the day. We loaded our gear and headed for civilization promising to each other that we would do another trip together sometime.
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