It was a gorgeous and sensuous day, as most days full of adventure are wont to be. The sun was shining brighter than a 5-times-in-a-row (Maple) Leafs winning streak; it was shining brighter than LeBron James wearing a Raptors home jersey; and yes, it was (almost) shining as bright as the day ‘Mick’ finally agrees to the face-to-face interview avec moi. As you can see, folks, it was a winning Lotto Max kind of day.
And, to top it all off, my friend Gloria, daughter Jacqueline, and I were enjoying the day on Vancouver Island, in the beautiful village of Tofino.
For those of you not familiar with this paradise-part of Canada, Tofino, (named after Captain Vincent Tofino, 1792), is situated on the most westerly point of Vancouver Island…next stop Japan. Settled by the Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nations for thousands of years, the Clayoqua peoples, (Tla-o-qui-at), were the first inhabitants of the shimmering aqua waters of Clayoquot Sound.
(So there! to the history teacher who said I never paid attention in history class!)
Daughter Jacqueline, half our age and twice as spry, decided that the day’s hike would be the Schooner Cove Trail.
Touted as a one kilometer magical walk through the rainforest, the track seemed like the perfect Goldilocks choice, (not too long, not too challenging), before rewarding ourselves at Long Beach Lodge, a magnificent glass-walled restaurant/ bar that showcases the crashing world class surf waves, of....you guessed it, Long Beach.
As we started up the trail, Jacqueline yards (and yards) ahead of Gloria and I, were pumped, energetic and in mighty fine spirits.
“This doesn’t look hard at all,” Gloria said.
“Oh, no, Jacqueline read all about it and said we’d be fine,” I assured her.
At that exact moment, I heard a familiar little oh oh up ahead. Not the clap-your-hands kind of oh oh; more the ‘oh shit oh oh’ kind of oh oh.
“You may want to take it slow,” the voice in the woods hollered in a ‘they’re going to kill me tone of voice.”
Up ahead was a staircase that can only be described as the Stairway to Heaven….only going the wrong way.
There’s no denying that the curvaceous, breathtaking (literally) staircase, slippery, steep, and missing planks, was a sight to behold, as it weaved its way through the centuries-old forest inhabited by 600-year old cedars.
“Oh well,” I thought, “we will get this stair set mastered and we will come out onto the beach in no time at all.”
Ahhh….talk about babes in the woods!
As we up and downed and up and downed we thought surely it can’t be too much farther. I mean it’s only supposed to be a 1 km walk, n’est pas?
As we started down the third set of stairs, we spied a couple heading back up the trail, head down, determined.
“How much further is it?” I asked in my best oh-it-doesn’t-really-matter voice.
“Puff Puff Puff, wait ‘til I catch my breath the man said,” (and he only looked about 40 to me).
“Another thousand steps,” he finally coughed out.
Oh how we laughed! Oh how we inwardly swore.
“You’re such a joker,” I said to him in complete disbelief.
“I’m serious, look down, there’s markers on the trail,” he said.
I looked down. We were at marker 200.
I believe it was right about then that Jacqueline picked up her pace, strategically putting some distance between her. And us.
Twenty minutes and 313 stairs later, (yes we counted), I could hear Gloria behind me, narrating the list of appointments she’d need to make when she got back to Vancouver.
“I’m gonna need to call my physiotherapist; and my massage therapist. And probably my asthma doctor,” she puffed.
“And possibly the undertaker for Jacqueline,” I thought cheerily, plotting my revenge.
Personally, I was dreaming of getting my hands on the backpack that Jacqueline was schlepping and swallowing some of my R.A. painkillers. Like pronto. Like Super Pronto. Figured one for each step and each stair should just about do ‘er.
Twenty yards ahead I heard the joyous cry of a loon- actually it was Jacqueline-who had just broke through the clearing and was out onto the beach.
“I told you it’d be worth it,” she grinned, like a nursing home attendant who’d just brought her charges safely back to their rooms.
As NFL’er Joe Namath says, “If you aren’t going to go all the way, why go at all.”
But then really, why quote him?
He was a football player who suffered an awful lot of concussions!
Stayed tuned for our next hike along the Tonquin Trail!