The Beach Boogie

beach boogie
The loose sand and gravel of the beach presents a very special kind of walking.

One of my hiking companions was a 6' 5', 250 pound ex-football defenseman. Compared to this tower of strength, I and my other two companions were midgets. His greater strength became more noticeable when we had to plough long hours over loose beach sand. Giant strides kept him well out in front. We had to run to keep up. Almost by accident, one of us stumbling, short guys discovered that walking in the big guys compressed tracks was easier than striking across virgin sand. Soon we were a single file column moving up the beach like a drunken snake. When our big leader stopped we stopped. When he moved we moved. He never discovered we were hopping from one, size 13 triple-E footprint to the next, until that evening over an aperitif. Have you ever watched grown men giggle?

Getting in the Spirit

Comment by Ian Fripp, 1997

Nothing big happened on the West Coast Trail except we had SUN SUN SUN all week long. You guys have also inspired my friend Mark and I to do the West Coast Trail and another major hike every year. You have turned me into a diehard hiker and I love it! The people around me (except my friend Mark) think I'm nuts.

On the Wild Side

Herein are told a few of the more zany things that have happened on the trail.


It was a warm, comfortable day around the Tsusiat waterfall. Many trekkers had stripped to relax and swim in the pool. Many were lazily sunbathing among the logs and on the sandbar. The tranquil scene was abruptly transformed by the arrival of a helicopter carrying curious tourists. The chopper landed in a swirl of blowing sand and disgorged four plump rich folk who tread carefully among the staring, disgruntled hikers. These invaders might well have been from another planet.

"A" for Accuracy

One anonymous hiker spins a story

The chaperone on our high school hiking trip liked to reminise about his previous West Coast Trail hikes while we sat captive around the evening campfire. One hysterical story had us all rolling off our logs. He'd gone to bed on a cool, starry night after drinking an abundance of coffee and awakened late in the night desperate to relieve himself. Moving like a blind bull, for he was a very big man, he emerged from his tent and immediately emptied his bladder into the moonlit shadows. The next morning, at first glance, he knew what he had done. His pack lay crumpled with a tiny pool of urine caught among its folds. His aim had been as true as a William Tell arrow. Later, as the sun warmed the soaked fabric, a pungent steam filled the trail around him. Needless to say, no one walked near him for long.

Tent Air

Lest we forget, the hike may mean living for seven days without our accustomed personal hygiene.

I met a trekker on a west coast beach who said
With deep and penetrating mystical voice,
"There are no flies on my pack, for I am clean.
I need no fresh under garment, for I wear none.
Hide not that scented shirt for the final day!
Glory in the smothering shock of damp cotton.
Drink not but that which is pumped or boiled.
Let the tidal zone purge your puckered bowels
Or suffer the claustrophobic stench of the pit.
Heed my words; be among Mother's chosen,
Or hike forever unheralded and mediocre
Without the status of wafting, smoked locks
Unsupported by stained and stiffened fabric
Devoid of the essence of trekker bonding.

Severe Body Damage

Be prepared for blisters and pain!

Let me tell you a story about a dreaded condition known as SBD (severe body damage). Our buddy Roy, an executive computer geek, whose idea of roughing it was to wear clothing from Kmart, developed a blister on the bottom of one toe during the first day on the trail. By the second day he had a series of blisters on all of his toes and some ugly discoloration on the balls of his feet. Like all macho men, Roy made light of his new found tootsie sensors. As his blisters ruptured and deepened, strange odours, unlike those normally expected after a day in the boots, pervaded the tent. Alas, Roy was convinced that daily, bare-foot strolls in the healing surf would cleanse his worsening wounds. However, on the fifth day, we spotted vulture-like birds hovering overhead, undoubtedly drawn by the carrion odour wafting from his boots. Small, but significant body parts (toe nails, cartilage, etc.) began to drop off, but still his torturous gait carried him forward. On the sixth day, the end beckoned from a few yards beyond a final series of rocks. Visions of fresh socks, comfortable shoes and dress shirts distracted him. This poor de-nailed, limping, gimp-like person made one final rush. Wrenching, rivoting pain struck like lightning when an unseen rock collided full-throttle with the toes of his boots. We pressed him to explain how both boots struck at once, but he was in no mood to discuss it. The sudden stop jammed all his bleeding, putrid toes into the end of his boots and crushed his waining spirit. For several weeks afterwards, Roy winced on curbs and stairs like a shocked labratory rat.