This final section would take us in and out of bays around Powell Lake, snaking our way around and up and down through the campsites and public parks outside of Powell River and widely used by the locals on this Canada Day holiday weekend. We hit this stage of our journey on a Monday of the final work day off for most people kicking off their summer breaks, and so we experienced more people on these final sections than what I would assume to be normal. There were also several groups beginning their SCT hikes this Monday morning and we’re headed out with all too familiar heavy backs and fresh clothing.
Up early to get a start on the longer kilometers, we had a calm trail of morning sunshine, with loons on the lake, tadpoles snagging insects off the surface of the lake and snakes out sunning themselves under foot. Walking around Inland Lake felt like we were flying with its groomed, flat trails. We passed the campground with people barely stirring and we’re quickly back on the SCT.
The major landmarks on the way back to Powell River were Haywire Bay and Mowatt Bay, both major recreational areas for locals. As we approached these areas the trails came alive with people. Our senses cued in on all the subtle changes from 2 weeks in the backcountry: the smell of laundry detergent on others’ clothing, the wafting breakfast smells coming from RVs in the campground, the disruption of noises unfamiliar to the deep woods, and the startled reaction to dogs off leash approaching. It’s funny how unsettling this hustle and bustle is when you’ve sought to escape it for weeks. The more people we encountered, the more we bristled. It upset me how much I was bothered by this and I tried to reflect and why that was and what it meant exactly. I think most people seeking the solitude and calm of nature must struggle with this as well. It’s funny how immediately I want to return to the trail after being out, even when a shower is calling.
Inevitably, we made our way back to the sounds of traffic, the evidence of litter and graffiti, and the sounds of families out and about as we hit the outskirts of town again.
Thus our 2 weeks on the SCT came to an anticlimactic ending as we hit kilometer 50 once again outside of the Shingle Mill restaurant with no more fanfare than an orange trail marker and an obligatory selfie of our unkempt state. One last fist bump and high five and we found ourselves rebelling in the sensation of warm water over our heads and soft sheets on our skin.