The night with the shelter to ourselves had us in good spirits with a rested and refreshed early start to beat the heat. The forecast called for blue skies and highs of 78, so we definitely needed to get a start to avoid the sweatfest of hill climb we had experienced on day 1. Leaving Bliss Portage, we continued to experience the rolling, rocky rough trails and found our pace to be much below our normal speeds. The switchbacks felt like rocky stairs cut into the lush hillsides. Some sections treated us to floors carpeted in moss and enormous ferns squeezing in on the sides of the trail.
A stop at overlook into the Okanover Inlet just south of Bliss Portage was a good first break. As we stood looking out over the inlet with the mountains rising in the distance and small islands of intrigue sprinkled throughout the water in a kayaker’s dream, we heard the familiar splashes of sea otters playing with their breakfast. We immediately realized an entire family of sea otters was resting on a small, shallow reefy area. A mother was surrounded by 4-5 otters all basking in the calm water and morning sun. We listened as they huffed to each other and were joined by the others after their rising.
Pressing on to Wednesday Lake we stopped for our midmorning snack and watched the perfectly still lake and the reflection of the trees on the water’s surface. The deep shoreline made for good filtering and we noticed tadpoles the size of golf balls swimming around. The spot had a really nice bench and clearing and we stayed a rather long time watching the still, calm scene.
The trail from Wednesday Lake to Manzanita Bluff turned into a much nicer, smoother climb of single track and we made our best time of the trip thus far in this section. Even though it was still a climb up to the bluff, it was much more rewarding and productive hiking conditions.
Finally, after our sweaty morning of climbing, the acne of Manaznita Bluff opened before us and the sweeping panorama of Vancouver Island’s snow capped mountains, the Georgia Straits, and Savary Island was our treat for a hard day’s work. The boats from Lund’s marina zipped in and out on the busy Friday of summer and provided entertainment as we aired our our gear and took about our camp chores.
The afternoon spread our before us and we took in the restful repose of another year of hard work lives, parenting a teenager, and stressful obligations. The slow pace of reconnecting with nature and slow observation reminded us of why we labor to get to places like this.