Friday, January 25, 2008

At the end of the road. Part:1

We dropped off the unused logging track , rutted beyond where any 4 wheel drive could have negotiated it. Below lay a log strewn crescent of beach with cedars and spruce almost touching the tide line. A low sea-mist shrouded the pinnacles of rock and their tips stuck out while their bases remained behind the fog, making the the scenery appear primordial.

After four miles of muddy track and skirting pools of water the sand felt good and even underfoot. Ahead were streams leaking onto the beach but no signs of humans except for one plume of smoke rising from under the canopy of trees that lay thick against the sand. The three of us looked south mesmerized by this place already. It sounds corny I know, but there was reverence in people's voices whenever we talked about trying to get there. It held tightly along the very north west tip of the continental coast and for that reason alone, it felt magical.

My Dad had moved to the north-west from South Africa and had heard about a small community of squatters who had built cabins along a stretch of beach of almost mythical beauty. Either loggers who did not want to return to society or hippies had started a loose community out here, we didn't know who had been the original occupiers. The cabins were well stocked paperback libraries with fireplaces and windows, some had rudimentary foundations. At some point concrete had been brought in and I thought that it must have been when the road was driveable. They passed from resident to resident in a sort of open ownership.

We found a campsite under the trees and away from the cabins, as they seemed to have an unspoken yet clear area of privacy around each one. We pitched our tents and threw in sleeping bags and the old man started a fire for tea water as Pat and I scanned the waves for surf. Our boards leant agaist huge logs (and there were hundreds of them) that were testimony to the abundant trees in the hills and the forces of nature that deposited them like so many tinker toys here. It was a feeling of dwarfish-ness that enveloped one's thoughts as quiet nature dominated the eyes.

There was some urgency in our visit, as the beach and surrounding forest was part of a land swap between timber companies and the parks system and if the deal developed there was an excellent chance the community and the little hobbit like homes would soon be demolished. We wanted to at least see what was one of the few remaining pockets of free habitat. Where people followed a trail like their forefathers and then tried to live off the land. Think about how few places exist today where that can happen and for some twenty five years a loose knit community existed at Shi-Shi before the relentless push of order and control washed over, following them along the same rutted road they had walked.


pushingtide said...

Very interesting.

Hope the kid is continuing the tough fight. Heart goes out to him.

Gaz said...

Thanks Push, he's out of the hospital and on antibiotics for the next 4 weeks.

He is fighting the fight with X-Box in hand and dog alongside. ;-)