Friday, June 15, 2007

Rogue wave traps 4 hikers

When I first saw this title, I was a little puzzled. How does freaque wave got to do with hikers? Well, this article in the Seattle Times by Maureen O'Hagan tells what had happened to a group of hikers:
The group had set out Sunday for a weeklong hike on the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island. The trail, about 47 miles long, is as beautiful as it is rugged. There is no road access. And with parts of the trail hugging the ocean, hikers must time their forays to avoid the dangers of high tide. No matter the time of day, the waves crash explosively. The area is known as the Graveyard of the Pacific because of the ships that have sunk there.
So with parts of the trail hugging the ocean, they carefully tried to avoid high tide, can freaque waves to be far behind? It almost sounds like an action movie script, but it's beyond most of the Hollywood script writers imagination:

Monday morning, they set out at 4:30 a.m., carefully timing the tides. By 7, they had reached what they considered the easy part of the hike, where the tide was low and the ocean seemingly less dangerous. There, they could hike a safe distance from the water on a sandstone shore.

They soon came upon a surge channel, a gully about 50 yards long flanked by slick sandstone walls. Larger waves rush in and out of the channel, their force magnified as they push through the narrow entrance. Through the gully, massive trees are tossed like twigs.

One second they were on dry land and the next they were struggling to keep their heads above water.

"Five people and we never saw it," Peterson said of the wave that swept them in.

Never saw it coming! Yea, that's how a freaque wave made itself known. It happens all the time. No one knows how, why, what, where, and when. This group was just unfortunately encountered it unexpectedly. But fortunately one of the five was not getting dragged into the channel and set out to bring rescue. After nine hours they were all rescued by the U.S. and Canadian coast guards. A wonderful happy ending indeed!

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