Island rock and twisted root and peeling Arbutus limb frame the entrance to Coast Trail.
To my left, the sea sparkles so brilliantly that my eyelids momentarily serve as a red hot safe haven.
A whale spout blasts from the water beyond a tiny white sailboat on the horizon. Then again. And a third time.
The breeze is cool, smelling of salt and seaweed, dying the beads of hot afternoon sweat on my brow.
Coast Trail twists up, up, up, mapped out by square yellow arrows to guide you around and beneath and through and over.
The lush green ledge drops off to expansive black rock, choppy waves slapping against each other and clawing for first place to the shoreline.
Beyond, a lone gazebo stands solemnly amidst the woods, a sentry to house storm seekers. Then, plank steps descent to one sea glass-strewn beach, its cove home to rippling water and bleached driftwood.
And beyond that, the trail slithers inland to Douglas-fir, Sitka spruce, ancient cedar, and crispy brown ferns as tall as I. The forest is dark with short bursts of square sun patches the colour of gold.
The path inclines quite steeply, prompting another session of sweat that doesn’t dry in the still, tepid air.
When the mountain is crested and the surrounding atmosphere begins to take on the familiar attributes of daytime, the trees transform into tall yellow grass, and you notice hikers and dogs and backpacks and grins. You are at the beginning.
You long to return.