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West Coast Trail Pictures and Trip log

Backpacking Hiking and Camping

West Coast Trail

August 2004 Trip Diary

I had never seen a bear that close before. I had always had at least a car door between myself and any bears I'd seen before this, and it was quite the experience. More on that later on in the report (day three). My West Coast Trail trip was about to begin!

I had planned this hike for about a year before and had about seven friends lined up to do it. When the time came to make reservations, they all opted out. I was stuck for someone to go with. I made some calls and found Wanda P. and Denean S. to go with. We paid our registration fees on May 1st for the late August hike and I remember that as soon as I called the phone line was busy. I had heard that we were supposed to begin trying to reserve as soon as parks Canada opened BC time on the first day of the month and the earliest you could book ahead was three months. We booked a North to South trip which started in Bamfield and went the 75 KM's to Port Renfrew for August 27th 2004.

A month before the trip, Denean broke her collar bone in a freak hammock accident (I still don't totally believe how it happened, but she did meet her current boyfriend out of the deal), so it was just to be Wanda and I.

Our trip started on Thursday when we met in Vancouver. Wanda's from inner BC, so had to make the drive to Vancouver on Thursday. We went shopping at Mountain Equipment Co-op to get some last minute things us. I wasn't allowed to bring fuel on the airplane from Edmonton so we got that and some other stuff at Mec. While we were at the apartment putting our packs together waiting for Denean to get off work to drive us to the ferry Wanda parked her car out back in the alley. Not a great idea considering all the posted signs about not doing that. We got towed. So... new agenda.. when Denean got home, we walked down to the impound lot and got her Mercedes out. We had dinner at the ferry landing (fish and chips as I recall). I figured some extra carbs would be ok before the hike started. I usually avoid french fries like the plague, but added ketchup to them too. I was really going all out, lol.

Note: You can click any image for a larger version

Pre hike ferry crossing

We stayed in a hostel in Nanaimo for the night. The hostel was above a bar in which there was very loud music playing. They told us that the music would stop at 1:00 am, but they partied until about 3:00 am. I was able to tune most of it out, but Wanda didn't seem to get any sleep that first night. We caught a taxi back to the ferry where the Trail bus was to meet us. We met two women from Switzerland who were waiting for the bus as well. This first bus took us to a meeting place where we caught up with the bus that makes the daily trip from Port Renfrew / Victoria at the South end of the trail to Bamfield, the north end. We changed busses (modified school busses) and hooked up with about 22 or so other people. The logging roads made for quite an interesting ride. There was one point where our driver had to veer over to the left side of the road to avoid some major potholes, but as he was watching the pot holes, I was watching the logging truck coming our way that had done the same thing. We were two very large vehicles approaching each other on opposite sides of the road. Interesting..... We both swerved back to our respective sides just as we were about to pass. I guess this is just a common occurrence on this road as it didn't seem to phase our driver at all.

Trail Bus - Photo by Ian

Bamfield Trail Head

Day 1

Our actual trip day started at about 4:00. We got into Bamfield at 1'ish and then had to take the orientation, register and get our tide tables. I found out on the bus that BC Parks were on strike and may or may not be available at the trail heads. Ours had staff so we got our tide tables while people we met on the trip who were heading north met an empty park station and were without their tide tables. Don't let yourself end up in the situation. Although the tables are available when you register, I recommend brining a print out of the dates you'll be hiking just in case. See the links below.

We learned about the history of the trail, how to use tide tables and the composting toilets and about wildlife safety. There were about 25 people in this small little office watching a powerpoint presentation and it was getting a little ripe in there after the hour and a half. We came out to find a bunch of other hikers who had just finished the trail and were waiting for their return trip back to Victoria via the trail bus. They gave us some advice and some tips and told us of their experiences over the past seven days. It had rained almost non-stop for them. We were greeted with clear skies.

We started out

Our first set of stairs

This was the first set of stairs we came to. It was not a good representation of things to come. This was a very easy set of stairs. The rest of them on the trail would prove to be true ladders.

Wanda on the stairs

We hiked along some more on some very good trails. I said to Wanda that we should take a picture of our boots just to remember how clean we were when we started this hike. The boardwalks in this first section were excellent. Brand new mostly.

Look at those clean gaitors!

Wanda on the stairs

This was the first set of ladders that we experienced. Still not too much trouble. I had Wanda's digital camera on me at this point and took some Video of her climbing the ladder. It's a very small resolution (sorry, it was her camera, not mine). Turns out I really burned out her batteries on that shot too which pissed her off understandably.

Sea Lions - Photo by Ian

We pulled off and took a little side trail to a lookout where we could look down and see the Sea Lions. There were a couple of guys from Toronto (all originally from Toronto) and Vancouver who were doing a hike just before school got started. They were doing their MBA in Vancouver. Two were roommates, who called their buddy from Toronto to come out and do the trail with them. Stephen had brought binoculars and we all had a look at them for a few minutes.

We hiked 12KM the first day and got into our first camp at Michigan Creek just before it started to rain. We set up our tent in the woods as opposed to the beach for the first night. Cooked and ate supper and then chatted with some of the hikers who were on their 6th day coming the other way. They spoke of how hard it had been and especially the last couple of days (or first couple if you're heading North). The couple we were talking with were from the Alpine Club of Canada Edmonton Section who were doing a guided trek. We got a lot of good info from them. The best advice was to keep your hiking clothes as hiking clothes and your camp clothes / bed clothes as camp clothes. Just wash the hiking clothes as best you can each day and try and dry them out if possible. I stuck to that practice and was very happy with having relatively clean clothes to get into each night. What I couldnt seem to get over was how clean they looked. Now these were two very good looking girls to begin with (and that's partly what got my attention), but they were so frickin clean.

That was the end of the first day's hike. Not so bad. What I considered to be an easy 12 click hike, mostly flat with good trails and boardwalk. It was sunny and warm until evening and a good day all in all.

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Day 2 - Michigan Creek to Tsusiat Falls (KM 25) >>