A Whale of a Time

14 km

I woke to a damp, misty morning.  Typical Pacific Rim weather.  As I ate my breakfast I looked out and watched whales swim by.  How amazing to see so many.

I had my first fall this morning. I got a bit too confident with hiking on the shelves of rock along the ocean and picked up my pace.  Suddenly my right foot slipped to the left and I went down hard, landing on my hip on the wet rock.  I’m always happily surprised when I don’t hear the cracking of bones breaking.  I picked myself up and carried on.

A few minutes later I spotted a beautiful, brown mink.  We stared at each other for a minute.  I slowly tried to get my phone out to take his picture but he was camera shy and disappeared behind the logs.

It is only 2 kms to Michigan Creek, the last beach camp before it’s back up to hiking in the forest.  12 more easy kms through the rainforest to the north trailhead of the WCT.

There was the freshest bear scat, I mean minutes fresh.  I had to take a photo.  I observed no hiker bits, only berries.

At the last creek crossing, with no other hikers around, I stripped down and had a refreshing bath.  I changed into some slightly cleaner clothes and hiked on.

No one told me about this potential threat at the scary info session.  I disturbed a wasps nest.  I always forget how bad a sting hurts!  When I reported it to the ranger at the trail office she was just on the phone getting another hiker urgent medical attention due to an allergic reaction.  More hikers came in reporting stings.

Oh my, the rangers need to add wasp stings to their already long, scary list of potential death hazards on the West Coast Trail!

The WCT is an iconic multi-day backpacking experience along ancient paths and paddling routes used for trade, fishing, and hunting by First Nations.  You will climb up and down more than 100 ladders with a heavy pack, use upper body strength to pull yourself along cable cars above deep water crossings, trudge through deep mud, wade across mountain-fed rivers, and quite possibly have to survive the harsh weather that this wild coast is known for.  This trail will challenge even the most seasoned of hikers.

My tips are:

  • Use trekking poles!
  • Take plenty of cash.  Reward yourself with fresh crab, fish, cold beer, treats at Nitnat Narrows floating cafe.  It’s pricier than the fanciest restaurants but you will be so famished and it’s soooo good.
  • Get fit.  Walking the seawall everyday, although is great, it will not do it.  Put a loaded pack on your back and get hiking.  Do a few overnight backpacking trips beforehand.  This is a tough trail even in the best conditions.
  • Allow yourself plenty of time to get to each beach camp everyday. You do not want to be hiking this trail in the dark.  These are the longest and slowest kms I have ever hiked.

If you decide to hike this trail you will be rewarded with the most beautiful and rugged coastline wilderness that Canada has to offer.  You will see wildlife in its natural habitat. Whales, bears, bald eagles and more.  You will make new friends and form lasting bonds with your hiking partners.  If the trail sounds too intimidating you can enter at Nitnat Narrows and hike the 32 kms northbound to Bamfield.  This allows hikers to tackle a shorter and easier section, and still experience all of the WCT’s beauty.