West Coast Trail – Day 1 and 2

Well, as promised, my post on my recent West Coast Trail hiking adventure.  Marty and I hiked the WCT starting on June 1 and returning home on June 7.  It was physically demanding, mentally exhausting and had some of the most amazing scenery I’ve seen on the coast – and I’ve lived here for almost 20 years now!

Day 1 – Friday June 1

Pachena Bay Trail Head to Darling River – 14 km

Caught the bus heading up to the Bamfield Trail Head at 6am.  The bus ride took about 6.5 hours and it rained almost the entire way.  We completed the trail orientation at the Parks Canada office and were on the trail by 2pm, at which point the weather cleared up so hiking was pretty pleasant.  The trail at the north end is relatively moderate hiking – the paths are pretty wide and the hiking is pretty steady.  There wasn’t a whole lot of up and down, though we did encounter quite a bit of water running in the trail because of the recent rain.  We missed the trail off to the Pachena Lighthouse, but we figured we’d get some good looks at the Carmanah Lighthouse coming up.  We got to Darling River at about 6pm.  The campsite here was across the river, so we pondered for a minute, looked for a good place to use rocks to cross and then decided we’d just have to wade through.  We got our boots just soaked!  And not half an hour later, a group coming behind us did the same thing, but sat down and took their boots of first!  Whoops…  We found a nice spot on the beach with a bit of shelter from the wind and set up our tent for the night.  Aside from wet boots, the first day was a huge success!

Hannah and Marty at the Pachena Trail Head… looking clean!

Trail markers at Michigan Beach

Darling River looking toward the ocean

Day 2 – Saturday June 2

Darling River to Tsusiat Falls – 11 km

We got into a rhythm of getting up around 6am to have breakfast and pack up camp for the day’s hike coming up.  We at oatmeal every morning (nice to have something hot and tasty!) and I usually followed it up with a granola bar or trail mix not too long after we got on the trail for the day.  Our boots were still soaked from the river crossing the evening before – getting in at 6pm hadn’t given us any sunshine to dry them out in… I put on a dry pair of socks, but my feet were still soaked by the time we got to Tsusiat Falls.  At least walking all morning keeps your feet warm!  The hike here was pretty close to the same as the first day.  We spent more time hiking on the beach, which was nice, and got to see a bit of shipwreck debris.  We got a few tastes of the trail to come, as well – a cable car across Klanawa River and some ladders leading down to the beach at Tsusiat.  We had great timing at the cable car, as we arrived just as a German hiker was pulling himself across in the other direction.  We dropped our bags and went to pull the cable to help him across – pulling a cable car by yourself is tough work, and Klanawa River was the longest cable car we’d have to do!  It ended up that he and his friend were travelling together, so they helped pull me and Marty across on our trip, and we returned the favour again for the second German hiker.  The weather was sunny, and we arrived at Tsusiat Falls at about 1 pm.  The falls were amazing after a lot of spring rain – lots of water rushing over them and throwing up a cool mist across the beach.  We go out all our damp gear from the day before and put it out on logs and rocks to dry in the sun, especially our boots!  It was nice to have the afternoon to bum around on the beach and do some busy-work.  We even had time to play some cards!  The evening was warm and lovely, and we watched a pod of grey whales (we assumed – they weren’t orcas or humpback whales) migrating up the coast.  We probably saw about a dozen or so whales over the course of several hours!

Check back soon for more posts on how the hike went!

Rock shelf beach hiking with slippery seaweed

Rusted shipwreck debris on the beach

Big and little sea anemones in a tide pool

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