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Old 03-23-2014, 10:10 AM   #1
wooohooo
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Default West coast trail - anyone ever done?

There's a group of four of us, 2 experienced hikers and 2 novices (me included). I'm hearing it's quite the hike.

Anyone who has done it have any tips about it? When is the best time to go? What equipment do we need? Food?

Route? We are thinking of doing south to north. But any help and information would be great.
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Old 03-23-2014, 11:24 AM   #2
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Early fall (September) is the best time to go as there are less people on the trail than the summer months and it is still usually dry.

As an experienced hiker I would say it definitely was challenging at times. The southern section has the harder, steeper sections so on the one had its good to get through this when you are fresh but on the other hand your pack will also be heaviest. The waterfalls that you can camp at are located in the N section and are a nice reward if you start from the S. When you have the option to walk on the beach vs trail always take the beach route if tides allow it. If its stormy I guess hiking in the forest would be better than being exposed on the beach routes but if not the beach routes are obviously flatter, just pay attention to what the tides are doing. The beach is also great as you can check out tide pools and chances are good of seeing eagles and other wildlife.

Make sure you take cash for the water ferries and also some extra cash for a first nations lady who sells burgers and drinks at a camp in the middle of the hike (Carmanah). After eating dehydrated meals or whatever you end up bringing that burger might taste like the best burger you have ever had. On that note try to pack as light as possible. Also, one last tip is to make sure you have good hiking boots that you don't get blisters in right away. If you don't have blisters from start to finish its much more enjoyable! When blisters do start to form patch them up with mole skin right away before they break.

Good luck!
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Old 03-23-2014, 01:51 PM   #3
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My aunt lost all her toenails because she did that trail with brand new hiking boots. You say you're a novice, so you might be wearing new boots. Make sure you break them in before the trail.
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Old 03-23-2014, 02:18 PM   #4
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my girlfriend and I did it a few years ago...went the first week of June, and got SUPER lucky with having a week of good weather. EXCPECT RAIN!!!!.

We went North to South, and enjoyed it. The Most southern part is by far the hardest...lots of mud, logs, roots, rocks, etc. Took us an hour per KM. The northern part is more just flat hiking.

I would consider myself novice (and overweight) and can honestly say it was one of the hardest things I have done....But damn rewarding. 3 years later, I think I am ready to tackle it again...in another 2-3 years

We had proper equipment that made it so much better. Spent about $1K on a new, lightweight tent, sleeping bags, proper food makers, etc, and it helped out enormously. Do whatever you can to minimize your backpack weight.

Two musts: Gaitors and Poles. I broke a pole on day 3, and it made the last few days a bit harder. I read prior to going that poles make it 15% easier on your body.

Gaitors keep your feet dry, which is super important when you are hiking 75km.

Let me know if you have any more questions.
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Old 03-23-2014, 02:21 PM   #5
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Also, gloves for the cable cars are a plus too.

One note about CASe333's comments, beach is nicer and generally flatter, but if it is soft sand, it can be a REAL tough struggle....but yes, I would take beach over MOST inland hikes.
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Old 03-23-2014, 02:22 PM   #6
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I liked the hike but started to hate the other hikers on the trail by the second day.
The smarmiest bunch of people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting for brief periods.

Almost every person I passed looked at me and said some variation of "Just wait until you get to the muddy part"
Hearing that two dozen times a day made me want to yell at them. The whole trail is muddy I just didn't stomp through the center of the puddle. If you go, please refrain from commenting on the lack of mud. It isn't original or witty at all.

Otherwise, we had a good time and no issues with a bigger group (7) and a few beginner hikers. We split up the meals so everyone carried their own lunch but we each got assigned one dinner. Also, a block of Cheddar Cheese will last a really long time out of the fridge and is worth carrying for sandwiches.
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Old 03-23-2014, 02:26 PM   #7
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I just told my GF about this thread, and she gave me the links to her blog posts about the trip:
http://designintrospective.wordpress...st+coast+trail

Day 1 is at the bottom. Start there, and go up.
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Old 03-23-2014, 02:31 PM   #8
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I am thinking of giving that I go as well. Not sure if this summer or not. What was the most treacherous thing about the trail, aside from being mindful of the tides? How busy does it get? I prefer serenity over socializing.
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Old 03-23-2014, 02:39 PM   #9
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Its a good hike, though over rated when it gets advertised as the best backpack trip in Canada. If you are a novice hiker try to get out for a weekend overnighter before you commit to doing 5-7 days. You will quickly realize on the weekend hike that you packed too much.

The three keys to happy backpacking are get in shape before you go, stay dry, and carry a light pack. Try to keep your before food and water weight to below 15lbs. This way your pack will be about 30lbs max. If you can keep your packweight to under 30lbs you can go with trail runners instead of heavy boots.

I definately agree that gaiters and poles are essential.

Before you go make sure you put everything in your pack and go hike for 4-6 hours just to get used to it, The more training with a pack on you get in the more enjoyable your trip will be.

All that said in the end it is just walking and as long as you have a way of staying dry you will make it.
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Old 03-23-2014, 02:41 PM   #10
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I did this hike 4 years ago and it was incredible. A great resource for knowledge is the book "Blisters and Bliss". It's humorous and loaded with helpful tips.
I would also agree to go south to north. As Case333 mentioned, pack accordingly and you should be fine. You get the hard part of the trail out of the way when your legs/back are fresh and there is less risk of injury. Definitely train beforehand with a loaded pack, it doesn't have to be the same weight as you expect to carry, but at least it prepares you. There are no major hills to climb, but plenty of ladders along the way and massive boulders to traverse right near the start. I trained at the stairs off memorial 2-3x a week for 3 months prior.
Prepare a gear list with your friends to make sure you don't unnecessarily bring multiples of items. Personally I wouldn't bother with a backup stove as some would suggest as there is plenty of driftwood to burn at the campsites. I didn't bring a sleeping pad as you camp on the beach and for the most part you are on sand.
There are 2 options for shuttling back to your car. One is I believe a 4-5hr bus ride on terrible roads and little to no scenery. It is cheap so a lot of people go this route. The other option is a boat. Costs quite a bit more but is definitely worth it. I believe the gentlemen's name is Brian. He is an ex fisherman who turned to whale research when the fisheries collapsed. Now he shuttles hikers back and forth. He will go out of his way to show you the wildlife and is in no rush to get you back. We went on a wild goose chase after a pod of killer whales that came in over the radio...http://trailhead-resort.com/water-taxi.php
If you're driving out there and camping/hotel the night before, watch your gear. Another group had their vehicle broken into in Victoria and they lost everything. They had to go buy all new gear at MEC the morning they started...
Watch your tide charts, you do not want to be caught on the beach when the tide starts coming in. Give yourself lots of time to get between points of access.
Hope this helps! PM me if you have anymore questions!
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Old 03-23-2014, 02:48 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wormius View Post
I am thinking of giving that I go as well. Not sure if this summer or not. What was the most treacherous thing about the trail, aside from being mindful of the tides? How busy does it get? I prefer serenity over socializing.
I would say the most treacherous thing aside from the tides are the wet log crossings. There are a number of them that are a few feet of the ground and they are often slick with mud. Twisted ankles are very common...The cable cars could do some finger damage too if you're not familiar how they work...
If serenity is your thing you could look at the North Coast Trail. It is in Cape Scott Provincial Park on the north tip of the island. I haven't done it but have heard it is quite similar to WCT and much less busy...shorter too.
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Old 03-23-2014, 02:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wormius View Post
I am thinking of giving that I go as well. Not sure if this summer or not. What was the most treacherous thing about the trail, aside from being mindful of the tides? How busy does it get? I prefer serenity over socializing.
Its busy. They start 80 people each day I think so you share camps with 40 people each night. The nature of the trail and the forest mean there arent many good options for avoiding crowded sites. You can mitigate by camping at the edges of the main beaches but you still have to go to the main areas to cache your food and access water. If you do some research I think on 2 or 3 of the nights you can camp more secludedly if you bring a bear can or hanging bag.

If you want the same kind of hike with mud, beach, and forest with seclusion the North Coast Trail (i havent done it) is supposed to be better though much more remote.
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Old 03-23-2014, 07:12 PM   #13
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Its a good hike, though over rated when it gets advertised as the best backpack trip in Canada.
I hiked the WCT a few years back and really enjoyed it, I'm interested in hearing of some comparable adventures to this hike in Canada or the US. The obvious one is the Chilkoot but I would love to hear of other ones.

I am also interested non-hiking trips, I paddled the Bowron lakes and enjoyed that as well.
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Old 03-23-2014, 07:36 PM   #14
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I'd also recommend the Cape Scott trail instead. It's more effort to get up there but the reward is fewer crowds. It's also a return trip to the same parking lot so you can tailor the days out & mileage to your liking.
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Old 03-23-2014, 07:55 PM   #15
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I hiked the WCT a few years back and really enjoyed it, I'm interested in hearing of some comparable adventures to this hike in Canada or the US. The obvious one is the Chilkoot but I would love to hear of other ones.

I am also interested non-hiking trips, I paddled the Bowron lakes and enjoyed that as well.
It depends what you mean by comparable but in terms of backpacking the best book for the mountain parks is how not to waste your time in the Canadian Rockies. There Premier backpack trips are all awsome. My problem with the WCT was how gross the camp sites are. They are just slathered with people that dont seem to practice Leave No Trace ethics. I go on hikes to get into the wilderness so the WCT wasnt as enjoyable to me. Its why I want to do the north coast trail.

As for specific hikes

-Berg Lake in Mt Robson Provincial Park. Hike 20k in through rain forest and waterfall, see glacier carve off chunks into icebergs, see mount robson from the base, one of the most imposing canadian rookies. Make sure you go from the second week of July so you can take the snowbird pass dayhike. If you want solitude you can camp at the north end of berg lake in rear guard camp grounds. This one is also great for kids as you can camp every 5k on the hike in if you wanted.

-highway 93 through egypt lake, through mount assinaboine, to spray lakes road. This is about an 80-90k hikes plus side trips that you are above the treeline for all but the first and last 10k. This is a busier hike and you want to avoid long weekends in the mount assinaboine area.

- start going to fish lakes, then pipestone pass using the bootbeaten highline, instead of just returning the same way you do a class2/3 scramble over quartzite col and the hike down the dry stream bed to complete the loop.

- an epic trip I want to do is the John Muir Trail in the Sierras. It is a 200 mile two - three week hike ending in summiting mount whitney.

Lots of stuff out there depending what you are looking for Bowron lakes is definately on my list.
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Old 03-23-2014, 07:57 PM   #16
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My clients are starting this hike soon: Mexican border to Manning Park:

http://forgetmenothike.ca/hike
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Old 03-23-2014, 09:01 PM   #17
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If you want solitude on a multi day hike check out Monkman Pass Memorial Trail.
63 km in and you can line up a river boat to get back to Kinuseo Falls.

http://www.trailpeak.com/trail-Monkm...-Ridge-BC-4917
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Old 03-23-2014, 09:41 PM   #18
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There's also the Juan de Fuca Trail just to the South (From Port Renfrew to just about Sooke). I've hiked this once about 5 years ago and it was pretty enjoyable. Not as long or challenging as the WCT but still fun (about 4-5 days I'd say, but very weather dependant). It's a lot less crowded and camping is only $5 a night. No amenities though so you need a water pump. There are 4 or 5 accesses along the route as well, which can be handy.

http://www.juandefucamarinetrail.com/
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Old 03-23-2014, 09:45 PM   #19
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Have not done the hike, but cannot emphasize enough the importance of not pushing it through uncertain tides.

Rogue waves and quick tides are perilous and not worth the risk.
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Old 03-23-2014, 11:48 PM   #20
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I'd love to do some fishing there. Is it advisable to? Just going to be a hassle carrying the rod?

Also what does a "normal" day look like? Is it typically go go go trying to get to the next site or pretty relaxed?

Wake up at seven, have breakfast then hike have lunch and stop and set up tent for dinner?
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