West Coast Trail Trip Report
From August 4 to August 10 my wife and I hiked the WCT. Mary had done the trail in 2000 with my sister Barb, and had always wanted to go back. I had always wanted to take the Amtrak to the West Coast, so we decided to combine the two and started our
planning last September. Fast forward to 6:15 PM July 31. The phone rang and we were
notified by Amtrak that our train would be late, but they had no idea how late. We were scheduled to leave at 8:52 PM but climbed into our bunks at 3:20 AM. The ride to Seattle, food and company were great, however we arrived 12 hours late. We sent the “A” team in to talk to the ticket agent. Mary came back with a free hotel in Seattle, taxi vouchers and a ride on the Victoria Clipper the next morning. We spent the afternoon of the 3rd wandering around downtown Victoria and the next morning at 5:45 AM boarded the West Coast Express Bus for a 2 hour ride to Port Renfrew and the start of our adventure. After a mandatory orientation we hit the trail to our first campsite at Thrasher Cove 6 Km north. We started with a group of about 12 people, two of whom were doing their first ever backpacking trip. Because of that we moved slowly, but if anyone would have told me it would take about 6 hours I would have laughed. We got to the beach, set up our tent and after dinner everyone gathered around campfires. Normally I like smaller groups, however getting together with the same group night after night became one of the charms of the trip.
Our next campsite, Camper Bay was 8Ks to the north.
5 Ks were on the beach, but it wasn’t always easy going. After a good nights sleep we
were ready for the next 8 Ks to the Walbran Creek campsite. It was to be our real introduction to the infamous WCT ladders. They were not as bad as advertised. The mud and roots were much worse. After more socializing around the campfire, and a good night’s sleep, we were ready (after some more vitamin I) for the 12 K to the Cribs. The highlight of the day would be lunch at Chez Monique’s and her famous burgers. The beach walk was long, but the anticipation of a burger was even greater. I got really lucky because my wife could only eat half of hers. Life is good.
The next day we had to do 17 Ks to reach our campsite at Tsusiat Falls. The highlight of the day would be lunch consisting of Dungeness crab and Salmon with a baked potato at the Nitinat Narrows. When we started the trip my pack was at 23 ½ lbs. with food and water and Mary’s was about 21½ lbs. Over 7 days we only saw 4 people whose pack sizes approached ours. Most were probably over 40 lbs. and that makes the mud, roots and ladders way more difficult. One young man thought his pack weighed 80 lbs.
The heavy packs also made the slippery ocean shelf even more difficult and are probably the main reason there have been 57 evacuations to date this year. Enough ranting for now. We had another great FBC dinner and the next morning headed out to our last campsite, Michigan, 13 Ks north. It was a combination of beach, woods, mud and ladders. Typical of the first 5 days, yet bittersweet since it would be the last night together with our new friends. That evening, a group of 6-8 whales fed in the cove for about 4 hours. Simply spectacular. The next morning as I was getting out of the tent at 5:30 our neighbor Brian said “David, bear on the shelf.” We watched the bear for the next 10 minutes as it wandered along the ocean and into the woods. We left camp at 7:05 and 12 Ks later reached the trailhead at 10:45. We felt happy to have finished, yet still sad that the trip was over. I know a lot of people do the trip in much less time; however, I would recommend 7 days to really enjoy the trail. Even though it is very crowded it should be on everyone’s bucket list. The trail, people and scenery make it an incredible trip. Two more days in Victoria and the train ride home made a nice finish to one of our more memorable trips. By the way, with everyone’s help, the two 1st time backpackers, Donna and Tracy, made it to the end. Here is a link to our pictures: