W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail?
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Nelson Sherry
(nsherry61)

Locale: Mid-Willamette Valley
W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 00:39:02 MDT Print View

I'm in the mood to do a coastal backpack trip on the west coast somewhere. Canada's west coast trail on Vancouver Island is supposed to be exceptional. Can anyone compare that with the Olympic coast trail in Washington for me? The lost coast trail in California?

Edited by nsherry61 on 04/21/2013 00:40:08 MDT.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 08:26:47 MDT Print View

I have only done the Lost Coast in CA. Nice. But the other two sound more awesome.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 08:39:48 MDT Print View

I have only done the Olympic coast

Canada takes longer to get to, is much more wild and muddy, you have to get a passport - how ridiculous

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 08:48:13 MDT Print View

Yeah, I'd go to WA.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 09:32:16 MDT Print View

Some day I'm going to do the Lost Coast in CA, but it's so far away from Portland. Maybe some day when I have the opportunity to do a trip, it will be rainy in Oregon and Washington but nice there.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 09:51:53 MDT Print View

The West Coast Trail is much more of a physical challenge. I have done it 6 times and you will cross every condition you can imagine (except snow). Over 100 ladder systems, cable cars for some river crossings, etc.

Mud? Sometimes but only at the south end. Having done both, I would highly recommend the WCT. But do it in May to mid June when there are fewer people around.

Here is a trip report of mine:

http://blog.hyperlitemountaingear.com/?p=1069

Nelson Sherry
(nsherry61)

Locale: Mid-Willamette Valley
Re: Re: W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 09:57:56 MDT Print View

Actually, you don't need a passport to get into Canada, and Vancouver Island is little more than a ferry ride further than the Olympic coast. Although getting to the north end of the trail is a fair drive I guess.

My real questions are based on beauty vs. popularity. The Canadian trail has a rigorous permit system to limit trail use to something like 50 people a day. I doubt there are more than 50 people per week walking the Olympic coast? So, is the Canadian trail really more spectacular, or is it just more publicized and used?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 10:02:32 MDT Print View

I've heard of full campgrounds in WA during the peak season.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 10:17:46 MDT Print View

If you have a Washington driver's license, you don't need passport to get into Canada

If you have Oregon or most ever other state, you do need one, unless they've eased up on the requirement. Since 9/11/2001

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 10:19:17 MDT Print View

"I've heard of full campgrounds in WA during the peak season."

Definitely

One August I tried to get into Kalaloch at 10 AM - full

I did find a place at Lake Quinalt, but if you're a little late especially on weekend, good luck

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 10:25:51 MDT Print View

"So, is the Canadian trail really more spectacular"

Yes, in my opinion.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 10:27:10 MDT Print View

Who's up for a road trip?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 10:53:12 MDT Print View

Just looked at http://gocanada.about.com/od/canadatraveloverview/qt/uscitizenborder.htm

Okay, you're right, you don't need a U.S. passport to get into Canada

But, you do need one to get back into the U.S.

But, according to http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1082.html

"If a U.S. citizen traveling to Canada does not have a passport, passport card, or approved alternate document such as a NEXUS card, they must show a government-issued photo ID (e.g. Driver’s License) and proof of U.S. citizenship such as a U.S. birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or expired U.S. passport. Children under 16 need only present proof of U.S. citizenship. (Please see below for important information concerning re-entry into the United States.)"

They also have a "passport card" that's easier to get but only allows reentry by ground from Canada

Maybe you're best off just getting a passport and avoiding possible hassle

Nelson Sherry
(nsherry61)

Locale: Mid-Willamette Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 15:56:50 MDT Print View

International law requires country's to take their citizens in. That doesn't mean they can't take them in, then throw them in prison, but, they are required to take them in.

Canada couldn't care less if the people crossing their border from the US have a passport as long as they have appropriate government issued ID. The US wants to require passports to get into the US from Canada, but, they can't very well deny reentry into the US for US residents, at least US citizens. So, in spite of all the "saber rattling" you can still cross the border both ways without a passport if you are a US citizen.

Last week, my high school kid took a field trip from Oregon into Canada with about 30 other Oregon kids on a bus. They were not required to have passports going in either direction.

Now, getting a permit to hike the WCT may be a different matter and a somewhat more complex and uncertain endeavor. That is actually one of my hesitations in planning to do it.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 16:10:36 MDT Print View

>> My real questions are based on beauty vs. popularity <<

I think those are the wrong questions.

The questions should be do you want a unique experience and are you up to the challenge?

The WCT is truly a beautiful trail but as Family Guy has said the WCT can also be a test of your own mental and physical ability. The sign at the trail head office listing the number of people that have been "evacuated to date", pretty much says it all. I can't think of another trail that has such a high number of injuries considering the restricted number of hikers doing the trail. (I had to bail on my WCT trip last year because of a knee injury... I walked out, so I wasn't one of their statistics board and it's the first time a trail has ever beaten me).

As a light weight backpacker you shouldn't have any problem physically but the root balls, rain, wind, fog, ladders, and slippery surfaces (everything is slippery) can take it's toll on you if you are not mentally and physically prepared. Many people leave the WCT very proud that they have completed the trail but during the hike they were miserable.

The reason you should try the WCT is because of the unique experience it provides. I'm very familiar with coastal hiking/camping but the WCT is truly a unique hiking experience. It should be on every backpackers bucket list.

The WCT is a truly international trail, so the people you meet will be a highlight of your trip. The terrain is incredible, with beautiful beach walks, west coast rain forest and unusual trail features (the ladders have to be seen to be appreciated). Beer, burgers, crab and salmon are also a highlight of this trail (just ask anybody that's hiked the trail!).

If you go before June 15th you do not have to reserve a spot, just show up and go. There will be half the number of hikers on the trail at this time of year compared to prime time. Most people don't drive to/from the northern terminus, take the West Coast Trail Bus or a boat and save your car... again, both of these add to the adventure.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 17:22:24 MDT Print View

"International law requires country's to take their citizens in..."

I've heard that too.

I was just reading the official Canada and U.S. websites.

The emmigration people can be real obnoxious (to use a polite word).

Maybe if you're going to go to Canada it's better to just get a passport and avoid possible hassle.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
U.S. / Canada Border on 04/21/2013 22:15:04 MDT Print View

I miss the pre 9-11 days when all you had to do when crossing the border was flash a driver's license. If you want to skip a lengthy response, then I would recommend traveling across the border with a passport. If you are a U.S. citizen and have no intention of traveling anywhere besides Canada or Mexico, then you can get by with a cheaper passport card.

http://travel.state.gov/passport/ppt_card/ppt_card_3926.html

If you're a glutton for punishment then read on....

Crossing the border for law abiding Canadian and U.S. citizens should be a forgettable event 99% of the time. The other 1% is stuff legends are made of. There is nothing worse than having reservations for Disneyland and being told you can't enter due to a 20 year old conviction or because a cranky officer is having a bad day. Horror stories only get worse from there.

Nothing I'm saying here should be considered legal advice. U.S. Immigration Law is considered by many to be second only to tax law as the most complicated body of law here in the U.S. I'll go so far as to say that an immigration attorney from Texas would have a very steep learning curve on the Washington/BC border due to all of the 9thCCA case law that they would not be familiar with.

As far as U.S. citizens crossing into Canada goes, I can't tell you what they officially require but we travel enough to justify buying passports for our entire family. We are entering each other's countries under a visa waiver agreement and both Canadian and U.S. Immigration Officers have a couple aces up their sleeves if they want to turn you around. Among those, if they can articulate (doesn't take much) that you are trying to unlawfully immigrate to their county (happens) and don't plan to leave or that you don't have sufficient funds to support yourself while in country.

Canada has been known to refuse entry to U.S. citizens who have been previously convicted of DUIs (I haven't heard of this in a while.) This is absolutely hysterical to me knowing how many Canadians are allowed to enter the U.S. with DUI convictions. Oh well... their country their rules.

What I've found that works very well for me when traveling to Canada:

1. Faithfully obey all Canadian laws and don't try to smuggle anything in. This should go without saying but 1000s of Americans "forget" their pistol in the glove box, pepper spray, etc. Buying/owning bear spray in Canada is another topic for another thread. Be sure to declare everything you are supposed to declare.

2. Present passports for all passengers with everyone ready to answer any and all questions. Headphones off of the kids, sunglasses off, etc. You may be able to get away with a lesser document (driver's license) but the passport removes almost all doubt that the document before the immigration officer is valid.

3. Have hotel reservation printed off and ready to present if requested (never had to.)

4. Printed copy of bank statement from ATM ready to present if requested (never had to.)

5. If you have NRA, "Shall Not Be Infringed," "Glock Perfection" stickers all over your vehicle, then 1) let's meet up for some range time, and 2) be prepared for you and your vehicle to receive more attention in Canadian secondary.

Now as far as entering the U.S. as a U.S. citizen is concerned without a passport. Yes, at some point you will be admitted back into our country. That will not stop CBP from sending you to secondary where you and your belongings may be removed from the vehicle for closer inspection. This is not to say that you will not be subjected to secondary even if you are carrying a passport but I've found that it's easier for everyone involved to just give CBP what they are asking for and to work with them instead of against them. It is also possible that they will wave you through with just a driver's license but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 04/22/2013 01:30:16 MDT.

Nelson Sherry
(nsherry61)

Locale: Mid-Willamette Valley
Re: W Coast Trail vs. W Coast Trail? on 04/21/2013 23:04:49 MDT Print View

Mike & Ian,
Thank you! You replies are both spot on helpful & informative.

Peter Evans
(NLslacker)
WCT on 04/22/2013 09:13:48 MDT Print View

I've done the WCT and it is not really that much of a challenge... more of a cakewalk really.
It is beautiful though, I may do it again this year.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
West Coast Trail (Vancouver Island) on 04/22/2013 10:20:10 MDT Print View

We did the WCT about 15 years back. We were subjected to plenty of horror stories about mud and slippery logs both in research and at the trailhead briefing.

Having never backpacked along the coast, it was a different and very enjoyable experience. The cable cars and ladders were fun. For us the trail was much easier than had been advertised- but there's a good reason for that: Our trip was during the longest dry spell on record for the WCT. No rain, no mud, no slimy logs. I can definitely see it being a real challenge, with lots of risk if it was raining.

We are hoping to do it with the kids soon- maybe next year. They will have good stories and the "chutes and ladders" will be lots of fun.

The best part? Spending a few days in Victoria afterwards. We flew in via Seattle, spent a night in Victoria, took a van to the north end of trail, hiked, van back to the hotel where we had left a suitcase of town clothes, then ate seafood, tea, and scones for a couple days.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
WCT... on 04/22/2013 17:13:30 MDT Print View

>> I've done the WCT and it is not really that much of a challenge... more of a cakewalk really <<

While I appreciate that everybody has different skills and physical abilities, I'm not sure how helpful a comment like this is to the average Joe that is doing their pre-trip research. People have run the entire WCT in less than half a day but they hardly represent the "average" backpacker on the trail.

I have several sets of GPS tracks from the WCT that show my progress in sections of the trail as being between .5 and 1 Km/hour. As a guy that covers most trails pretty quickly, I wouldn't call that "a cake walk". Combine that with the number of people that are evacuated from the WCT every year and I think I'd rather make comments that are useful to the majority of the backpackers that will be hitting the trail, not just the exceptional crowd that finds it easy.

Perhaps you were one of those lucky guys that managed to do the trail when it was dry... it's a different experience when dry, definitely a little bit less dangerous(but still difficult hiking because the root balls don't disappear).

Edited by skopeo on 04/22/2013 17:14:32 MDT.

M G
(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
N. Coast Trail on 04/23/2013 12:36:04 MDT Print View

If you want to crowds and bureaucracy and have a similar experience head north to the tip of the Island and hike the North Coast Trail. More challenging, equally beautiful.

Nelson Sherry
(nsherry61)

Locale: Mid-Willamette Valley
Re: N. Coast Trail on 04/23/2013 22:34:55 MDT Print View

"If you want to {avoid} crowds and bureaucracy and have a similar experience head north to the tip of the Island and hike the North Coast Trail. More challenging, equally beautiful."

Now, that sounds like a fine idea!

With the wife and 2 kids, there is over $600 in required fees and a lot of bureaucracy to hike the WCT. I have a really hard time swallowing that.

I think the North Coast Trail may just be the perfect ticket! More remote, less traveled, lower fees (if any) beautiful scenery. I think I'm buying it!

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
North Coast Trail... on 04/23/2013 23:16:55 MDT Print View

The North Coast Trail has some hidden costs as well. It's a 350 mile drive to the trail head (the north island drive is tedious) so it will likely be a "next day start" for your hiking. You will also have to arrange a shuttle and a boat ride to get to and from the trail head. The WCT is more expensive but far easier to arrange the logistics (especially if you go before the mid June reservation date).

The North Coast Trail is definitely more remote and devoid of crowds however if I was taking kids, I'd opt for the WCT.

I was planning on doing the NCT this year but it has moved to next year for me. If you have less travel time and want a similar experience, read up on the Cape Scott Trail. It connects to the west end of the NCT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
WCT on 04/24/2013 07:53:53 MDT Print View

"With the wife and 2 kids, there is over $600 in required fees and a lot of bureaucracy to hike the WCT. I have a really hard time swallowing that."
Yeah its pretty nuts. That's the reason I've never done it. The costs for just my wife and I are:
$160 - Shuttle ($80 ea for WCT Express Bus)
$304 - Trail Fees ($127.50 + $24.50 reservation fee per person)
$162 - BC Ferries (Car + 2 people x 2 ways)
TOTAL: $622 not including regular expenses like gas, food etc.

The NCT seems like a nice option. I've been up in Cape Scott and hiked a couple hours down the NCT but I haven't seen the bulk of it. Another option is the Juan de Fuca Trail, which is immediately south of the WCT. It's shorter (40km vs 75) and less remote (although sections seem darn remote), but the scenery is also spectacular and the logistics and costs are far more reasonable. There is a highway that parallels the shore, so shuttling is much quicker. With the WCT the shuttle takes a long circuitous route around the island. I've hiked the JDF twice and both times just hitch hiked it.

Then there's the ultimate trip....starting at Carmanah and combining a walk thru Canada's biggest trees with a WCT excursion. Remote, awesome and nearly free. Also illegal.

Edited by dandydan on 04/24/2013 07:58:21 MDT.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
How many days to hike the WCT on 04/26/2013 05:16:42 MDT Print View

Looks like I'll be in Victoria July 2014. I understand that the WCT is 47 miles long. Is it reasonable to try and hike it in two days or should I allow for three?

M G
(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
Juan de Fuca and NCT on 04/26/2013 06:53:01 MDT Print View

+1 on Juan de Fuca if you are taking kids. Depends how old and skill levels I guess but I would only take experienced teens on the WCT. I've done the JDF trail as a day trail run. It's very lovely without any of the permitting hassles and much more suitable for a family trip.

Ferry costs and water taxi/ shuttle cost and logistics for the both the WCT and NCT are about equal. So I would not characterize these as hidden costs. There is no permitting fee or hassle for the NCT but the drive is longer, not sure if I would describe it as tedious to a first time visitor...but I would take the drive over the red tape and crowds anytime.

Cape Scott is lovely either way.

Edited by drown on 04/26/2013 06:58:10 MDT.

M G
(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
Re: How many days to hike the WCT on 04/26/2013 06:55:46 MDT Print View

"Looks like I'll be in Victoria July 2014. I understand that the WCT is 47 miles long. Is it reasonable to try and hike it in two days or should I allow for three?"

I would plan for 3, you may find your average hourly mileage reduced due to pebble, gravel, rock, and sand beaches as well as ladders and likely very wet, slippery structures.

M G
(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
comparions and trip report on 04/29/2013 13:17:26 MDT Print View

running trip but nonetheless a useful comparison of terrain.

http://trailadventurer.blogspot.com/2008/05/north-coast-trail-run-may-10-2008.html