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Tips for the West Coast Trail?
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Brett Marl
(brettmarl) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Tips for the West Coast Trail? on 07/19/2007 00:37:52 MDT Print View

I was lucky enough to get a reservation to do the WCT this year - over labor day weekend.

I've been ultralight hiking for several years now (my gearlist at but haven't done any beach hiking or very sustained mud/rain hiking in my trail runners.

I notice everyone wearing mud-clad heavy boots and gaiters on the WCT pictures!

I'm wondering how my ultralight trail runners will perform on all the sandy beaches and deep mud. Any pearls of wisdom from ultralight folks that have done this trail (or any other beach hiking) in trail runners.

Any other tips from previous WCT hikers?

thanks for any info!

Rick Hancock
(RickHancock) - MLife
West Coast Trail on 09/10/2007 18:06:59 MDT Print View

Sorry I didn't see this until Sept. 10th. I am planning a hike on the WCT next Sept. For future reference there are several good books about the route including Blisters and Bliss by Dave Foster. He uses lightweight trailrunners and carries 2 pair or at least a pair of Teva's. He also uses low gaiters. Several years ago Backpacker had an article about 2 guys he did the hike with minimal equipment, actually outfitted themselves as they went along. Seems that most people who hike this trail carry a minimum of 40 pounds! That's a lot of gear! When I hike the trail I'm planning on carrying a tarp, fiber bag, and bivy sack. You do need to be protected as the weather is often lousy. Still, I'd rather have room to move around under a tarp than a heavy tent. I don't believe a single wall tent would work very well.

Please let me know how your trip went my buddy and I are looking forward to our trip.
Rick Hancock

mark o'keefe
(montana666666) - F

Locale: Montana
West Coast advice on 09/14/2007 12:49:26 MDT Print View

Just did the trip (N to S) in July. I know this reply is post Labor day but just returned from a 2 week trip in Alaska so I missed the post.
WCT is one tough trail. Heading N to S the first 50 K (out of 75) are fairly reasonable. Lots of beach walking, ladders, cable cars, mud and scenary. Those 50 K put you 1/2 way through the rigors of the trail and could be hiked by an experienced lightweight hiker in trail runners etc. (probably only get sucked off your feet 3 or 4 times over the 50 K.
The last 25 K (N to S) are a different animal. Mud holes the size of footballfields, marsh crossings on collapsing wooden boardwalks, 65 degree clay bank climbs using ropes to pull yourself up, 300 ft Sitka Spruce roots that rise 3 ft. mid trail, a mile of beach boulders the size of VW's covered with seaweed and green algae, ladders, ladders, ladders, surge pool leaping, tide poolo skirting, 7 ft mid trail waterfalls requiring class 3 climbing tech., and a couple hundred thousand wet rocks to make sure the footing is NEVER flat or evenly placed. I guess it could be done in trail runners, but WHY?
I left for the 6 days with 29 lbs on my back and a pair of Montrail Stratos on my feet. A light waterproof ankle supportive boot was just the ticket. I feel only once on the trail (group average 3.6 falls) and that was in the last KM. One commenter noticed the look of folks on the posted journals. Notice, and copy, the gaiters on everyone. Hell, without mine I may have never been able to find my feet on some days.
By the way, the WCT was a great trip. With the big blowdown last fall visitor use has plummeted and there are far fewer users then in past years. The trail crews that work the trail (First Peoples crew members) have done an absolutely unbelievable job in clearing or rerouting the trip by 2000 BIG downfalls.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Re: West Coast advice on 09/14/2007 18:55:36 MDT Print View

My sister did it last year. Be prepared for a *full-body* challenge; not just walking. There's substantial climbing (and downclimbing) of ladders, as well as cable cars. Much of it is a 3-d obstacle course.

Also: some campsites are apparently on the beach. Not sure if this can be avoided, but a floorless shelter might be less appealing there.

john flanagan
(jackfl) - F

Locale: New England
WCT on 09/14/2007 23:30:04 MDT Print View

Mark O'Keefe - thanks for one of the best 1 paragraph descriptions of any trail that I have ever read! Awesome! Never done it - never thought about doing it - now ya' go me going.

Edited by jackfl on 09/15/2007 07:31:34 MDT.

Brett Marl
(brettmarl) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
My experience w/trail runners on the WCT on 10/03/2007 14:19:39 MDT Print View

We completed the WCT over labour day weekend. We took the S->N direction. It was a tough trail, but no where near as bad as I was expecting. I did it in Golite Sundragon Trail runners with about 21 lb starting weight (including food/water).

We did it in 4 full days - 2 days of fair weather and 2 days of torrential "rain forest" style rain.

We didn't see another sole on the trail with umbrellas, but passed plenty that wished they had one :)

The trail shoes performed very well - and we did our best to 'dance' through the mud pits unscathed. We used very short ankle gaiters which really helped keep the sand out on the beaches and kept the mud a bay a little too.

Our cloudburst tarp-tent, although plagued with condensation (as usual) performed very well in the down pours.

A spectacular trip - very highly recommended! I definitley recommend doing it ultralight - it makes the ladders a breeze. The umbrellas were indepensible; and we even masterd the use of umbrellas + poles at the same time :)

Day 1 of our trip is written up on my blog at:

I'll write up more days as I get time.

Edited by brettmarl on 10/03/2007 14:21:03 MDT.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Re: My experience w/trail runners on the WCT on 10/03/2007 19:33:02 MDT Print View

Brett -

Thanks for the top-notch photos and text in regards to the WCT. I look forward to more tales. Your blog has found a home in my RSS reader for sure.

- Sam

Brett Marl
(brettmarl) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
blog feedback on 10/06/2007 20:14:06 MDT Print View

no worries - thanks for the kind words. maintaining a blog is fun - albeit a LOT of work :)

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
Brett"s report on 10/16/2007 18:14:51 MDT Print View

Brett that is a great report. Nice job on intergrating text, maps and pictures. I had never even heard of the trail before reading this thread. Not sure it will be near the top of my list of must-do hikes, yet.

Grzegorz Przeorski
(grzechu) - MLife

Locale: Ontario
Vibram Five Fingers On WCT on 10/29/2007 16:27:40 MDT Print View

Vibram "slippers", that's what I was using on WCT. I had Nike Air Zoom Tallacs as a backup but never put them on. People's reactions went from astonishment to bursts of unstopable laughter. I used them a little in the Rockies and some parks in Ontario. I just love them. For me it is the best warm weather footwear.Five Fingers On WCT

Brett Marl
(brettmarl) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
vibram slippers on 11/07/2007 15:13:56 MST Print View

woooahh... seriously? so what exactly are "vibram slippers" - i found this link - are these the things you mean?

can you shed some perspective on weight/comfort performance on various terrain etc.

Grzegorz Przeorski
(grzechu) - MLife

Locale: Ontario
Re: vibram slippers on 11/12/2007 21:02:19 MST Print View

Yes, that's it. I bought those almost two years ago and was reluctant to try them. This year I walked in them for about 300km. Completed West Cost Trail (mixed terrain, sand) and La Cloche Silhouette Trail in Kilarney Provincial Park ( a lot of really sharp rocks). It is like walking barefoot but without pain. The bottom is pretty thin but quite durable. (I had to be more careful about the top). There is no heel so it take some adjusting at the beginning as the Achilles tendons are being slighlty overstretched. They weight 148 grams each. I think they are truly ultralight footwear for warm weather. I think that anybody who has extra $70 to spare should give it a try. I love them.

Brett Marl
(brettmarl) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
no slippers for me :( on 11/15/2007 00:24:00 MST Print View

i checked out their sizing chart:

they say:

- If your foot length varies by more than 0.4cm, it will be difficult to get a precise fit for both feet.

- If your second toe is more than 0.4cm longer than your big toe, it will be difficult to get a precise fit.

it turns out i have space alien feet that vary a lot in size, so i'm guessing these won't be a good fit for me.

if i run across a pair in a local store, i may check them out just to see, but it sounds unlikley.

thanks for the write-up - they sound very cool.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
WCT on 12/14/2007 13:38:38 MST Print View


Edited by FamilyGuy on 11/08/2013 13:20:17 MST.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
WCT on 12/14/2007 14:28:38 MST Print View


Edited by FamilyGuy on 11/08/2013 13:21:20 MST.

C Anderson
(anderscm) - F
what do I need to know to hike the west coast trail? on 04/08/2008 11:19:20 MDT Print View

I'm putting together a WCT Planner book I want to make sure I cover all the bases. Sounds like a lot of you have hiked the trail multiple times! What's the most important thing you would tell people who want to hike the west coast trail?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
West Coast Trail on 04/08/2008 13:04:42 MDT Print View

It's wet! Good rain gear and a shelter that will give you 360 degree protection. I wanna go now!

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
WCT on 04/08/2008 18:54:50 MDT Print View


Edited by FamilyGuy on 11/08/2013 13:25:50 MST.

Brett Marl
(brettmarl) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Umbrella on 05/05/2008 17:27:30 MDT Print View

Umbrella Umbrella Umbrella Umbrella Umbrella. Enough said?

David Noll
(dpnoll) - MLife

Locale: Maroon Bells
Blisters and Bliss on 05/28/2008 10:43:25 MDT Print View

A great guidebook to read by David Foster and Wayne Aitken is appropriately called "Blisters and Bliss" if you don't watch the weight of your pack! It has good information of what you'll encounter along the WCT.
I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure once, and am seriously considering another trek along the Pacific Rim. No doubt it was challenging with all its ups and downs, ladders,mud, surge channels, tide schedules,cool temps, and the record rainfall of the century! What an exhilarating experience it was! I wouldn't have had it any other way!
On my trip I even got to meet both David Foster and Wayne Aitken. Their "Blisters and Bliss" T-shirts were a dead give away:-)


Edited by dpnoll on 05/28/2008 10:47:04 MDT.