From the Archives – West Coast Trail Part 2

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Our 2015 West Coast Trail adventure continues from Part 1

AUG 4 – DAY 5 – TSUSIAT FALLS TO MICHIGAN CREEK

Of course it would turn out that the first trip we decided to avoid carrying any duplicate gear would be the first time we’d have a problem.

While boiling water for breakfast we noticed that our stove was taking forever. After taking 15 min to boil water, we let it cool and took it apart to take a look, it seemed that something was obstructing the flow of fuel (probably some fine sand from Cribbs) my friend would later spend half an hour tinkering with it before dinner without success. We ended up borrowing a stove from a group of dads and daughters whom we had been paralleling the trail with for several days. One of the benefits of a more crowded trail is the option to borrow if things go wrong, but it’s nice to feel self-sufficient.

Starting the day with ladders had become old hat and we passed over the bridge over top of the falls. While coming up to the Klanwana River we missed the beach access and ended up having to take the cable car across. Compared the previous day it was pretty slack and we made good time. Most of the sand was well packed with only a few sections of the soft stuff, even the sections through the forest were pretty nice compared to what we had experienced the first 2 days.

It was interesting talking to a pair of hikers coming the other way as they warned us about “all” the ladders ahead of us. We smiled and told him that “no, no , no, it’s you who should be prepared for lots of ladders :)”. Encountering our friendly mom at Darling River in the early afternoon we sat down chat and watch a pod of whales play. Laying back, I dozed off enjoying the sound of the waves, the fresh breeze and the warm sand.

From Darling River to Michigan it was less than an hour and we pulled in just before 4:00. After spending the aforementioned time fiddling with our stove we took a close look at what appeared to be a small Japanese boat that had washed up on shore (possible Tsunami debris) and spent our last night on the trail chatting by the campfire watching the sun go down.

The group photo (missing Dwarf)

Tsusiat Falls

The climb out of Tsusiat Falls

Klanwana River Cable Car

AUG 5 – DAY 6 – MICHIGAN CREEK TO BAMFIELD AND VANCOUVER

We decided to get an early start on our last so we’d have plenty of time to catch the West Coast Express. With no stove, we had a quick cold breakfast of granola and we were back on the trail just before 7:00.

Although our bus reservation was for the 7th, we hoped they’d be able to fit us in two days early (turns out it’s usually not a problem between Bamfield and Gordon River, rather from Gordon River to Victoria that’s usually booked up).

From Michigan the trail heads back into the forest with only a short beach option right before the trailhead. We stayed to the trees, but would probably try the beach next time (we just had to get in a final few ladders). Although back from the shore, the trail is very different from the hike from Gordon River to Walbran, mostly straight with only a handful of roots to deal with, making kms pass by quickly.

Along the way we came across the Parks Canada “Red Chairs” and took a moment for a photo. It was interesting to see the folks coming in, wide eyed and bushy tailed (and not smelling of 7 days of BO J). Although there were several times where we had to shake our heads at what some people were packing in. Big enameled coffee pots, 4l milk jugs full of water, bags and pillows dangling off their packs, one lady even had two packs (one fully loaded one on her back, and a second fully loaded day pack on her front).

Looking behind her we asked if she was carrying it for someone, but she said it was all for her. Now I know that there are some who only hike in as far as Tsusiat and back out, but wow, some of these people were easily carrying 60+ lbs, but to each their own. I’m not sure if it was because the end was in sight, or our packs were lighter, or that our legs had finally become resigned to their fate, but we made it out in 4 hours flat even with a brief stop at the Pacheena Lighthouse.

We signed off the trail and grabbed a taxi into town. It was an incredible feeling to have the trail behind us, but also sad that our adventure seemed to have gone by so quickly. The taxi driver asked us to roll down the windows, and when we asked if we really smelled that bad, she replied “yup :)”.

We grabbed lunch at the Tides and Trails Cafe (more fish and chips) and caught the bus shortly after 1:00. It had been a long time since I had been in Bamfield (almost 25 years), but I remembered those forestry roads. After sitting in a paint mixer for 2.5 hours we were soon on the highway to Port Renfrew and within an hour back to our car (no worse for wear).

Looking at the time we figured, if we skipped showers, we could just make it to Nanaimo for the 7:30pm ferry. My friend had heard that some of the ferries had showers for commuters, but unfortunately (for the people around us) not the one we were on.

As we pulled into Horseshoe bay I watched the jet skiers jumping over our wake in last rays of the setting sun, it was time to start planning for next year’s adventure and the Teton Crest trail.

Beautiful creek near Elk Lakes

Lighthouse

Not much left to go

Not much left to go

Beautiful creek near Elk Lakes

We made it

Time for some fish and chips

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Kelly McDonald

After spending 12 years in Ottawa Kelly returned to Calgary in 2012 and decided to pick off where he left off by roping his closest friends into some new back-country adventures (some more fun than others).

Kelly McDonald is a father of two hobbits ages 12 and 13 and tries to get them out into the wilderness as often as he can.

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