One of the most popular hikes in western Canada would have to be The West Coast Trail. Located on Vancouver Island, the trail is a 75 kilometer stretch from Port Renfrew to Peechena Bay where hikers can explore the temperate rainforest, sandy beaches, Canadian wildlife, and historical shipwrecks.
Having done the Inca Trail in 2014, the West Coast Trail (WCT) was next on my bucket list. When my coworker asked me to join him on the WCT, I didn't hesitate to say yes! Plus there were 5 other strong willed and awesome people joining us on our quest!
Day 1 - Saturday August 22, 2015
Route: Port Renfrew (KM 75) to Camper Bay (KM 62)
Distance: 13 km
Start Time: 8:45am
So after weeks of planning, today was the day! We opted to start the hike at the Port Renfrew Trailhead as opposed to Peechena. The reason being: A) We wanted to get the hardest part of the hike done and over with it, B) We'd have the excitement, energy, and stamina at the beginning, even with a heavier bag, and C) We wanted our last day to be an easy hike with flatter terrain.
Before starting the trail, hikers must attend a 1 - 1.5 hour information session. Daily orientation sessions were scheduled at 10am and 2pm, so instead of having to wait and start late in the day, our group opted to attend the orientation the day before. So with the orientation checked off, we were good to start the hike first thing in the morning. We also had to make the 8:45am ferry to cross the Gordon River.
As soon as we got to the WCT Office, we parked our vehicles and eagerly packed our gear. The WCT Office also had a scale right outside for hikers, so we were all curious to see what each of our bags weighed, mine was 54 lbs.
Shortly after the 8:45am mark, Butch (the ferry operator) quietly greeted us at the docks, checked our permits, and proceeded with his daily duties by giving us a lift across the Gordon River.
Of course once we got to the trailhead, we had to take the ceremonial group photo. Starting at KM 75, the goal was to make it to the campsite located at KM 62 (Camper Bay). The first 5 km were not easy to say the least. There were tons of logs, rocks, ladders, and obstacles to climb, along with the constant elevation changes. We were averaging about 1.5 km/hr until KM 70. Luckily the next 8 km to Camper's Cove only took us about 3 hours, but even then it was still quite the jog. Unfortunately we had to sacrifice the beach access from Thrasher's Cove to the “hole in the rock” at Owen Point due to the rising high tide. We would have had to camp at Thrasher's Cove for the night, but with the plan to finish the trail by Thursday, we just couldn't do it.
By the time we got to KM 66, we unanimously agreed to take a slight detour from “Beach Access B” to “A”. It was definitely a good change of scenery as opposed to the forest. I highly recommend taking any beach routes whenever you can. The terrain is definitely a lot flatter and faster to walk on.
Once we finally reached our destination at KM 62, we discovered our first cable cart on the trail. With the extremely dry weather this past summer, hikers were able to cross the creek by foot, but no one passed up the chance to experience the cable cart ride for themselves!
After the trill of riding the cart all said and done, we finally landed at Camper Bay. And with day one behind us, everyone took the time to relax on the beach and watch the sunset...