Friday, September 20, 2013

West Coast Trail - Sept. 2013

 Well after much pouring over maps, photos,   recipes, and equipment, we finally did our trip to the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island B.C.

We were incredibly lucky because we had absolutely no rain, no injuries, didn't starve and didn't get eaten by a bear. All the research was worthwhile. No 1. -- it was fun and gave us something to look forward to - and who doesn't like spending a Saturday at MEC anyway? No. 2- It saved us from unpleasant surprises that can ruin a trip.We did one overnight trip close to home to try out our equipment and try out the weight we planned to carry and one full 6 day hike on Lake Superior. The latter certainly prepared us for the WCT because it actually turned out to be just as hard and possibly even harder.

 The difficulty on the WCT was not the ladders (there are about 70) as we expected, but the mud. There was mud everywhere. You are constantly walking on logs, stumps, rocks, to avoid going up to your knees in mud. And believe me, many people did. Others fell right in. The sections of the trail without the mud or even just tackier mud are sheer pleasure. After 5 days of the stuff though, you begin to tire of lifting your leg to step up on the logs and just plow right through the mud if it seems only ankle deep.

 The cable cars were fun and suited us paddling types because of our upper body strength but one in particular would have been impossible without help. That day we were starting out for the day with the creek crossing. We studied the creek, looking for a place to cross, climbed up the cable car ladder, saw the huge dip in the line, climbed down the cable car ladder, studied the creek some more, talked to some other guys who said they planned to check out the creek and finally... after about 45 min of this nonsense, got across via cable car with the help of the other pair. And we were just starting our day! Two minutes from our camp the night before!

 We saw lots of animals: whales, seals, sea lions, sea otters, an eagle and an elk on the bus ride up to the trail head. Did I mention that the bus ride was probably the worst part of the trip? Six hours on a wash board road- I was not mentally prepared for that at all.
Tsusiat Falls

 On our longest day (20 kms) we had the crab feast at the ferry and a hamburger at Chez Moniques both on the same day. I inhaled that hamburger so fast and gulped down the beer that I can honestly say I have no recollection of what it tasted like. At Moniques there was a tour group that had missed their food drop and had spent the day there, watching whales, drinking and eating. I am thinking if you are doing a tour on the WCT and your food doesn't arrive, that is not a bad place to be. They seemed to be in good spirits.

Fresh Crab!
 We travelled North to South. We met many people going the opposite way at Thrashers Bay. They all warned us that if we thought it was bad so far, they were sorry to say that the worst was yet to come.(Much higher ladders and way more mud) We couldn't imagine that it would be so much worse but that night we ate double our dinner to prepare for our brutal day and I slept restlessly. Turned out it was just much of the same and not as bad as they let on. I think they tell those people that at their orientation to make them feel like they are getting the hard part over with.

 The absolute best part of the trip was the people you meet along the way. You tend to see a few of the same people each night at the various campsites and go over how your day was compared to them. Some race ahead as they have a schedule they want to meet, others meander along taking all the time in the world. I would not advise trying to achieve some kind of record doing this trail. No 1. - There is too much to see along the way. No. 2 - The chance of getting hurt is too great. No. 3 - You don't get to hang out with all the awesome people.

A well deserved break
 When we finished the trip we had a few beers and lunch with some fellow hikers and then passed out by the side of the road because the sun was nice and warm and we had no where to to go just then. Funny thing was, people kept stopping their vehicles and asking us questions: "Hey did you just finish the West Coast Trail?" "How was the weather?" "Do you know where I can get gas?" -I don't know about you but where I come from it is not polite to wake someone who is sleeping by the side of the road. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat, but there is a whole big world of trails to explore in the meantime.  Next up Killarney, Ont. which has great reviews and then who knows?  Maybe New Zealand?

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