Flying up side up

Flying up side up
All wobbly like
An old biplane crashes
Like a chick takes flight
Not at all like the phoenix.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Trip Report - West Coast Trail Suffer-Fest

The Executive Summary of the trip would read something like this:  A long, expensive, and horrific bus ride from Pt. Renfrew to Bamfield on logging roads brought a car sick and somewhat irritable group to the orientation station by 1:00 PM. The Check-In process was expensive and slow for the most part, and I found that some Canadians get snooty when you say something about systems efficacy.  With great pains though, they were pleasant and so was I and we got on the trail at something like 3 o'clock, ahead of others.  Non-existent beach access signs cost us another hour in doubling back to find the trail.  We did spook a bear though, and that was kind of fun.   

West to East a linear measure of the distance is given as 75 km by the Canadian Agency for Miss-communication and Confusion, so who knows how many trail miles of poorly maintained mud bogs, boardwalk, roots and root wads, ladders, and slippery madness interspersed with some well maintained boardwalks,  cable-cars, ladders, bridges (best maintained structures).  Those of us that did arrive at the end definitely felt as though it had been a huge self-rescue exercise.  The author himself is slated to lose two toenails soon and is hoping for at least a partial use of his right leg by this weekend.  

Further report: At this writing, it is 1:38 AM and I am unable to sleep for the pain of it.  My friend Christopher, who you met in an earlier post, and I completed the trail in 4.5 walking days arriving at some camps as late as 9:15 PM.  

You could not go fast, you could only go long if that makes any sense.  In places, I was surprised as I have never seen a trail in such disrepair.  On the other hand, there were parts of it very well maintained.  After speaking to a number of those we shared the trail with, we found out that the proceeds of the park are returned to the provincial general fund and not necessarily returned to the park proper.  Go figure.  The day of our orientation the number of evacuations by the park was 53 since it opened in May.

We did meet some really cool folks on trail.  Honorable mentions to Francois, Caroline, the crew at Chez Monique, Al and Dane, and Lanny from Vancouver.  It was good meeting you!  And to the bunch of others we chatted with, wished well and will never see again, take care too.

Poor Mike, he had to throw in the towel at about half way through due to his knee.  He made the right decision, I wouldn't have wanted to hit that with anything but full confidence either and I already told you part of the toll I am paying.  It was worth it though, if for nothing else bull-shitting rights.  I had happily decided a couple of days before the end that I would never have to walk this path again, but I'll be damned if Mike isn't already talking about going back for just the half he missed.  Good Lord pray for me, because I have agreed in theory that yeah, we should go back for it.  
 "if it looks waist deep, it probably is" 
 can't remember which one this is, but it's one of the longer ones of five
 the trail, really, for miles
 very narrow suspension bridge, with ladders up at the end
 funky angle, eh?  no worries though cause it went nearly 
straight up for about 150 feet after that
 random ladder not associated with the previous picture,
I would estimate that there are about 1.5 vertical km of ladders on the trail
boardwalk to nowhere, roots and mud aplenty.
seriously, for most of the trip


  1. YIKES! Now THAT's a vacation!! arrggghhh! Christopher, I am filled with awe!

  2. Did you read up on the West Coast Trail before doing it? It seems that most most of the things you mentioned are emphasized in the various WCT guides that are available. And for the record, Canadians also appreciate efficiency and efficacy but may get snooty when encountering self-entitled, impatient Americans :)

    1. @ Kim, yeah, I read one WCT book, and perhaps it was the edition I purchased but it wasn't all that informative. I admit, for the record, I was kind of harsh in my writing but what makes you think I am self-entitled and impatient? Jeesh, you don't even know me and look how judgmental you are! If you agree to put away your stereo-types I will agree to cut you Canucks some slack.

  3. I'm doing the WCT at the end of August. Any particular recommendations in regards to equipment, etc.? And do you remember how much did your pack weighed starting out? - Thanks

    1. @ Paul, the best advise I could give would be to take a leisurely pace instead of doing it in 4-1/2 days like we did. My pack weighed 40 lbs (18kg) with water at the trailhead. Not too bad at all.

      I didn't make any significant changes to my gear list, to speak of. I was glad to have brought lightweight gloves for pulling across the cable cars. One thing that I would do is to include the meals available on the trail in my food prep, which I did not do so I ended up carrying a day's extra food. I might reconsider carrying a water filter and just go with tabs too. I spoke to a number of people with the Steri-pens that clean your water with ultra-violet light, and am glad I didn't pick one of those up. One girl on the trail was completely dissatisfied with hers.

      You will have a good time, and it is a worthy trail despite my grumblings. We are going back next year so that Mike gets to complete the trail.