North Coast Trail – day 1

Sept 2012 trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

» day 1 | day 2 | day 3 | day 4 | day 5 | day 6 | day 7 | ★ recommendations

My cost = $256:
$90 – water taxi (6 people)
$75 – shuttle from San Josef (10 people)
$10 – map
$60 – trail fees (6 nights x $10)
… plus 12% tax

Shushartie to Skinner Creek

Sunday morning, Port Hardy. End of the World.

The N.W. corner of Vancouver Island is remote, even for Canada.

I was early arriving at the offices of the North Coast Trail Shuttle at Quarterdeck Marina, allowing time for one LAST restaurant breakfast.

It didn’t take long to load 6 hikers and gear. Departure shortly after 8am.

Skipper, George, filled us in on what to expect. It sounded much tougher than what I’d been thinking.

En route we saw our first bear of many.

On arriving Shushartie Bay, we spot a wolf.

That’s actually the first wolf I’ve ever seen in the wild.

Seas were calm and we stepped ashore easily.

Skipper, after unloading, maneuvered his boat to capture some unique footage. A moma bear with 3 cubs.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

She’s training them to hunt for small crabs. (VIDEO)

Moma finally “puts the run” to the wolf. (40sec)

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I assume the wolf was hoping to nab one of the cubs.

Skipper’s spent a lot of time in these wilds, but he’d never seen anything like that before.

So here we are. Still clean and healthy.

3 young ladies from Calgary & Victoria. A couple from Germany who had done this same hike in 2011 — and returned in 2012 because they enjoyed it so much. And one hiking blogger, already out of line.

Most on this trail are from BC, Alberta and Germany. As we were.

We did the “standard” North Coast Trail — starting at km 58.1 and working backwards. … Yes — counter-intuitive for a Trail officially opened in only 2008.

Enjoy the view at km 57. That’s the last time you’ll see the Ocean for many hours.

Enthusiastic to get started, I was quickly depressed by MUD.

The only fun sections this day are new boardwalk, this being one of the best.

Plenty more construction material has been helicoptered in — with which to build more boardwalk. But I heard the budget had run out. Even with cash I’m not sure this stretch of trail will ever be worth hiking.

No sea views, a mud slog of 8.7km from Shushartie to Skinner Creek has little to commend itself. Avoid it if you can. It can take 9hrs or more for some groups!

… Yep. An hour / km. That’s dead slow.

That photo’s actually from the infamous South Coast Track in Tasmania. This hike rivals for infamy.

Another hiker, JT, calls this the “North Coast Swamp“.

The girls had rented a marine radio from North Coast Trail Shuttle. If they called for help, rescue costs $1000.

But what do you do if someone is injured far inland
, hours from the sea?


How can you avoid the day 1 mud slog, you ask?

Request the water taxi to drop you at Skinner. Or even Sutil, instead.

They can — IF sea conditions allow. The water taxi can make it to Shushartie almost every day, but not necessarily any further.

There was a bear on Skinner when we finally arrived — as there often is — our 6th bear of the day. But I was too tired even to notice.

Good night.

More photos.

» day 1 | day 2 | day 3 | day 4 | day 5 | day 6 | day 7 | ★ recommendations

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