North Coast Trail – day 5

Sept 2012 trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

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

Nissen to Cape Scott Lighthouse

Mornings are often foggy on this coast. It burns off after a couple of hours on a sunny day.

Here’s a fog bank, for comparison, dissipating later in the day at Nel’s Bight.

Departing Nissen, you find that your North Coast Trail is now also the older (1973) Cape Scott Trail. In much better condition.

Very cool. Unique, so far as I’ve seen, is this broken up wooden ship hulk, sunk as a breakwater, slowly being overgrown by vegetation.

The Earth reclaiming. 🙂

From 1897 until 1910, Danish settlers tried to establish a fishing community near San Josef Bay. Due to the harsh climate and lack of governmental support, the community failed …

… another attempt was made at Hansen Lagoon, similarly failing by 1917. Alfred Spencer, the last resident, left in 1956.

Some artifacts can still be seen in the park, including a three-metre-tall granite tombstone, several corduroy roads, many ruins (that look like anonymous mossy mounds), and rusty farming implements. …

Wikipedia – history of Cape Scott

Of those relics, the most impressive to me is this crude tractor abandoned jammed between trees near Hansen Lagoon.

Nel’s Bight is gorgeous. My favourite stop. The most popular beach in the Park is reasonably easy to access from the parking lot. No need to hike the NCT to get here.

I set up my tent early in the day, for the first time. And walked the 2km long beach barefoot in bright sunshine.

I’d pushed to get here early to have time to side trip to the Cape Scott lighthouse. (minimum 13.6km)

It’s a pretty, varied and well maintained trail. I love log bridges made of materials available on site, this style in particular.

Some find the manned light house a bit of a let down. It’s immaculate, however.

The weather was marvelous. With views over to the island north of the north tip of Vancouver Island.

The letdown is the location of the light station, far from shore atop a hill. Somehow it’s not as exciting as those on the West Coast Trail.

Locals love grass fringed Guise Bay en route.

And unique Dune Neck to Experiment Bight.

Natives formerly dragged their boats across this sandy stretch rather than risk the circumnavigation of Cape Scott in dangerous seas.


By the time I got back to the tent, it was late. I was tired.

My food, as always, was carefully locked away in the campsite cache.

🙂 Fortunately, I’d found stove fuel left behind by departing hikers.

😦 Unfortunately …, there was a pack of wolves close to the water source at Nel’s beach.


They were feasting dawn and dusk on a sea lion carcass dead directly in front of the Ranger’s cabin. Here a photo I took the next day.

The water — however — was close to the Ranger’s cabin, as well.

So wolves, be damned. I marched directly to get water. The beasts dissolved into the trees.

It was quite dark by the time I finished dinner. Instead of cleaning the pot, I used an old trick — filling it with sand and sea water. That prevents critters from coming to visit during the night.

But the tide was low. I had a long walk barefoot to reach the surf.

When I turned around, there was the alpha wolf, about 25ft away. They’d trapped me!

I SHOUTED. I raved. I waved (my pot).

I grabbed KELP and snapped it like a WHIP.

The wolf mother finally realized I was some madman. And finally trotted off with her brood. … At least my THEORY is that this is a mother with young ones. Some speculated the leader is the Alpha Male with 3 or 4 followers.

Here’s a wolf, perhaps the same wolf, on the same beach Aug 10th, 2012, a month before I was there.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

It was much, much later before I realized she was only coming out to see where I dumped leftovers in the sea.

Wolves almost NEVER attack humans. The are among the least threatening beasts anywhere for their size and strength.

The Vancouver Island Wolf is a subspecies of grey. They will attack dogs and, indeed, there were at least two dog encounters this season in the Park. Don’t bring your dog here.

Their main prey on this Island are Columbian black-tailed deer and Roosevelt elk. While I was on the Trail, one hiker captured video of a wolf chasing a deer through the surf.

more photos

I’m adding a line to my résumé:

Once pursued by wolves.

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5 Replies to “North Coast Trail – day 5”

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