Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.
Day 1 – June 9, 2021
Bamfield to Michigan
The West Coast Trail Express delivers clean hikers to the Visitor Centre at Pachena Bay close to Bamfield.
Private logging roads from Lake Cowichan to Bamfield were surprisingly good in 2021.
In normal years, we would have checked-in, watched a video, and filled out our paperwork — walking away with a WCT Overnight Use Permit.
DON’T LOSE THAT PERMIT. You are required to show it to get on the ferries at Nitinat Narrows and Gordon River.
Due to COVID, 2021 was different. Watching the videos was done online. Rangers QUIZZED us outdoors to see if we actually knew the content.
My reservations was for June 10th. I’d planned to start early the next morning. BUT the trailhead campground was still closed. Rangers agreed that it would be better to set me off on to the trail rather than have me hanging around Bamfield overnight.
To start there are two choices:
- Steep ladders, OR …
- 1 km on the beach
We met 4 ladies coming in who were first to finish on the Bamfield end of the WCT 2021. They’d taken the beach but told us to head inland as the tide was now too high.
I would end up hiking in parallel with the 3 guys here, all Canadian border guards.
LADDERS challenge right from the start.
This is the “easier” end of the trail. Still, it’s 12km to the first campground. Mostly inland.
Around every corner there’s something weird and interesting.
Pachena Point Light Station at 10km is a highlight. But it was still closed to hikers due to COVID.
When not muddy, the inland trails are magical.
Almost every hiker stays at Michigan coming and going because it’s closest to Bamfield. That said, it’s not nearly one of my favourites.
Less crowded than ever before, I still decided to wade the river and find a small site in the trees away from the ‘mob’.
Folks had seen a bear on the beach earlier in the day. It’s essential to secure all food in the bear lockers.
In the evening at low tide I went exploring the shelf.
This is the boiler of the Michigan which went aground 1893. This is the shipwreck coast, after all.
Perhaps I should have carried on to one of the next two small campsites: Darling or Orange Creek.