Day 4 – West Coast Trail 2021

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Day 4 – June 12, 2021
Cribs to Cullite

My good camera died permanently 💀 the previous day. So I have fewer photos from the last 3 days.

Cribs is unique. I love the weird natural rock breakwater.

Here’s the campsite.

Pit toilets are excellent on the the WCT by the way. Some of the best I’ve seen around the world.

Again, I started on the beach in my water shoes. The weather steadily improving.

The iconic image of the West Coast Trail for me is a sea stack. Most of those are on the Port Renfrew end.

Wolves are common on beaches here now. We saw many prints.

In fact, a woman from Carmanah Light Station was interviewing hikers and recording what wildlife they’d seen.

I climbed the stairs up to the Light Station, even though visiting was still not allowed due to COVID.

It doesn’t take long to walk around. And drop back to the beach.

NOTE – I was told the very WORST inland trail of all right now is the section heading towards Bamfield from the Light Station. I was also told it would be CLOSED until improvements could be made.

Nearby is legendary Chez Monique’s, a popular snack bar on the trail for decades. Monique Knighton ran that — but died  New Year’s Eve 2017 at age-78.

Rumour had been that it would not reopen for 2021.

SURPRISED I was to find a family at the old location. They hoped to reopen to some extent this season when supplies arrived.

It’s a pretty beach walk from here.

The weather kept improving.

Bonilla Point. Vancouver Point,

Cablecar over Walbran Creek.

From Walbran to Cullite I stayed up on the inland trail, bypassing Adrenaline Surge, the most infamous on the WCT.

I actually like the ladders, each time considering how the trail must have been before they were constructed.

This was my first time crossing the magnificent new suspension bridge over Logan Creek. While this climate could quickly overgrow most of the manmade structures, this bridge will survive for hundreds of years.

One more cable car. And I dropped down to camp.

Arriving late yet again, there were only two obvious campsites left at Cullite.

But mine was a good one. Mostly sheltered from the rain.

Guys from my shuttle van camped 4 of 5 nights at the same spots as me. They got a big fire roaring every night.

A big fire to try to dry their hiking boots. Not the best footwear for the WCT in my opinion.

Next day I saw a hiker had abandoned his.

Day 3 – West Coast Trail 2021

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Day 3 – June 11, 2021
Tsusiat to Cribs

Finally. Serious rain.

But I was dry in a little tent secured under a Tsusiat cliff overhang. Didn’t need my fly.

Put on the water shoestrail runners with neoprene booties — in the morning as I’d be starting on the beach. Tide was low enough.

My rain gear perfect.

I enjoyed walking through Tsusiat Point a second time, 12 hours after exploring it the previous evening.

The shelf in the rain is classic West Coast Trail. But you are forced inland at the impassable headlands of Tsuquadra Point.

I stayed with the water shoes due to muddy pools on the inland trails.

IF you have the agility of a gymnast, you can often save time by walking natural log bridges.

In the rain, it’s tempting to stop and see if there is availability at the Ditidaht First Nation Comfort Camp.

The inland trails were overgrown after having seen no hikers for almost 2 years. The WCT was closed due to COVID in 2020.

It’s always a thrill to reach Nitinat Narrows, cold, deep and fast moving tidal waters. A symbolic half way point.

For days I’d been looking forward to fresh caught salmon lunch.

There are cabins to rent here though I’ve never stayed.

As you can see, my camera fogged up badly.

Departing the crab shack, there’s a lot of new (slippery) boardwalk. Careful.

And the way got even more overgrown. At one point, I thought I’d missed the main trail. Tempted to head back to the crab shack to borrow a machete. 😀

There’s a good suspension bridge over the Cheewhat river.

This day I really enjoyed switching back and forth between trail and coastline.

At one point — for fun — we tried and failed to cross an impassable headland. Waves were too high to wade. I turned back to the last beach access, but some younger hikers managed to scramble up the cliff to rejoin the inland trail.

Didn’t arrive Cribs until 7:30pm. Very tired.

Set up my tent in the trees in the first available spot. Next to the outhouse.

Day 2 – West Coast Trail 2021

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Day 2 – June 10, 2021
Michigan to Tsusiat Falls

Good morning.

Another surprisingly clear day for June on the WET Coast Trail.

You head south from Michigan on the beach. But I wore my DRY shoes with wool socks. Optimistic.

The usual rule on the WCT is to take the beach unless forced inland by tide, weather or impassable headlands. I stayed on the beach this morning as long as I could.

Between Billy Goat and Trestle Creek you MUST head up. Happily, it’s a relatively easy section of trail walking, even after being overgrown during the pandemic closure year.

One of the highlights of inland scrambles is admiring old growth trees.

At Trestle, I headed back down to the coast. Switched to my grippy trail runners with neoprene booties. I would end up wearing my “wet footwear” at least 75% of the time. I’ll wear the same on future WCT hikes.

At the Klanawa river I headed back up to do the cable car crossing. FUN and a bit challenging if you’re alone.

It’s about 3km further to famed Tsusiat Falls.

Plenty of ladders.

Challenging, trippy, muddy trails, as well.

I was taking many panorama shots on my iPhone. Some I’ll use in videos. They can make interesting speed ramps.

Arriving about 5pm I was surprised to see the only “cave” not occupied. I grabbed it instantly.

It’s illegal to camp in caves on the WCT, but you could argue this one is more of a slot in the cliff face. Still, it’s deep enough to shield from rain.

I tried my best to keep sand out of the tent.

NO I didn’t swim. I’m still chilled from a plunge here in 2004 !!

In the past these famed falls have been crowded and littered. But post-pandemic we only had about 15 people sharing a BIG space.

Evening I went exploring Tsusiat Point at low tide. The highlight of the day.

West Coast Trail 2021

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

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
Beach start

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.

toasted bagel with PB and marmalade

When not muddy, the inland trails are magical.

MICHIGAN

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.

See my GEAR for this adventure.

West Coast Trail 2021 Trip Report PREVIEW

by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Click PLAY or watch a short preview on YouTube.

I’d planned to YOYO in celebration of our #1 hike in the world reopening after the pandemic:

June 10 starting SE from Bamfield.

June 15 starting NW from Port Renfrew.

As happens so often on the WCT, plans changed.

I broke my main camera on day 3 of a planned 12 day adventure. Then bruised my thigh badly 😩 on day 5 — landing hard on a root in a mud bog.

I felt forced to reschedule my second West Coast Trail to start July 3, 2021.

I’ll put together detailed info-tainment videos for the WCT once I’ve done it twice. 😇

RESERVATIONS

Reservations opened April 30, 2021. Open only to Canadians.

Due to computer system glitches, I wasn’t able to start day 1 ~ June 4, 2021.

The earliest I could reserve was June 10th out of Bamfield.

TRANSPORTATION

As the ferry Port Alberni to Bamfield was still closed to hikers, I booked by phone on the West Coast Trail Express.

CAD $125 Nanaimo to Bamfield one way. I was the only passenger.

Excellent service. I recommend them.

West Coast Trail YOYO Attempt

BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

I’ll be mostly offline for the next couple of weeks.

After being closed for all of 2020, our #1 hike in the world opened to reservations on April 30, 2021 — for Canadians only.

The online reservations system worked well — but my credit card was twice declined for no reason. I repeated the process and was finally able to pay.

Since there is less demand this year than normal, I was able to book myself for:

June 10 starting SE from Bamfield.

June 15 starting NW from Port Renfrew.

I’ll make haste on the first 75 km (47 mi) hike.

Pick up my resupply in Port Renfrew. Have a hot shower. Some wine.

Then take it more leisurely on my YOYO return to Bamfield.

Click PLAY or check out my hiking gear on YouTube.

I’ve done the WCT four times in the past. It doesn’t intimidate me at all. I LOVE climbing ladders with a HEAVY pack. 😀

Wish me luck!

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Mt Quimper circuit, Sooke B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Mount Manuel Quimper is a great hike close to Sooke on Vancouver Island.

I looped back via Mount Brule, an easy 10km circuit using AllTrails for navigation.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

There are many other hiking and mountain biking trails to choose from.

It’s just off the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, a 55-kilometre (34 mi) non-motorized path to Victoria. Ideal for me as I cycled to the trailhead.

Neck Point Park, Nanaimo

AllTrails calls it Neck Point Park Loop.

Right in the city of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, the small park is popular with runners, walkers, dogs, and scuba divers.

A great day hike any day of the year.

Nearby is the Pipers Lagoon hike. Do both on the same visit.

Click PLAY or get a 2-minute glimpse of Neck Point on YouTube.

Read more on Outdoor Vancouver – Neck Point Hike in Nanaimo.

Pipers Lagoon, Nanaimo at LOW TIDE

Pipers Lagoon Park is a 1.8 kilometer loop trail in Nanaimo, British Columbia.

It’s good year round. But BEST at low tide.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Built on an isthmus that extends out to a rocky headland, this 8 hectare park features twisting trails that lead to a number of seaside lookouts.

From the headland you’ll have a great view of historic Shack Island and the southern point of Neck Point Park.

Beware Spurge-Laurel (Daphne laureola) which can cause skin rash on contact.