West Coast Trail in May - WCT

11:17 p.m. on April 7, 2012 (EDT)
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I am in the planning stages for a south bound trip on the WCT with 2 or 3 others.  I was wondering if any one had some first hand knodgle of the trail or someplace to get more information. 

I have been reading the ClubTread Community and many other sites.  Lots of trail reports for years past but not a lot for recent years (2010 & 2011).  Also, dose anyone know how to get current trail info, like blow downs and other damage?

Thanks for any and all help.

Wolfman

12:38 a.m. on April 8, 2012 (EDT)
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Not familiar with the trail but is this what you are referring too?

http://www.vancouverisland.com/parks/?id=559

If so I believe this is where you can find updates etc:

http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/bc/pacificrim/index.aspx

Hope this is what you are looking for Wolfman.

7:24 p.m. on April 8, 2012 (EDT)
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Yap that be the trail!  Thanks for the links I read those, hopefully find some more information.  I guess sooner or later I will have to start making calls. :)

Wolfman

7:50 p.m. on April 8, 2012 (EDT)
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I will keep searchin for ya. If I come across anything I think might be useful too ya I will post here.

11:32 a.m. on April 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Hi Wolfman,

 

I have done the WCT 5 times and will be out there again in late May.  It is one of those adventures that gets under your skin!

I would be more than happy to help you out with planning, just let me know.

I am sure you have read about it online already, but there are some primary considerations: moisture management and fitness level.

It rains a lot there and although I have done the trail and not experienced any rain, when it comes, it comes hard which turns the upper trail into a mud bog and the ladder systems into mini adventures in how to keep your shorts clean, if you know what I mean.

Although one does not have to be a track star to complete the trek, I would recommend some pre-training.  This is dependent on how long you intent to be on the trail.  Some take 10 days, some 5, and some run it in 14 hours (!!!!).  Some cardio work would be suggested and some light weight training for both the upper and lower bodies.  Basic, functional exercises like light squats (with or without weight - maybe a loaded pack), some push ups, and some assisted chin ups (helps on the ladders).  I don't want to paint the picture of an eco challenge, but some additional cardio and strength is a good thing on the WCT.

Timing?  I hate crowds on the WCT which can make climbing ladders, etc, a challenge.  For me - May, early June, or September have been the best.

I also like hiking south to north (Gordon River to Pachena Bay) simply because one gets through the mud and ladders first and then enjoys the more open trekking on the tidal shelf which permits exploring caves, etc.

Gosh - so much to talk about.  Are there any specific questions?  Any contact numbers you require for transportation to the trailhead?  Campsite recommendations?  Website recommendations? Let me know.

One other thing and I am sure you knew I would bring this up: pack as light as possible and use trekking poles.  Climbing ladders and scaling slipper logs is not fun with 50 plus pounds (been there).  If you can get your pack weight to under 40lbs for say, 5-6 days, you will be much happier on this trail!  The poles are veritable life savers in the mud and work great on the beach for traction.  I have several gear recommendations (i.e. lighter weight trail hikers v.s. traditional boots) for the WCT and can supply that as well.  These are simply things that have worked well for ME (YMMV!).

I am actually kind of excited for you - it is a blast.

 


IMGP1266.jpg

11:34 a.m. on April 9, 2012 (EDT)
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To add to your specific question about 'blow downs.'  Nothing out of the ordinary this year.  There are normally about 200 trees that get blown down on the trail over the winter season.  In 2007, there were over 2000!  Now that was a trip!.  No issues this year.

9:38 p.m. on April 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks Family Guy!! 

First, I think I have seen you around on the ClubTread and NWHikers,  I have been reading a lot of the reports and different web pages.  Also watched a bunch of You Tube videos this weekend.  I guess now days people would rather post a video then write about it. :)

First Question, Any comments on my boot thread??  Link Here

I am not sure I really need new boots, but the extra support might be a good thing. 

Lots of gear questions, but mostly having to do with what kind of weather I should plan for in May.  I guess some of that will end up waiting until just before leaving. 

I will PM you later this week with some specific questions on a few items, I just don't have the time right now.  Working nights this week. :(

Wolfman

11:19 p.m. on April 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Sure PM me any time.

"I have not hiked the WCT, it is far too much of a "tourist trap" for my liking"

I saw this posted by Dewey and is why I recommend May or September as you can go days without seeing anyone.

Boots are a personal preference.  The Vibram comment is true - although they work well in the muddy sections, they are very slick on the boardwalks and tidal shelf. Having said that, there are different types of Vibram soles.  I would avoid the truly hard ones.

I used boots once on the WCT and found them to be overkill, clunky, and sweaty.  I use trail hiking shoes, similar to say a mid cut synthetic shoe.  I use gortex but that isn't necessary if you were to use a waterproof sock.  Gortex makes foot sweating a reality but things can get pretty wet on this trail.  One recommendation would be to bring extra socks - more than what you might bring on a dryer trip.

Look forward to helping out.

4:16 a.m. on April 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey Family Guy...I'm going with Wolfman on the WCT...what's the weather been like on Vancouver Island and what should we expect? Will it ever get down to 0C?  Or will it hover around 4-8C?  Just curious...I have two options for sleeping bags...one is a 5C down bag that weighs just under a kilo, and one is a -10C synthetic bag that weighs about 1.4 kilos. I'm concerned about rain, which is why I'm leaning towards the warmer/heavier bag...but if it's more likely to be moderately cold, I can bring the cooler bag with a lightweight bag liner and be comfy down to about freezing...

I appreciate the feedback and thoughts.  We are starting on May 9th.

4:19 p.m. on April 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Club Tread is a good resource for hiking in BC, but be careful! It's less well-moderated than this site, and there are a lot of posers and wannabes on it handing out dangerous information and advice.

IMHO, a synthetic bag is best (although not for the warmth), just because of the high risk of rain. Down bags are like sleeping in cottage cheese when they get wet.

4:38 p.m. on April 29, 2012 (EDT)
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peter1955 said:

Club Tread is a good resource for hiking in BC, but be careful! It's less well-moderated than this site, and there are a lot of posers and wannabes on it handing out dangerous information and advice.

 I would agree!

4:48 p.m. on April 29, 2012 (EDT)
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RenegadePilgrim said:

Hey Family Guy...I'm going with Wolfman on the WCT...what's the weather been like on Vancouver Island and what should we expect? Will it ever get down to 0C?  Or will it hover around 4-8C?  Just curious...I have two options for sleeping bags...one is a 5C down bag that weighs just under a kilo, and one is a -10C synthetic bag that weighs about 1.4 kilos. I'm concerned about rain, which is why I'm leaning towards the warmer/heavier bag...but if it's more likely to be moderately cold, I can bring the cooler bag with a lightweight bag liner and be comfy down to about freezing...

I appreciate the feedback and thoughts.  We are starting on May 9th.

 Hi - It won't get down to 0C unless it is a freak anomoly.  2 years ago my group and I were the first group on for May 1 and from memory the temps went down to about 7C at night and about 12-15C during the day.  I took a down bag rated to 2C and was warm.

Because of the humidity in that area even if it isn't raining, you might experience some down collapse over a few days so a synthetic may be better in this case.  I have always used down here but some may feel more comfortable with synthetic insulation.  One thing I do is bring a synthetic fill jacket to layer in if it gets colder and still be resistant to complete collapse from accumulated moisture but have never had to use it in my bag.  

If it was me I would bring the 5C bag and layer in if required with some clothing but again, the heavier and warmer synthetic may be a better option.  I think one would only layer because of the aforementioned down collapse rather than outright temperature drop.

There has been a lot of rain there recently so hopefully it has got it out of its system but realistically, you should expect some rain at some point.

Here is the current forecast (you probably already have this link):

http://www.theweathernetwork.com/parksfx/cabc0686

It looks like the temperature variation is only a few degrees.

Let me know if you have any questions that I can answer from my perspective (of course).

9:30 p.m. on April 29, 2012 (EDT)
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The down bag will work just fine as long as you are careful and air it out thoroughly EACH morning. I do use my synthetic bags by Integral Designs and WildCountry and Exped for some "wet coast" and interior BC treks, but, usually more on solo hunting trips,where I want the least hassle with gear and can be dirtier at sleep time than when just backpacking.

I have never seen, in 40+ years all up and down the BC Coast a sub-freezing day/night in May and the real issue is getting wet and then being unsheltered in severe winds. With three of you and careful gear choices plus caution while actually on the trail, this is a relatively safe area and one where you can relax at night and just enjoy being there.

We used to have "staffed" lightstations at Carmanah and Pachena Point and I recall sitting in one of the houses on Ballenas Island Lightstation, talking with another "keeper" who had often assisted hikers in difficulties on the WCT. So, it is a pretty "cool" trip and one that I think you will really enjoy.

3:23 a.m. on May 1, 2012 (EDT)
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Just a heads up. Canada National Parks lost 638 jobs today.

This includes the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada for the West Coast Trail.

106 staff jobs are being cut for BC.

info from:

-CBC news (Parks Canada hit by latest federal job cuts) April 30th 2012.

10:11 a.m. on May 1, 2012 (EDT)
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Yes, and something like 600+ in Jasper/Banff. The Conservative party just HATES the National Parks, probably because they aren't allowed to stripmine or clearcut them.

Look at Viad's Discovery Walk project - just another huge multinational trying to find ways of selling views of the mountains to the tourists! The government pushed that one through.

10:31 a.m. on May 1, 2012 (EDT)
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Guys - this is most disappointing!  I would say thanks for the info but now I am a little depressed.

12:38 p.m. on May 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Same here. Stupid greedy people.

National Parks generate more tourism revenue than would be generated by mining or clear-cutting, but the various branches of the Canadian government view them as cash cows instead of wondrous areas to be protected.

6:27 a.m. on May 3, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks...I think I'm going to go with the down bag...it's smaller, more compact and it does keep me quite warm, especially if I add my lightweight liner.  I have a dry bag to put it in too...I have a Primaloft puffy jacket for nights, so if I get chilly, I can just wear that too...I tend to layer pretty well when out in the woods.

Sorry to hear about the cutbacks...

3:26 p.m. on May 3, 2012 (EDT)
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My intention was to just give a heads up. West Coast Trial in May is still early in the season if I'm not mistaken. Not sure if this would affect any of the services provided prior to your hike.. aka the mandatory orientation seminar prior to being handed your permit. My thought was that they could roll back the frequency of when they give the lecture that could delay departure. Perhaps someone else would know more details.

Have a great hike!

Weather has been abnormally cold in the Lower Mainland of recent (low teens Celsius). Followed by tons of rain. And yes... it's STILL raining! Temps supposed to go up this week though (20's Celsius) along with sunnier weather. I would suspect current trail conditions could be quite.. uhhhh.. wet as in muddy and swollen creeks. Can't see that changing much in a week. Bring loonnngg gaiters & shorts :)

BC weather network is great for recent past history.

Just thoughts to perhaps consider...

-Bring something to keep your toes toasty while being wet?

-Wet weather = Fleece = Goodness (don't forget the merino wool...)

-It's not so much about keeping your bag dry while traveling but about dealing with a wet bag because of overnight ambient weather conditions. The dampness creeps into the bag while your sleeping.

-If your forecast is for nothing but sun then you may have a chance to partially dry a bag but if it's rain & cloud it makes for poor drying conditions.

-Hypothermia is most typically seen in average temps.

-On the West Coast there is always a chance of rain.

-once it's wet, it will most likely stay wet or burn/melt in the fire

8:25 p.m. on May 3, 2012 (EDT)
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nugget said:

My intention was to just give a heads up. West Coast Trial in May is still early in the season if I'm not mistaken. Not sure if this would affect any of the services provided prior to your hike.. aka the mandatory orientation seminar prior to being handed your permit. My thought was that they could roll back the frequency of when they give the lecture that could delay departure. Perhaps someone else would know more details.

Have a great hike!

Weather has been abnormally cold in the Lower Mainland of recent (low teens Celsius). Followed by tons of rain. And yes... it's STILL raining! Temps supposed to go up this week though (20's Celsius) along with sunnier weather. I would suspect current trail conditions could be quite.. uhhhh.. wet as in muddy and swollen creeks. Can't see that changing much in a week. Bring loonnngg gaiters & shorts :)

BC weather network is great for recent past history.

Just thoughts to perhaps consider...

-Bring something to keep your toes toasty while being wet?

-Wet weather = Fleece = Goodness (don't forget the merino wool...)

-It's not so much about keeping your bag dry while traveling but about dealing with a wet bag because of overnight ambient weather conditions. The dampness creeps into the bag while your sleeping.

-If your forecast is for nothing but sun then you may have a chance to partially dry a bag but if it's rain & cloud it makes for poor drying conditions.

-Hypothermia is most typically seen in average temps.

-On the West Coast there is always a chance of rain.

-once it's wet, it will most likely stay wet or burn/melt in the fire

 +1 well said

6:21 a.m. on May 4, 2012 (EDT)
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-once it's wet, it will most likely stay wet or burn/melt in the fire

This is so true!  I don't know how many shoes I have, or seen, partially melted because they were next to the fire! Slow and steady is the only way to dry stuff out. :D   Unless you like toasted socks. :P

Wolfman

8:46 a.m. on May 4, 2012 (EDT)
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Only flaw I've heard of with the popular Salomon Quest 4D boots is a tendency for the soft soles to melt if you try to warm them up by the fire. That would kinda ruin your whole day, wouldn't it?

9:55 a.m. on May 4, 2012 (EDT)
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May 1 the WCT opens to the public and all ferry services (and Chez Monique) are open.

I talked with Monique 3 days ago and told her there was a Wolfman coming.

11:20 a.m. on May 5, 2012 (EDT)
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RenegadePilgrim said:

Thanks...I think I'm going to go with the down bag...it's smaller, more compact and it does keep me quite warm, especially if I add my lightweight liner.  I have a dry bag to put it in too...I have a Primaloft puffy jacket for nights, so if I get chilly, I can just wear that too...I tend to layer pretty well when out in the woods.

Sorry to hear about the cutbacks...

 What other layers are you planning to bring? I totally agree with the light Primaloft jacket and these are "perfect" for this region all year long.

I have a couple of suggestions if you are still planning.

4:32 p.m. on May 5, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks Family Guy!!  Make sure she has the big burgers ready!  I am really looking forward to this adventure!!  Getting very excited and dang near ready to go! 

I don't have a down jacket but I am bring several layers so id it's cold I can layer up and keep warm. 

Thanks for all the help and info folks!

Wolfman

9:19 a.m. on May 10, 2012 (EDT)
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Here's a suggestion from a Twitter follower:

@Trailspace Don't forget packtowels-for drying you, gear, inside of tent,it'll be wet. I second Family Guy's suggestion for Trail Runners.

9:08 a.m. on May 11, 2012 (EDT)
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I think he has some Sham wows.

11:29 a.m. on May 11, 2012 (EDT)
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I just checked the forecast.  Wolfman is enjoying some bright sunny weather!  Lucky!!!

11:46 a.m. on May 11, 2012 (EDT)
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I saw that. An early summer for the coast!

11:06 p.m. on May 15, 2012 (EDT)
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OH MY GOD!!!

That Was One Great Trip!!  Way to much sun and hot weather!! :D

I think it was the hardest thing I have ever done!  But by far the best hiking trip completed yet to date!! 

Thanks for all the help and suggestions most things worked out great! 

I will start a trail report as soon as I get organized and get something written up. 

Wolfman

11:14 p.m. on May 15, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey, welcome home, glad that you had a great time and suggest a few icy brewskis for the "heatstroke"!!!!

When, you are ready, I will give you a few tips on some other fantastic BC week long treks and give any help I can with doing them.

9:57 a.m. on May 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Glad you had fun!

Lots of other great hikes in Canada. You guys have to make a point of coming up here sometime.

11:52 a.m. on May 16, 2012 (EDT)
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I used to like you Wolfman but now I am green with envy.  j/k

The weather makes the experience on that trek and can you imagine doing it with torrential rain?  Waterfalls over the ladder systems, etc.

I am there on the 25th and it looks like the weather may hold, more or less.

Looking forward to the trip report.  I love that part of the world (even more than my beloved Rockies).

7:08 a.m. on May 18, 2012 (EDT)
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If you go to wenthiking dot com, and look under renegadepilgrim, it will take you to my latest trail report...from the WCT.  It's not super detailed, Wolfman took better notes than I did, so I was going off memory mostly.

We got soooooo lucky with the weather.  It was beautiful.  I'm still sorting through about 500 pics and will post a link to my picasa album with the highlights sometime in the next week.

I'm finally not too sore...the OTC Voltaren gel I picked up in Sidney the day we left has really helped! :) 

1:36 p.m. on May 19, 2012 (EDT)
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I am working on the trip report, I should have it posted this weekend.  I am doing it in Word and then will copy and paste.  I want to post it in my blog and NWHiker also. 

I did get the gear review on the boots up and should have the tent review up later today sometime. 

Wolf

3:01 p.m. on May 19, 2012 (EDT)
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You guys picked the right year for your trip. This is the nicest May that I have seen in 5 years. Can't wait for the report.

11:44 p.m. on June 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Just got back and had a great time (as usual).  We ended up finishing a bit early to beat the forecasted rain and finished in 4 days.  Torrential rain came the next day.  The trail was in remarkably bad condition from previous years and some of the boardwalk at the south end needs a re-do.  However, we timed the tides perfectly and spent most of our trek on the shelf.  

Highlight was being 20 feet from Seal Lion hidden by rock @ Hole in the Wall.  Got that bad boy on video and will post soon.

10:04 p.m. on June 4, 2012 (EDT)
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Looking forward to the trip reports :) You guys still posting them somewhere??

-nugget

12:50 a.m. on June 5, 2012 (EDT)
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Can't speak for Wolfman but I will post some nuggets soon.  I have (between 4 of us) over 1200 pics and videos!

7:40 a.m. on June 5, 2012 (EDT)
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Can't speak for Wolfman

Well yea that's because Wolfman's a lazy bugger that can't even finish a little trail report!  What a slacker!! 

I did, finally, get my pic's loaded to Picasa, there is 420 if you have an day or two to browse. :)

WCT May09-15 2012,  Be warned this is the raw footage so some ar not that great.

I really hope to have the trail report done soon, really!

Slacker Wolfman

September 18, 2014
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