1. It’s wet
Located on the far west coast of Vancouver Island, the West Coast Trail is known for its precipitation. When it’s not rainy, it’s often misty, so you’re basically cuddling with a cloud. You’ll want waterproof everything.
2. All that rain means a good portion of the trail looks like Degobah (Yoda’s swampy home)
Do away with imaginings of well groomed trails and replace them with muddy stretches of swap-like, root infested “trail”. Hiking poles and gaiters are a must.
3. You’ll end up with a wicked lopsided gaiter/farmer’s tan
Since you’ll be hiking with one side facing the ocean all week, that side will end up with a noticeably darker tan than the other side. Pair that with your wicked hiking shirt farmer’s tan and gaiter tan, and you’re looking pretty cool.
4. The beer selection isn’t that great
Sure, you can get a cold one half way through the trail at Chez Monique’s, but the selection really isn’t very impressive. Don’t expect to find your favourite German microbrew here.
5. It’s pretty busy
Around 8000 people hike it every year.
6. It’s a pain to get to
If you don’t live on the BC coast it’s definitely a bit of an undertaking, and even if you live in Victoria, it’s still a pain to get to your trailhead of choice. You’re heading for the far west coast of Vancouver Island across bad roads with poor signage and cell coverage.
7. Sleeping by the ocean can get a bit loud with the surf and the birds
Sure, the idea sounds lovely, but just wait until you’re trying to drift off to sleep and the crashing waves are keeping you awake.
8. It’s expensive
Even if you already have all the standard gear, hiking the WCT is pretty pricey—the most expensive hike in Canada. Between reservation fees and backcountry fees it’s over $150 per person, and that doesn’t even including getting to and from the trailheads, which aren’t exactly public transit accessible. Assuming you’re starting and finishing in Victoria, you’re looking at $160 in bus tickets. There’s also ferry fees, food, maps, and guidebooks to consider.
9. Tides can make for ridiculous hiking hours
Some parts of the trail are on the beach, and are only passable below certain tide levels. This can mean 4AM start times to round a crucial point without going for a salty swim. Ugh.
10. It’s a tsunami zone
Sure, the risk is low, but guess where the risk is lower? Lots of places.
11. Cougars and bears
Hungry things that can stalk and/or maul you! Fantastic!
Some parts of the trail are like a crossfit class gone wrong, with hundreds of ladder rungs between you and the rest of the trail. Oh goody.
13. It got its start as an escape route from the Graveyard of the Pacific
How encouraging does that sound? The stretch of ocean along the West Coast Trail is so treacherous that the West Coast Trail was built in the early 1900’s to help shipwrecked sailors survive and escape the dense, inhospitable forest after surviving a grisly shipwreck.
14. The quintessential guidebook is called “Blisters & Bliss”
We believe the blisters part, and we’re pretty sure the bliss part is an inside joke.
15. They don’t serve butter with the crab
You can buy fresh caught crab at Nitinat Narrows, but they don’t have any butter to serve it with. What are we, peasants?
All photos by Paula Reedyk.