Backpacking 75K on the West Coast Trail - Vancouver Island, BC


Fanny Barrette, Garry Harrington, and Larry Creveling


DAY 1 - August 22, 2016

After the ferry ride from Vancouver to Nanaimo and a short night of bivouacing at a trailhead parking lot for the Juan de Fuca Trail we arrived early at Port Renfrew to catch a three-hour bus ride to Pachena Bay in Bamfield where we would begin our north-south hike of the West Coast Trail. All hikers undergo a brief orientation before receiving a permit, focused on what to do during a possible bear encounter, medical evacuations, tsunamis, and the ferry and tide schedules. It was 1530 by the time we finally set foot on the trail headed south. Our aim was to hike just 14K on mostly forest trails that avoided the impassable coastal headwalls on this part of the coast to camp at Darling River, which we were able to accomplish before sunset.

Garry sitting on a relic left behind along the trail from a bygone era. The West Coast Trail was created to help extract victims of sailing disasters along this infamously hazardous coast, referred to by unfortunate mariners as the "Graveyard of the Pacific". Many sailing vessels met a tragic fate navigating along the rocky waters of this beautiful coastline.

The most common tree on Vancouver Island was the Western Red Cedar, but Balsam Fir trees, Western Hemlock, Yew trees, and Douglas Fir trees were also in abundance. Somewhere along our route we walked right past the world's largest Douglas Fir, still standing at 242 feet. Many of the downed logs of these giants served as land bridges to allow us to stay high and dry; many were over 100 feet in length.

DRIFTWOOD (on steroids)


A most perfect campsite at Darling River

one of two lighthouses still actively in service along the trail