We had hoped to publish this story submitted by Kelly, one of our Family Development staff, earlier in the year but things got hectic and some things, like this story, dropped off of my radar. However, as we are nearing the New Year, and thoughts of renewal and inspiration fill the air, I thought this was a perfect time to hook us into the wondrous nature of life and in this case by Kelly taking you along on her first ever trip to the West Coast Trail of BC. So here it is:
“Hike the West Coast Trail,”, they said. “It’s legendary,” they said! “You’ll love it,” they said!
And waddya know, they were right.
In June of 2016, myself and three friends set out to hike the West Coast Trail. I didn’t know what exactly to expect. I knew it would be wet, filled with ladders, and was a total of 75 kms from Bamfield to Port Renfrew. Oh, and that there would be fog, lots and lots of fog.
After booking the hike in January, I had months to mentally and physically prepare myself. This included hiking and of course narrowing down my gear and food. It’s tricky business when you have to carry all of your belongings on your back for 7 days. Is that coffee press really necessary? Hmm…
Before beginning the hike, my group and I had to sit through a short training seminar at the start of the trail head in Bamfield, It outlined in detail the risks and hazards we would come across in the next 7 days (did you know it’s safer to take your backpack off and throw it across a trench before jumping across it yourself?) As I left the truck to join my group at this seminar, a black bear and two cubs crossed my path. I was already reaching for my bear spray and I hadn’t even left the parking lot! I remember wondering what the heck I gotten myself into.
As an avid hiker, I must admit I was surprised to discover how difficult hiking the West Coast Trail actually was! Each day we navigated our way through what felt like an obstacle course of huge puddles, mud, narrow root covered trails, fallen trees and unstable boardwalks. Not to mention the section of boulders on the beach, which were the size of cars, that we had to scramble up and over for hours. We also spent a great deal of time climbing up and down moss-covered ladders and crossing rivers in shaky cable cars. That definitely got the adrenaline pumping. Every day the terrain changed just enough that I couldn’t help but continue to be in awe of the province we live in. It was one of the most spectacular hikes I have ever done. It was surreal to weave in and out of the cedar rainforests and onto the beaches of the open Pacific Ocean. Sea lions, otters, grey whales, orcas, eagles, snakes, bears, elk and endless tide pools filled with life, kept my group and I company along the way. The cougars were kind enough to keep to themselves.
We pitched our tents on the beach every night and were lucky enough to have campfires. Warming our sore feet by the fire and swapping stories with other hikers seemed to become a small tradition. I think the exhaustion, scenery and the company helped to make my dehydrated dinners taste like the best food I had ever eaten.
I am so fortunate that I was able to spend 7 days on the West Coast Trail and I hope I will be able to do it again one day. I’m certain there’s nothing else quite like it in the world.
P.S. Since that trip, Kelly has donned her hiking boots again and spent a few days hiking in Yosemite, California!!