Nothing captures the beauty of the Pacific Northwest like hiking the West Coast trail. This 75km hike along the south-west side of Vancouver Island made me fall in love with the scenery all over again. Sure, there were downpours, knee-deep mud, blisters, and countless ladders but it was all worth it. Nothing beats leaving the city behind and immersing yourself in the great outdoors. Since my trek to Kilimanjaro last year, I was itching to go on another long excursion. This hike is not for the faint of heart but if you are up for the challenge, it will be an amazing experience that you will never forget.
I spent 5 memorable days in the wilderness with my buddy Sean (an avid outdoorsman and co-owner of the eco-friendly Evergrow Christmas Tree Co). We hiked from Port Renfrew to Bamfield, opting to get the steep ladders and rough terrain over with early on in the hike. It was a rainy and foggy start, but we were off in good spirits (even with our 50 pound packs!). We treaded through mudpits, shimmied across logs, and explored derelict forestry equipment for the first two days. Ladders and bridges were everywhere as well, with high vertical drops that put me and my fear of heights to the test. The scenery changed drastically once we reached the coast. The sun peaked behind the clouds and we were treated to wonderful blue skies and a beautiful sunset. Midway through our trip, we were lucky enough to meet up with some of Sean’s forestry buddies who were hiking from the opposite direction. We had a great time sharing cougar and bear encounter stories, while enjoying the warmth of the camp fire and stars over our heads. It also doesn’t hurt that we had a few beers packed from Chez Moniques half way into the hike! Along the way, we encountered all types of wildlife. Sea lions, bald eagles, deer, and countless marine animals (small and large) were just to name a few. Nothing beats relaxing on the beach and watching a pod of whales surface in the distance as it migrates along the coast. We were treated to gorgeous scenery for the second half of our trip before rain moved in again on our last day. Tidal pools, rocky ridges, crashing waves, sandy shores, windswept trees, and beautiful waterfalls (especially Tsusiat Falls) are just a few things that I will remember and cherish.
It took some planning to get the right photography setup for this trip. I found the Think Tank Digital Holster along with the backpack attachment kit and an additional homemade stabilization strap to be perfect for my needs. The setup allowed me to carry my camera with a 17-40mm or 14mm in front of me for easy access. The raincover on the Digital holster also kept the camera nice and dry. Partner this with a third party “gorilla pod”, shutter release, ND filter, extra CF cards and batteries and I was ready to go. While this setup increased my pack by 8 pounds, the ability to capture the experience was definitely worth it.
If you’re looking to do the hike, go visit the Parks Canada website to reserve your spot as spaces are limited. There’s lots of resources out there to learn more about the trip, but here are some sites that I enjoyed. Hope they’re useful to you as well! Some general information can be found here: westcoasttrailbc.com, comprehensive guide with detailed information for camp sites here: victoriahiatus.com, another great photo blog: hikingphoto.com, for a female’s perspective on the hike: beautyinthebackcountry.com, and last but not least, a great CBC feature on the trail.
I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do. Looking forward to more hikes in 2015.