Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hiking the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island

My wife and I just returned from an 8-day backpacking trip on Vancouver Island's West Coast Trail, sometimes considered as one of the best backpacking trails in the world. That may be true, but whether it's the most enjoyable depends on weather, tides, and your physical fitness. Don't count on ordinary good fitness to get you through this trail with no problems. The first half of our trip rained crazily, and going up steep, mud covered hillsides was incredible slow going.

We would have quit at the half-way point where you can escape, but the weather then turned great. If you can go when tides are extra low during the time of day you're hiking, then a flat sandstone shelf emerges from the water and provides easy hiking after a few hours drying (we got only a taste of that).

Still, the rain forest life was amazing. Every tree covered in moss, and often with ferns and huckleberries growing out of any tiny crook. It rivals (or according to wiki, exceeds) the amount of life I've seen in tropical rain forests.

If you go, get the tides right and go in July or August, probably. Or be in incredible shape. And bring one or preferably two hiking poles, and a backpack cover to protect your pack.

I'm happy to talk to anyone who's interested in more info.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention our visit to a British Columbia parliament session in Victoria, which was memorable. Same left-right issues, but in a different and more raucous context.

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