Well…here it is. My experience on the West Coast Trail…AKA the “Wet” Coast Trail. Even when it hadn’t rained for 5 days, the trail was still soggy and mushy. Sort of like the dehydrated meal we called dinner. When a group of eight highly competitive and type “A” personalities get together and plan a retreat….I say run like your hair is on fire or be prepared to find out what you’re made of.
You may think I’m exaggerating since in all fairness it’s technically a walk. And truly anyone can attempt the infamous trail. But what we did was push ourselves to walk/crawl/limp 25 km each day for two days.
Tip #1: Do not do 25km in a day.
Tip #2: Bring lots of blister pads and prepare to pop Advil like candy.
If you are going to do the trail then I recommend taking your time, enjoying the views and absorbing the amazing array of flora and fauna. The beaches are rugged and the ocean heaves on this side of the world rather than gently rolling up onto the shore. The rain forest is teeming with birds, but forget seeing any of them as they are perched in the massive 200-year-old cedars and you will be looking down to make sure you don’t do a face plant into bog or step on an acrobatic slug. The forest is impressive as the sun filters through the canopy and you breathe in living, green, dewy air.
As if that isn’t enough nirvana, you’ll also be impressed by the eerie aura of shipwrecks and the giant resulting debris. Such as the humongous boiler that was smacked on the beach after a storm took a wooden steam schooner called the Michigan in 1893. It’s about four meters (twelve feet or so?) tall; an impressive piece of flotsam.
Tip #3: Prepare to be humbled.
Now to get more technical, you must plan for the right clothing. Even if forecasts are favorable, remember that once you get to camp it will be chilly. The wind coming off the water is not Hawaiian. It is Canadian. Bring a sweater. Bring rain gear. Also, there are lots of bogs and some stream crossings so…
Tip #4: Gators is a must and you want to put them on at the start of the trail.
One thing you can look forward to is going to town on the food. You will want to spoil yourself as if it was your last meal. That is how you will trick your brain into thinking its having fun. For instance, my food bag contained a Big Turk, candied salmon, peanut butter M&M’s, pear brandy…trust me this is a good idea because when you are waiting for the Advil to kick in the brandy is there to help ease the transition. You will be burning 6000 calories a day…plan on eating as you walk.
Tip #5: Pack high fat, high-energy foods.
Overall it is the one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done. The terrain is never dull. Ladders, cable car river crossings, moldy boardwalks…the West Coast Trail has it all. For all the pain and torment that adventures like this unfold, the rewards surpass all that.
Thank you so much Karina for sharing this story! Karina is one of my greatest inspirations. Last summer this photo hung in my bathroom as that extra incentive to get up at 6:30 a.m. to go running with my gals.
She is the owner of Rocky Mountain Soap Company
and one of my best friends.