Tuesday, April 30, 2013

West Coast Trail Highlight-Dare Beach

After leaving Carmanah, going north, passing Chez Monique-burgers and beers welcome at this point-the trail comes to Cribs Creek. Along the beach, the approach is different, not only each year, but can even be different days later. Coal Creek runs along the beachhead, connecting with Cribs near the rock sea shelf. It can be an interesting time getting across to the campground. All of this beach/shelf area is tide dependant.

The next section is a journey along rocky points and shelf, to Dare Point and Dare Beach. There is an optimal route. Not knowing it can make for some interesting backtracking at times. The flat shelf area past Cribs gives the chance to explore some amazing tide pools, some absolutely packed with sea urchins. These are close to the shelf drop off, so the tide has to be low enough to be able to see them. Be careful on the slippery shelf.

Dare Beach itself is a wild, beautiful section of the coast, with some pretty wicked surf. The past few years have seen a number of surfers trying to surf the areas between the Cheewhat and Carmanah Beaches. Hiking, you really now feel that the hardest part is over and settle into a rhythm of hiking and enjoying more than your toes along this section.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

West Coast Trail Highlight-Carmanah Creek

Beach along the West Coast Trail
Heading down the beach to Carmanah Creek

crossing Carmanah Creek on the West Coast Trail
Crossing the Creek
 The long beach that heads from Bonilla Point to Carmanah Creek gives way to beautiful views of the Carmanah Lighthouse all along the way. If the tide is lower, the hard-packed sand is exposed and the walking is easy.  If not, the path is along the softer sand further up the beach. That's not so fun. But beach travel is still a lot faster than trail travel.

Once at Carmanah Creek, the decision often has to be made whether to take the cable car or walk or wade across. The flow is not so great that it is difficult, at least for most of the summer season.  If the tide is low, the water spreads and thins out near the shoreline, making it much easier to cross the creek.
Looking over Carmanah Creek
Better to wade than cable car

West Coast Trail's Chez Monique
Walking up to Chez Monique

From the cable car, the view is beautiful over the creek and over the beach. This makes quite a good campsite, if the gulls are not hanging around.

Heading further along on the beach takes you to Chez Monique. This is a bit over a kilometre from Carmanah Creek, but well worth the walk.

Once there, the regulars at Chez Monique-Mike, Terry, Peter, Monique, and Dan-all take good care of you. Good conversation and occasionally music pass along the hikers that come for a famous burger. This stretch from Bonilla Point, along the beach, is a beautiful stretch, with the reward of Chez Monique at the end.

Monday, April 15, 2013

West Coast Trail Highlight-Toward Walbran

Upland bog with boardwalk trail.
 Heading toward Walbran Creek from Camper Bay, the West Coast Trail heads into sections of upland bog. The boardwalk there is meant to protect the fragile vegetation of the area, many dwarf trees and shrubs. This area is one of the most beautiful of the trail. The trees and shrubs here are dwarf-and old. The growing environment is harsh, so the plants there are extremely hardy. Beside the boardwalk, you can see sundew, a carnivorous plant.

Long ladders.
These sections give way to steep ravines that tower over creeks.  This can be a challenge for hikers, but Parks has put in ladders to scale the steep sections.  Two of these deep ravines have long sets of ladders that take you down into the ravine and back up the other side. Cullite Creek is at the bottom of one of these ravines, along with a cable car, but later in season, walking across is manageable. The is a campsite at the end of the creek, at the beachhead, in a pocket beach.  There are steep sandstone cliffs on either side of the campground, which is relatively small compared to most of the other camps. The next big ravine is Logan Creek.

The suspension bridge at Logan Creek.
At the bottom of the ladders at Logan Creek, a pretty respectable suspension bridge takes you across the creek. The view down into the creek is really nice, if you can stand the heights.

The ladder up from Logan Creek.
 Once across, the bridge ends with a ladder up the other side (going north). This is a fairly steep-and long- one, so you will want to stop to let your legs rest at the top near the kilometre marker.

Trees and mud mark the trail.
Once up the other side of Logan, the trail is mud, roots, and bog the rest of the way to Walbran Creek.
It is a fairly slow section, but beautiful and challenging at the same time.
Upland bog on the West Coast Trail
West Coast Trail upland bog

Cable Car over Walbran Creek
Cable Car Over Walbran Creek.
Beach head at the end of Walbran Creek.

Upon arrival at Walbran, the cable car becomes visible, connecting to the trail on the other side.  The preferable route is along the sea shelf, however, which takes off from the gravel bar at the beach head. There is a bit of a creek crossing there, usually best to wait to put on boots until after the crossing.

The pond formed at the end of Walbran Creek is a good place to soak feet and swim for a good trail clean after the long day of hiking.

Friday, April 12, 2013

West Coast Trail Highlight #2b-Sandstone Creek

West Coast Trail sea shelf near Sandstone Creek
West Coast Trail sea shelf and cliff
Sandstone Creek is a treat along the West Coast Trail.  Managing to get to Sandstone along the shelf is a feat, because it is an expert hiking area.  (I don't recommend the shelf unless you are guided or REALLY know the area.  There are several complicated spots with surge channels and route-finding.) From the inland trail, the bridge gives a great view down the creek, but it is also worth stopping to go down the creek and explore the sadnstone waterway a bit.

Sandstone Creek on the West Coast Trail
Walking up Sandstone Creek
The bridge is a bit strange.  It is like an upside down square "U," ladder up one side from the edge of the creek bed, and ladder down the other side from the edge of the creek bed.  This is so because the bridge has washed out in the winter a couple of times, so Parks made this most recent bridge quite high over the creek bed to avoid further losses.

Below the bridge there is a beautiful section of potholes in the sandstone, good for dipping in. On a tough West Coast Trail day, this is a place to take note,  a great place to stop, rest, and just sit and enjoy the beauty of the wildness of Sandstone  Creek.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

West Coast Trail Highlight #2a

West Coast Trail's Camper Bay
Camper Bay, West Coast Trail
The campsite at Camper Bay on the West Coast Trail gets evening sun, leaving it dim and quiet in the morning. Two options for leaving this camp lay ahead. The main trail is full of roots and mudspots, and is one of the most difficult, if not the most annoying, section on the trail. The other option is only open at certain times-the sea shelf. Only experienced  coastal hikers should take this route. There are several hazardous surge channels along the way, but the way out at the end, up Sandstone Creek, is truly remarkable.

Camper Bay is often quite busy, as the camping options at the southern end of the trail are limited. Help is usually available if needed, from the Guardians cabin. Firewood is across the watery section in the photos, along the beachhead.  Under the cliffs, in the background, is not the best place to camp, due to the occasional rock or tree tumble.

For much of the summer of 2012, there was a resident Canada goose in the pond.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

West Coast Trail Highlight

Thrasher Cove is the first camp site when starting from Gordon River.  The way down to the beach is via a set of ladders, the first real multiple set on the trail. 
West Coast Trail Ladders at Thrasher Cove
Ladders to Thrasher Cove

The beach at Thrasher is beautiful. This is the view to the west, with the way toward Owen Point between the trees and the sea stack in the background.

West Coast Trail's Thrasher Cover Beach
Sea Stacks at the beach

Stay tuned for more highlights to come.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

We are now seeing more blue sky than gray here on Vancouver Island. Maybe it's time for all of you from somewhere else to come and play in this great playground.  Like flowers blooming suddenly, so have the kayaks on tops of cars and trucks.  Somebody is getting out there!  You should, too! You Gotta Be Here!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New page design for West Coast Trail page. Check it out!

We are in the process of re-creating our website and we wanted to give a sneak preview of things to come. Check out our new West Coast Trail page now.