West Coast Trail with BCA Tours
Every backpacking trip always proves to teach me a new lesson, but they all have one purpose that surpasses all and that is the power of escaping. Nature provides us with our basic physical needs, but what I think people forget sometimes is the emotional and physiological needs that are met through nature. It became apparent to me how much we need to escape into the wilderness to truly reset and refocus our lives and to just 'be' without any distractions. I met some incredible people this week, made some worthwhile memories and most of all have had a gentle nature cleanse to bring appreciation back to my reality.
My main motivation for this trip was to get away from technology and responsibilities for a bit and really reconnect with the present moment. I also know he true beauty that lies on the rugged west coast so photography opportunities were also calling me along. I have always yearned to hike and accomplish this well known trail and so when BCA Tours offered me a spot on one of their guided trips I didn't hesitate to join. I was also quite happy that they took care of most the planning and permits which was a big help in getting on this track with a group of people to share the experience with.
We got very lucky with the weather during our time out there, it was sunny everyday with only a couple mornings of fog mist. This not only helped keep our stuff dry, but there was minimal mud on the path which is unusual for this trail. Normally you can expect knee high mud in places. The trail is rather difficult at times even without the mud, there are hundreds of roots, rocks and ladders to navigate through so be prepared for that. Some of the ladders were extremely high and often old and wobbly. I didn't mind however, they mixed it up a bit and provided some rest brakes as we all waited to climb them. Reading tides is something you will have to learn before this trail if you wish to walk any of the beach sections, which are some of the most stunning views. We got lucky with our tides and were able to do most all the beach sections (which made this photographer happy!) I was very glad to have the guides reading the tides for us, even though it is a good thing to learn for yourself.
Campsites can be quite busy on this popular hike, but I kind of liked having people around. It was like a little tribe of us all trying to achieve the same goal and everyone seemed so happy to just be out. We were able to have campfires every night because the 'fog belt' was not under any fire bans and this helped all of us get to know each other well around a fire. The tents we brought are light and it makes a big difference. Lucky for many of the guests they could rent one from BCA tours which made sense if it was a first time backpacking trip. Good gear makes a world of difference. I use a Big Agnes Fly Creek tent for my multi day trips because of the durability and ultra light carrying weight.
The BCA tours provided us with all of our hiking food and divided it up between us to carry. We had delicious meals everyday that Danny's (head guide) wife had prepared. All meals were dehydrated and we had plenty of snacks and there was plenty of coffee in the morning. I did bring some of my own CLIF bars though because I know I need some extra energy sometimes and they are tasty healthy trail treats, I am glad I did because I had no food left by the end of the week. Bear food bins were available at all campsites but make sure you use them, it's not the bears you have to worry about it is the mice! Even a small crumb will make those tiny guys chew through a bag, or worse your tent. It was entertaining hearing some of the screams at night.
We also were able to stop at two food stops along the way, not that they are typical restaurants but they do offer food to hungry hikers if you have cash. Our guides surprised us with a yummy brunch at one of the stops which on day three it was very welcomed!
You have so many opportunities to see amazing wildlife on the WCT. Our first day we happened to see sea lions, bald eagles and a humpback whale swimming close to shore! Unfortunately I didn't bring along my zoom lens (weighs way too much!) so I couldn't capture the wildlife the way I wished to but it was also nice to just enjoy it without the camera. We came across a dead porpoise on our third day which as gruesome as it was, it fascinated me. Eagles and ravens had been feasting on it before we arrived and it truly portrayed the West Coast ecosystem to me. Fresh cougar tracks on the tide line also exhibited the way of life for these coastal habitats. The bears, wolves and cougars come down to the beach to feast on organisms that the tide has pushed in, talk about a seafood diet! Thousands of crabs and other creatures made us watch our step while crossing the beach shelves. I never tired of seeing the little guys scurry away as we walked. In the forest the birds have songs to entertain and the occasional squirrel shrill can be heard. Lastly you had to watch your step in this temperate rainforest because massive slugs were always crossing the trail at some point!
Important Items to bring:
Obviously your backpacking gear and rain gear is a must on this trail, but some other overlooked items are also essential for this trail in particular. The BCA guides are really good at informing you of extra items in any case as well.
Hiking poles are very important and helpful for this complex terrain. They also help distribute some of the weight to your arms and save your knees while hiking. Light Tarp might be handy if you get a particularly rainy trip. We were lucky for our beautiful weather but more times than sun there is rain on the WCT and a tarp will help keep things dry. Gators I think are a must on this trail. We had a dry month and there was still a lot of mud so I can only imagine what it would be like if it rained. Gators save your hiking boots in the long run, keep you dry for longer and save the bottoms of your pants from wear. They also keep you warm.
Favorite Places on the WCT:
The pictures speak for themselves and I think almost all the trail was very beautiful but some particular spots caught my eye.
Owens Point was a tad bit of a challenge to get to but worth it if you get the right tides. It is very symbolic of the west Coast here with a small island laced with famous Sitka trees.
Tsusait falls was also an exceptional campground and a stunning waterfall which I really enjoyed.
Logan's Creek Bridge is a classic suspension bridge that was rather nice to photograph in the fog.
All of the beach parts of the walk were very similar and all very beautiful especially in the foggy conditions. There is a good chance you will have heavy fog on this hike which I think was the best conditions for the forest and the coastline.
This is something I think anyone who enjoys backpacking would love, even newcomers. It is an excellent start into multi day hiking especially if you book through a tour group like BCA Tours. Don't expect big mountains or large uphill climbing, but do expect uneven terrain, lots of ladders and a heavy bag. The coast is a magical place and being able to hear the waves crashing and the eagles calling was the best escape on it's own. The pictures are the best I can do to show you the true beauty of this place, but I promise you it is so much better in person.