Bucket List Item: The West Coast Trail

Summer is the perfect time to get ready for a big hike, especially one that is a grand total of 75 kilometers long which is what the infamous West Coast Trail in British Columbia, Canada is. For the experienced hiker this will be one that has been on your bucket list for awhile we imagine. So, with that being said, here is everything you need to know before you embark on the spiritual experience that is hiking this trail and being in total seclusion from the rest of the world while you spend your time plodding along and taking in the breathtaking wilderness vistas.

When To Go

The trail is only open from May to September and you cannot simply decide to hike it one weekend and head out. Instead, you must reserve a slot for the time period you want to go and get a permit. These spots tend to fill up as soon as they open for the season, so if you and a friend or a group want to go make sure to reserve your spot as soon as possible. Around 7,500 hikers are allowed onto the trail each year which tells you just how popular it is both nationally within Canada and with the international trekking community.

History

This trail has been walked by the first nation peoples of Canada for well over 200 years. It follows the Juan de Fuca Strait which would go on to become a major shipping route in the region and bring European settlers which would eventually colonize the land. This strait is not known for being kind to ships and is incredibly treacherous with weather conditions that can change at the drop of a hat. Due to this, it has its own very special nickname: “the Graveyard of the Pacific.”

Challenges

If you have decided to take on this challenge then you will hopefully have been training for a time and be well-aware of what to bring for a week-long hike (think food, clothing, tent). But knowing what to pack is the easy part. This trail is physically demanding and will test you to the core. If it has rained it will be incredibly muddy and slippery which means the instance of injury increases and because it is so remote Parks Canada may need to be called in to provide a rescue which is not immediate. As a seasoned hiker, you need to plan for any eventuality which includes getting stranded or hurt. But this is not to scare you! In the end, a hike like this is worth it and the sights you will see as you walk the paths of the elders of this land you will gain a deeper understanding of why this land is cherished.