Day 0: Getting there (Victoria - Port Renfrew)


The day started early (even though it may be late for other people) at Victoria Backpacker's Hostel. Having arrived in Canada just two days ago we where still a little bit jet-lagged and so we didn't get the bus to Port Renfrew, the little settlement where the southern trailhead of the West Coast Trail is located. But anyway, the stay at the hostel was too pleasant to have it disturbed by an overhasty departure. The (free) coffee there was just great. The day before, we had met some other germans (what else ;-) who had just come from the trail. They told us stories of bear traces and whales they've had seen. Whales! We couldn't wait to see them. We didn't know it would take some time...

So there was no bus that would take us right to the trailhead... but to Sooke, which is about 30 km from Victoria. That left 70 km to be done by hitchhiking, no problems for experienced hitchhikers, provided that there is some traffic. The traffic was quite low, even for canadian logging road standards, but it was enough to get us a ride in a comfortable Camper van. The elderly couple that resided in the van was very impressed by our plans and so nothing could change their minds from bringing us right to the Trail Information Center.

By then it was already around 3 o'clock and since we didn't have a reservation we didn't know if and when we would be allowed to go on the trail. Fortunately for us, some people with reservations hadn't shown up, so we were told that we could go on the trail this very day... or get on the waiting list and wait, perhaps several days. We couldn't believe our luck because we were prepared to wait and now we would have to get on the trail that evening! This turned out to be quite stressful. The thing is that before you are allowed to enter, you are informed about lots of things. There is a film about the trail, the warden gives you all the safety regulations, she checks if you can read a map and the tide-tables and so on. Although this is very important and also very interesting (our camper-van-couple stayed for most of the "show") it took quite a long time. The warden told us that the last boat across Port San Juan to the trailhead at Thrasher Cove would be around 5 p.m. That left us with very little time to buy some very important items (big plastic bags, water pills etc.), to walk very quickly to the pier (which was about 2 km from the Center) with our (still) very heavy backpacks, to tell the boat guy that we were very keen to get to the other side, to do some very important unpacking of things (to get backpack weight down to under 20 kg) and to arrange our excess baggage to be transported to Bamfield at the other end of the trail (This was important because after all we wanted to stay in Canada for 8 weeks, which filled our backpacks with a lot of provisions and fuel and stuff).

Crossing Port St. Juan

So finally we were all packed up and ready to go. The "boat" turned out to be quite small, just for about 6 to 8 people. We were only two, so this posed no problems. The problem was that this small vessel does not cut through the waves like one would wish but it jumps from one wave to the other, smacks into walls of waters, dives into the depths etc. To make a long story short: The crossing was wet, very wet. Even though we had covered our valuable backpacks they got flooded. The trip lasted for about half an hour and we were very grateful to get onto solid ground again. A first examination showed that most of the lower part of my backpack was wet, which included sleeping bag (down feathers, hard to dry) and some of our food. The good thing was that it was very easy to get a fire going from all the driftwood and soon the evening looked a little brighter. Thrasher Cove, our first campsite on the trail, was a small patch of sandy beach, covered with driftwood, overlooked by dark and dense coastal rain forest that rises up a few hundred meters. We were the only people there and the sound of the waves on the beach and all the sounds a forest makes at night made this evening very special and a bit scary...

Up to the Overview. Next day.