IT USUALLY STARTS OUT as a boast. Your friend, a drink in hand, will speak of another friend who just returned from the West Coast Trail — a daunting 75km hike along the southern edge of Vancouver Island.
“75km?” you’ll say. “That doesn’t sound too difficult.” To which your friend will reply, “I could totally do it. Easy.”
If you’re like most people, the next time you see your friend you’ll both politely refrain from mentioning the promise again. You’ll think you’re too busy to take 5-7 days to conquer the trail. “Maybe next year,” you’ll think.
But sometimes that promise is kept — as in the case of myself and two other buddies who found ourselves standing on the threshold of the trail in early July.
We’d just completed our orientation session, which promised the following: torrential rain, slippery boulders, cougar babies, rickety ladders, cable cars, beaver fever, broken ankles, raging bears, and surging tides.
“You ready?” I ask my friends as we hitch up our bulging packs and steel ourselves to hit the trail.
“Doesn’t matter,” they answer. And we step out onto the beach.
From Vancouver, take a bus or drive to Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. Catch a ferry to Nanaimo and make your way to either Bamfield (northern start) or Port Renfrew (southern start).