The Soggy Bottom Boys on the West Coast Trail


During hikes in Banff in 2002, Kananaskis in 2003 and a hike along the “Rockwall Trail” in Kootenay National Park in 2004, my Calgary cousin-in-law John Langman and Regina buddies Marty Price and Trent Gegner had discussed with me the possibility of someday hiking the West Coast Trail. At the time, though, it seemed it would be several years before we made the attempt.

View from Whistling Pass, September 2002 hike (Sunshine – Paint Pots, Kootenay Nat. Park)

View of Tombstone Mountain during Kananaskis hike in September 2003, “the year of the forest fires”. This trail was the only loop trail, one of just a handful of trails, open for hiking.

Morning snack break on the “Rockwall Trail” (Kootenay National Park) in September 2004.

Gorgeous view on the Rockwall Trail at Wolverine Plateau, looking toward Tumbling Glacier

Over the next several months, however, it seemed to pop up in more than a few conversations, so we informally decided over the winter that the summer of 2005 would be the time to try it! However, as of late April, we still hadn’t even come to the formal decision to hike the trail! An email from John, basically reminding us to crap or get off the pot, jolted us into action!

After quite a bit of deliberation about which end to start the hike from, weighing the pros and cons of each direction, John and I made a “group decision” and decided that we’d plunge in at the deep end and begin the hike from the south trailhead at Gordon River [Port Renfrew] and head north to Pachena Bay [Bamfield].

The basic reason was that John and I figured it would be better to get the hardest part out of the way first! We’d considered starting from Bamfield and heading south, but felt that we wouldn’t have much to look forward to later in the hike, knowing that the hardest part would be at the end! We also felt that it might be more convenient if we started at the trailhead closer to Victoria.

The four of us kicked around starting and ending dates, and the number of nights we wanted to spend on the trail. Every possible itinerary we drew up for potential campsites always seemed to total 6 nights, so that’s what was agreed to.

Originally we had thought of flying out to Victoria on July 1st, and then starting the hike on the 2nd. However, realizing that I had some business to attend to in Regina that I couldn’t get away from on July 1st [not to mention catching “k-os” and his hit song Crabukkit…how appropriate for the hike...and headliners “Great Big Sea”…just as the Canada Day celebrations for Saskatchewan’s 100th birthday that night in Regina!], I asked the guys if we could start the hike on July 3rd instead. Nobody seemed to mind, so we decided we would fly out to Victoria on the afternoon of Saturday July 2nd.

Our plan was to overnight at Victoria’s International Hostel by the waterfront, head to Port Renfrew by bus early Sunday morning and spend 6 nights on the trail, return to Victoria late in the afternoon on Saturday July 9th and overnight again at the Hostel, and then fly home on the Sunday afternoon.

On May 1st I phoned BC Parks to reserve the hiking permits.  I also phoned the West Coast Trail Express office that morning and reserved bus tickets for the four of us for the 3rd and the 9th. The following day we reserved airline tickets through my cousin-in-law [John’s bro-in-law] Jack Summy at TravelMasters in Calgary for the four of us, and Marty, a member of Hostelling International, then made reservations for us for the 2 nights at the Hostel in Victoria. As it turned out, these dates were perfect to allow us some pre-hike sightseeing by the waterfront on the Saturday evening, and some pub-crawling on the Saturday night we returned!

The plans quickly came together, and it was then a matter of assembling the gear and adding some last-minute items. A few days before the hike began, we made the decision to buy a new stove [lower to the ground and more stable than our other one, which had dumped more than one dinner on previous hikes!], and I then offered to buy an “Outback Oven”, a lightweight backcountry oven suitable for all kinds of cooking and baking. This would prove to be a very pleasant surprise on the trail!

The July long weekend saw us taking care of business, getting our gear packed, enjoying warm weather in Regina and Calgary, and partaking in Canada Day celebrations, and then early in the afternoon of Saturday July 2nd we headed to the airports with our backpacks and food, to meet up in the Vancouver Airport, followed by a quick flight over to Victoria.

The adventure was about to begin!


Intro  Day0  Day1  Day2  Day3  Day4  Day5  Day6  Day7  Closing  Slideshow