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  1. #1
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    West Coast Trail in BC

    Does anyone have experience or good knowledge of the hammocking prospects along the West Coast Trail in BC, Canada?

    I am heading out the last week in May. Beach camping appears to be the norm but I would imagine there are trees a plenty.

    Thanks for your help!

  2. #2
    Senior Member JerryW's Avatar
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    I just watched a great 3-part video series about this trail on YouTube.

    Link to Part 1
    The "Search" function is your friend!

  3. #3
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    Hey Twilliger. I have not done the west coast trail so i can't offer you my direct experience but am familiar with the area and have been on the trail. Weather is a big part of the west coast so good tarp coverage is important. The problem on the west coast is not lack of trees but dense underbrush. I'm assuming you've done your research, read other folks trip reports of that trail, have checked out tide charts for that time period, permits etc. What comes to mind for me is a good tarp, some extra cordage for tying off to trees on the beach, very good rain gear as you could get rain the whole time. In fact all your gear has to be thought of in terms of foul weather. Quick dry clothing, dry tinder etc. Maybe Albert will chime in here . Maybe he has done the trail with a hammock. Good luck on your adventure.
    " The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it."

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  4. #4
    mbiraman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by _Tinker_ View Post
    I just watched a great 3-part video series about this trail on YouTube.

    Link to Part 1

    Good one Tinker. I forget that everything is on you tube these days. Its a popular trail.
    " The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it."

    “The measure of your life will not be in what you accumulate, but in what you give away.” ~Wayne Dyer

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  5. #5
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    thanks

    hey tinker thanks for the video link - will check that out after work.

    thanks for the additional weather tips.

    I see there is a beach route and a forest route - most seem to favour the beach route, tides and weather permitting. Most images and descriptions of campsites are on the beach. I am planning to get back off the beach to make camp. It is the undergrowth I am wondering about - both from a hanging perspective and that off walking off trail to get back into the woods a bit.

    Looking forward to viewing the vids and thanks for the prompt responses.

  6. #6
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    Yep, forests in the Pacific Northwest will have pretty dense underbrush. Most places you will find that it is mostly ferns, salal, oregon grape, etc. These plants usually do not get over a few feet high and you should be able to hang a hammock above them. Sometimes the areas right around a beach will have fairly dense tree growth there and the problem may be finding an area that has trees with enough distance between them.

    In general I have not had any times where I couldn't find a place to hang. I may have to scout around a bit more than ground dwellers on a beach, but I have a easier time usually than they do in the actual forest.

  7. #7
    New Member davesailer's Avatar
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    I haven't been on this trail, but I did see a presentation from a couple of local people who hiked it. (They spent weeks at the gym trying to get in shape so they could carry their 50 - 60 pound packs, and then took a lot of stuff so they would be comfortable. Insert howl here.)

    Anyway, I've hiked a whole bunch on the Washington coast, mostly in winter, and overall it's pretty mellow. I understand that the West Coast Trail has designated camp sites, and from what I saw at the presentation, these are ALL on the beach (which totally creeped me out, tides, rogue waves and tsunamis being possible). So anyway, you may have to stealth it if you take a hammock.

    One big thing to be aware of is what is over you. Many of the trees are huge. It's normal here to see threes that are three to five feet in diameter, and hundreds of feet tall. Besides that, many other trees have been half blown over, and are leaning on each other. Winter can bring incredible wind storms, but summer should be less dangerous. Keep this in mind though.

    If you look around you can often find nice areas to hang, but you need to be willing to look. Often, back in the forest you can find shadier areas where there is little or no undergrowth, though basically wherever there is a slope there is brush. Most of that is salal and ferns that are bushy but clean and free of things like ticks. Given a little spare cordage you can tie things back if you need to, or let them rub against the bottom of your hammock if you can handle it. There is lots of moss everywhere.

    There are always good places to overnight if you are not under direct surveillance by the camping police, or you can sort of sidle around and just disappear into the forest whenever you have a chance. Getting away from designated sites will/can do one great thing for you, and that is to get you away from areas where the critters are habituated to hiker food.

    In 30 years I have NEVER had an animal problem, but there are lots of bears, and bizarre numbers of raccoons, many of which can even open bear canisters, let alone pull down a bear bag. If you are even 100 yards away from a heavily used camp area you can reduce your risk, especially if you are clean and careful.

    Don't eat where you camp, and always keep your food hung when not preparing a meal. Do not even leave food out for five minutes if you are not there. I know that in Olympic National Park in WA that people in the campground have had their food and utensils confiscated, and have been fined for leaving them out on picnic tables. The alternative is euthanizing bears who innocently come by for a snack.

    So basically, don't worry. Be cool, be respectful of the area, be circumspect, be flexible.

  8. #8
    mbiraman's Avatar
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    Twilliger; after the first couple of posts i went out onto Youtube. There are tons of video's of the trail. Mostly the big beautiful sites , waterfalls etc ,but if you watch ten or fifteen of them you'll glean information about the terrain, the mud trails,and the beaches. I saw plenty of shots of forest where it looked very possible to hang ( to my surprise) and some shots where the brush was six feet high. Getting a nice place to hang in the forest may be a bit more challenging but as others have said, you search a little more. Tons of people carrying enormous packs, big tents, frying pans,,,ouch.
    " The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it."

    “The measure of your life will not be in what you accumulate, but in what you give away.” ~Wayne Dyer

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by davesailer View Post
    I haven't been on this trail, but I did see a presentation from a couple of local people who hiked it. (They spent weeks at the gym trying to get in shape so they could carry their 50 - 60 pound packs, and then took a lot of stuff so they would be comfortable. Insert howl here.)

    Anyway, I've hiked a whole bunch on the Washington coast, mostly in winter, and overall it's pretty mellow. I understand that the West Coast Trail has designated camp sites, and from what I saw at the presentation, these are ALL on the beach (which totally creeped me out, tides, rogue waves and tsunamis being possible). So anyway, you may have to stealth it if you take a hammock.

    One big thing to be aware of is what is over you. Many of the trees are huge. It's normal here to see threes that are three to five feet in diameter, and hundreds of feet tall. Besides that, many other trees have been half blown over, and are leaning on each other. Winter can bring incredible wind storms, but summer should be less dangerous. Keep this in mind though.

    If you look around you can often find nice areas to hang, but you need to be willing to look. Often, back in the forest you can find shadier areas where there is little or no undergrowth, though basically wherever there is a slope there is brush. Most of that is salal and ferns that are bushy but clean and free of things like ticks. Given a little spare cordage you can tie things back if you need to, or let them rub against the bottom of your hammock if you can handle it. There is lots of moss everywhere.

    There are always good places to overnight if you are not under direct surveillance by the camping police, or you can sort of sidle around and just disappear into the forest whenever you have a chance. Getting away from designated sites will/can do one great thing for you, and that is to get you away from areas where the critters are habituated to hiker food.

    In 30 years I have NEVER had an animal problem, but there are lots of bears, and bizarre numbers of raccoons, many of which can even open bear canisters, let alone pull down a bear bag. If you are even 100 yards away from a heavily used camp area you can reduce your risk, especially if you are clean and careful.

    Don't eat where you camp, and always keep your food hung when not preparing a meal. Do not even leave food out for five minutes if you are not there. I know that in Olympic National Park in WA that people in the campground have had their food and utensils confiscated, and have been fined for leaving them out on picnic tables. The alternative is euthanizing bears who innocently come by for a snack.

    So basically, don't worry. Be cool, be respectful of the area, be circumspect, be flexible.

    *****************

    Good post!

    We are rangers in Olympic but not on the beach tho we've been there lots of times. We've been back country rangers for 20 yrs and BPing for 20 MORE.

    West Coast Trail is tougher footing and travel than the Oly Beach hikes... We know folks who've done both.

    Following only applies to Oly Beaches---
    Tsunami warnings in Oly are given by choppers along the beach when forecast.

    Wind is chronic both summer and winter. We typically hang on the lee side of low points in Oly ... these are usually 3-4+ ft above the very highest reaches of the beaches and located at least every couple miles. In many places the brush (mostly salal) is extremely difficult to penetrate. Large Huggers and extra cord.

    We've seen noncompliant BPr's food and camps destroyed many times. Generally the Parks know more than you do about local conditions unless you are a frequent viz to the specific locations. Take precautions, then-- Don't Worry Be Happy.

    As of early last year there was one bear in NY (I think) who could open Bear Vault bear cans some of the time.

    In the late 70's-early 80's, Hook patrolled the Sand Point area and relieved folks of their unprotected goodies at night. He wasn't the only bear on the beach at night then. Anti bear precautions have been so effective that mostly bears have moved on ... now coons are the problem and in SOME places a lidded plastic bucket is authorized.

    Edit -- 'camping police' comment is mostly a bogus concept and I assume it was just a rhetorical flourish.
    Last edited by riverkeeper; 03-21-2010 at 13:43.
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  10. #10
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    feedback ...

    hey all thanks for chiming in. I have watched a wack of youtube vids and web research on the WCT so thanks again for that tip. Overall, my sense is that hammocking should be pretty viable. Since I started up with the hammock 2 years ago, I have never been forced to the ground, but always carry a enough z-rest cover my butt up to shoulders in case I do. Due to descriptions of the undergrowth I am going to carry a diy neatsheet UQ to protect my down UQ from ferns and such (always be a ground sheet, splash guard, windcover, if necessary). I will also carry some extra amsteel for really big trees.

    I have had a big ol' bearvault for the past year and gotten used to lugging it around (makes a good seat and with a couple of hiking poles and the z-rest, makes a good windscreen). If the NY bears you are referring to are those found in the adirondacks, I believe they have figured out the bearvault. Those bears are some kind of smart and get alot of practice - I think manufacturers are using them in focus groups and they still figure 'em out - the high peaks are about 3 hrs drive and I go there annually. One guy, who appeared sane in every way, had me convinced that the adirondack bears get together and form a pyramid, easy reaching 15-20' bags.

    thanks again for all the thoughts and suggestions, very helpful!

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