This hike was amazing, and I can’t believe how much I enjoyed it.
To recap what I discussed last week our itinerary was to do two short days then one long day. We had decided to leave off 10km of the trail to fit it into 3 days and it was really a good fit.
What Actually Happened
Day 1 we changed up our plan a bit. As we came up to our original first campsite plan (Bear Beach, which was 9km from the China Beach start point), we decided to forge ahead. This added 11km to our first day, but also split up the “most difficult” and “difficult” parts of the trail. So not only were we now doing our longest day first, but also covering the toughest terrain as well. Those last 11km were a constant up and down, with little flat ground to really rest and set a good pace. The last 3km were gruelling and a major mental game – at least for me.
Arriving late (about 7:30pm) to Chin beach meant we had just enough energy to set up camp, cook and climb into our sleeping bags. The campsites were so full (rumour was there were 100 people on the beach that night) that we had to set up on the pebbly-stony beach. I think we arrived just in time to get a hot meal in us and keep the hangry moments from making any major fallouts occur.
Day 2 was then shorter – a mere 8km to the beautiful Sombrio Beach. We arrived at around 1:30pm so had a relaxing time setting up camp, building a fire and napping in the sun which appeared later that day. I even took a dip in the freezing cold ocean which felt amazing and allowed me to brush my hair. It was really nice to have those hours to rest and relax after a total of 28km hiked with 30+ lbs packs over two days. I can say that on day 3 I noticed a difference in my legs compared to day 2 – rest really does help.
Day 3 the final day. We had 9km to go to our parked car at Parkinson’s Creek. This portion of the hike was fairly moderate but included lots of stairs and mud. In a way we were quite focused this day – with the end in sight it was hard to really sit and take our time.
The meals I planned and snacks we ate instead of sit down lunches faired really well. We ate through most of our snacks so we know we had a good amount to last us the three days. I don’t think any of us went hungry after breakfasts or dinner and everyone enjoyed the meals and felt satisfied. I know I’ll repeat both the meals, and prepare three more for the West Coast Trail. The great thing about the WCT is that there are a couple canteens set up at two of the areas – so we will be able to enjoy a couple lunches along the way.
This hike was spectacular. The views were stunning, the trail rugged but not too rough, and even with the tough bits I enjoyed almost every minute. We had great weather – it rained a little during early mornings, but never down poured and even when the sun came out things remained fairly cool which is great for hiking.
The hardest part was our decision to change up our game plan. While I was happy to get the longest day, and toughest terrain, out of the way that first day, it is never easy to make a choice to change a plan. I personally take a lot of mental satisfaction from getting hard stuff over with first, and having easier stuff to look forward to – but I also do get attached to plans and don’t love changes!
I would without a doubt do this hike again – and would love to do the entire thing adding in a fourth day unless I really wanted to push myself. It’s also great because I now know the hike better, and doing it again would be less stress and just more enjoyable.
After doing this hike I am more than excited for the West Coast Trail, and I honestly cannot believe I’ve been intimidated by the idea of overnight backpacking enough to stay away from it since my teen years. I really enjoyed myself and hope I can do a few more trips over the next few years!