The North Coast Trail offers sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, blowholes, caverns, caves, waterfalls, bogs, rainforest, lighthouses, abandoned settlements, shipwreck relics, native culture, whales, sea lions, eagles, and giant trees. Our pace allows time to adjust to the demands of the trail and to fully see and explore this magnificent coastal environment. Readings and anecdotal stories help the hiker fully appreciate the dramatic and colourful history of the events and people who were a part of this coastline. There are stories from the thousands of years of First Nations history, to the settlement attempts of Danish immigrants in 1897 and American settlers in 1910, the radar defence installations of WWII and the present day challenges of the Cape Scott Lighthouse.
Day 0: Arrival on Vancouver Island. This denotes the day or days spent on Vancouver Island before the listed start date of the trip.
This morning our guide team will pick up the group and bring you to our Island base where we will do a thorough pack and equipment check before leaving for our adventure. Next we journey by van up Island towards Port Hardy approx. three hours, with a lunch stop along the way. We will then enjoy a scenic water taxi journey to our first night’s camp at Cape Sutil, by passing the first inland section of the trail (this section is all inland, with no views and very boggy terrain). Cape Sutil is the former site of the First Nations village of “Nahwitti” and was an example of one of the few ‘fortified’ villages along the coast.
DAY 2 – B/L/D
Small coves, rocky headlands and pebble beaches characterize today’s hike towards spectacular Shuttleworth Bight at km 24. We will constantly be alternating between inland trail sections with stunning views, bogs with boardwalk and rope-scrambling and beautiful pocket beaches carved out by the constant pounding of the Pacific. While our water source at camp tonight is labelled as Irony Creek, the real highlight is the sweeping Shuttleworth Bight crescent beach, one of the highlights of the NCT. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the ever elusive coastal wolves that roam this remote environment.
Today’s hike is predominantly coastal, the beaches alternate between sand, gravel and cobble.
Depending on tides we will be passing numerous tide pools on rock shelves that are full of inter-tidal sea life. Sea urchins, star fish, anenomes, perri-winkles and many other species will highlight our trek today.
We will be hiking close to twelve kms on our way to the Laura Creek campground.
Today, we hike along the last inland section of the new North Coast Trail and join up with the more established trail systems in Cape Scott Provincial Park.
We will stop and take in the stunning scenery at Nissen’s Bight for lunch before continuing on towards Nel’s Bight further to the west. Depending on how the group feels we may either camp here or push on to lesser used camping areas on Experiment Bight or 3km’s to Guise Bay the last campsite.
Our trek today will have covered between 13.5-16.5 kms.
We will use either Nel’s Bight or Guise Bay as a basecamp and as an opportunity to do some day-hiking without our full packs!
Many of the areas close by are full of First Nations and later settlement history giving us lots of options for exploring. We may decide on a full day-hike out to one of the few remaining lighthouses that has not been automated on BC’s coast or we might visit Guise Bay or ‘Yichaledaz’ – “Where Canoes Run Ashore in Heavy Swell” to see some of the remains from the WWII facilities. Finally there is Hansen’s Lagoon or ‘Wachlalis’ – “River on the Beach in Bay” where Danish settlers first tried to tame these wild lands starting in 1897.
Reminders of their struggles are still evident for now, until the rainforest reclaims the land for good.
Today we will reverse our path back to Nissen’s Bight for our final night of camping in Cape Scott Provincial Park. Our hike back through Hanson’s Lagoon will be more leisurely and will allow more time to explore this unique landscape and the history that goes along with it. Enjoying this beach with a bit of time allows more opportunity to view wildlife, past trips have seen Orcas, Humpack whales, sea otters, wolves and bears! Camp at Nissen’s bight will make our hike out the next day 2.5kms shorter than from Nel’s Bight!
As we pass the small campground at Fisherman’s River we will encounter decaying buildings, farm implements, a telegraph line, an old caterpillar tractor and the marble grave marker of William Christiansen. These are all parts left behind along the settler’s original corduory road that linked their isolated community to the rest of the outside world.
Today we will retrace our journey south down Vancouver Island, stopping again for lunch, on our way to the ferry at Nanaimo and back to Vancouver later that evening.