The West Coast TrailWhen shipping in and out of Juan de Fuca Strait rapidly increased in the mid 1800's and an alarming and costly number of ships were lost, the need for a inland trail was realized. It would take decades, and many more brutal and costly shipwrecks in the waters leading to Juan de Fuca Strait, to finally construct a life saving trail. The West Coast Trail has a wonderfully, horrifically, brutally, and certainly lengthy history.

Hike the West Coast Trail

 Hiking Route West Coast TrailDay 1 Pachena to Darling Hiking Route West Coast TrailDay 2 Darling to Tsusiat Hiking Route West Coast TrailDay 3 Tsusiat to Carmanah Hiking Route West Coast TrailDay 4 Carmanah to Walbran Hiking Route West Coast TrailDay 5 Walbran to Cullite Hiking Route West Coast TrailDay 6 Cullite to Camper Hiking Route West Coast TrailDay 7 Camper to Thrasher West Coast Trail CampsitesMichigan Creek at 12k West Coast Trail CampsitesDarling River at 14k West Coast Trail CampsitesOrange Juice Creek at 15k West Coast Trail CampsitesTsocowis Creek at 16.5k West Coast Trail CampsitesKlanawa River at 23k West Coast Trail CampsitesTsusiat Falls at 25k West Coast Trail CampsitesCribs Creek at 42k West Coast Trail CampsitesCarmanah Creek at 46k West Coast Trail CampsitesBonilla Creek at 48k West Coast Trail CampsitesWalbran Creek at 53k West Coast Trail CampsitesCullite Cove at 58k West Coast Trail CampsitesCamper Bay at 62k Thrasher Cove - West Coast Trail CampsitesThrasher Cove at 70k

The stretch of the Pacific from Vancouver Island to Oregon earned the name Graveyard Of The Pacific because of the shockingly frequent shipwrecks. To get that name. To earn such a horribly poignant name, a stretch of ocean had to have claimed a lot of ships in a small amount of time.

It did. And the reason it did is because of a unique set of circumstances.  In short, if you were to design a part of the world to devour ships. To pull them into an inescapable death. Well, you'd do well to design it very much like Juan de Fuca Strait.

Step 1: have a major port of trade centre itself in a place like Vancouver. Or better yet, create two cities, one like Vancouver, and another like Victoria.

Step 2: have them located at the edge of a relatively unknown continent in the biggest ocean in the world.

Step 3: have these major cities accessed by entering a strait with a fast moving current and brutal weather half of the year.

Step 4: and this is the master stroke.  Have the entrance to the straight be a lee shore with a brutally hostile, rocky shoreline, and as one last brutal stroke of evil.  Make the current in the strait move northward toward the destructive coast.  And make the current move faster as the weather gets worse, which it is a lot.

The Brutal History of Juan de Fuca Strait

Juan de Fuca Strait is all of these.  It is a testament to how wonderful the cities of Vancouver and Victoria are.  Not only did they rise out of such a brutal history of shipwreck disaster.  But more importantly.  More amazingly.  They led to the creation of the West Coast Trail.  This fact may not sink in with suitable gravity with the average person.  But walk the West Coast Trail and it will resonate.  The purpose of the trail sticks in the back of your mind as you hike it.  It has to.  There are shipwrecks at every beach.  This is surely impossible, an exaggeration.  But it's not.

West Coast Trail Shipwreck

As you walk you are constantly reminded that it's a life saving trail.  But it's too hard.  Even with the deluxe, IKEA looking ladders and bridges it's hard.  How could survivors crawl off the beach and walk this trail.  The sobering answer is simple.  They did.  They had to.  They survived.  They crashed onto Vancouver Island.  These shores.  As their ship was bashed into the rocks, the made their way to the shore.  Some died, some lived.  We have an unbelievably detailed history of who did and didn't.  Then they set off on the Dominion Life Saving Trail.

Valencia Bluffs

I notice a jagged piece of rusted metal, out of place on the cleanly rounded rocks. I pick it up as I would a McDonald's bag.  It looked like a piece of trash a bit out of place.  I would read later that this beach is strewn with the wreckage of the Uzbekistan.  In April 1943 it was on it's way to Russia.  Everyone survived that wreck.  I look up, still holding the jagged piece of ship.  What a shitty beach.  Rocky, littered with logs.  The Uzbekistan.  Holding a piece of history.  And just laying on the beach.  Is it really part of a shipwreck?  It seems so ordinary.  A rusted triangle of metal, no longer than my arm.  But it's here.  In the middle of nowhere.  Not really though.  Far from anything, but the map says that this is where the Uzbekistan, a WWII cargo ship on its way to Russia met its end.  Disintegrated on this shore in 1943.  The rusted piece of metal seems so much like garbage.  It has no defining look.  It doesn't feel like anything special.  Like a piece of history, like a shipwreck should.  I drop the piece of shipwreck and at the same instant hear it.

West Coast Trail Prologue Continued at

Hike WCT West Coast Trail

When shipping in and out of Juan de Fuca Strait rapidly increased in the mid 1800's and an alarming and costly number of ships were lost, the need for a ...
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The West Coast Trail is a very tough hike. About one out of one hundred hikers don't make it, they need to be rescued. That's why there are so many fees. By ...
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