Based on the hiking trip July 30th – August 4th 2004
We missed our preferred ferry, but caught the 9:30 sailing from Horseshoe bay.
Hit the Island highway and drove to Campbell River arriving at my brothers at
12:45. Here my brother drove us to the Nootka air dock in Gold River by 2:45.
The sun was shinning and we were eager to get underway. Nootka air no longer
collects the fee for the first nation band; they quit collecting when it became
$40.00 bucks for each hiker. They did tell us that we would not be able to board
the Uchuck on our return without a receipt from the band. The staff also gives a
10 to 15 minute talk on the trail its remoteness, conditions, number of hikers
they have flown in and how to crap in the intertidal zone. They weighed us and
our packs prior to boarding our plane. My 70.5lbs pack was of obvious concern
for them. They asked me to reconsider what was in my pack but I had already and
I reassured them that I carried the same weight and pack up the golden
staircase. I also made a mental note to get better gear soon, as I am not
getting any younger. We had my brother take the obligatory picture of us next to
the Nootka air plane and headed out.
flight up was spectacular, we flew up the inlet and saw the uchuck below us, and
the pilot updated us on the “Luna the whale” sightings. We flew by a large
helilogging operation and onto friendly cove.
The pilot flew along the coast to show us the route we would be taking back
towards Yuquot, we saw no hikers along the route anywhere and as far as Nootka
air was concerned they had not dropped anyone off in the last ten days. He also
said that none were scheduled for the next two days.
We arrive at Louie lagoon at 3:45 and unload our packs. The plane gets close
to shore but you still are in water. We push the plane back out into the bay and
watch him fly out. We change into our hiking boots adjust our packs and head off
I had read that the first section of the trail, although short, was
difficult, wet, and had several blow downs. So I was pleasantly surprised to see
that the trail was actually well marked, wide and clear.
Someone had even cut steps into the blow downs. Where the trail would
normally been muddy, they had place rounds cut from the blow downs. It was clear
the whole way to the beach, and someone had done considerable upgrades to the
We arrived at the beach under thirty minutes.
It felt like paradise with no one else there, the beautiful sunny beach and
the warm summer sun.
We set up camp, cached our food and set off exploring the area.
The fresh water runs along the edge of rocks on the left of the beach and
disappears under the sand into the ocean.
The beach is teeming with interesting plants both in the sand and clinging to
the cliffs along the forests edge.
We notice a few animal tracks near the fresh water which appear to be small
like a dogs and some which are obviously black bear. We head back to our tent
and start our fire, prepare our dinner, and plan tomorrow’s day.
Day Two - First Beach to Calvin Falls
I woke up this morning to a beautiful sunrise and tracks all around my tent.
I am up earlier than Peter so I filter water for breakfast and for the days
After breakfast I lather up on sunscreen check out the watch and see it is
8:15 as we head towards Calvin falls.
We have picked this week because of the low tides and we are fortunate to
also have the long range forecast of full sun. We are hoping to hike most of the
tidal shelf which we saw during our flight up.
I suspect it will be similar to the shelf along the W.C.T. and want to avoid
the pea gravels. The shelf we hiked today was full of sea life. The tidal pools
are crystal clear and full of Anemones, starfish, large mussels, small crabs and
fish; we take our time checking these out. As we are forced closer to the sand
from the incoming tides we find thousands of small crabs running along the sand.
challenge our presence with their pinchers raised in defense of their territory.
It is impossible not to step on them occasionally, since there as so many. Once
again we see the same tracks which were around our tents this morning, it seems
we are following what ever animals they are. We have yet to see anything yet
though but the tracks are within the tide so they must be nearby. In all the
sandy bays are large groups of sandpipers which flit around us as we approach
them. Occasionally we see a pair of either eagles or ospreys but surprisingly
very few seagulls. Eventually the tide pushes us inland.
I am once again surprised how easy the hiking inland is and how well
maintained the trail seems to be.
After the section of inland trail we hit the beach again with some marine fog
off in the distance. The beach along this section has some interesting cliff
formations. They appear to be on a base of conglomerate rock then a layer of
sandstone and finally the topsoil and forest floor.
We walk the sandstone sidewalks although along this stretch they are
interspersed with small boulders, which appear to be neatly placed. These are
slippery as snot and I turtled on them, bruising my butt and my ego. My friend
Peter was hinting I should rethink my “no poles” hiking theory.
Once over the snotty rocks we were once again on the sandstone shelf but at
times this was covered with seaweed which was slippery to walk on as well, and
we were back into the sands and gravels.
Just before reaching Calvin falls is another interesting rock formation which
appeared to be the top of a formation called columnar jointing. I am no
geologist so I am happy to be corrected on this.
Another sandy beach shaped like a horse shoe before Calvin falls.
We arrive at Calvin falls at 1:45 and set up near the base of the falls, next
to a hammock someone has constructed from fishing net.
I head into the falls to wash off and since the water is so refreshing I stay
in for quite some time.
We decide to check out the surf shack I had read about. It is built just
inside the trees and is marked by a few floats hanging in the trees. The shack
is more of a shelter than a cabin. It has a good roof and sides around four feet
high. The cabin reminds me of the shelters along the Bowron lakes circuit, but
while those have woodstoves this does not. Inside is strung with fish netting,
which forms a large area for sleeping.
The night was clear and warm and the sound of the falls was broken only by
the sound of wolves howling at the moon. It must be a small pack of wolves which
we were following during the day.
Day Three - Calvin Falls to Beano
I wake up to the morning sun, but see marine fog off in the distance. Before
my Peter wakes I filter water and start breakfast. I am looking forward to
spending the entire day out along the beach today. After sun screening up for
the day we set off and I look at my watch as we begin, 8:30. Much of the day was
spent beach walking, which had all different conditions. Some had various sizes
stones some sand others the energy sapping gravel.
At the edges of some of the shelves there are smaller cobblestones which look
like the old country roads, except these are not as stable. These stones are
smaller in size than the ones I slipped on yesterday, and occasionally they are
lined in a single row by the tides.
There are also large haystack boulders along this stretch, one was shaped
like a huge lawn chair so I had to hop on and sit in the “Nootka” lazyboy.
Above the high tide line is a huge band of seaweed which makes the going
easier than the gravel, although each step causes many sea fleas to jump about.
Along the seaweed about every fifty yards is a pile of bear scat, some fresh,
but we have not seen any bear yet. No bears, no people and full sun it just does
not get any better. As we approach Bajo point the fog arrives from offshore. We
see two large sea stacks just off shore.
There is a small channel between the shore and the base of the sea stacks and
I decide to wade through leaving my pack with my friend on shore while he rests.
It is knee deep on the way in and after 30minutes of exploring it is chest
deep returning. I had almost overstayed the exploring excursion. I could have
swum the narrow channel but I think my digital camera would not have done so
Once back on shore we sling on the packs listening to the howls of wolves
nearby. There were at least five or six of them howling in the fog, I thought it
odd that they would be howling during the day as we set off. After half an hour
of hiking the fog lifts and we see the sea stacks clearly in the sun.
We arrive at Beano later than we expected and have to wait an hour or so
until the tide recedes so we can cross and set up camp.
The creek is crystal clear and I can see what appears to be cutthroat trout
in the shade of the tress which line the banks. The beach is a combination of
polished stones about slightly large than ¾” drain rock, and pea gravel. Once
across we set up near the mouth of the river.
The bay has around nine to ten cabins along the shore and one couple has set
up a bed and breakfast at the far end.
These are the first people we have seen on the trail, and we share some hot
chocolate at our fire with them. They tell us that there is a logging road just
behind the trees which is how they have building materials supplied. As we talk
with them a black bear ambles onto the beach to eat the seaweed. I did not know
that they ate the seaweed but it now makes sense why we saw so much scat along
the band of seaweed. Once seeing the bear my friend promptly re-caches his stuff
quickly. I reassure him that while the bear is munching on him I can make a
clean get away. Beano bay appears to be a very deep bay and is made up of very
polished stones, the bay is gorgeous and it is easy to see why the cabins are
Day Four - Beano to past Callicum Creek
Last night I felt like it was the invasion of the mice as it seemed they were
assaulting all sides of my tent. In the morning it was evident that they liked
the taste of my socks stuffed inside my boots outside the tent. Since I was
awake I venture out to the low tide to do some business and then stayed awake
marveling at the full moon and stars. Once again the wolves were howling and for
an instant I felt as though I was in the middle of a western movie. After an
hour or so of enjoying the clear skies I bunk down.
It was surprising to wake up to clouds this morning after such a clear night,
but I put on the sunscreen in hopes of a brighter day. The couple we had talked
with last night advised us to water up as once you crossed Callicum water is
scarce. I had read the same thing and filled my water bottles for the day. At
the far end of the bay just below the B&B there is a cliff, if the tide is in
you must take the trail near the B&B. Otherwise you can round the point.
Once you hike across the bay you will be forced inland and up a short but
steep incline. There is a rope there to aid you however.
is also the day when we hit several pocket beaches well placed for rest stops
and beach combing.
I find a nice quite companion on one of these pocket beaches.
again the inland trail is in great shape, and well marked.
There are some deadfalls to crawl under, over or around but the trail for us
was dry. Occasionally the trail exits the forest canopy and follows the cliffs
above the ocean. It reminded me of some of the section of the Helliwell trail on
Hornby Island. From our vantage point we could see three large seals or sea
lions on the rocks below. We also pass a pocket beach with an arch below which
the trail does not access and I am tempted to try to access it, but think better
of it. In some of the pocket beaches are some small caves, the bigger ones are
yet to come. We stop at one of these for lunch and watch a seal play in the kelp
beds just off shore.
am sure this is much to the dismay of the fishermen in the boats fishing the
same kelp bed.
After lunch we head off the beach and head inland once again. We see the
first hikers on the trail, they are going the opposite direction and they also
tell us that water sources seem dried up. The trees in this section are larger
than I have seen previously on the trail. They are not as big as those in the
Carmanha but they are close.
We set up camp about 1 ½ hours short of Maquinna point, as I want to see the
caves during the low tides of tomorrow. The clouds are closing in again and I
sense rain so we quickly set up camp on this pocket beach before the expected
My friend then informs me that he did not water up this morning or at
Callicum, he has only ½ a liter left. I did not need any at Callicum and assumed
he had watered up in the morning and was good as well. I am unimpressed, and
decide to run ahead in the hopes of finding a water source nearby. After running
for ½ an hour and finding no water I turn back. We obviously do not cook this
night and thankfully my wife makes awesome beef jerky. The three liters I have
left will have to do. The rain has held off this night but it feels damp and we
are in a fog as we head to sleep.
Day Five - Heading to Friendly Cove
It rained off and on all night at times quite hard, I like the sound of rain
on the tent but I am not a real fan of hiking in it. While Peter got ready I
hiked back to a small cave nearby and checked it out at a lower tide. The base
of the cave was full of purple and orange starfish, and one large sunfish.
It was just lying on the seaweed near the base so I got to get a good look at
it, I touched it and it seemed softer than a regular starfish. After a quick
breakfast we headed out at what seems to be the standard time, 8:30, in the fog
but not the rain. Most of the morning was inland, more logs to once again cross,
either under, over or around. We also walked high along the cliffs again, which
was very scenic and over some rough textured rock out croppings.
After walking over the rocky outcropping you drop down into another pocket
This one had a large cave which is only accessible at low tides. The cave
floor was smooth and very slippery.
The beach is quite protected and would be a better camping spot than the one
we chose last night.
You then head back into the inland trail, once again easy to follow.
The salal and lower shrubs were wet from last nights rain which had
thankfully stopped, but they give us a good shower as we pass by. We reach
Maquinna point in the fog, and hike out to the edge. We can hear people talking
from the fishing boats below but the fog is too thick for us to see them.
There is a junction in the trail at Maquinna point indicating an inland trail
to a lake. While water is still a concern, I am really eager to see the caves at
low tide. Peter still has some which I gave him this morning and with the tides
incoming we decide to push on. Worst case we come back after we explore the
caves. We soon come across the sign indicating the caves, we are happy to see
that it is not to far away from the trail to the lake if we decide to go back
for water. We stay as long as we can checking out the caves with the tide coming
in we decide rather than go back along the inland trail we should try to get
around the point. We are rewarded immediately with large caves and arches. These
were the ones I had read about, one you could actually camp in. It is long and
for now the high tide driftwood line stops short of the opening. It also has an
exit in the back, a small one which would allow you to escape if you had to. We
check the area out and then head back inland.
The inland trail has more of a boggy feel to it, smaller tress, more grasses
with different sedges you normally find in marshy areas. There are also quite a
few neat looking flowers in the area but very little standing water.
Surprisingly there are few mosquito’s or flies pestering us as well. There are
some muddy sections off the trail we can hear an abundance of frogs and we saw a
few snakes. The quick change in the make up of the forest reminds me of the
change on the Chilkoot trail entering the boreal forest area. We finish up the
inland trail and no longer have the advantage of the shelves so we are on the
loose sand and gravel. The beach has several large uprooted trees washed up
above the winter high tide line. It is neat to see the rootballs washed clean
from the surf exposing the tangled roots. We arrive at the tidal lagoon during
low tide and cross.
The water will reach the bank behind me at high tide, which is why you must
cross at low tide.
Peter is spent and even though I want to continue to find a better water
source we decide to set up camp.
After setting up camp I go for a dip and wash up, only to find that this
water is not just brackish but down right salty. I have no desire to try to walk
up the stream in hopes of better water so I hike the beach toward friendly cove
hoping to find some water. There are what seems to be some inland trails right
above the beach and I am hopeful since there is a house there the trail may lead
to water. I am disappointed to find that these “trails” are only survey routes
for what appears to be building lots. I head to the end of the beach and head
towards the next one.
There are tents on this second beach and the town of Yuquot is in plain
sight, right near the sea stack is the water source. I hike back to tell Peter
and we agree to pack up and camp there instead.
This leaves us with a mere twenty minute jaunt for tomorrow to finish our
hike and explore the area.
There is some neat history in Yuquot and the first nation’s new caretaker
seems keen to clean up the area and promote it. The church has a lot of historic
plaques and artifacts, and pictures in it.
The town was quite a hub in its time with canneries, and several houses. Now
all that is left of the school is a foundation, and there is no evidence of the
canneries. Nearby there is an old cemetery, with some well crafted headstones.
While a great deal of the area was over grown with swordferns, thimble berry
bushes, and tall grass the caretaker was in the process of reclaiming the site.
The only remaining house in Yuqout is off to the right of the dock. This is
where you will find the totem pole, which has sadly fallen over and blackberry
bushes where consuming it. It is so large it takes three pictures to get it all.
We followed the trail beyond the totem and found the remains of some of the
houses and what appeared to be a small dam at one time. Now it seems the trail
is only there for maintenance of a water line which runs to the lake. Closer to
the campsite you will find a shallow lake which was quite warm. There are also
outhouses built on the reserve lands which you can use after you have paid the
$40.00 . Apparently the $40.00 covers both your camping and the use of them.
They refer to the fee as a landing fee, and if you show up on the dock by boat
you will be charged the money. They have built around ten cabins facing the bay
which they will rent to hikers as well we never went inside but I guess if we
had hiked the trail in rain the whole way they may be a good refuge.
The ride home on the Uchuck is just over two hours long and I really enjoyed
the trip, even though the sun was out the wind was cool. There is a great seat
next to the smoke stack that kept us quite warm though.
In the end I found the trail way easier than I anticipated. Well marked, not
to rugged or wet, it was a pretty dry season though. Peter had not hiked, with
the exception of one day hike to the second peak of the chief, in fifteen years.
He never complained at any time, and found the trail hard but certainly doable.
I really enjoyed the peacefulness of the trail, the scenery and of course the
weather. I would say that it is equal to the W.C.T. in scenery and in cost but
more appealing by virtue of fewer people accessing it. I expect to see more
cabins going up along the route and also more people beginning to hike the
route. I am glad I did it now rather than later, and am considering going back
but this time to stay longer and enjoy the peacefulness.