West Coast Trail

Day 3: Michigan Creek to Pachena Bay (12km)

See full gallery

West Coast Trail – Michigan Creek to Pachena Bay

Table of Contents

Day 3 – Our final day on the West Coast Trail! We planned to have an early start to ensure we got to Pachena Bay by 1:30PM. This was crucial as the express bus pick up time was 1:45PM. If we didn’t make it, we would have to find shelter for one night and hope to reschedule our bus ride to the day after. It was not worth missing the bus, so we made sure we had our alarms set on our phones.

7AM Start

We set our alarms for 7AM. We figured that if we could average 3km/hr, and started at 8AM, we could reach Pachena Bay by 12PM. This timing felt pretty reasonable – it had a little bit of wiggle room built in for snacking and taking photos. If only everything went according to plan…

Beautiful misty morning at Michigan Creek campsite

Nancy gets Hurt

When we were going through our WCT Orientation, we were informed that slips, trips and falls were responsible for an absurd number of evacuations on the trail. Being regular hikers, we are well aware of potential for accidents on the trail. I once watched Nancy slip off a rock, and instinctively throw her right arm up to grab something. She actually managed to grab a tree branch and save herself from falling. Everyone on the trail was impressed and thought she was a ninja. However, we were not so lucky on the WCT.

It was rather unfortunate actually. I don’t want to say that we were walking on difficult terrain, but somehow, Nancy managed to place her foot awkwardly on the ‘slightly’ uneven (I maintain that it was flat) ground, and took a spill. Nancy laid on the trail for a good couple minutes, until we heard people coming. At which point, she promptly stood up and pretended that nothing had happened. This was clearly not the case. She had lightly rolled her ankle … and we had only done 3km of the 12km we had planned to do on the last day. As many of you already know, Nancy is a pretty tough cookie. The last thing she was going to do was get evacuated off the trail. She toughed it out and hiked the rest of the trail. Only once we were home did she complain about her ankle being hurt.

Points of Interest

Due to Nancy injuring herself early on, we skipped any points of interest that were along the last stretch of trail. I think we only really missed some sea lions and a lighthouse – you know, things that you can find all over Vancouver Island. This wasn’t a major loss for us, but people coming from around the world to hike the West Coast Trail would probably want to see these things.

Hiking through the morning mist
Us at the 1 KM marker

12:30PM Pachena Bay

WE MADE IT!!! Pachena Bay is quite beautiful. It is very similar to the beaches you find near Tofino (Long Beach). In a typical Wet Coast fashion, the beach had a slight mist rolling across it when we arrived. The bright sun shining through the mist really gave the impression of a light at the end of a tunnel (for those that did the full trail, it was probably a long and dark tunnel).

There was a surprising amount of people on the beach when we arrived. These people were clearly all day trip tourists as they seemed to be ready for fun in the sun. All of the West Coast Trail hikers were lounging around the Pachena Bay information centre – looking pretty tired.

Bears on the West Coast Trail

When you get onto the WCT, you are warned about bears, and you are advised to keep all your food in the designated bear lockers. This makes sense. You are in the middle of nowhere. Of course there are going to be wild animals. During the night, we sometimes heard animals scurrying around outside the tent. I normally break into a cold sweat and my heart beats like I have been running up a hill for half an hour. Anyway, we were lucky enough not to meet any bears while we were on the trail. We think. At least, if there were any near us, we didn’t see them. I normally look at my feet/the ground when hiking … so I wouldn’t see them haha. A group that finished the trail about 20 minutes behind us was a little shaken up when they arrived at Pachena Bay. Apparently they had come across 2 cubs and a mommy bear.

Our Backpacks

This one is a bit of a funny story. When we started the WCT, both of us had packs that weighted about 34lbs (15kg). However, the contents of these packs varied a little bit. We of course had our own clothing, sleeping gear, etc, but Nancy was carrying camera gear, and I had most of the food. I naturally expected my bag to get lighter as the trip progressed, so I tried to take sleeping gear and clothing from Nancy as we ate through our food.

At the Pachena Bay tourist center, there was a scale that you could use to weigh your packs. A lot of the other groups were weighing their bags and loudly exclaiming how heavy their bags were. A lot of the people had done the whole trail over a 6-7 day period, so they required more gear. Even at the end of the trail, when they had eaten most of their food, their bags were still 40-50lbs (18-23kg). Their bags were heavier at the end of their trip than ours were at the start of our trip. Nancy and I couldn’t even fathom carrying a bag that heavy. To be fair, most of those people were bigger than us … so their clothing weighs more, right? Bigger tents? Bigger sleeping bags?

We decided it would be fun to see how much our bags weighed. Nancy’s bag weighed in at 32lbs (14kg) and mine was … 24lbs (11kg).

Final thoughts of the hike – was it worth it?

The hike was longer than what we are use to, and we only did half the trail! But that is exactly what we wanted, something more challenging than our typical overnight trips. We were very lucky to have good weather. Any rain would have made this trip much less enjoyable.

Would we do it again? Probably not. Don’t get us wrong, the hike was beautiful and definitely offered a completely different landscape than we are use to hiking. However, the logistics and the costs are fairly prohibitive in our opinion, even with family on Vancouver Island. There are also lots of other multi-day hikes that we would like to do before revisiting an old one – the North Coast Trail, Juan de Fuca Trail, and the Sunshine Coast Trail.


Posts about West Coast Trail

Table of Contents


The Lions
The Iconic Peaks of Vancouver
Wedgemount Lake
Hike to a Glacier-Fed Lake
West Coast Trail
Day 2 - Tsusiat Falls to Michigan Creek
West Coast Trail
Day 1 - Nitinat Village to Tsusiat Falls
West Coast Trail Access
Getting to/from WCT
West Coast Trail Packing List
WCT Essential Food & Equipment
West Coast Trail Booking
WCT Trip Planning
Panorama Ridge
Overnight Hike in Garibaldi Provincial Park
Lower Myra Falls
A Must-See Waterfall in Strathcona
Elfin Lakes & Opal Cone
Overnight hike in Garibaldi Provincial Park
Mt. Harvey
One of the Best (Difficult) Hikes in Vancouver
Ladner Creek Trestle
Picturesque Train Bridge in Hope
Mount Gardner
Day Hike on Bowen Island
Qualicum Beach Trestle
A Local Favourite Attraction
St. Mark's Summit
One of Vancouver's Best (Moderate) Hikes