Jul 18, 2007 at 11:37 pm #1224187
I was lucky enough to get a reservation to do the WCT this year – over labor day weekend.
I've been ultralight hiking for several years now (my gearlist at http://www.brettonstuff.com) but haven't done any beach hiking or very sustained mud/rain hiking in my trail runners.
I notice everyone wearing mud-clad heavy boots and gaiters on the WCT pictures!
I'm wondering how my ultralight trail runners will perform on all the sandy beaches and deep mud. Any pearls of wisdom from ultralight folks that have done this trail (or any other beach hiking) in trail runners.
Any other tips from previous WCT hikers?
thanks for any info!
-brettSep 10, 2007 at 5:06 pm #1401785
Sorry I didn't see this until Sept. 10th. I am planning a hike on the WCT next Sept. For future reference there are several good books about the route including Blisters and Bliss by Dave Foster. He uses lightweight trailrunners and carries 2 pair or at least a pair of Teva's. He also uses low gaiters. Several years ago Backpacker had an article about 2 guys he did the hike with minimal equipment, actually outfitted themselves as they went along. Seems that most people who hike this trail carry a minimum of 40 pounds! That's a lot of gear! When I hike the trail I'm planning on carrying a tarp, fiber bag, and bivy sack. You do need to be protected as the weather is often lousy. Still, I'd rather have room to move around under a tarp than a heavy tent. I don't believe a single wall tent would work very well.
Please let me know how your trip went my buddy and I are looking forward to our trip.
firstname.lastname@example.orgSep 14, 2007 at 11:49 am #1402192
Just did the trip (N to S) in July. I know this reply is post Labor day but just returned from a 2 week trip in Alaska so I missed the post.
WCT is one tough trail. Heading N to S the first 50 K (out of 75) are fairly reasonable. Lots of beach walking, ladders, cable cars, mud and scenary. Those 50 K put you 1/2 way through the rigors of the trail and could be hiked by an experienced lightweight hiker in trail runners etc. (probably only get sucked off your feet 3 or 4 times over the 50 K.
The last 25 K (N to S) are a different animal. Mud holes the size of footballfields, marsh crossings on collapsing wooden boardwalks, 65 degree clay bank climbs using ropes to pull yourself up, 300 ft Sitka Spruce roots that rise 3 ft. mid trail, a mile of beach boulders the size of VW's covered with seaweed and green algae, ladders, ladders, ladders, surge pool leaping, tide poolo skirting, 7 ft mid trail waterfalls requiring class 3 climbing tech., and a couple hundred thousand wet rocks to make sure the footing is NEVER flat or evenly placed. I guess it could be done in trail runners, but WHY?
I left for the 6 days with 29 lbs on my back and a pair of Montrail Stratos on my feet. A light waterproof ankle supportive boot was just the ticket. I feel only once on the trail (group average 3.6 falls) and that was in the last KM. One commenter noticed the look of folks on the posted journals. Notice, and copy, the gaiters on everyone. Hell, without mine I may have never been able to find my feet on some days.
By the way, the WCT was a great trip. With the big blowdown last fall visitor use has plummeted and there are far fewer users then in past years. The trail crews that work the trail (First Peoples crew members) have done an absolutely unbelievable job in clearing or rerouting the trip by 2000 BIG downfalls.Sep 14, 2007 at 5:55 pm #1402237
@bjamesdLocale: South Coast of BC
My sister did it last year. Be prepared for a *full-body* challenge; not just walking. There's substantial climbing (and downclimbing) of ladders, as well as cable cars. Much of it is a 3-d obstacle course.
Also: some campsites are apparently on the beach. Not sure if this can be avoided, but a floorless shelter might be less appealing there.Sep 14, 2007 at 10:30 pm #1402253
@jackflLocale: New England
Mark O'Keefe – thanks for one of the best 1 paragraph descriptions of any trail that I have ever read! Awesome! Never done it – never thought about doing it – now ya' go me going.Oct 3, 2007 at 1:19 pm #1404437
We completed the WCT over labour day weekend. We took the S->N direction. It was a tough trail, but no where near as bad as I was expecting. I did it in Golite Sundragon Trail runners with about 21 lb starting weight (including food/water).
We did it in 4 full days – 2 days of fair weather and 2 days of torrential "rain forest" style rain.
We didn't see another sole on the trail with umbrellas, but passed plenty that wished they had one :)
The trail shoes performed very well – and we did our best to 'dance' through the mud pits unscathed. We used very short ankle gaiters which really helped keep the sand out on the beaches and kept the mud a bay a little too.
Our cloudburst tarp-tent, although plagued with condensation (as usual) performed very well in the down pours.
A spectacular trip – very highly recommended! I definitley recommend doing it ultralight – it makes the ladders a breeze. The umbrellas were indepensible; and we even masterd the use of umbrellas + poles at the same time :)
Day 1 of our trip is written up on my blog at:
I'll write up more days as I get time.Oct 3, 2007 at 6:33 pm #1404483
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
Thanks for the top-notch photos and text in regards to the WCT. I look forward to more tales. Your blog has found a home in my RSS reader for sure.
– SamOct 6, 2007 at 7:14 pm #1404738
no worries – thanks for the kind words. maintaining a blog is fun – albeit a LOT of work :)Oct 16, 2007 at 5:14 pm #1405734
@ramblerLocale: On the AT in VA
Brett that is a great report. Nice job on intergrating text, maps and pictures. I had never even heard of the trail before reading this thread. Not sure it will be near the top of my list of must-do hikes, yet.Oct 29, 2007 at 3:27 pm #1407074
Vibram "slippers", that's what I was using on WCT. I had Nike Air Zoom Tallacs as a backup but never put them on. People's reactions went from astonishment to bursts of unstopable laughter. I used them a little in the Rockies and some parks in Ontario. I just love them. For me it is the best warm weather footwear.Nov 7, 2007 at 2:13 pm #1408205
woooahh… seriously? so what exactly are "vibram slippers" – i found this link http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/ – are these the things you mean?
can you shed some perspective on weight/comfort performance on various terrain etc.Nov 12, 2007 at 8:02 pm #1408829
Yes, that's it. I bought those almost two years ago and was reluctant to try them. This year I walked in them for about 300km. Completed West Cost Trail (mixed terrain, sand) and La Cloche Silhouette Trail in Kilarney Provincial Park ( a lot of really sharp rocks). It is like walking barefoot but without pain. The bottom is pretty thin but quite durable. (I had to be more careful about the top). There is no heel so it take some adjusting at the beginning as the Achilles tendons are being slighlty overstretched. They weight 148 grams each. I think they are truly ultralight footwear for warm weather. I think that anybody who has extra $70 to spare should give it a try. I love them.Nov 14, 2007 at 11:24 pm #1409166
i checked out their sizing chart:
– If your foot length varies by more than 0.4cm, it will be difficult to get a precise fit for both feet.
– If your second toe is more than 0.4cm longer than your big toe, it will be difficult to get a precise fit.
it turns out i have space alien feet that vary a lot in size, so i'm guessing these won't be a good fit for me.
if i run across a pair in a local store, i may check them out just to see, but it sounds unlikley.
thanks for the write-up – they sound very cool.Dec 14, 2007 at 12:38 pm #1412550Dec 14, 2007 at 1:28 pm #1412553Apr 8, 2008 at 10:19 am #1427671
I'm putting together a WCT Planner book I want to make sure I cover all the bases. Sounds like a lot of you have hiked the trail multiple times! What's the most important thing you would tell people who want to hike the west coast trail? http://hikewestcoasttrail.weebly.comApr 8, 2008 at 12:04 pm #1427678
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
It's wet! Good rain gear and a shelter that will give you 360 degree protection. I wanna go now!Apr 8, 2008 at 5:54 pm #1427728May 5, 2008 at 4:27 pm #1431753
Umbrella Umbrella Umbrella Umbrella Umbrella. Enough said?May 28, 2008 at 9:43 am #1435333
@dpnollLocale: Maroon Bells
A great guidebook to read by David Foster and Wayne Aitken is appropriately called "Blisters and Bliss" if you don't watch the weight of your pack! It has good information of what you'll encounter along the WCT.
I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure once, and am seriously considering another trek along the Pacific Rim. No doubt it was challenging with all its ups and downs, ladders,mud, surge channels, tide schedules,cool temps, and the record rainfall of the century! What an exhilarating experience it was! I wouldn't have had it any other way!
On my trip I even got to meet both David Foster and Wayne Aitken. Their "Blisters and Bliss" T-shirts were a dead give away:-)
MaryDec 3, 2009 at 2:43 pm #1550069
My 12 yr. old son and I did the trail N>S in July 09. I used trail running shoes, the Vasque Blur, a slightly higher cut shoe, and lightweight event gaiters. The first three days were very wet, everyone we met had wet feet regardless what they were wearing. Some sections are a mudbath, traction was good and no falls or blisters. They were very good on the wet logs and ladders. The biggest benefit was the lighter weight on the feet. I was only carrying 28 pounds, my son 12, a heavier pack may justify more support to the ankles. You only three pairs of good socks, two pairs are permenently wet, the pair on your feet, one pair drying depending upon conditions, and a dry pair for in the tent….and since your feet are wet most of the time you just walk straight through the rivers :o) Would definitely recommend this gear.
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