Home Uncategorized West Coast Trail – Day One (Pachena Bay to Darling River Camp)

West Coast Trail – Day One (Pachena Bay to Darling River Camp)

by Aaron Wong
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Pachena Bay to Darling River Camp
Our day started late waking up at 8am. We were in no rush. Josh and I were probably the first ones to be up. We lined down our dry bags of food and put them on the picnic table. Others began to wake up, washed up and made breakfast.

It was a very easy morning and we knew we had to pack up and leave to the trail head by 10am as it was going to be a 12-14km hike.

After collapsing our tents and packing up our things, by 9:30am, we started heading out from our campgrounds and to the trailhead. We passed the registration office and going to the right of it where the trailhead began. We were all fresh, excited and ready to go on our 6 nights and 7 days adventure away from civilization. The beginning of our journey and story telling started then. 

West Coast Trailhead Pachena Bay
our first wooden bridge crossing yay!

At the start, the trail was abundant with trees and lust in green. It was very flat and dry, knowing it will get harder in the last half of our trip. We had excellent sunny and warm weather and we just couldn’t ask for more.

About the first kilometer in, our first set of ladders appeared. We were all very pumped taking pictures and videos of each other going up one at a time. We had to go up the first few ladders until we reached the flat part of the top. Hike from then was quite straight forward and scenic. 

We all were looking forward to the beaches and watching the sea lions. At some point on the trail that day, just before 1:30pm at the 9km mark, we veered to our right going down a path leading us to the sea lions lookout point about 3 minutes away. We could hear them from 200m away and they sounded like race cars roaring their engines. Once at the lookout point we had a very clear sighting of the sea lions resting on the rocks near the water about 50m away from us.

As others stopped and gazed at the sea lions between the trees, I decided to go down a bit further towards the ledge of the rock with unobstructed views. Others soon followed. We all found front row seats and just enjoyed observing freely at the sea lions while having lunch. The most interesting part in observing the sea lions is how they communicated with each other. The sound of roaring engines of the sea lions with mothers watching over their sea lion pups while they were playing; and the father sea lion was just laying on a pond of water in the middle of the rocks perhaps sleeping. What a great experience we thought to be given the chance to watch wildlife go about their day. 

After gazing at the sea lions for almost an hour, it was time to head along the trail. At the 10km mark, we did a quick tour around the Lighthouse and with a washroom break. There was a neat arrow signage pointing to the distance of far away countries like Japan, India and France. Quite interesting. We were looking forward to have a quick look inside the lighthouse; unfortunately, the lighthouse was closed. But we enjoyed its surroundings. A nice place to rest and fuel up. We saw a school group stopped near the lighthouse and had their lunch there. 

Back on the trail at 3pm. After an hour of hiking on the beautifully maintained flat trail, with boardwalks and wooden bridges in some parts from the Lighthouse, we finally reached our very first beach; Michigan Creek Camp at the 12km mark. 

We could hear the waves of the sea, and had the beach all to ourselves. Karlie found a camping spot with a hammock. Thery and Quynh of course the ladies followed Karlie, while Josh, Lalit and I found a spot closer to the beach. We then began to set up our tent. We were the only ones there until we met a fellow who was hiking with his girlfriend from the south to north. They had their camp set up well hidden where we didn’t notice them at first. While we were chatting with him, he gave us some really good info that just 2km south of where we were, there is a bigger campground with a hidden lagoon where we can swim and gather water source. So after much discussion with the group, we decided to pack up our half set up and hike along the beach to Darling River Camp.

After crossing a small stream on the beach and hiking a bit more, we reached Darling at the 14km mark at 4:40pm. Took us nearly 40 minutes to hike that extra 2km. What amazing views along all over the beach. The girls found their spot north of where we men set up almost in the middle of the beach.

When we were putting up our tent, it was quite windy. To keep our tents from flying away, we had to put rocks inside of our tents. Tent pegs were completely useless, so we used sticks and rocks as supports.

After our homes were made, Josh and I gathered logs and rocks to build our communal area. This was an area where we all used for cooking our meals and socially bond together. Lalit was fetching water near the river just north of our camp site. Knowing that there was a hidden lagoon just 5-7 minutes hike from where we camped, we decided to leave that for tomorrow morning.

Once the communal area was set, I got into my swimming shorts and took a quick dip in the sea. It was extremely cold but therapeutic. Although it’s sea water, I didn’t care if it tasted like salt. Nothing like a nice refreshing cold dip after a long days hike. Then Karlie and Quynh went in while Thery was encouraging them. I can’t remember if Lalit took a dip or not but Josh sure didn’t go in as he couldn’t brave the coldness of the sea water. 

While the sun was still blasting, the girls didn’t waste any time at all and took advantage of the nice weather sun tanning. I had 8 tall cans of craft beer and most of it was IPA. Quite heavy to be carrying that in my already heavy pack. To lessen the weight and saving 4 cans of IPAs for Karlie’s surprise party in the next 3 days, Josh and I took 4 of the other cans and refrigerated them in the cold sea water for about 15 minutes or so. 

At 8pm, the sun was still out. We began to cook our meals in the communal area and cheers to our drinks. I think we were telling ghost stories but some were too scared to listen. Surely ghost stories is a must for all camping trips! Karlie brought a deck of cards, so we played “Bullshit”.

As the sun was getting ready to set with light wind blowing from the north to south, the views of the beach and sea were completely majestic. We enjoyed and loved every moment of it.

Once the lights in the sky were out, and stars began twinkling, we turned in just after 10pm. As we have a long day ahead of us the next morning. Trekking to the 22km from 14km mark sounds short but we notice the WCT km seems to be longer than an actual km.

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