Our group of 6 planned to do Hesquiat Peninsula last year but a forecast of constant rain had us heading to the Snake River instead. This year, we hoped to finally get on to this route and a decent forecast assured it! Of course, the B.C. weatherman has proven unreliable this spring but luckily, a fairly good weather window appeared and a great trip followed!
We headed down to Gold River to camp ( this turned into a very nice stay at the Gold River Chalet) for an early morning flight to Escalante Beach. Air Nootka provided an exhilarating flight in the Beaver and the Cessna... a great start for our adventure! With clouds threatening and the tide incoming, we decided to explore the beach right away...a beautiful sandy beach with fun scrambling rocks.
As the rain started, we headed south to the Little Escalante River to set up camp at a perfect riverside spot. This was only half an hour from the drop off point and we felt rather guilty ( or lucky) to start with such an easy day. After lunch, the sun appeared, allowing us time to explore the near beach and for an afternoon hike north to the Big Escalante River and back. I would recommend this as the beach is beautiful and wish we had even more time to explore beyond the Escalante. ( The tide was higher by this time so crossing the river would have to be done inland a bit but looked doable without boots) There is an inland trail through awesome forest that starts north of the dropoff point ( thanks to Brad, our pilot for that advice) and avoids some rocky shoreline. It opens on the south end of a great beach.
The sunset that night was spectacular!
The next morning rain greeted us but soon stopped and the sun appeared. A great day of beach walking, rock scrambling, surge-crossing, sandstone shelf trekking,and boulder-hopping followed. We took 8 hours to reach another awesome camp at km. 18 near a boat Basin cabin.( the sea lions serenaded us along this stretch) The shortage of water mentioned in other trip reports never really materialized for us...lots of small streams were running and the water good when tide was low. Our low tides were early and we took advantage of them by starting first thing in the morning...I think this route would be more challenging if limited by high tides. ( and of course the surge channel needs a lower tide to cross...it was fun scrambling!) The route-finding proved to be more than expected at times due to the terrain...and of course getting lost would be impossible!!! ( Ocean on the right, ocean on the right!)
A few comments on the above pictures:
We found lots of wading through creeks and wet marsh...good waterproof boots with gaitors proved invaluable!
The tide pools are awesome...plan time to poke around on the sandstone shelves!
Yes, I found a glass green ball but did not take it as it was awkward...bring a net or something to secure it to your pack...it is still there waiting for you!
Barchester Bay is beautiful! We had lunch there but it would also be great camping! If you stop for lunch at the first creek, don't put your boots back on...there is another deep creek on the south side of the beach that needs wading!
Our next day dawned cloudy but dry...and we were off again with the infamous billion boulder beach ahead! The boulders start prior to the lighthouse but were manageable and the lighthouse is great! The keepers showed us around and we spent an hour or so appreciating the area. ( and marveling at how life in a lighthouse would be!) An old plank road has been cleared for a km. or so to start from the lighthouse, making the first part of BBB very easy! Out on the sandstone and boulder beach proved to be much easier than anticipated...low tide and dry boulders were the perfect conditions! And poles...we all wondered how this trek could be done without them! We had lunch on Smokehouse Bay but decided to continue as we had made good time to this point. After 6 hours, we ended up on a beautiful white sand beach with a small, clear creek just to the south (just south of Hesquiat Village)...another perfect home for the night! And we discovered we were sharing it with bones from a sperm whale that washed up here a few years ago!
We only saw 1 little black bear, a few martens, a river otter, sea otters from the plane, sea lions, a large coyote or small wolf and many eagles. Wolf and bear tracks were seen on the beach and much bear scat was seen...but the most abundant 'wildlife' were the little crabs littering the shelves with pincers open and ready to grab as we walked by...almost comical though they were serious! Oh, yes..one more warning...avoid the 'salad' when walking...the wet large seaweed washed up on shore was an almost guaranteed fall...even with poles!
We awoke to a heavy mist which settled into another cloudy but dry day. A short walk along more boulder beaches brought us to Hesquiat Village with a nice visit with Legaces and an opportunity to purchase wonderful crafts and art and of course, the infamous fudge! (Delicious!) We crossed Purdon Creek on the wooden bridge and headed to Anton Spit for our next break. A walk out onto the spit gave us great views, lots of starfish, and a quick trek back in as tide quickly came in!
Heading north soon had us on the absolutely beautiful sand beach south of Le Clair Point. Another creek crossing and higher tide had us scrambling in the fun rocks at Le Clair point for awhile without packs...a nice break with awesome tide pools and cool rock formations. Actually, all along this trail are wonderful rocks...sculpted sandstone, conglomerate and so many beautiful rocks I wanted to carry home! A short scramble past the point landed us in another awesome campspot on a spit between creek and ocean!
Our last day of hiking started with light rain which turned to 'real' rain as we arrived at boat basin. A good inland trail(the trailhead for this route is in the surge channel)with fun scramble down an old ladder/rope combo started the day and the tide was low enough to avoid the next inland route with a quick beach trek. ( It seemed we were often racing with the tide...and usually winning!) Another dead whale on the beach ( ??? which kind but about 30 ft. long and very 'aromatic') , more pebble beaches and we arrived at Boat Basin. The camping here is limited and it took us awhile to settle ourselves. No one was home at either Peter Buckland's house or Cougar Annie's Garden and so we headed to the pickup point for Air Nootka on Hesquiat Lake. The cloud cover was low which had the plane arriving late...another thought...bring extra food because this really is a remote hike and if the plane is delayed due to weather, you may have to stay longer than anticipated.
A great hike again! We have completed the West Coast Trail, the North Coast Trail and now the Hesquiat Trail...difficult to compare them all! The group consensus is they all have tough sections and are all well worth doing!
Thank you to everyone who has written trail reports...they helped a lot! Ryanguy, your maps were great...thanks again!