Wilderness School youth tackle 12-day hike through Cape Scott

The Year Three Wilderness School cohort recently spent 12 days travelling to and hiking in Cape Scott Provincial Park, the northern tip of Vancouver Island. The weather ranged from light mist to heavy rain with a few hours of long-awaited sunshine.

Our group of six (four participants and two leaders) explored several of the different beaches in Cape Scott. The park is known for wet weather and we explored through near constant rain that made us enjoy the slight amount of sunshine even more when it appeared. The rain did help us work on our tarp skills which we used during our overnight solos at the end of the trip.

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We started with an easy hike to San Josef Bay for our first night. Here we saw sea stacks that defied gravity with trees growing out the tops. The next day we hiked 15.5 kilometres through sinking mud and across boardwalks in the rain. When we finally arrived at Nissen Bight, with sore wet feet, bed sounded like the best option.

The next morning, with the rain lightening up we finished packing up camp and set out to Nels Bight. A shorter day, however the terrain was no easier than the day before. We were rewarded when we arrived though as we spent a Nels Bight as well. We took advantage of the rest day by exploring some of the 2,400 plus metres of beach there.


On Day 5, we loaded up our backpacks again and hiked to Guise Bay, along the way stopping at Experiment Bight where we searched the beach for glass floats only to find some old bottles. When we got to Guise Bay we found sand dunes, as well as more sea stacks and enjoyed the little bit of sun before the wind picked up.

We left camp set up and set out on a day hike to the Cape Scott lighthouse. We had heard they sold chocolate bars and coffee so we waited under a bamboo wall for the lighthouse keepers to return. After enjoying the sweet taste of society it was back down to the beach.

Day 7 brought with it an early morning test run, racing to be packed up fast, in order to prove we would be able to do it again tomorrow (before another long day). Back at Nels Bight we set up again and saw blue sky for the first time in a while, using the short hike as a rest day preparing for the next day. Many laughs came of this day as we attempted to create Kaelam a sand beard using sunscreen to make the sand stick and a jellyfish hat to top off the look.

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The next morning, we faced rain yet again. The pack up took longer than expected but once on the trail the rain started to let up. Heading all the way back to Eric Lake, it was a 14-kilometre day where we faced the same deep mud and boardwalks. Spending our last night in a forest campsite, the mosquitos attacked, forcing us to spend most of the night on the small beach.

As we hiked the final 3.3 kilometres back to the van on the last day I’m sure “The Final Countdown” song played in everyone’s head. A very long drive was ahead and it felt amazing to have finished the trail successfully!

Story shared by Elly, Year 3 Wilderness School participant