The Alaskan Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailThe Alaskan was a small, wooden hulled steamship of 150 tons built in Oregon in 1886. She was owned by a Vancouver freight company and was on route to Kildonan in Barkley Sound with 100 tons of box shooks(metal fittings to construct wooden crates). The West Coast Trail maps given to hikers list the cargo as salt, which appears to be incorrect.

 

The Alaskan was last seen from Pachena Point apparently unable to round Cape Beale due to high winds she evidently had turned back. Distress flares were reportedly spotted in the evening from witnesses. No one witnessed its destruction and the Alaskan and it is believed to have foundered just after 7pm on January 2nd, 1923, killing the entire crew of 11. Three bodies washed ashore with considerable debris on the beaches west of Pachena Point. You will pass the presumed location of the Alaskan shipwreck at about the 4k mark on the West Coast Trail, however there is no visible indication of the wreck for hikers to see.

More West Coast Trail Shipwrecks Near the Alaskan

The Soquel Shipwreck - West Coast Trail Graveyard of the PacificThere are three more shipwrecks in the Graveyard of the Pacific relatively near the Alaskan shipwreck on the West Coast Trail. These are the Soquel Shipwreck at 5k, the Sarah Shipwreck at 7k and the Becherdass-Ambiadass Shipwreck at 8k. The Soquel was a much larger ship than the Alaskan at 698 tons. She was a four masted schooner built in San Francisco, California in 1902. The Soquel was sailing with ballast from Callao, Peru, heading for Port Townsend (near Seattle), when bad weather and high seas carried her far off course. The crew of 12 battled the storm as it continued to worsen, toppling two of the ship's four masts. The captains wife and daughter were killed by falling spars when the masts came crashing down on them. Throughout the night they struggled to reach a safe place to escape the storm. At some point during the the night she ran aground. The next morning, on January 22nd, 1909, the Soquel was spotted, aground on Seabird Rocks. The recently organized Bamfield lifesaving crew began a rescue operation. They battled the huge waves with their steamer, however unable to get close enough to perform a rescue. A few hours later, a second steamer arrived on the scene and together they managed to save five of the crew. Darkness prevented further rescue and the seven remaining crew had to wait out the night on the wrecked ship. The next morning calmer seas enable the rescue the remaining survivors as well as the bodies of the captain's wife and child.

The Sarah Shipwreck -West Coast Trail Graveyard of the PacificThe Sarah was a three masted barque of 1206 tons, built in Nova Scotia in 1874. A British ship, she was sailing from the Philippines in ballast(no cargo), heading for Puget Sound. The crew consisted of 18 men as well as the captain's wife and baby. The captain sighted the recently built Carmanah Point Lighthouse and mistook it for the Tatoosh Island Lighthouse. The Sarah struggled against the south-east wind and the ship was pushed westward. Later the crew was able to regain their eastward coarse, toward what they though was the Juan de Fuca Strait. The ocean current had moved the ship considerably far north and on the evening of the 8th November, 1891, the crew was surprised to suddenly hear distant breakers. They immediately dropped anchor, then shortly after another one. But it was too late, the Sarah ran aground on the shore of what is now kilometre 7 of the West Coast Trail. One lifeboat was freed with some of the crew, however the captain, the rest of his crew and his wife and baby remained because the second lifeboat could not be freed. Throughout the following day and night they struggled to free the boat to make their escape to safety. Two of the crew drowned in attempting to reach the shore in a makeshift raft. Finally they managed to free another lifeboat and the survivors managed to get ashore. They were rescued by one of the many indigenous tribes residing on Vancouver Island. It seems safe to assume that it was the Huu-ay-aht First Nations which resided there, as they do now, at Pachena Bay. The Huu-ay-aht brought the shipwreck survivors to a trader's post where they found passage to Victoria on a local schooner. 16 of the crew of 18 and the captain's wife and baby survived the Sarah shipwreck.

The Becherdass Ambiadass Shipwreck -West Coast Trail Graveyard of the PacificBuilt in 1864 the 1376 ton, 3 masted ship, Becherdass-Ambiadass was wrecked on the rocky shore only a half mile from Pachena Point. This British ship was returning from Shanghai to Moodyville (now North Vancouver) when Cape Beale was sighted. As she neared Vancouver Island early morning fog blinded her and under full sail collided with the abruptly rocky shore near the 8k mark of the West Coast Trail. Amazingly no one was seriously hurt, but the ship was wrecked. The crew used the lifeboats to save themselves. The next day a local boat carried both the crew and their belongings to Victoria. In the following weeks the ship disintegrated on the rocks. There are no remnants of wreckage from the Becherdass-Ambiadass shipwreck to see. The wreck sits under the waves not far from where the Black River meets the ocean at the 8 kilometre mark of the West Coast Trail.

 Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailAlaskan at 4k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSoquel at 5k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSarah at 7k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailBecherdass at 8k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailMichigan at 12k

Campsites Near the Alaskan on the West Coast Trail

Michigan Creek Campsite Rating - West Coast TrailThe closest campsite on the West Coast Trail to the Alaskan shipwreck is the Michigan Creek campsite at 12k. The campsite at Michigan Creek is the first or last campsite you will encounter on the West Coast Trail. First if you begin your hike at the Pachena trailhead(hiking south) and last if you begin in Port Renfrew(hiking north). The 12.1 kilometres(7.5 miles) between the Pachena trailhead and Michigan Creek is fairly easy and flat. Compared to the rest of the West Coast Trail, this section is wonderfully relaxing. At a brisk pace, you should be able to hike this section in a little over 3 hours. At a more relaxed pace, and stopping at the Pachena Lighthouse, you will take 4 or 5 hours from the trailhead.

Darling River Campsite Rating - West Coast TrailJust 2 kilometres past the mediocre Michigan Creek campsite you will come to the Darling River crossing. Depending on the rainfall of previous days, you may walk through the river just a couple centimetres deep or thigh deep. When it is deep and fast moving may find it difficult to get across without slipping or getting knocked over by the current. Without significant rain, you will barely get your shoes wet crossing. After you cross, you will have arrived at the Darling River campsite. Mostly nestled along the treeline, the Darling River campsite is relatively quiet compared to Michigan Creek. The significant draw to Darling River is not the campsite, but rather the idyllic waterfalls that can be found just a few hundred metres up the river. Swimming at Darling Falls is always chilly, but the serenity of this little hideaway makes you forget the water temperature and drink in the emerald green water and rainforest surrounding you.

Darling Falls Campsite near Tsocowis Creek on the West Coast Trail

Orange Juice Creek Campsite Rating - West Coast TrailJust a kilometre past the Darling River campsite you will come to another beach campsite at Orange Juice CreekOrange Juice Creek is not terribly pretty and gets its name from the intensely, orange juice coloured water that crashes through a tangled morass of driftwood logs. If you aren't keen on swimming and/or washing at Darling Falls, Orange Juice Creek is a good alternative. Much quieter than Michigan Creek and a bit quieter than Darling River, you will find a more relaxed surrounding at the campsite at Orange Juice Creek. Another less obvious aspect of Orange Juice Creek that makes it worth camping at is the small, but very livable sea cave. Some find it charming, others find it spooky. At the very least it is worth a look. A small fire in the middle, surrounded by driftwood logs for seats, in horribly, wet weather, this cave is paradise!

 Michigan Creek at 12k Darling River at 14k Orange Juice Creek at 15k

 

West Coast Trail Shipwrecks

The Alaskan was a small, wooden hulled steamship of 150 tons built in Oregon in 1886. She was ...
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The Soquel shipwreck, which lies just past Seabird Rocks, was a much larger ship than the ...
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Built in 1864 the 1376 ton, 3 masted ship, Becherdass-Ambiadass was wrecked on the rocky shore ...
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The Uzbekistan was a steel steamship of 2569 tons. Built in 1937 in France and became a ...
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The Varsity was a fishing boat of 90 tons, returning to Puget Sound from California on February ...
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The Janet Cowan was a steel sailing vessel, four-masted, bark rigged, of 2498 tons built at ...
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The Robert Lewers was a 185 foot, four masted schooner of 732 tons, built in Port Blakely, ...
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The Uncle John was a 138 foot, three masted barkentine of 314 tons. Built in Eureka, California ...
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The Raita shipwreck is located off the reefs at about the 33 kilometre mark of the West Coast ...
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The Skagit, a 3 masted barkentine of 506 tons was wrecked on the reef in front of Clo-oose on ...
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The Puritan was a 4 masted schooner of 614 tons sailing inbound from San Francisco in ballast. ...
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The Duchess of Argyle shipwreck lays at the bottom of the sea at the mouth of Cullite Cove near the ...
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The John Marshall shipwreck is located under the waves just outside the mouth of Camper Bay at ...
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