The Janet Cowan Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailNear KM47 along the West Coast Trail you will pass the final resting place of the Lizzie Marshall. On February 7th, 1884, this 434 ton American ship headed out of San Francisco to an unspecified port in British Columbia. Two weeks later she approached Cape Flattery cloaked in a thick fog. Added to that, the wind died and the Lizzie Marshall drifted with the current.

 

Her sails drenched and barely touched by the breeze, she wallowed along for hours until breakers were heard and Bonilla Point lay right in front of them. The crew dropped two anchors and prayed they would hold them off the perilously close rock shelf. The captain launched a lifeboat to row to Neah Bay, 15 miles away, in the hopes of finding a boat to haul them out of danger. Soon the fog cleared and a southwest gale blew in. Straining against the anchors, the Lizzie Marshall held for a while. However on the morning of February 22nd, the anchors began to drag. In a fit of desperation the crew cut the masts and rigging and dumped them overboard. The idea was to reduce the effect of the wind by lowering the ships profile. This had little effect and the wind continued to increase in strength. The anchor chains were straining against the intense weight of the ship and finally snapped. The Lizzie Marshall was swept broadside into the reef with the stern jammed in between a large gap in the rocks. The crew managed to claw their way across the reef to the shore safely. A short time later one of the crew attempted to get back to the ship to retrieve some of his belongings. He drowned in the attempt. Local native arrived on the scene and began scavenging the wreck as the crew watched from the shore. As they scavenged, their boat was smashed against the rocks, leaving them stranded as well. Eventually a tug arrived on the scene to rescue the crew and natives.

Lizzie Marshall Shipwreck West Coast Trail

More Shipwrecks Near the Lizzie Marshall (KM47)

The Wempe Brothers Shipwreck Near KM49

The Wempe Brothers Shipwreck -West Coast Trail Graveyard of the PacificThere are two more shipwrecks relatively near to the Lizzie Marshall. The Puritan, a 614 ton, 4 masted schooner lays just past Bonilla Falls at about kilometre 49. The 4 masted wooden schooner, Wempe Brothers lays at the edge of the reef a few hundred metres further along. The Wempe Brothers was a 4 masted schooner just 70 tons heavier than the Puritan, that wrecked here a century ago. The Wempe Brothers was sailing in from San Pedro, California in ballast. She was heading for Puget Sound to pick up lumber when she was claimed by the Graveyard of the Pacific. The crew of 10 experienced very stormy weather as she neared the Cape Flattery Lighthouse and entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait. Light winds and thick fog carried them towards the strait, however the fast current pulled them irresistibly north towards the coast of Vancouver Island. The Wempe Brothers was carried so close to Carmanah Point Lighthouse that the lighthouse lights were reported to be reflected on the ships sails and hull. The crew had no idea they were so far out of their intended position and the sudden appearance of a lighthouse must have been terrifying. The wind was dead calm so sailing to safety was not an option. The crew managed to drop two anchors in a desperate effort to halt the ship before colliding with the shore. It was too late, however, as the Wempe Brothers was carried onto the beach at 5am on October 28th, 1903.

Wempe Brothers shipwreck continued here...

The Puritan Shipwreck Near KM48.5

Shipwreck Icon West Coast TrailThe Puritan was a 4 masted schooner of 614 tons sailing inbound from San Francisco in ballast. She was heading for Port Gamble in Washington to pick up a load of lumber when the crew failed to account for the strong current in Juan de Fuca Strait. Owing to the thick fog and heavy seas, the Puritan stumbled blindly into the rocks of Bonilla Point. The crew of 10 made the same mistake that hundreds of crews before them made. They didn't reckon their course with the notorious, strong current of the Juan de Fuca Strait. The current pushed them far northwest of their perceived position. Unable to see due to the thick fog, stormy weather and darkness of night the Puritan was pushed into the rocky Bonilla Point. The record shows that she was wrecked at 5am on November 13, 1896. The crew decided to wait for daybreak to figure out their escape. When the morning finally came, a local First Nations man found them, and battling the surf, managed to run a rope from the ship to the shore after hours of agonizing attempts, waist deep in the freezing ocean. The crew was then able to get a heavy rope to shore and rig a life-line to escape the crumbling ship. The Puritan, continuously bashed by the sea until on the following day she was laying her masts in the surf, and quickly began breaking up. The crew made their way to the Carmanah Point Lighthouse and later ferried to Victoria. For his heroic efforts, this incredibly heroic man was given a reward from the Canadian government. Today hiking the West Coast Trail, you will find some of the ship's remains on the outer reef.

Puritan shipwreck continued here...

 

Campsites Near the Lizzie Marshall (KM47)

Bonilla Creek Campsite at 48km

8 West Coast Trail RatingThe Lizzie Marshall lays unseen, under the waves just beyond the shelf in between two very nice campsites on the West Coast Trail. Carmanah Creek campsite is at kilometre 46 and Bonilla Creek is at kilometre 48. Though you won't see anything of the wreck, you will be able to gaze over the brutal rock shelf that she collided with a century ago. Bonilla Creek campsite is a bit of a hidden gem as West Coast Trail campsites go. A wonderful, small and somewhat hidden waterfall, Bonilla Falls is nestled at the edge of a small cliff. The water pouring into a small, yet deep pool that you can actually dive into. The Bonilla Creek campsite is easy to miss, as it looks very unassuming from the beach as most hikers pass by. the forest hides a nice little world, somewhat sheltered from the elements. An outhouse sits up at the far end, and several tent clearings stretch to the beach where you find a wonderful hammock cobbled together over the years out of old fishing nets and ropes. A bit surreal in such a remote feeling place, but it is so elaborate that it makes you look around for permanent residents! You won't find any permanent human residents, however, you will encounter some wildlife as there always seems to be a bear or two walking the shoreline between Bonilla Point and Carmanah Creek in the early morning hours. The campsite at Bonilla Creek has some beautiful characteristics. First the cute, Bonilla Falls have a perfect little pool to swim in and wash off the days hiking grime. Second, the campsite is quite good with lots of varied places to put up a tent as well as some driftwood structures out on the beach. Third, the sunsets are sensational here. Bright orange, with the narrow islands in the distance topped by improbable looking trees. Added to that, you have a relatively quiet campsite compared to other West Coast Trail campsites.

Bonilla Falls West Coast Trail

Bonilla Creek Campsite Map v7

Bonilla Creek campsite continued here...

Walbran Creek Campsite at 53km

9 West Coast Trail RatingWalbran Creek at 53k is home to possibly the best, and most unappreciated campsites on the West Coast Trail. It encapsulates so much that makes the West Coast Trail truly wonderful. The expansive beach which seems purpose built for enjoyability is flanked by scenic cliffs and creek on one side, the pacific ocean on the other, and backed by the emerald coloured Walbran Creek that flows through the jungle valley spanned by a cable car crossing! Of the list of pro's and con's for Walbran Creek, the list is hopelessly lopsided to the pro's. Walbran Creek campsite is reached in the middle of the most challenging, invigorating, stunning, bewildering and breathtaking section of the West Coast Trail. The ladders you encounter heading either direction from the campsite are astounding in size. One after another you ascend and descend the most improbably long and slippery, wooden ladders that always feel solid and safe, despite their obvious age and weathering.

Walbran Creek Campsite West Coast Trail

Even the cable car crossing is exhilerating. It is a very long one and this one in particular invites you to stop midway and take in the stunning view in either direction. Upstream the view is an emerald coloured creek(though it looks more like a river in size), flanked by a beautifully tangled rainforest jungle on either side. The view in the other direction is of the Pacific Ocean framed by trees on either side. Though this image is pretty, it doesn't reveal the true beauty of the campsite that spills out along the beach, just out of view. For most, this cable car glimpse is the closest they get to the Walbran Creek campsite. Such a shame as they are passing a little piece of West Coast Trail paradise. If you do venture down the short side trail to the campsite, almost entirely on the beach you will be instantly surprised by the beach of weather rounded rocks and maze of driftwood logs. Though a beautiful, sandy beach may be your ideal, a pebble beach is a close second. Clean and tidy, you don't get a sleeping bag full of sand.

Walbran Creek Campsite Map v7

Walbran Creek campsite continued here...

West Coast Trail Campsites

Camper Bay campsite at the 62km mark of the West Coast Trail is very nice, similar to Cullite Cove there are cliffs on either side and a large creek flowing through. The downside is crowding due to the difficulty of the trail making it an almost essential campsite ...
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The Bonilla Creek campsite at 48km on the West Coast Trail is easy to miss, as it looks very unassuming from the beach. Most hikers pass by Bonilla Falls, which is nestled against a small cliff at the edge of a suddenly deep forest. And the forest hides a nice ...
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One of the most popular and beautiful campsites along the West Coast Trail is Tsusiat Falls. Tsusiat Falls is one of the main highlights on the trail with its dramatically wide and beautifully picturesque appearance. You will find Tsusiat Falls at the base of an ...
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Thrasher Cove is the first, or last West Coast Trail campsite you will encounter. It has a lot of good aspects as well as some bad. In terms of good, the beach is very pretty and quite interesting. Not a broad and long beach, the beach at Thrasher is quite varied ...
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The Valencia Disaster

All six boats launched in the first frantic 30 minutes after the Valencia wrecked were smashed against the ship or flipped and smashed against the base of the solid rock cliffs along the shore. ...
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After the McCarthy boat was launched successfully and cleared the breakers at around 9am Tuesday January 23rd the captain, crew and passengers on the Valencia confidently expected men to soon appear ...
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This is a much more accurate list of the victims of the Valencia shipwreck than all the other lists currently found online and in print.  The passenger and crew list given by the owners of the ...
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A week after the wreck of the Valencia, The Daily Colonist of Victoria ran a cover story about the aftermath of the disaster and the horrific scenes that continued to be found. Sydney Van Wyck of ...
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The Best Hiking Trails Near Tofino

West Coast Trail Guide

The West Coast Trail is a very tough hike. About one out of one hundred hikers don't make it, they need to be rescued. That's why there are so many fees. By the time you are done preparing and registering, you laugh at how hiking got so expensive. Isn't hiking usually ...
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The West Coast Trail is incredible. Everything about it is amazing. From the wildly, incomprehensibly enormous trees to endless jaw dropping views. And it's tough.  Very tough.  It is a trail that shouldn't exist. Hiking trails always form out of the easiest route worn ...
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There are three entry/exit points for the West Coast Trail, however the midway entry/exit point at Nitinaht Narrows is for hikers only hiking part of the trail. The two main entry points are at Pachena Bay in the north(Bamfield) and Gordon River in the south(Port ...
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West Coast Trail has a dizzying array of beautiful sights to see. Unfortunately due to the difficulty of the trail, weather, or just too much focus on finishing the trail, many amazing things are missed, or simply glossed over quickly. Darling Falls, for example, is a ...
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Amazing Whistler Hiking Trails

Explore BC Hiking Destinations!

The West Coast Trail

The West Coast Trail was created after decades of brutal and costly shipwrecks occurred along the West Coast of Vancouver Island.  One shipwreck in particular was so horrific, tragic and unbelievable that it forced the creation of a trail along the coast, which ...
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Victoria Hiking Trails

Victoria has a seemingly endless number of amazing hiking trails.  Most take you to wild and beautiful Pacific Ocean views and others take you to tranquil lakes in beautiful BC Coastal Rainforest wilderness.  Regional Parks and Provincial Parks are everywhere you turn ...
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Whistler Hiking Trails

Whistler is an amazing place to hike. Looking at a map of Whistler you see an extraordinary spider web of hiking trails. Easy trails, moderate trails and challenging hiking trails are all available. Another marvellous thing about Whistler is that Garibaldi Provincial Park ...
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