The sea stacks at San Josef Bay. (Port Alice Photography, Images by Douglas Bradshaw)

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

Speculation is swirling around in online chats about whether northern Vancouver Island parks can handle their current “unprecedented rate” of use.

One commenter allegedly heard a Cape Scott camp host say Cape Scott Provincial Park might be closed to the public due to increased use.

It’s not true, however, to the relief of many a hiker, camper and day-tripper. The Ministry of Environment confirmed to Black Press Media that they are monitoring numbers, and so far see no need to close the park.

Visitor numbers have been steadily increasing over the past several years, the ministry said, and the spokesperson estimated that rate of increase is probably higher this year, as people are camping for the first time.

RELATED: B.C. launches free day-use passes for 6 provincial parks amid COVID-19 surge

RELATED: West Coast Trail to remain closed to overnight camping for rest of the year

Therein might lay the problem.

Members of online hiking groups based on Vancouver Island have a serious gripe with the way some campers “leave one iota of human presence.” Discarded garbage, beer cans, toilet paper in the bushes, unburied feces are basic outdoor no-no’s that are being ignored.

Here’s what some members in Facebook groups Hiking Enthusiasts Vancouver Island and Vancouver Island Backcountry Hikers said:

“It’s truly disappointing at how many people suck. It’s not hard. Leave no trace! And if you can’t, stay home, you don’t belong there.” – Ian Ward

“I was there this weekend, beer cans in the forest, people pooping irresponsibly just off the trails. So much garbage.” – Shannon Jensen

“Shame on anyone who treats nature that way. Makes me wonder what their bathroom looks like at home.” – Kathleen Sharpe

Some posters are demanding action from BC Parks.

“This needs to change! The entire park will be overrun and ruined with bio-waste, garbage and fire pits by the end of the year with the amount of people going into the backcountry. Hire more Park Rangers, fine campers, permits… something needs to be done now.” – Amber Joy

Others want the parks closed altogether.

“Hate to say it, but I hope lots of the island trails are closed down for the remainder of the summer. I know people are getting into hiking for health and social distancing reasons, but these environment are sensitive and cant handle this level human interaction. I want everyone to experience the beauty of the Island, but not at this unprecedented rate.” – Rachel Costall

Some commenters suggested withholding information so newcomers would have a harder time finding these pristine locations.

“I have become reluctant to share photos and information about my hikes just for this very reason. Along with leave no trace, there is sort of an unwritten set of guidelines that true hiking enthusiasts follow. It is so easy to do it. If you can’t respect our beautiful accessible wilderness, please refrain from going there and let those that love and respect it, do what they do best….love and respect it.” – Gary Anderson

Overall, the groups tend to be quick to answer questions from other members — recommendations for accessible hikes, information about directions, debates about gear and lots of well wishes and picture sharing. Several people shared plans to bring extra garbage bags and pack out what others leave behind.

For the benefit of those new to hiking and camping this coronavirus season, BC Parks has a list of seven ‘leave no trace’ principles to follow when recreating outdoors:

Plan ahead and preapare; travel and camp on durable surfaces; dispose of waste properly; leave what you find; minimize campfire impacts; respect wildlife; be considerate of others.

Improper waste disposal is the most visible offence. Outdoor enthusiasts ascribe to a “pack in, pack out” motto, which includes the obvious wrappers and cans, but also compostable food. Even thought it breaks down, it’s not a natural part of the ecosystem and can attract wildlife. This also includes toilet paper where there isn’t an outhouse. BC Parks recommends packing out in plastic bags. It should not be burned, buried or left in the bushes. For more details on outdoor ethics, visit http://bcparks.ca/explore/notrace.html.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC ParksConservation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Shore Rotary Club raises $20,000 with Golf Ball Drop fundraiser

Nearly 4,000 golf balls poured onto Olympic View golf course Saturday

Construction slows weekend traffic at Millstream overpass

West Shore RCMP recommend Leigh Road exit instead

TRAFFIC: Saanich emergency crews responding to Pat Bay Highway collision

Incident took place at Haliburton Road intersection

Saanich race car driver shifts gears as pandemic cuts U.S. season short

Bill Okell, 65, sets sights on Canadian racing circuit for 2020

Work on Sidney’s Reay Creek Dam won’t wrap until 2021

Municipality expects the pond to be ‘partially drained’ again in 2021

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

POLL: Do you agree with the decision to call a provincial election for Oct. 24?

British Columbians will put their social distancing skills to the test when… Continue reading

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Most Read