A hiker who suffered serious injuries on the West Coast Trail had to be airlifted to Victoria General Hospital on Tuesday.
Parks Canada was notified of the injured hiker near Cullite Cove at 1 p.m., and its visitor safety team worked with the Pacheedaht First Nation Guardians, the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre and 442 Search and Rescue Squadron based in Comox to extract the hiker and one other person.
The person suffered serious injuries, but was in stable condition, Parks Canada said.
Pacheedaht Chief Jeff Jones said the nation’s West Coast Trail Guardians — Rob C. Buck, Mikey Smith and Conner Martin — “were a big part” of the rescue.
He said in a Facebook post the Pacheedaht Nation is “very grateful for [the] team to take it upon themselves to help out with the rescue. … Turned out to be a very long day to all, but hopefully [all] is OK. Blessing to our guardians/hikers.”
A woman who was at Victoria General Hospital when the hiker was brought by the yellow-and-red search-and-rescue helicopter said on Twitter the hiker “had a stick protruding from his eye socket.”
The West Coast Trail is one of the toughest backcountry experiences in Canada, where hikers have to wade across rivers, climb rugged ground, and often face stormy weather.
In a statement, Parks Canada said visitor safety is a high priority. The federal agency mandates that all hikers prepare themselves by reading the West Coast Trail preparation guide in advance, watching the mandatory orientation video, packing suitable outdoor gear, knowing upcoming weather forecasts and existing conditions as provided by the trailhead staff, being flexible with hiking plans and adjusting as warranted.
“We advise hikers of what to expect to prepare for the rough and sometimes severe conditions of the West Coast Trail,” Parks Canada said.
Parks Canada reminded visitors that anyone travelling into the backcountry is responsible for their own safety.