WCT training: Juan de Fuca Recap

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This hike was amazing, and I can’t believe how much I enjoyed it.

To recap what I discussed last week our itinerary was to do two short days then one long day. We had decided to leave off 10km of the trail to fit it into 3 days and it was really a good fit.

What Actually Happened

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Day 1 we changed up our plan a bit. As we came up to our original first campsite plan (Bear Beach, which was 9km from the China Beach start point), we decided to forge ahead. This added 11km to our first day, but also split up the “most difficult” and “difficult” parts of the trail. So not only were we now doing our longest day first, but also covering the toughest terrain as well. Those last 11km were a constant up and down, with little flat ground to really rest and set a good pace. The last 3km were gruelling and a major mental game – at least for me.

Arriving late (about 7:30pm) to Chin beach meant we had just enough energy to set up camp, cook and climb into our sleeping bags. The campsites were so full (rumour was there were 100 people on the beach that night) that we had to set up on the pebbly-stony beach. I think we arrived just in time to get a hot meal in us and keep the hangry moments from making any major fallouts occur.

Day 2 was then shorter – a mere 8km to the beautiful Sombrio Beach. We arrived at around 1:30pm so had a relaxing time setting up camp, building a fire and napping in the sun which appeared later that day. I even took a dip in the freezing cold ocean which felt amazing and allowed me to brush my hair. It was really nice to have those hours to rest and relax after a total of 28km hiked with 30+ lbs packs over two days. I can say that on day 3 I noticed a difference in my legs compared to day 2 – rest really does help.

Day 3 the final day. We had 9km to go to our parked car at Parkinson’s Creek. This portion of the hike was fairly moderate but included lots of stairs and mud. In a way we were quite focused this day – with the end in sight it was hard to really sit and take our time.

Food

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The meals I planned and snacks we ate instead of sit down lunches faired really well. We ate through most of our snacks so we know we had a good amount to last us the three days. I don’t think any of us went hungry after breakfasts or dinner and everyone enjoyed the meals and felt satisfied. I know I’ll repeat both the meals, and prepare three more for the West Coast Trail. The great thing about the WCT is that there are a couple canteens set up at two of the areas – so we will be able to enjoy a couple lunches along the way.

Overall

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This hike was spectacular. The views were stunning, the trail rugged but not too rough, and even with the tough bits I enjoyed almost every minute. We had great weather – it rained a little during early mornings, but never down poured and even when the sun came out things remained fairly cool which is great for hiking.

The hardest part was our decision to change up our game plan. While I was happy to get the longest day, and toughest terrain, out of the way that first day, it is never easy to make a choice to change a plan. I personally take a lot of mental satisfaction from getting hard stuff over with first, and having easier stuff to look forward to – but I also do get attached to plans and don’t love changes!

I would without a doubt do this hike again – and would love to do the entire thing adding in a fourth day unless I really wanted to push myself. It’s also great because I now know the hike better, and doing it again would be less stress and just more enjoyable.

After doing this hike I am more than excited for the West Coast Trail, and I honestly cannot believe I’ve been intimidated by the idea of overnight backpacking enough to stay away from it since my teen years. I really enjoyed myself and hope I can do a few more trips over the next few years!

WCT Training: Juan de Fuca trail prep

Hello all!

Happy May, happy May Long Weekend to those of you who get a long weekend. I kinda can’t believe it’s here to be honest. This spring season is just flying by.

This weekend my West Coast Trail buddies and I are doing our overnight “practice” hike for the WCT: the Juan De Fuca Marine Trail.

What is the Juan De Fuca?

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The Juan De Fuca is another trail located on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It goes south from Port Renfrew towards Sooke and Victoria and the total trail spans about 47km.

My friends and I are planning to do 37km, from China Beach to Parkinson Beach (on the map).

I visited Sombrio beach, which has a road access campground, a few weeks ago when a good friend of mine visited from Vancouver. It was gorgeous. I can only hope (and really I have been told) that the rest of the trail is as beautiful.

The Itinerary

Day 1: leave early for a 9-10am hike start from China Beach. Target campsite: Bear beach which is a mileage of 9km. This day is “moderate” according to the trail map.

Day 2: this will be the most difficult terrain day according to the trail map. We are aiming for 11km to get to Chin Beach.

Day 3: In actuality this might be the hardest day; we will be covering not only the hardest part of the trail, but it will be our longest day at 17km. We’re hoping that our packs will be lightened by this day from eating all the foods (we have, for instance, 8lbs of snacks/lunch foods alone…)

What’s in the packs

Each of our packs weigh about 28-31lbs, which is pretty good. Most trail hikes I have seen recommend women exceed no more than 1/3 of their body weight in pack weight, and I believe we are all below that.

Food:

Marina is curious about this food

We have decided to go with the two meals a day (breakfast and dinner) and rely on a variety of snacks for our lunch/day time eating.

So we needed 2 breakfasts and 2 dinners for this hike.

What this looks like:

For breakfast:

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Oatmeal with dehydrated whole milk, raisins and/or trail mix.

“Scrambled” Eggs with “cheese” and salsa. This recipe was inspired by the Backpacking Chef. Sadly I do not own his book so I took a guess at how to dehydrate eggs using polenta a rehydration medium. If it turns out I may share the recipe!

Snacks:

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Various trail mixes, dried fruits, snacky things, nuts, seeds, candy, etc. etc. to the point of 8lbs.

For dinners:

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Mushroom Stroganoff with egg noodles

Lentil Dahl  (mix of two recipes, here and here) and brown basmati rice.

For beverages:

Tea, instant coffee and powdered whole milk, and likely Gatorade (still to be purchased).

Also in my pack:

Thermarest/foamie

Sleeping bag

Iodine water tabs, mole skin, swiss army knife, sunscreen, bug spray, bear banger, mini first aid kit, lighter, fire starters, 3 liters of water

Clothes: long johns (top and bottom), leggings, socks x 5 pairs, underwear x 4 pairs, rain jacket, extra warm jacket layer, extra t-shirt, and flip flops for camp. (I’ll be wearing: socks, underwear, sports bra, t-shirt and sweatshirt, shorts + )

Hat and sunglasses

Extra pegs for tarps

DSLR Cannon D50, journal + pen, iPod, phone (can last three days on super power saving mode)

The only thing that will change between this hike and the WCT will be the amount of food we are carrying (and maybe the total number of underwear and socks we have packed).

So that’s it folks! I’d love to hear how you have prepared in the past for overnight hikes, what has worked, and what hasn’t and I promise to be back next week with a “Hike Report” (just like all those race reports out there!).

Till then, take care.