West Coast Trail recap

So two weeks ago this epic hike finally happened.

When we booked the trail in January, six months seemed like a long time. Of course time flies when you’re having fun and the six months snuck by in no time at all, or so it felt.

Day 1: Gordon River to Thrasher Cove
Distance: 6km

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My parents are amazing and had already offered to come out to the island to drive us to the trail (of course when they made this promise they’d been hoping to hike some of the trail  themselves as well, but the dog got in the way of that).

We headed out to make the 10am orientation at Gordon River. The check in and orientation are required for all hikers doing the west coast trail. You register months in advance because only a limited number of people can start on the trail from the three trail heads each day.

This day was some tough hiking! We’d heard that the first five kilometers were “all ladders”. But we found there weren’t as many ladders as we expected. This day was TOUGH however with lots of up and down and some tough trail. It reminded me a lot of the Juan de Fuca. We reached our camp in just under four hours and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying the beautiful view of Port Renfrew, and the river otter playing in the surf.

Day 2: Thrasher Cove to Cullite Creek
Distance: 14km

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Fortunately the tides worked out for us to do a lot of the beaches throughout the hike. The “beach” after Thrasher cove was all boulders, followed by sandstone once we passed Owen Point. It was a gorgeous day; sunny and bright. I loved the boulder hopping and climbing, don’t ask me why I just love it anytime. The sandstone was a nice fast walk, while watching out for the surge channel created by the water – some you walked around and some you could easily hop!

Once we were back on the trail it got tough again; lots of mud, lots of trying to find our way through puddles, up and down and ladders! Originally we’d planned to go all the way to Walbran this day, but when we reached the turn off for Cullite we decided the smart choice would be to stop early (this had always been our plan B, depending on time, our energy levels and all that). Cullite was a smaller campsite in a tiny little cove with a rocky beach surrounded on all sides by what looked to be sandstone cliffs. From the way the waves pounded you could just imagine the ocean carving out this little sliver. We had a quick dip in the creek while the sun could still reach us, then dinner then sleep.

Day 3: Cullite Creek to Cribbs Creek
Distance: 17km

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The next day we set out to get to Cribbs Creek. According to most people we’d talked to and the orientation, after Walbran it would be “easy hiking”. The trail would get a lot flatter and there would be much more time walking on the beach. Our third day we woke up to a layer of fog, that just never lifted. We made good time to Walbran, and could see why this was one of the more popular camps to stay at; there was a nice large pool that would have been so inviting if there had been any sun out that day, sadly the fog meant we didn’t really feel like a dip or a break.

From Walbran to Cribbs is almost all walking on the beach. You might think beach walking would be easy, but with a 40lbs pack walking on sand it feels like the soft beach is just eating up any momentum you might have. So while we’d been expecting some ease after Walbran it still felt rather difficult. On this day we also hit the famous “Monique’s” where you can purchase burgers, beers and other treats you might be missing. It was yummy to have something other than our prepared food (though, in my humble opinion we ate pretty well for hiking!). My veggie burger was something like an omelette on a bun but I still enjoyed it.

The highlight might have been the pod of Orcas we saw on our way down the beach. They were heading our way so we were able to keep an eye on them for a while too. Sadly I didn’t have my camera out to capture a good shot – and it’s always so hard to get a good picture of orcas anyway.

Cribbs Creek is near a sea lion pull out rock, so we also got to watch them do their hunting in the waves that evening while we hung out with new friends around the fire.

Day 4: Cribbs Creek to Tsusiat Falls
Distance: 16km

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Yet more fog! This day was not terrible. We still had some beach walking, but we also had some good trail walking as well, with lots of board walks leading us to the lake crossing at Nitinat. There we were able to buy some more delicious grub, this time fresh caught halibut and a baked potato. There is nothing like food when you’ve been hiking all day. The sun also decided to break through the continuous fog for our lunch break, sadly it returned to hiding for the rest of the day. After a short boat ride to the rest of the trail we had a little bit of up and down, that while difficult was nothing compared to the south end of the trail… Plus it was followed by a couple kilometers of beach walking which just sucked the remaining energy right out of us.

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Tsusiat falls was beautiful and I cannot imagine how beautiful it would have been in the sun! Still the cool cloudy weather didn’t stop us from a quick dip in the water, which was so so refreshing after all the day of hiking. And of course we had a beach fire to return to after that, so really it wasn’t a struggle at all.

Day 5: Tsusiat Falls to Michigan Creek
Distance: 13km

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Our second to last started with – you guessed it- fog. At this point the piece that annoyed us about the fog the most was how damp everything was when we woke up. This day wasn’t physically demanding, but I did find it difficult, despite the nice trail it never felt like we got very far very fast and despite it being one of our shorter days it did not speed by.

Fortunately we did make camp fairly early, at the last campground before the exit Michigan Creek. As we set up camp, made a fire and lounged around the sun actually broke through the clouds! It was so nice after all the days of clouds to see blue skies. Dinner this night was Pad Thai, a recipe I wasn’t sure would turn out, but it did! I will hopefully get around to posting a little bit more about the food we ate and maybe some of the recipes I used/created – this was something I did not find a lot of information on and I know it can be very helpful!

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Day 6: Michigan Creek to Pachena Bay
Distance: 12km

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The last day zoomed by. This part of the trail is often used by people day hiking out to the Pachena Point lighthouse so it was wide, and well maintained. I’m sure we had an extra surge of energy since it was the last day and we knew warm food, clean clothes and eventually a real hot shower awaited us. We were actually a good two hours faster than I’d estimated it would take us, and serendipitously my parents arrived just mere minutes after we arrived. Yay! And we discovered that the Pachena Bay campground had showers – double yay. So once we were clean, and all wearing our clean clothes we headed for some food in Bamfield.

Overall I loved this experience and cannot wait to do it again! It was beautiful, challenging and tough, but absolutely worth every scraped knee, bruise and bee sting (seriously, I got two wasp bites on the last day!). We had good weather for the trail (the other nickname for it is Wet Coast Trail) so despite the fog we really were happy with the experience. Realizing how easy it is to do something like this makes me definitely want to do it again, and others. But if you love multiday hiking it is definitely one you gotta do.

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June update and links

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June is off to a busy start here.

The upcoming weekend is the first weekend I’ve had zero commitments or plans since April. With all the business, and some life changing occurrences in the past month and a half an easy weekend of no set plans sounds like just what the doctor ordered. Especially because in a little over a week I’ll be starting a 6 day hike of the West Coast Trail so along with usual life pieces I have been slowly preparing for that (again in charge of food stuff). So I’m looking forward to an unscheduled weekend of preparing, relaxing and taking my time. It feels like it’s been a while since that has been my life.

In the mean time, I thought I’d share some links, podcasts and webpages I’ve been browsing the last few weeks.

I shared a little bit about being a budget and with that have been loving this new-to-me website: www.caitflanders.com. A local BC girl (yay!) she talks about her journey out of debt and mindful living. It’s inspiring for me to read about others journeys from being in debt to having much more financial freedom.

I also found through her website some amazing minimalist blogs. I used to find the idea of minimalism intimidating, and didn’t really get the point. Over the last few years though I’ve been drawn to de-cluttering and getting rid of the excess.  I like how many of the minimalism blogs aren’t necessarily about strict rules of how much you can own, but rather a mindset about being intentional about what you own – and how you live. This rings true to me. So with that in mind I really enjoyed browsing this minimalist site: http://www.simplyfiercely.com/

Along the lines of intentional buying, one reason I’m trying to buy from second hand stores as much as possible is the disillusionment I’ve had with big retail. I like to think I try to make ethical and critically thoughtful decisions about where I buy and why – but it is very hard to find out about the ethical practices of your favourite stores. So I really liked this link my mom sent me: http://getledbetter.com. It’s great if one of your concerns is the gender division of the leadership of companies. We all know that many corporations, from where we get our clothes to who runs our television media, are often majorly run by men, but this site can help you decide to support organizations that have more equal gender distributions on their boards or in their executive line… so you can now feel a whole lot better about shopping at H&M.

Lastly I’m loving all sorts of podcasts lately. As I’ve made a journey away from dieting I found more and more websites dedicated to anti-diet culture, as well as fat acceptance and even fat activism. I’m loving all things Virgie Tovar right now. You can find her on multiple podcasts. And in multiple writing spheres. I love her voice, her style and her message.

I also really enjoyed this podcast featuring two fellow health at every size RDs Glenys O and Aaron Flores (their sites here and here) and Vivienne McMaster who runs a body loving/acceptance program called Be Your Own Beloved (another BC girl, squee!). Some great tid-bits and stories from all three.

So my lovely blogosphere peeps I’m away for the next few weeks, but I hope you keep enjoying the world wide web as much as I do every day. Happy reading, facebooking and general life!

April

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Is it just me or has April flown by? I can’t believe an entire month has passed since I last wrote a blog post – in all honesty it seemed like just yesterday that I wrote that post.

This April has felt like summer. With days reaching the high 20s temperature wise, it’s not hard to imagine why.

My life has been busy busy. I began training for a new job – a casual position that allows me to cover sick/vacation time and work with my current three-day-a-week position and I had a minor planned surgery… so let’s just say yeah I’ve been occupied.

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As I just mentioned, I have been working only three days a week since I moved to the Cowichan Valley. This was actually a great thing because I’d started my graduate school program a mere two months before moving, so I knew the extra time to work on it would be a blessing. And it was. It has been absolutely amazing to have four full days a week to devote to life outside of work. Even when you love your work, it is work, and it takes energy, and I have a hard time believing I’d be as far into my masters as I am now if I was working full time.

What’s not nice about only working three days a week? I’ve been on a very tight budget. Being on such a budget has actually really opened my eyes to my spending habits – which has been a blessing in disguise.

So what’s coming up next for me? May is also looking like a busy month, but as I try to move forward and make this blog more a part of a business (I’m hoping to get a private practice going over the next few months) I am going to make an effort to really blog more, have a weekly/monthly/yearly publishing plan and stick to it (with wiggle room of course). So looking ahead there are a few things I’d love to write about:

– West Coast Trail: I’ve volunteered to be in charge of menu and food planning/prep. The West Coast Trail is a 5-7 day hike on the (you guessed it) west coast of Vancouver Island. I talked about it in my last blog (can you sense a theme to what’s going on in my life). Most people bring dehydrated or freeze dried meals on the hike. Buying these at places like MEC or other hiking stores can set you back $10 a meal (and that’s per person), whereas I know I can make a meal for 3 for less than that. I’m hoping to share a little of what I’m doing for that.

– Budgeting: As I was saying earlier I’ve learned a lot about budgeting this year. And yes I’ve used resources like Gail Val-Oxalate and other budgeting gurus, but it has really come down to a process of figuring out needs vs. wants and what sort of spending habits I have that do not serve me.

– Graduate school: I’d love to bring some of what I’m working for my master program into the blog. How this will look I’m not entirely sure yet – but all I can say is I love it. I never knew adult education would be so fascinating or so relevant to my own political, social and educational beliefs. Who knew that studying how we educate adults would really be about social justice???? I did not.

– Food etc: and of course I hope to continue writing about food, recipes, and nutrition ideas around health at every size and all that. Do not expect that content to disappear.

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Well that’s about it for now. I really hope you’ve had a great April as well – I know a lot of Canada had fantastic summer like weather and fingers crossed it sticks around for the next while.