August 31, 2016

West Coast Trail 2016 Beginnings

It has been a week since I have gotten off trail and had time to reflect on an amazing but very difficult 8 day hike on the West Coast Trail. I gifted this experience to myself for my 60th birthday and yes, there were days when perhaps a nice purse would of been a good choice but definitely not as rewarding. The West Coast Trail, known as the Graveyard of the Pacific , is sited as the Best Hike in North America but also has a difficulty rating of high - 63 evacuated already in 2016. I was about to see why!!

My trailmates and I set out on Aug 17 from Anacortes on the ferry to Victoria to meet up the next day with Sea To Sky Expeditions and meet the rest of our group. Nina, Kay and I were anxiously excited to begin our adventure. Spending a day picking up last minute items and spending time with Diane - one of our many trail angels-(more about them later.) A last night sleep in a bed and a great cup of coffee in the morning and we were off.

Day One
We meet up with Mark and Tessa, our amazingly patient and knowledgeable guides and 5 other hikers that we were going to get to know, laugh, cry and share with for the next 8 days. We made our way to Port Renfrew with 5 minutes to spare to attend a mandatory 2 pm Orientation by Parks Canada. This ensured we could start the hike first thing in morning. Permits and information was invaluable for a safe hike.
We were camping out our first night, repacking and getting rid of excess weight in packs.
The campground was on First Nations Land , as is the entire trail - This particular stretch of the trail was run by the Pacheedaht First Nations. We have decided that the weather will be good and so we ditch our tents and just take our tent poles, footprint and rain fly. Open air camping is a first- How will the critters stay out?

 Morning came early - first breakfast of oatmeal, not my favorite but I'd get used to it and coffee. Tents packed, new friends made and it is time to begin out journey. Off to Parks Canada to weigh our packs and get a ride across the Gordon River Inlet from Butch.
How did my pack get so heavy - I started the hike with 37 lbs on my back - How was this going to work?
 We are hiking South to North getting the hardest parts out of the way in the first 3 days, according to me - they were all hard but this is the best way. I could not imagine doing it the other way.

To be Continued 

August 10, 2016

7 days and Counting -Packing List for West Coast Trail

7 days to go and time to pack my wearable closet,kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, otherwise know as my Backpack (I call her Betty) and head to the West Coast Trail.

Do you know how much this weighs? That has become the most asked question as I do my final preps for my hike on the West Coast Trail. What does one take for 8 days/7 nights as I realize that what ever I take - I carry on my back for the same amount of time.

My fall shopping used to consist of a few trips to the Nordsrom’s sale and Kate Spade for that new bag but this year my priorities changed.My frequent trips are now between REI and Duluth Packing Company. The features become more about function and of course a little style thrown in. Don’t get me wrong-a girl can still be stylish while hiking . Color scheme Aqua and Red - Yes I really did come up with a color scheme as I bought functional but fun items to wear and use.

My favorite hip functional outdoor store is FjallRaven - where I got my hiking shorts and they also carry my Hanwag Hiking Boots. Amazing boots if you happen to have foot issues , seriously, can we talk bunions ?

The plan is to carry less than 30 lbs  including food so I became obsessed with weight. 

The Final List for clothes on the West Coast Trail
Remember that cotton is not my friend on this trip- everything has a purpose, is technical in fabric and functional from Bottom to Top

Hanwag Hiking Boots -  Leather and Gortex is the key to these.They are made with a last especially for bunions and the fit is amazing. Don’t forget to trick your boots out with a splash of color in your laces 

3 pair wool socks - My favorite are Darn Tough and they are made in the USA. The colors will just make you smile even though you are walking miles.  1pair on/1 pair drying/1pair clean

2 pairs of hiking shorts  1 pair Fjall Raven Red, of course. These are especially functional because of the wax cloth bum, great for boulder sliding and the inevitable Turtle fall that will happen. Google It 

Lululemon Tights 

2 tops:  One base layer smart wool and one short sleeved technical fabric for “Sweaty Betty” 

_ That might have to be my trail name - Folks it is not going to smell pretty after a few days

Gortex Rain Jacket, Northface fleece and a good ole Toque (canadian slang for stocking cap) for added warmth and keeping the bugs out of my hair when I sleep.

Underwear you ask - A good Canadian girl would go commando but just in case I need them I did pack 2 pairs of exoffico wonderunders and a sports bra.

Camp shoes and long johns round out the 7 night /8 day packing with a purpose list 

I am excitedly nervous and yes, I have had moments where I wonder what I am doing but at least I'll look good doing it.

What woud you pack for a wilderness trek?