My wife and I set out on the 47km Juan De Fuca marine trail on Vancouver Island with a combined 22 lbs of gear, 12 lbs of food, 35oz of methanol and a couple litres of water. Her pack weighed ~10lbs, mine weighed nearly 30lbs since I had all the food and fuel. Our dog carried it's own food (2 lbs).
Monday we arrived at 5pm and hiked in 2km (1.2 miles) to Mystic Beach:
The next morning we had some Starbucks VIA (it was ok) and Oatmeal. I quickly realized my oven liner windscreen was not going to last long as it was already cracking at many of the folds.
The first day was an easy 8km hike to Bear Beach. There was tons of cool waterfalls:
Lots of huge trees:
Our 19 lbs Shiba Inu was happy to carry her Kelty K9 doggy pack (1 lbs) with about 2 lbs of food in it.
She tore off one of her front 'dew claw' nails mid-trip when she slipped which had us worried. She yelped for a bit and bled pretty good but she was able to keep walking after a minute since the wound was off the ground.
Lunch was 'Chili Mex' by Harvest Foodworks. It was awesome! My FeatherFire stove is great for simmering but unstable on soft or non-level surfaces. BPL Thorofare pants and Montbell's UL Down Parka are my favourite pieces of clothing.
Lots of fine craftsmanship on this trail:
We were a little late to the high tide cutoff at this point. We had to wait 1.5 hours until it was clear.
We made it to camp at Bear Beach before the rain started. My windscreen was in several pieces by this point so we cooked in the tent since it was kinda windy.
The next day it was raining and we had a difficult 11kms of non stop up and down hills. There was a few good spills on the slippery woodwork (1 each). The forest was amazing though. Huge cedar and spruce trees the whole time:
Check out how big the 3 trees are growing ON the fallen log. It blows my mind how long that fallen trunk must have laid here (40 years?) and how it wasn't even close to rotted away.
Looking up at the massive trees:
The sun finally came out right as we arrived in camp. After 2 days, it was time to give my clothes a wash in the nearby creek. Here's me trying to get my boxers to dry before the sun sets :) This night I confirmed that wearing wet socks to bed does indeed work very well to dry them. My socks went from rung out to dry in about 3 hours of sleeping in a down bag. Not bad.
Enjoying the sunset and some Starbucks VIA:
That night we baked some Banana/Choc Chip muffins in the vestibule. Yum!
The third day we hiked about 8kms to Sombrio Beach. The rain held off today but it was still really overcast and humid. The waves at Sombrio were big and neat to watch:
It started to rain that evening so I got a chance to setup my Oware Cattarp 2 as a meal area shelter. Notice the feeble fire wood collection on the log. All trip the wood was damp and I never did get a campfire going which was a humbling wakeup call for me after two failed attempts:
Camping on the sand sucks. It gets in the tent and in the zippers which creates a mess inside the tent and it's hard on the zips. Having a dog doesn't keep things any cleaner.
That night we got more rain. It rained hard so I was happy that my MSR Carbon Reflex 2 kept us 100% dry. Here's us nearly ready to break camp the 4th day for 12 kms of sloppy hiking.
On West Sombrio Beach we ran into this black bear. He was happily munching on stuff under some rocks and didn't seem to mind us, so we slipped on by:
We spotted this owl a few kms later. What I don't have pictures of, is how sloppy the trail was with the non-stop rain over the past few days. The whole thing was a muck hole. We were soaked and getting pretty discouraged with the trail and hiking in deep mud with our hiking shoes. Accordingly, we decided to exit at km 37 (payzant?) instead of camping at km 40 and finishing the trail the next morning.
After hiking 4kms out to the highway I started hitchhiking. The second car picked me up, but it still took 30 minutes because the road was so dead.
When I got back to my car at the China Beach trailhead, I discovered it had been broken in to. The drivers door had been pried open and the car was ransacked. I lost 2 credit cards and $40. Thankfully they left the rest of my wallet with my ID and debit card so I had money to get home. My wife lost her drivers licence, debit card and SIN card which apparently the theives had no purpose for. We cancelled the cards but they had already racked up $500 in gas on my Mastercard, which should be covered by the fraud department thankfully. My drivers door is bent and doesn't close entirely (the seat gets wet if it rains) but it's an old crappy car and I can bend the door back probably.
We made a Police report of the incident at Sooke and then drove fast to try to make final 9pm ferry sailing to the mainland. It was a stressful 1.5 hour drive which involved a lot of...uhh....expert driving. Things only got more stressful when I realized that without my stolen credit cards, I had to stop at an ATM to get cash for the ferry. Thankfully we arrived at 8:55pm...the exact ticket cutoff for the 9pm ferry. The ticket guy said we made the cut off by seconds. Here's our car....the very last one on the ferry :)
I was using a lot of new gear on this trip. Here's the brief results:
- BPL Thorofare pants. They showed no signs of wear and they blow my mind at at feathery 4oz
- Montbell U.L. Down Inner Parka. This thing is perfect for 3 season trips like this
- GoLite Ultra 20. Toasty warm although we never got below 40F. Very nice and easy to use.
- GoLite Jam. Surprisingly comfortable even with 30lbs in it.
- Bubblewrap camera case. I made this just before the trip. It's super light (9g or 0.3oz) and easy to use.
- Canon SD780 IS. I can't believe I took 210 pictures and about 5 minutes of video and the battery was still showing 3 out of 3 bars. Unreal. Next time I won't hold back so much.
- Oven Liner Windscreen. This stuff is just not durable enough. It can't withstand folding and it also burns/melts too easily. By the end of the trip mine was in several pieces
- FeatherFire stove. The simmer function worked great, but the stove was super tippy with a 1.3L pot containing a litre of water. The pot supports and small, rounded and smooth so the pot slides easily. Also the small stove legs dig into the ground so the whole thing tips easy. I almost lost a few meals. I'm still going to keep using this, but I've got to be really careful.