Canada’s West Coast Trail

A panorama of the Tsusiat Falls campground on ...
Image via Wikipedia

I had a chat today with people who hiked the West Coast Trail. That is something I always wanted to do. In Canada’s National Parks, there is often an evening “show” brought to you by the Park Ranger. One year, I think it was when I was camping at Tofino on Vancouver Island, the presentation was on the West Coast Trail. It was stunning. I was in no physical shape to do it then. Am I now? Hmmmm

The information guide to the WCT is here. It says the hike is only for Intermediate to Advanced hikers. Well, that is not me. BUT! I did do some river guiding, leading groups in a canoe. I have extensive camping experience, and even know how to keep food from bears (which there is a LOT of on the trail). I am an expert at camp food cooking. I know all about keeping stuff dry ESPECIALLY your sleeping bag. All this knowledge is still in my head. As for the fitness part…

The trail is 77km along the Pacific Rim. The farthest west you can get in Canada with out going to Japan. It takes about 6-8 days to complete the trail. That is an average of 10k per day AND carrying a back pack. Walking 10k around town or in Edmonton’s river valley is a piece of cake for me now, so distance is not a problem. Carrying a pack is, but that is easily taken care of by training. Chances are it will be pouring rain most of the time. I prefer that to heat. If I keep up my training I would be able to easily hike 10-12k per day for a week. I am walking 44k this week alone. That is at a faster pace than I would hiking. 5k in the morning, 5k in the afternoon is totally doable for me. That isn’t even including all the swimming I am doing I swim about 4 hours a week with a distance of 8-10k. Endurance wise, I think I can do it. Weight wise, I want to be lighter, a LOT lighter. At the very least I would be 52lbs lighter (assuming I am losing 1 lb a week over the next year). It gives me lots to think about.

They only allow so many hikers a year on the trail. If it didn’t work out next year then I could EASILY do it the following year. 46 years old and Hiking the West Coast Trail. That would be cool.

I think I found my next long term goal. Now I need to make a list of all the little goals I need to get me there.

Destination: Banff National Park

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Ca...
Image via Wikipedia

Genetic OffSpring and I are planning a getaway to the Rocky Mountains, Banff in particular. It has been years since he has been there. We go regularly to Jasper, but last year we spent only a single day there as a family. Genetic Offspring saw the mountains from a new perspective and has been nattering at me to take him back ever since. So I let him pick where he wanted to go.

The destination: Banff National Park, Canada. 414km from my home. I know, I am lucky. The Rocky mountains are a world class destination and people from all over the world try to get here just once. After being in Europe last fall, my family understands the appeal of the Canadian Rockies to the European visitors. The Rockies are like the Black Forrest on Steriods. Stunning, beautiful, breathtaking and vast. Pictures never do it justice.

The plan is to drive down early morning through Calgary. There is a Lego store in the SAME mall as Tiffany’s and the boy wants to stop. I am good with that! Then we will head to Peter’s Drive in for lunch. Peter’s is famous in Calgary. I have never been but the boy has, twice. He likes their Milkshakes, so a stop is a must! Then it is an hour west to Banff.

The best part of the drive to Banff is seeing the Mountains unfold before you. They are tiny from Hwy 2 south from Edmonton and look almost like clouds in the distance. As a kid I remember getting so excited as they came into view from the hwy. As you approach the National Park, they become massive, and before you realize it, you are surrounded by the most beautiful mountains in the world. Yes I am biased, but yes I have seen mountain ranges in the USA, Australia, Scotland, France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and even British Columbia here in Canada. To me there is nothing more rugged, massive nor beautiful as the Canadian Rocky Mountains. I cannot wait to go back!

We plan to hike through Johnston’s Canyon and Sundance Canyon. I will drive him up to Lake Louise so he can see the most beautiful lake in the world. I love everything from the sights to the smells. The air is fresh with the smells of pine and spruce in the air. The meadows will be filled with wildflowers and the berries should be plump and juicy with all the rain we have had. I love the abundance of wildlife in the National Parks. Everything from Mountain Goats, Big Horn Sheep, Elk and Deer will be seen at least once on this trip. And if we are lucky, a Black Bear. If we are luckier, a Grizzly Bear.

The draw back is I have to camp. You must know by now, that I prefer a 5 star hotel to sleeping in a tent. But to get the trip you want, you need to do the trip you can afford. I can afford camping fees and cooking my own food, so that is how we will do it. The boy loves to sleep in the tent, he does it all summer long in the back yard. The olny difference is bears and cougars don’t prowl around my backyard. The year Evil Genius came camping with us he remarked that Australians (which he is) wear boots to protect themselves from snakes and spiders while camping (because those creatures will kill you) in Canada one wraps themselves up in a sleeping bag and calls themselves a bear burritos. Umm…not quite.  Although I did find that comparison funny. Bears won’t eat you, they just want your picnic basket, Yogi Bear is a true story. So remember these handy tips:

The Edmonton Tourist’s Tips to Avoid being eaten by Bears

  1. Never cook your food and eat dinner in your pajamas, then sleep in those same clothes – bears don’t give two figs about you. But you SMELL like take out! Tell me, who doesn’t prefer take out to cooking your own food? Bears are lazy just like you.
  2. Never store your food in your tent. Your tent is made out of cloth. Bears have never had a manicure, they will rip your tent to shreds in hopes of reaching your cooler. Yes they smell the food right through the cooler!
  3. Keep your camp site clean. Garbage in the Bear Bins, food in your car or tied by a rope and in the tree. Never leave it out while you go hiking or while you nap.
  4. Dirty dish water gets disposed of in the camp sink at the wash house. Not in the bush beside your tent. Think of it like licking a spoon…you always want more and they will come looking for it.
  5. Be prepared to have your car torn apart if a bear comes sniffing around for food. It happened to a friend of ours while they were sleeping in their tent.
  6. Never tell your children it’s a teddy bear and they should get closer for a picture. It happens all the time and I have seen tourists get kicked, trampled, bit and attacked because some dumb dad wanted a photo op with his child on the back of a WILD ANIMAL.
  7. Always make noise on a trail, chances are a bear will hear you and smell you before you smell them. They prefer rabbits to people, so likely you will never know how close you came to a bear on the trail.

Now, if you meet a cougar, it was nice knowing you.

So What’s the Plan?

I spent the better part of my morning emailing back and forth with the European Traveling Contingent of my family. They are safe and snug but didn’t think through the details they would need for a certain aspect of their trip. I was happy to help them but my first thought was: This is NOT like my mom! She is usually more on top of this! Then I thought: Maybe she was deferring to my sister for the information, thinking she would have planned this part. Or maybe she was kidnapped by terrorists needing an organized person in their fold! Or maybe my sister knocked my mom unconscious in a battle for last Chocolate Mousse! You see, I didn’t actually converse with my mom.

Now I am starting to panic.

We leave very soon for a lovely trip to the European Continent. In an earlier blog I confessed my trepidation to release the reigns and let others plan and take care of me. By now my loyal readers know I am a control freak and bossy by nature.  I wish it wasn’t true. I want to know what it feels like to have complete faith in someone, knowing they will take care of things. The reality is, that is just not possible for me, I need a backup plan. I am willing to let my Honey and my Mom, plan and navigate the trip, look after details, decide on sequence of events. However, I have packed a  “Just in Case” bag, just in case.

Just In Case:

  1. GPS – Mom said not to bring one but after this morning’s conversation, The GPS is coming with me. Better safe than sorry. No one needs to know until we need a back up plan.
  2. Extra Cash for a Cab – sure we will be camping in a caravan, but the last two nights of our stay are in a hotel close to Disneyland Paris. We have made arrangements for a shuttle to take us to the airport on our last day, but communication with the shuttle company has been less the comprehensible. Language is a barrier. Our friend had translated for us but still the company operates in a way that differs from the North American procedure that we are used to. We are taking a leap of faith and trusting the shuttle will be there on time, I’m sure this will be the case. However, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that I will need cab cash to get my family home.
  3. More Luggage – The Plan is for my family to travel with ONE suitcase, and TWO carry-on pieces of luggage. It is my understanding the closet space is minimal. Space is a premium. So we can take clothes for only 3 days. That means washing out stuff nightly or using the camp facilities for laundry. Yet I know my family well, and shopping is going to happen. So on the bottom of the suitcase will be two more collapsible bags waiting to be filled with goodies and chocolate.
  4. Food – I enjoy the luxury of having a Child with a Sensory Disorder. Translation: Picky Eater. I am bringing cereal and Carnation Instant Breakfast. Luckily the best bread and buns in the WORLD is available in European Bakeries.
  5. Earplugs – Sleeping in a Caravan that exceeds fire regulations will be cozy. Between snoring, talking, mumbling and heavy breathers, I am sure sleep will be a               premium. Luckily for me I am mostly deaf so this won’t be much of a problem for me. I do know  if the offspring are low on sleep they become high on crankiness.

The more I tell myself I need a backup, the more I think my plan is just good common sense and makes me a conscientious mother. After all I am the one ultimately responsible for my children. Or I am justifying my need to be prepared? Either way I am ready and feel better about the upcoming trip. Actually, I am starting to let myself get exceedingly excited! I miss my family and very excited to them! It has been a very long time since I have shared Europe with them. My Grandma being there is also a huge thrill for me. As a kid, Gran and I would often shared accommodation on these large family adventures! I am very excited to share this adventure with my Honey and Children. Even more so now that I have a plan.

So my dear friends, long time and recent readers, am I missing anything in my back up plan? You know I will be worrying about that until I am in the air and can no longer do anything about it. Please feel free to add to my “Just in Case” just in case.