The West Coast Trail

Treks that make you cry and sing

5 Hikes for the Audacious Adventurer

Do you ever get that feeling? A pull to be in the forest, along a seaside cliff top, or climbing a trail to a wide sweeping view? A nature boost can calm you down, feed your soul, get your appetite peaked. But it's the really gritty hikes that force you to dig deep, that 'brand' your brain with memories and a sense of accomplishment you'll never forget. Here are our stories of 5 tough, remote, and ultimately spectacular journeys that leave you weary to the bone and smiling ear to ear.

Hike #1: West Coast Trail,
Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada

Ladders and more ladders, up and up, the 40 pound backpack on my back starts to feel like I'm papoose-ing 3 grown men up this endless climb. Rung after rung I raise a foot, a hand; I look up at Allan's feet, the rhythm of his steps keeps my own feet climbing. We make our way up the gully wall, pull ourselves onto the rim, and pause to look through the trees at the river below. So serene. So severe.

And on that day went. Roots pushing into the soles of our feet as we negotiated along the narrow forest path trying to save backs and knees. Muscles maxed, we waded along endless soft sandy beaches, through boggy mud, and across freezing cold rivers. By the time we put up our tent that evening, all we could do was collapse onto the ground in our hastily strewn sleeping bags, feet throbbing. Truly! Throbbing. Then...I felt warm hands grab my toes, soft lotion ease the throbs, and a firm, gently rub. Ahhh. My feet had never felt anything so good! A massage from an angel, my angel! I "ooh" and "ahh" and am completely unable to move. Eventually I grab Allan's feet and chuckle at his even heartier "oohs" and "ahhs". Foot massages better than sex. Who would've thought I'd find this on the West Coast Trail?! One of the many images burned into my brain: feet; taking my already memorable journey up a notch into the magnificent.

The Details:

Vancouver Island's West Coast Trail is 75 km (45 Miles) of exquisitely varied terrain and hefty challenges. 5-7 days long, this remote shoreline trek features rivers to cross, deep gullies lined in endless ladders, and an intense bouldering moonscape that greets the crashing waves of the open Pacific. From towering old growth forests to sandy river mouths, the camp spots are a welcome sight at the end of long, arduous days. Even in this rainforest be wary to ration your water; unless you come face to face with the coast's heavy, relentless rain. In which case: rationing not required!! All in all, spectacular views, countless physical challenges, and some highlight gems including a beautiful cascading waterfall, native villages, and possible bear and cougar sightings. Isolated and strenuous with breathtaking scenery around every corner, this demanding adventure is known to be one of the most grueling treks in North America. The West Coast Trail is a lifetime experience that will push you, delight you, and leave you with an appreciation for your feet that you will never forget.

This article does not cover everything you need nor does it intend to. Please take the time to be prepared for this hike as it is for experienced hikers and you can quickly get into a bad situation if the weather turns or you experience an injury.

Find out more about the West Coast Trail here:

2016 West Coast Trail Preparation Guide

Oh, and you'll likely need to make a reservation. As grueling as this hike is, it's a popular one.

Highlights

* compass

* tide tables (essential)

* headlamp or flashlight

* water filtration device

* loud emergency whistle

* lightweight durable tent

* sunglasses

* sun hat

* toiletries

* cooking set and utensils

* camera

* waterproof notebook and a pencil

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