Echo Point

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.


* 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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Bamboo Forest

Green everywhere; rich and deep, pale and shimmering, reflecting light. All I see is green. All but a trampled brown path below, a narrow strip of sky above.  I hear a gentle rustle like a trickling stream; the sway of tall, now thin-now thick stalks, their leaves dancing, whispering. A sense of calm. The air is moist, earthy and fresh; it even smells green. A touch of breeze feels thick, heavy and warm. But the forever forest creates a cool sanctuary.  

Rain begins. All senses are invigorated, exaggerated...greener, wetter, cooler, fresher. The steady sound of pattering drops against the sturdy stalks and softly bending leaves, almost hypnotic, completes the isolation. You feel you’re in another world as the green envelopes and empties you; alive and wet!

The Bamboo Forest hike on Maui’s east coast is a worthy end to the scenic coastal drive from Paia to Hana and Haleakala National Park. After gazing at spectacular beaches and waterfalls, and navigating along the winding road aside steep green covered slopes, a hike in the bamboo forest is a fitting place to find oneself; to reflect and recharge.

Bamboo is amazing and exotic.  Not only is it beautiful, but it gives us a wide array of products created from this abundant resource.  From furniture and flooring to bike frames, food, and flowing fabrics, we find more bamboo items in the market than ever.


When travelling through more remote areas of Asia I remember seeing bamboo used throughout the villages in many ways: for homes, irrigation, tools. Tourists bring home carvings, wind chimes, and musical instruments. Bamboo is prolific, like shells in a seaside curio shop.

So, why was I having such trouble finding out about fabrics made from this abundant material? Searching the net, I was lost in a confusing dialogue between fans and foes.  How does fabric from bamboo fit into the many other choices we have as designers and consumers? Why do some folks hate it while others love it?  

I dug in, determined to find a path through the opposing views, to find my way through this interlocking knot of often contradictory information. I found myself back in the forest, having lost my sense of direction entirely, when it came to getting solid info.  Such beautiful fabric; soft and comfortable, breathable and easy care. It’s excellent for hiking as it wicks moisture from the skin and reduces odor.  Rayon from Bamboo is a delight to wear.  What is there not to like?

Eventually I’ve come to a basic understanding of this fabric. Like most things, there is both the exciting and the ugly.  Here is a simple break out of what I have learned:

The bad stuff:

- bamboo needs to be processed into viscose when it becomes a fabric

- the processing is much like that of pulp and paper and is often accomplished with the use of  

   toxic ingredients.  

- with these toxins used in processing, it can result in water and air pollution

- harvesting bamboo can be done well or very poorly

The good stuff:  

- bamboo is a super fast growing plant and can grow several crops per year

- doesn’t need all those horrible pesticides and herbicides so is easy to grow organically

- biodegrades fast

- doesn’t use much water at all to grow - this rates as a 5 star quality for me

- the plant is a sustainable resource

The Really Good stuff:

- the processing of bamboo into rayon viscose can be done in a much cleaner way

- this involves making the process a “closed loop” where the water is recaptured and reused  

   and air pollution is minimized to a very low level

- there are regulatory bodies that are helping to monitor harvesting methods

- much the same as the processing of eucalyptus trees into Lyocell fabric and beechwood

  trees into Modal fabric, there is a realistically possible future for recycling all 3 of these  

  cellulosic fabrics - research is presently in the works

So, when you next find yourself in a forest of swaying green bamboo, take a moment to look around; remember how amazing this beautiful grass truly is.  Whether in Hawaii, SE Asia, or South America, get out into the forest, surround yourself in bamboo. Wrap up in it too. I can’t promise it will keep you from getting wet, but what you will get - from both the hike and the hoodie - is a lasting smile. 


Check out Kaikuna’s Bamboo Women’s Hoodie at:

Kaikuna Bamboo French Terry Jacket

by Julie MacDonald
photography by Allan Weston
All Rights Reserved 2015 Kaikuna Clothing, LLC