The moment I painfully limped out of the humid, temperate rainforest and into the parking lot at the end of my last backpacking trip, tearing off my overly heavy backpack and sweaty hiking boots and throwing them into the back of my Jeep and plopping myself into the driver’s seat I muttered the words “I am NEVER going backpacking again!” I was sore, tired, blistered, chafed, and mentally exhausted.

I was defeated.

Unbeknownst to me at that moment in time that six months later I would be planning and anticipating my next backpacking trip (which is just over two short, and very quick months away). However, this hike is going to be somewhat easier on a technical perspective with very minimal elevation gain than my previous backpacking attempt (it is on the pacific coastline after all!) and although it can technically be done in two days (one there and back) we will be adding an extra day to explore parts of island that we will be on, to just relax, drink ciders by the fire, and take in the ocean views.

With it being a moderate hike there are still going to be some stresses, challenges, and fears along the way. Navigating unfamiliar territory and terrain that both Josh and myself haven’t hiked before, the threat of predatory wildlife (cougar, wolf, and bear), tide charts to track, tsunami risk and unpredictable weather. However, with the right awareness, food secured correctly, and gear in place for survival none of that should be too much of an issue. (Except the things we can’t control, like the weather and natural disasters)

So what changed my mind on planning a backpacking trip so soon?

The strong call of the wild.

Last year I went out to Vancouver Island for a few days and from the moment I left I desperately wanted to go back (particularly to the Tofino area). The salty air, the abundant rainforests, the smell of cedar trees, plenty of hiking trails, and the laid back vibe strongly call to me and I need to spend more time exploring the area. (I honestly could spend months, if not a year on the island exploring every trail, every waterfall, every beach, and I seriously need to figure out a way to do this – but that is for another post). There is just something about the west coast that deeply calls to me that I haven’t quite figured out yet.

Am I nervous about embarking on a backpacking trip so soon after my last failed attempt (and relatively spontaneously as far as backpacking trips go) you bet am I! But I have comfort in knowing that at any part along the trail if need be, we can set up camp. They do have the official camping spots with “amenities” such as a pit toilet and metal food lockers, but you are allowed to camp anywhere you want provided you follow leave no trace principles and hang your food from a tree away from your camp to deter animals from being attracted to the scent. However, the ultimate goal is to make it to the camp at the end of the 11km trail (it isn’t that far) but the worst case scenario we won’t be shit out of luck. Unexpected things can happen on a trail and we will be prepared.

To be able to slow down and disconnect (minus the use of my camera to document this trip via photography and videography) for three days on a hiking trail that has been used by for thousands of years for spiritual, medical and culture purposes is a privilege. Treading through ancient Sitka and cedar forests and down pristine sandy beaches hearing the waves crash along the shore, breathing in the salty air with the only person you can imagine doing this with is going to be pure bliss.

I am so stoked for this rad adventure (this hike is only part of it), and I cannot wait to head out to the island again!

Until next time, chase the stoke!
– Tracey

Chase the Stoke Mountains

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