I drove approximately 1600 km just to sit on a piece of driftwood at Chesterman Beach for the afternoon, cry my eyes out and pretty much turn around and come home when I should have been having some Type Two fun backpacking along the coast on a remote island.
It was the end of May and I was heading out west to backpack The Wildside Trail in a few days, I was beyond stoked and wanted/needed redemption from my failed backpacking trip last year, but had no idea what I was in for…
Our first day we left Edmonton and headed to camp in Kamloops for the night. I was thankful that we were leaving when we were, as we had woke up to a bright orange sky and ash raining down on us from the wildfires to the north. The drive to the mountains was the same, we couldn’t see the mountains at all until we were right in Jasper. Then it was thankfully clear skies for the rest of the way. We arrived in Kamloops, set up camp and headed into town to grab something to eat, then came back to camp and went to bed – we had another long day ahead of us tomorrow as we were planning on driving all the way to Tofino.
The next day, we woke up to the sound of a bunch of turkeys walking through our campsite. (I thought I was hearing things!) We had accidentally slept in 2 hours later than we wanted, but I had a good sleep so not complaining. We got ready to head off to Tsawwassen to catch the ferry to Nanaimo so we could camp in Tofino that night, but the ferry was all booked up until much later that evening. We would not have arrived until well after the campsite had closed, and we couldn’t get a hold of another campsite we had tried calling. I knew the owners would have probably been okay with us sleeping in our Jeep in their parking lot over night, and to pay them in the morning – but that also included driving some of that road in the dark, which I did not want to do (especially the sketchy section by Kennedy Lake that is under construction as it is scary enough during the day).
We made the decision to head to Victoria instead and catch the 3 PM ferry (we lucked out and were one of the last to get on) and hope for the best that the campsite we stayed at last year would have a spot for us because I didn’t have a backup plan and all the other campgrounds in the area that I knew of were booked up (which was why we were going to Tofino in the first place)
All this decision making and the lack of something decent for breakfast left me hangry, so while we were waiting to board I decided to grab some lunch from the food court and scarf it down in the few minutes we had until boarding time. But while on the ferry, I started to feel kinda weird. It wasn’t seasickness as I had taken gravol, but I didn’t really know what was happening. It was kind of an anxiety feeling, but I was okay and knew it wasn’t anxiety. It was weird.
We got off the ferry, fuelled up in Sidney and headed to Langford to the campsite (after accidentally heading on a really narrow and windy road that barely fit two vehicles if meeting up with someone – Thanks, but no thanks for that Josh!) – we JUST made it in time before they closed and they still had plenty of room. Whew!
We set up camp and headed into town to get some pizza and cider. (I wanted to go get tacos down in Victoria, but really just needed to keep it chill with how I was feeling). By this time, my mouth was feeling a bit weird, and I was getting hives around my lips. I must have ate something I was allergic to earlier (that would explain the way I was feeling on the ferry), so I took some allergy medication. We hung out on the grass outside of our tent before heading to bed, it was such a beautiful night. And a great way to let the days stress and shenanigans fade away into the sunset.
The next morning my lips were a bit swollen and had more hives (nothing emergent, my breathing was fine and my throat wasn’t swelling). I popped more allergy pills (non-drowsy) and we headed to Tofino, set up camp and headed into town to register and pay for our backpacking trip. When we got into town I was not feeling well at all, I found a park to sit at close to where our trail registration building was and looked out into the marina and the islands contemplating if I wanted to go. I knew it was probably in my best interest not to go in case things got worse. I would be a 40 minute boat ride from the nearest hospital if anything did happen.
I decided to give it a day and see how things were tomorrow, we then headed just out of town to get some tacos and they were the most delicious tacos I have ever had (slightly spicy for my current situation), but we got some tasty gelato afterwards. I had some spotty cell service, so I had researched what caused this reaction – someone had reported that the place I ate at used textured vegetable protein (soy) for meat (and did a pretty damn good job at faking it). Not cool for not disclosing that! This would explain my reaction (I am allergic to soy/soy proteins).
We had a whole day ahead of us, I wanted to go hiking, but was not feeling great at all so we drove around, went to a few beaches and sat on driftwood watching the waves and crying my eyes out (thank goodness for sunglasses), as I knew this was the end of the road for this trip and the backpacking trip wasn’t going to happen. I was upset and went to bed early.
Morning had arrived, and I was starting to wake up when I realized that things weren’t looking so great. During the night, my face had puffed up (It went down a bit as I sat up and as the day went on) but there was absolutely no way I was going to be backpacking now. (This had happened to me before, but there wasn’t much I could do until the allergens were out of my system. So I wasn’t too concerned. I would just look like a puffy, swollen, hive-y awful mess). As much as I hated making this decision and calling the trip over, we decided to pack it up and head home.
That day we drove up to the Britton Creek Rest Area and slept in the Jeep for the night, got up early and headed home the next day (I have never driven through as much rain as I did that day!)
This was a massive lesson in learning to pay attention to what ingredients are in my food and to only pick up something I know will be safe. Just because I am on holidays, doesn’t mean that my allergies are (wouldn’t that be nice).
Hoping I will be able to get out to hike this trail someday, I was really looking forward to it! Also why does Tofino hate me so much when I love it so much? (I’ve been obsessed with the area since I went to Long Beach as a kid). Last year’s trip we packed it up early too as we both got sick. (Even though, third time is as charm – I am NOT planning to head that way in 2020 in spite of two years back to back of failed trips.
* Most of these photos are crappy iPhone photos, I wasn’t even feeling well enough to carry/use my camera.
Please leave no trace when enjoying the outdoors!