It’s my brother’s fault.
In the year 1999, my brother Norm convinced me that I should hike the West Coast Trail with him … it’s actually a 7 to 8 day backpack trip next to the largest flush toilet (the ocean) in the world. I’d done lots of hiking, chasing my kids up and down mountain trails, ending up at campgrounds and sleeping in tents … but had never actually carried my home, supplies and all my belongings on my back for 8 days at a time.
He loved the West Coast Trail and was already an expert in packing, knowing how to manage the tides, knew which food was necessary and how to cook it in the wilderness … and he had lots of great pictures to show me his exploits. After a bit of thought the idea began to grow on me, and with his experience as my guide I was sure things would be okay. So I accepted his invitation.
Did I mention that Norm threw freezer drawers at me when we were just boys? Obviously Norm resented getting reprimanded by our father for the gash he left on my ear, probably only a surface wound but that’s beside the point – he wanted to hurt me; so the throwing continued and he … he threw me for a loop and pulled out of our little West Coast Trail adventure. There I was, stranded with anticipation, left in the lurch, down in the dumps, desolate and inconsolable … in other words, I really wanted to wanted to go.
Research on the West Coast Trail describes it as “having the reputation of being one of the most gruelling backpack trips in North America … it is isolated and strenuous … do not make this your first ever backpack trips”. It uses cable cars to cross rivers, there are mud holes up to your thighs to negotiate, tides to consider and ladders to climb that are as tall as seven story buildings. As I explained all of this to my wife, Doris, in an effort to convince her to come along [she really is a trooper] we ignored most of the advice … I really wanted to go; she hated the idea of cable cars; heights are not really her thing; I had to convince her; and it was our first backpack trip ever. She agreed to come on one condition … we needed to update our will in case we didn’t make it back.
We survived … and in fact, I have now completed 8 trips on the West Coast Trail, Doris has completed 6 trips and our will has not changed since … probably time for another update. Thanks Norm … it was and still is a great trip.
West Coast Trail Tip:
You Really Need to Want to Hike the WCT
In my view, the West Coast Trail is more mentally challenging than physically challenging. You really need to want to go and you shouldn’t be talked into it. At some point along the trail you will be wondering what you are doing out there in the middle of nowhere, looking at nothing but your feet and mud, trying to eke out a couple of kilometers per hour … it’s at that point that you’ll need to fortify your mental state and remind yourself … I really want to be out here!