Not a Bucket List

I don’t have a bucket list … in fact I think it’s a dumb concept.  It reminds me of tourists who jump out of cars or descend from their tour bus and take a picture of a mountain, a famous building, a statute, or something else of renown and 5 minutes later are on to their next destination.  Only to check it off a list?  Pitiful.

It’s actually a pet peeve of mine with some who hike the West Coast Trail.  They come to conquer the trail, to knock it off in 3, 4 or 5 days, to report with pride that they’ve completed the famous West Coast Trail.  They’ll speak of cable cars, stream crossings, mud bogs, ladders that reach to the sky, walking across log bridges, and boulders that are as big as houses … and they cross it off their list.

It’s not a trail only to conquer, impressive as that is; it’s an experience, a memory, an adventure.

First Backpack Trip … Ever.  

June, 1999.  The West Coast Trail was the first backpacking trip ever for my wife and I.  We took 9 days, eight nights to go from Pachena Bay to Port Renfrew and carried way too much weight in our packs.  In fact, we carried a scrabble game (never again) and learned that gulls flying overhead can damage a game board.  The waves pounding the Valencia Bluffs, the Hole in the Rock and Owen Point simply overwhelmed our senses.  We’re from the Prairies and hadn’t experienced anything like it.  I still love the photo of Doris on her first cable car ride across the Klanawa River … the worried look on her face is forever etched in a photo.

Dads and Grads.

August, 2001.  My brother Norm, his newly graduated daughter, my newly graduated daughter, and I completed a dads’ and grads’ hike … 8 days, 7 nights … this time from Port Renfrew to Pachena Bay.   We built a fire in the rain; played with our Kinder surprises; roped ourselves across surge channels; had javelin competitions with our hiking poles.  Unforgettable … to think, I could have bought my daughter a grad ring, or a used car, or a gift certificate instead.  No way!  You can’t buy something that could ever replace the memories of our trip together … it should survive me. More than 15 years have passed … reminds me of the song Turn Around (if you have trouble on your handheld device switch it to desktop view).

The Eagle Bails Us Out.

In 2009, at the Carmanah Creek campground we were inundated by seagulls.

Seagulls at Carmanah Creek

Seagulls leave nasty deposits on your tent, on your backpacks, and your food needs to be carefully attended to/covered or you end up with undesirable spices.

Bald Eagles are Awesome

We were bailed out by an eagle.  In fact we had front row seats watching the eagle assess the situation from his high vantage point on the pinnacle of a tree on the top of the embankment … his attack on the flock was an incredible sight.  Regrettably, Frankie (our name of the victim seagull) was only injured and could not fly.  After repeated attempts by the eagle to pick him up Frankie survived the night.

The flock of seagulls disappeared and did not visit us again.  Only one seagull came back to check on Frankie … it appeared to us as an emotional goodbye from a friend, perhaps a mate.  We don’t know what happened to Frankie, we saw him in the morning as we broke camp and assume that a predator of some kind would take over from the eagle.

Not a Bucket List

Memories and experiences like this don’t happen because of a bucket list … they happen because you make it a point to do something, anything … get off the couch and walk.

West Coast Trail Tip:

Take Your Time … Go For the Memories

The West Coast Trail is undoubtedly challenging and more than once demand your will to push on.  The usual amount of time is 7 days, 6 nights, which is a pretty acceptable pace.  I always go for 8 days 7 nights … you’ll see more, be safer, and make more memories.  You’ve spent all this effort to get out there, take an extra day.





Published by

Victor Doerksen

This blog is written to be a kind of virtual trail guide to those who are already into hiking and trekking .... and an inspiration to those who are just beginning to contemplate extended hikes/backpack trips. Hiking is AWESOME!

6 thoughts on “Not a Bucket List”

  1. The Dads & Grads tour … such great memories. Don’t forget the mouse-in-tent incident! Can’t wait for this adventure again!


    1. Hard to forget a mouse running across my face in the middle of the night … I could do without a repeat of that memory.


  2. Ah but I would have to disagree Vic! While I do wholeheartedly agree with getting off the couch to make memories and pursue adventure, which I would say we (Terry and I) have done a lot of, perhaps not only through trails walking but in many ways (including that). And I do love exploring new places, and walking and hiking. But I like the concept of a ‘bucket list’ and even the idea of conquering something in a sense. It is a way to track new places to see and do sometimes, when you hear about them from another, and the sense of accomplishment is okay right? It doesn’t mean that it’s only about finishing it and getting it done, as the adventure is built into it the way I see it! So off I go to continue with my bucket list! 🙂 We are currently just completing some items (ha ha, just really gotta bug you now!) as we have just done some hiking in Zion National Park (with Terry getting all the way to the top of “Angel’s Landing” which I could hardly stand to watch people doing…I got to the top of the 21 switchbacks of “Walter’s Wiggles” and was very happy with my climb to that point!), and now some hikes in Bryce Canyon, and also a climb into the slot canyons of Lower Antelope Canyon where we had to navigate the potential of rattlesnakes falling in from above! Seriously, it had happened just the week prior! Anyway, good job on the blogging. You are inspiring, and we were talking about you on the trail yesterday and how much water you have had to carry at points! I first said it was 30 gallons of water, which of course Terry said was impossible, and we figured it out! (30 pounds:) Anyway, on to the next adventure…which at this point is just getting safely back home again – an adventure in itself at times. (With trailer tire blow outs, dressers on the I5 in the LA area that got smashed to pieces upon contact at full speed on the trip South, and any other numbers of things that can happen!!) We will have been gone for 4 weeks when we get home this Friday. Oh, and if you get to the Oregon Coast anytime soon, there is a wonderful State Park/Campground there called “Cape Lookout”. I think you might want to add that to your ‘bucket list’! 🙂


    1. Hey Viola, great to have a divergence of opinion … thanks for sharing your thoughts. We loved Zion Park and the climb up Walter’s Wiggles to Angel’s Landing … would go again in a heartbeat (if I had a bucket list would I be able to go again?). I’ve heard great things about the Oregon coast … maybe someday.


  3. And to add a third thought to the bucket list conversation… I am currently reading The Broken Way by Anne Voskamp. She suggests our bucket lists should be less about what we want to see/do and more about how we can help/reach out to others.
    That’s a rough translation of her thoughts anyway!


    1. I like that. We’ve met/experienced the gifts of “trail angels” on our PCT Section hikes … they are doing exactly that.


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