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 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.
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.