Thinking of hiking the North Coast Trail? Don’t. Of course now that I’m a few days away from the trail it doesn’t seem all that bad, but I distinctly remember crying on several occasions because I was so tired and frustrated with the trail. It would be far more advantageous to pay for a water taxi to drop you off at one of the many gorgeous beaches and camp there instead of paying a water taxi to drop you off at the trail to the many gorgeous beaches and torture yourself for 8 hours trying to get to one of them.
The idea of the trail is great, but it needs work. Our group started off after it had been dry for 3 weeks straight and it was a mud pit hell hole. We heard afterwards that it can be far worse and it’s hard to imagine. Most of my pictures make the place look gorgeous, because it is but also because I didn’t have the energy to take pictures when I was angry at the trail. My boyfriend yelled out “This is not a trail!!” at the top of his longs on one day. On another day I came up with catchy facebook statuses that I never ended up using … such as “If you need arrows to point you in the direction of the trail because you can’t tell the difference between the trail and the rest of the forest, perhaps it’s not a trail?” and “What’s the difference between bushwhacking and the North Coast Trail? Bushwhacking is free!”
The first three or four days of our 7-day trip were hell. The first few days were very technical and always took far longer then the map suggested it should take. The first day suggested it should take 4-5 hours and it took 8. There was a lot of up and down and up and down, ropes and huge logs with steps that were difficult for me to take and I’m a tall person. The fourth day was entirely beach walk, which is not hard at all, but it was all cobble stone beaches that make your ankles roll back and fourth constantly. It’s very hard on your feet, especially for 8 hours straight.
Once we got half way to Laura Creek the trail began to improve greatly and the suggested times were actually accurate and the time spent hiking was much more enjoyable. I’m glad to say that I hiked the trail along with a day trip to the Cape Scott Lighthouse on our last full day (78km all together) but it won’t be on my list of things to repeat unless there are substantial changes to the trail.
Other then the hell days of hiking, the actual destinations each day were amazing. The beaches are white sand and the sunsets were gorgeous. The company of friends and the beauty of our surroundings helped me make it through the trip.
One of the things that I had troubles with was coming up with a Celiac friendly menu for 7 days. That’s a lot of food with no conveniences like microwaves, toasters and fridges. Backpacks are not known for being bread friendly and I’m not big on gluten free bread anyways. So what do you pack for a big trip like this? I packed glutino cereal bars (cherry my new fav flavour) and glutenfreeda oatmeal for breakfasts. Lunches consisted of dried apricots, gluten free pepperoni sticks, aged cheddar cheese, and homemade nuts-online trail mix. Dinners were all dehydrated meals that I had made and then dehydrated myself. We ate well! We had beef stew with quinoa, spaghetti and meat sauce, butter chicken and rice, chili, peanut Thai-chicken and rice, and potato leak salmon soup. The only thing that was missing was dessert but I just ran out of time to prepare it all. Oh and I had a snack bag of ‘power’ bars … I quote power because gluten free bars don’t seem to pack the same punch as your standard ‘cliff’ bar for hiking, but there are a few out there that come close. I packed Larabars, Elev-8-Me bars, Oskri coconut bars and Kind bars. The only thing I would do differently next time is cut down on the amount of power bars, trail mix and cheese I brought as food tends to be one of the heavies components of a pack. What types of back packing trips have you gone on and what do you bring?