Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Juan de Fuca trail:  47 km of rejuvenation, disconnection, and cheese-free mac 'n' cheese

Sunset at Bear beach - Juan de Fuca trail

Yes, even 21-year-olds feel old sometimes.
By the time we reach 21, we have had plenty of time to collect a nice burden of responsibilities, whether they be financial, work-related, or simply from the various relationships with friends, lovers and family we have committed ourselves to. 
At 21, often a point of entry into the "professional world", many of us are gradually losing our sense of adventure, of curiosity, even forgetting the person we had really wanted to become.  For some 21 year-olds, that person has been silenced for a long time now, hastily buried away in a dark corner, regretting not having received proper mourning.

So whether you are 60, 40, but especially 21, go on an overnight hike.  Do the Juan de Fuca Trail.

 This trail, located on the West coast of Vancouver Island, was originally known as the "Graveyard of the Pacific" due to the 137 shipwrecks that occurred along its shore between 1830 and 1925. It served as a life-saving trail that serviced this area.

Today, the 47 km-long trail is a destination for locals and tourists in search of a challenging hike (the trail is divided between four sections:  1. Moderate 2. Very difficult  3. Difficult  4. Moderate), but without the numerous tourists that the West Coast trail attracts. 

Breakfeast:  oatmeal with dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter, and jam

We were four people, all between the ages of 21 and 25:  two German medical students who had come to Canada with hiking as a main objective;  a firefighter from Vancouver; and me, having asked the day before they were leaving whether they had space for one extra person - and gotten in!

We had no electronics with us, except for our cameras. What an amazing break away from our laptops, cellphones, iPads, iPods, iPhones, and what have you not. 

Once liberated from those devices, I re-learned how to wait. 

A nice fire is much needed after a swim in the cold ocean- Sombrio Beach

Nowadays, it seems that we need to fill every second we are not actively doing something by playing with our phones. I guess I could check my text messages, check my emails, check my bank account, check the news, check the weather, check something, anything...


At several moments during the 3-day hike, I waited.  With pleasure.
I waited by looking at the 15 feet-wide trees, and at the way another full-grown tree grew out of the branch of the former.  I waited by looking up at the sky and watching clouds of varying shapes and shades collide into one another. I waited by looking down and seeing a drop of rain target a single little leaf, and hit it.
Very wide tree- difficult to hug

And then the rain stopped falling. And the log started burning; and the water in the pan boiling. And the lyrics I had forgotten resurfacing. 
All that!  For only a little waiting.

The trail had its obstacles: bridges that consisted of one foot-wide tree trunks; very muddy, slippery stretches; near the beach, stretches of loose cobblestones;  and the scariest: bee nests.  We stepped on two.  Between the two of us, the firefighter and I had ten bites.  The Germans had none.
Tree trunk bridge after Sombrio Beach

But the more difficult moments were quickly forgotten when we discovered a 40 feet-high waterfall hidden in a narrow cave, and screamed as loud as we could in an attempt to overpower the thunder-like sound surrounding it.   We felt revitalized when we swam in the cold ocean, and excited when we told ghost stories around the campfire with other hikers who had joined us. We laughed as we opened the pack of mac 'n' cheese mix which the Germans had bought at a Chinese grocery store;  and which in fact turned out to be a blend of spices for a salad mix. It was a cheese-free, spicy man 'n ' cheese!
Waterfall at Sombrio Beach

We played  baseball games with sticks and stones;  sang all the songs we could remember; drew on pebbles with ashes from the fire; wrote in our diaries; and danced the waltz as we waited for a car to pick us up at the end of the trail.

We felt young again.

No comments:

Post a Comment