There are many things I know about myself, such as; I love all works of art, I’m adventurous, I like strong beer, and even stronger coffee.
And then there’s my best friend Kathryn, who puts the word adventurous to shame. Kathryn is the most energetic, loud, and loving individual you will ever meet. She is an incredible chef, she will out ski anyone she meets, she knows absolutely everything about wine, and she could survive in the wild with no problems – in fact, she would probably make friends with the bears. Kathryn and I have gone through absolutely everything with one another… except a vacation. Yes, as children we did family camping trips, but we had never taken a trip, just us, together. Come June 5, 2017 that would all change.
Our trip was about commemorating three things: this would be our first adventure together, our ‘friend-aversary’ of 20 years, and we both turned 25 this year. So, we decided to celebrate with a ten-day camping trip all over the sunshine coast, and throughout the northern parts of Vancouver Island. We would camp as backcountry as we could with our vehicle, and planned on being completely disconnected from the outside world. The majority of the backcountry camping would be on Vancouver Island with one of our final stops, and the most unforgettable, was in Cape Scott Provincial Park located on the very North Western tip of Vancouver Island is accessible only by a gravel logging road.
We made our way to Cape Scott early Saturday morning, after collecting the essentials in Port Hardy—water, firewood, gas and tequila—we began our trek down a 65 km gravel-logging road. We texted our loved ones that we would connect with them in a couple of days, and lost all service. A sign reading, “BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING”, greeted us. Making our way down the pothole covered gravel road our average speed was a riveting 40 km/hr and we couldn’t have been more thrilled.
An hour and fifteen minutes later we still hadn’t reached the campsite, and instead reached the tiny logging town of Holberg - population 200. Luckily, Holberg has one pub and since it was lunch and the sun was shinning, we decided beers were in order. We were certain half of the town’s population was in that bar, and the only other female was the lone server. This may have been a blessing as we situated ourselves away from the bustle outside, and were treated to an outstanding view. A meal of fried fish, washed down with warm beer had us giddy and ready to find our campsite.
Now I’ve done some backcountry trips, but this recreational site looked like The Land Before Time. Moss had taken over most sites and outhouses, old picnic tables were collapsed, and there was a collection of trees completely knocked over blocking the road. It looked like our dream of camping in Cape Scott wasn’t happening… but fear not. We had noticed a sign pointing to another campsite further down the road. Although not significantly better, this site had less moss, and was run by a 78 year-old man named Doug. The campsite was actually a heritage site were Dutch settlers first tried to settle in the early 1800s. Doug was gifted the land from the Canadian government as he was one of the founders of Gastown, a national historic neighbourhood in Vancouver, BC.
The rest of the day was spent cooking over the campfire, catching frogs in the creek by our campsite, and drinking the better half of that bottle of tequila. (There may, or may not, have been some howling at the moon.) The next morning we decided to hike into San Josef Bay, which is a 4 km hike into a beautiful bay with white sand beaches. Doug recommended we take a short cut, so half our hike was through the bush and the other half was on boardwalks. Overwhelmed with the beauty of the scenery, we admired the trees that were definitely taller than your average home, moss and ferns were growing in every direction and we even saw a black bear. San Josef Bay seemed out-of-this-world incredible. The wind was so loud it was deafening, the sand resembled fine dust, wildlife everywhere, and not another person in sight.
I cannot stress this enough: you need to travel the road less travelled to San Josef and Cape Scott. Seeing something so unbelievably wild, in Canada, was life changing. I look forward to discovering more of Canada by taking the road less travelled and becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable.