After a few dark days of consuming 5 liters of water and electrolytes (each day), forcing calories into my body, moving in 3 hour increments from shade to air conditioning and back to shade again, and only really getting up to go to the bathroom (and celebrating it each time), I was finally starting to feel human again.
For those of you who missed it - I traveled to the west coast this month to make an attempt at solo hiking the entire 180 kilometres of the Sunshine Coast Trail in British Columbia, Canada. I gave myself 14 days, but was optimistic about doing it in 12 or 13.
Heat exhaustion hit me like a hurricane on the trail, and I had no idea just how bad it was until I was off again. Between 30 degree temps, unfamiliar (to me) humidity and so many dried up creeks and streams, I had to hike off the trail or risk heat / exhaustion related injuries out there alone. I take a lot fewer risks when I’m hiking solo, and this was one intense case of nuh-uh-no-way. Climbing 2,260’ in 30 degrees, packing 45 lbs of gear and water was like pushing a giant rock up a desert mountain, and though I tried to imagine myself happy to do it again the next day (Sisyphus reference anyone?), the reality was I wasn’t and I couldn’t. Not without reliable sources of water or the ability to pack more when I did come across it.
I have obviously had plenty of time to get lost in my own disappointment and lost in my head in general through recovery and the time after, but I know that in the end I made the right choice to hike out on day two. I was lucky to have my car cocoon to nest into for the few days after while I built the energy and motivation to hit the trail again. I was hoping that I'd be able to get back out for a few day or section hikes. The temperatures were relentless though (it hardly even cooled off at night). There was one day forecasted for rain, but after it didn't rain and all of the wildfire smoke started blowing in, I decided to call it off. Even with adjustments to gear and section plans, the conditions simply were not ideal for me.
So, I spent five beautiful nights along the coast between Lund and Powell River, functioning mostly as a night owl, only active in the cooler hours when I didn't break out into a sweat pitching my tent or climbing the small hill between my car and the bathroom. I made use of my time to admire the planets and stars shining out over the bay, watched a pod of orcas and the meteor shower pass through twilight, and I was a-okay with holding space within myself to simply feel lucky about being where I was. (Well, okay, it took a little effort to get there emotionally, but I did!) I am so grateful for the support of incredible friends, and at the end of any day, no matter how low I feel, I know I will always rally.
I still have a lot of details to share about my adventure! They'll be coming soon. It wasn't all only about electrolytes and air conditioning, I promise.
A big thanks to everyone who has been so supportive of my adventures, especially this one! I was lucky to be able to reach out and contact a few of you while I was in panic mode at the Manzanita Hut on the trail, and I was so happy to have those suggested songs on my trail playlist - you guys have no idea how much I appreciated having those treasures to get me through the last gruelling 4 km of that first day! Thanks for your love, everyone. I may have been hiking alone, but I was not in this adventure alone.
Photos are my own. Please do not reproduce without my written permission.
First: Sunset over the Pacific Ocean from the Manzanita Hut, 2018