Vancouver Island @ LOW Tide

BestHike editor Rick McCharles

I was born in the Rocky Mountain foothills, 1km above sea level.

Lived 10 years on the high prairies of Saskatchewan.

So when I get to my parents place on VANCOUVER ISLAND, I walk the coast at dawn. With coffee. The scenery is different every day.

BEST is Rathtrevor Beach at dawn.

BEST is when dawn coincides with low tide.

You can wander the ocean bottom nearly a kilometre out into the Straight of Georgia.

Click PLAY or get a glimpse on YouTube.

Trespassing Across America – by Ken Ilgunas

An excellent book. Even if you have no interest in hiking or pipelines. 😀

In fact, you won’t learn much about hiking. A thru hiker would not be impressed. Ken’s gear was too heavy. And he hiked the wrong months of the year.

Ken Ilgunas has a Masters in English from Duke. He’s a terrific writer.

This book has given me the best insight into how poor North American rural people think. An insight into why they vote for political Parties that make the rich richer, the poor poorer. Worse education and health care.

Children and grandchildren leave for big cities. Life is tough for those remaining.

Ken mostly sought out small town religious leaders, asking them for advice on where he could tent safely. He was astonished by the generosity of those spiritual leaders.


Ken worked as a backcountry ranger in Alaska. And was forced to take a job as dishwasher in a high Arctic oil camp.

Jobs there were high pay — very low quality of life.

Those arguing for the Petrotoxin industries usually shout JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. Ken came away thinking these were actually lousy jobs. High rates of alcoholism and drug abuse.

In September 2012, I stuck out my thumb in Denver, Colorado, and hitchhiked 1,500 miles north to the Alberta tar sands. After being duly appalled, I commenced my 1,700-mile hike south following the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast. It would become a 4.5 month journey across the Great Plains. To follow the pipe, I couldn’t take roads. I’d have to walk across fields, grasslands, and private property. I’d have to trespass across America.

The book is about my journey–fleeing from cows, taking cover from gunfire, and keeping warm on a very wintry and questionably-timed hike. But it’s also about coming to terms with climate change and figuring out what our role as individuals should be in confronting something so big and so out of our hands. It’s about taking a few months of your life to look at your country from a new perspective. Ultimately, it’s about embracing the belief that a life lived not half wild is a life only half lived.

kenilgunas.com

Most of the folks he met were supportive of Keystone XL Phase IV — but over the months Ken didn’t come away with even one good argument in support of the project.

Few jobs. Short term jobs. MOST of the money kept by the corporation, not those people who had dirty oil flowing over their property.

Most of the dirty Canadian oil is shipped overseas.

There are plenty of pipelines in North America. If you must ship Petrotoxins, pipelines are likely the least terrible way.

But Keystone XL became symbolic of the debate over how to slow or reverse climate change.

On January 20, 2021, Biden revoked the permit for the pipeline on his first day in office. It may never be completed.

Climbing Holandsmelen Hill, Loftofen, Norway

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

On leaving the famed Haukland beach, I walked to the nearby trailhead of Holandsmelen.

The unmarked, but well worn trail is easy to follow and relatively bog-free by Lofoten standards. That means it takes 20 minutes before your shoes are soaked rather than the usual 10 minutes. 😀

I found a possible campsite close to the trailhead parking lot — then hid my gear in a waterproof bag in the trees.

What I liked about Holandsmelen, relative to other Lofoten peaks, is that the going is not an unrelenting climb. There are flat sections on this half dayhike.

As usual, the views from the top are Lofoten breathtaking.

Looking over to Leknes

Here’s my favourite photo from the hike. I believe these tiny berries are edible.

Once again, sunset was long and astonishing.

AllTrails

Hiking the Drakensberg, South Africa

The Drakensberg escarpment stretches for more than 1,000 kilometres (600 miles). Some of the best hiking in Africa.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube. One of the best hiking videos I can recall. Ever.

Harmen Hoek:

In March 2022 I solo hiked for 8-days in the Drakensberg mountains on the border of South Africa and Lesotho.

My route started in Cathedral Peak in uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.

I hiked up to the escarpment via Organ Pipes Pass where I headed north towards the Mnweni area. I got down the escarpment via Rockeries Pass for resupplies and back up (bushwacking) via Fangs Pass.

North at the top of Tugela Falls in the Amphitheater of Royal Natal National Park I met up with my dad to spend one last night up the escarpment.

We got down via the infamous Sentinel Ladder.

Favorite hike in the world. The weather, terrain, views, people and remoteness make this hike really unique. Also the most challenging hike to date.

Cycling Vancouver Island

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

My favourite month in Canada is September.

Weather is still good. Yet the tourists have mostly headed home.

I’d always wondered if it was possible to cycle logging roads — then bushwhack to the trailhead of Della Falls on Great Central Lake.

As expected, it’s nearly impossible. I never made it. 😀

But I’d wanted to do a gear check on my old Ghost touring bike in any case. Della Falls was an excuse to get out into the wilderness.

The only official campsite in the area is Lowry Lake. Very nice. But I passed by too early in the day. So ended up wild camping 2 nights.

Logging is horrible on Vancouver Island. Very few people see the vast swaths of clearcut hidden away from pavement.

BUT they certainly make the island wilderness accessible for anyone on a good bike.

I ended up camping 2 nights. The first on a sand bar in the Ash river. There are more bears than people in this part of the island. I thought I’d keep myself well clear of any animal trails.

The second night I pitched on a quiet lake where I’d stayed twice in the past.

My meandering route ended up looking something like this.

Vancouver Island is fantastic.

All Patagonia Profits to Saving the Planet

Yvon Chouinard:

“As of now, Earth is our only shareholder,” the company announced. “ALL profits, in perpetuity, will go to our mission to ‘save our home planet’.” …

Each year, the money Patagonia makes after reinvesting in the business will be distributed to the non-profit to help fight the environmental crisis. …

Chouinard and Patagonia have long been groundbreakers in environmental activism and employee benefits. In its nearly 50 years in operation, the Ventura, California-based company has been known for extensive benefits for employees, including on-site nurseries and afternoons off on good surf days. …

Patagonia’s billionaire owner gives away company to fight climate crisis

#respect

I like Patagonia gear. And I’ll continue to be a loyal customer.

#4 day hike – Laguna de los Tres, Argentina

One of our top 10 day hikes in the world.

Why?

The photos say it all. 😀

  • our pick for best day hike — of many — out of El Chaltén, Argentina’s Trekking Capital in Patagonia
  • the nearest airport is El Calafate
  • November – March are the best months. You might have snow on the trail in November or March, however.
  • 8+ hours round trip depending on route
  • elevation gain 2,300 ft. (700m)
  • option to tent near the lake
  • infamous for bad weather. Be prepared for extreme wind.

World → S AmericaPatagonian Andes → Argentina → Laguna de los Tres

vista from El Chaltén

For details click over to our Laguna de los Tres information page.

#10 – Overland Track, Australia

Tasmania’s Overland Track is one of our top 10 hikes in the world.

Why?

Our favourite multi-day tramp in Australia. 😎

  • surreal, unique Tasmanian vistas
  • pretty lakes, tarns and waterfalls
  • exiting by ferry, it’s minimum 62km (38.5mi) carrying a pack plus many possible sidetrips without a pack. Elevation Gain: +4,793 ft / 1,461 m
  • Elevation Loss: -5,160 ft / 1,573 m
  • 8000-9000 walkers / year
  • 60 walkers start / day in high season
  • Oct 1 – May 31 Overland Track Pass reservations online
  • access by public transportation
  • easy-moderate hiking IF the weather cooperates
  • add challenging sidetrip peak scrambles if the weather is good
  • Nov – early May best months
  • possible to hike year round (snow travel during the winter)

World → AustalasiaAustralia → Overland

Overland_Tassie_location_map
Gorgeous graphic via Warwick Sprawson

Click PLAY or watch a 1 minute preview on YouTube. 

For details click over to our Overland Track information page.

Climbing Veggan from Uttakleiv Beach, Lofoten, Norway

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

My best campsite in Norway was at Uttakleiv beach. $20. The only time I paid for camping in a nation where you can camp almost everywhere free.

Early next morning I had to decide whether to climb Veggen or the more popular Mannen.

For no particular reason, I decided on Veggan (“the wall”) which is a bit higher at 489m. Starting early morning, I had the summit to myself.

Like many day hikes in Norway, it’s an unrelenting climb with one good photo stop at lake Vasskarvatnet.

On departing Uttakleiv, I enjoyed the walk along the coast to Haukland beach rather than try to walk through the automobile tunnel.

BONUS ➙ more footage of the beach. Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

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