Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, Canada

The reputation is that the Juan de Fuca is easy compared with the longer West Coast Trail. Not so. It is just as challenging though in different ways. (It’s even more important to hike at low tide on Juan de Fuca.)

A personal, detailed and honest account of a physically challenging adventure, Mike Rocheleau posted this travelogue and excellent photos:

Juan de Fuca Marine Trail – September 2006

They spotted a bear a one point but had even more trouble bear-proofing the food at night:

We chose the risky course of wrapping our two food bags in two garbage bags, putting them alone in one of our packs and then wrapping that pack in the tarp. We covered the tarp in large rocks so if a raccoon or something disturbed it we might know before it was too late.

I’ve had to resort to that strategy in the past. You normally don’t sleep well wondering what animals are getting into your grub.

Luckily, the food was untouched next morning. (Note to self: research the new Ursack system to prevent this problem in future.)

In any case, Mike and his partner survived Juan de Fuca. They are even considering the West Coast Trail for next summer.

The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is 47km (29mi) on the west coast of Vancouver Island close to Victoria. We recommend 5 days, 4 nights on the trail for an optimal experience. But you can easily vary the route for shorter hikes, if you are short on time.


hiking off-season

Jeannine (aka City Mouse Country Mouse) likes hiking off-season.

I jokingly called yesterday’s trip to Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park our first hike of “the season”. After Marc and I met about a year ago, we went on hikes on Sunday afternoons. I think it was his way of showing me that Virginia wasn’t as bad as I thought it was back then and that it could be as beautiful as Massachusetts (not sure I completey agree yet).

I like hiking when it’s cold out. There are fewer people on the trails, it’s quieter at popular spots like Humpback and White Canyon, there are no bugs, and I don’t get overheated.

And you are more likely to see animals when there are fewer people about. Check her blog post to see how close she got to deer that day.


dog survives unbelievable mountain fall

wally.jpgMy hiking buddy (Shasta, CA), Wally the Wonderdog, took a severe fall on the ice fields of Mt. Eddy, California.

The Wonderdog hit the ice and rocketed straight down for several hundred feet, gathering speed the whole way. Unfortunately, at the bottom of the ice field lay a steep rockfield, which he hit at full speed, sending him on a cartwheeling, pinwheeling ride over 600 vertical feet of very sharp, very hard rocks.

Michelle – an experienced mountaineer and backcountry skier – said simply that “it was the gnarliest thing I’d ever seen.”

She estimated he bounced and cartwheeled in the neighborhood of two dozen times, and that the total distance of the fall was in the 800-1,000 range.

“It was like it went on forever.”

I can’t imagine what it felt like to see that, but after a lengthy traverse to the bottom of the rock field, both Michelle and Nancy expected to find a dead doggie.

What they found was a battered, stunned Wonderdog staring at them.

This launched a rescue effort where Michelle – who weighs 120 pounds if you turned a fire hose on her – resourcefully jury rigged a small daypack and carried the 80-pound Wonderdog back up the ohmigod-steep rocky slope (if you’re handy with numbers, that’s 2/3 of her body weight) while Nancy steadied him.

I’m impressed.

On flatter ground, he was able to walk (limp, actually) down the trail towards the truck, but by the time I saw him at home, he was a battered puppy.

Bleeding from a bunch of wounds, his nose, and his mouth, he’d had a tooth ripped out and the right side of his face was swollen up so bad his eye was closed.

Get well soon, Wally.

Trout Underground Fly Fish Blog » Bamboo Ascendant in Dunsmuir. Wally the Wonderdog Plummeting in Mountains.

want to see alpine animals?

Our vote for the best National Park in North America for sighting wildlife is tiny Waterton National Park in Alberta, Canada. (Adjacent to Glacier National Park in Montana.)

In Waterton you are more likely than not to see bear on any given day.

Charming Waterton Townsite is overrun with deer. You can play hide and go seek with them as we did.

photo – George Novak

During the winter hungry cougars will come right into town after the deer. Locals told us the record was 5 cougars within town limits at one time!

If you need an excuse to visit Waterton, come for one of the world’s best hikes: The Tamarack Trail. 3 days, 2nights 36km (22.4mi)