Fisherman’s Trail, Portugal

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

I FINALLY hiked Fisherman’s, one of the world’s best coastal hikes.

Porto Covo to Zambujeira do Mar in NOVEMBER.

Click PLAY or get a glimpse on YouTube.

HIGHLIGHTS

Sunsets are what I remember best. Usually with wine.

Weather was perfect for me in early November, though it’s considered too late in the year for hiking. I saw only about 12 other multi-day hikers over 4 days. Most hotels and restaurants had already closed for the season.

Beach walking is lovely … for a while. There’s a LOT of sand on this adventure.

In November I had most beaches to myself.

Clifftop vistas are stunning.

Charming villages are particularly charming in November, nearly deserted in the off-season.

Porto Covo
Vila Nova de Milfontes
Fort of Pessegueiro

I’d highly recommend 3 days, 3 nights Porto Covo to Zambujeira do Mar. In either direction.

As do most, I added Zambujeira to Odeceixe. But you could certainly skip that day as it doesn’t add much. And requires quite a few kms of road walking.

If looking for MORE, however, Fisherman’s Trail (Porto Novo to Odeceixe) is only one section of the longer Rota Vicentina.

In case you’re considering hiking high season, here’s how some beaches may look on a busy day.

Zambujeira do Mar

HOW to survive the West Coast Trail

BestHike editor Rick McCharles

After hiking the West Coast Trail twice in 2021, I put together a video playlist with two goals:

1. WHY the West Coast Trail is our #1 hike in the world.

2. HOW to survive. It’s dangerous and challenging.

Below are all 7 videos. If they help, bookmark them and/or subscribe on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch the Introduction on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch Bamfield to Michigan Creek on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch Michigan Creek to Tsusiat Falls on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch Tsusiat Fall to Cribs Creek on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch Cribs Creek to Cullite Creek on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch Cullite to Port Renfrew on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch Nitinat Option on YouTube.

Day 5 – West Coast Trail 2021

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | gear | video | WCT info

June 13, 2021
Culite to Km 65

Wow. What a fantastic campsite.

Protected from the rain by the cliff, I had my own personal kitchen.

Here’s the impassable headland at Cullite.

Therefore everyone heads up the the ladders. Those at Cullite highest of all.

Top of the stairs is a quagmire of mud and trippy roots.

But the inland trail can be beautiful.

Wild and weird mushrooms.

One of the most interesting creatures is the Banana slug.

If you could eat them, you’d never starve. And they have been eaten by humans — but are not appetizing. Remove the slime first.

DAMN. I slipped in a mud pit — face first — badly bruising my thigh on a hidden root.

The leg seemed to work … but was painful. I limped on with the logic of walking it off.

Expect MUD on the WCT.

I can’t go on, I’ll go on.

Our plan had been to camp on the beach Km 65 . Cross Owen Point at low tide next morning. And out to Port Renfrew.

Km 65 is only 8km from Cullite — but the short day sounded good since I was now injured and moving slowly.

Unfortunately there was no place to set up a tent near Km 65. 😕

I decided to camp right on the trail. A good spot, actually.

I was able to secure my food because I’d carried it in an Ursack.

Ursack AllMitey bear bag

No campfire.

Went to bed early hoping the leg wouldn’t hematoma.

Day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | gear | video | WCT info

Day 3 – West Coast Trail 2021

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | gear | video | WCT info

June 11, 2021
Tsusiat to Cribs

Finally. Serious rain.

But I was dry in a little tent secured under a Tsusiat cliff overhang. Didn’t need my fly.

Put on the water shoestrail runners with neoprene booties — in the morning as I’d be starting on the beach. Tide was low enough.

My rain gear perfect.

I enjoyed walking through Tsusiat Point a second time, 12 hours after exploring it the previous evening.

The shelf in the rain is classic West Coast Trail. But you are forced inland at the impassable headlands of Tsuquadra Point.

I stayed with the water shoes due to muddy pools on the inland trails.

IF you have the agility of a gymnast, you can often save time by walking natural log bridges.

In the rain, it’s tempting to stop and see if there is availability at the Ditidaht First Nation Comfort Camp.

The inland trails were overgrown after having seen no hikers for almost 2 years. The WCT was closed due to COVID in 2020.

It’s always a thrill to reach Nitinat Narrows, cold, deep and fast moving tidal waters.

For days I’d been looking forward to fresh caught salmon lunch.

There are cabins to rent here though I’ve never stayed.

As you can see, my camera fogged up badly.

Departing the crab shack, there’s a lot of new (slippery) boardwalk. Careful.

And the way got even more overgrown. At one point, I thought I’d missed the main trail. Tempted to head back to the crab shack to borrow a machete. 😀

There’s a good suspension bridge over the Cheewhat river.

This day I really enjoyed switching back and forth between trail and coastline.

At one point — for fun — we tried and failed to cross an impassable headland. Waves were too high to wade. I turned back to the last beach access, but some younger hikers managed to scramble up the cliff to rejoin the inland trail.

Didn’t arrive Cribs until 8:30pm. Very tired.

Set up my tent in the trees in the first available spot. Next to the pit toilets.

Day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | gear | video | WCT info

BestHike #9 – Haute Route in the Alps

The Haute Route, from France to Switzerland, is one of our top 10 hikes in the world.

Click PLAY or watch a 1 minute introduction on YouTube.

Haute Route

Chamonix to Zermatt, Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn – in two weeks of mountain travel you will see the greatest collection of 4000 metre peaks in the Alps!

AT A GLANCE

  • also known as the Walker’s High Route
  • Alpine charm: valleys, lakes, glaciers
  • great food, history, culture
  • from Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe (4810m, 15,781ft)
  • to the Matterhorn, the most beautiful peak in the alps
  • 9-15 days
  • 180+kms (112mi)
  • best months June-Sept
  • crosses 11 passes, gains more than 12,000m elevation
  • difficult hiking
Ibex-horns

Read more on our Haute Route information page.

GSI Pack Grater for Camping

Each year a group of friends heads out for a week of hiking and camping.

Each year they compare gear.  And consider adding something NEW to their kit.

In 2020 I was very impressed with Karen’s GSI Pack Grater.  Less than $10.

Very lightweight and compact, it did a terrific job grating cheese for our traditional Trail Quesadillas.

We typically make the Rockin’ Ronnie Shewchuk version including fresh apple and Rosemary.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I’m purchasing a GSI Pack Grater for myself.

Ursack Quick Release Knot

I recall being reluctant to buy an Ursack to protect my food from bears and other critters — but finally got one in 2011.

This was the first time I used it, on the Howe Sound Crest Trail out of Vancouver.

2011

I was won over instantly.

Though I own two Bear Vaults, I always carry the Ursack instead if it’s allowed where I’m hiking.

It’s much less bulky.

Though my old white one is going strong, Ursack has newer models in black . And a quicker way of tying the bag to the tree.

Ursack AllMitey bear bag

I’ll probably get the larger capacity URSACK MAJOR XL when I eventually have to replace my old white one.

On my recent cycling / hiking trip through Vancouver Island I tented 6 nights.

There are PLENTY of black bears. I’d never seen so much scat anywhere as on the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, for example.

You absolutely MUST PROTECT YOUR SMELLIES in this part of the world.

For the first time I used the new recommended quick release knot to attach the Ursack to a tree.  It is a big improvement.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Southern Sierra High Route

Pie on the Trail:

The Southern Sierra High Route (SSHR) was developed by Alan Dixon and Don Wilson in 2014.

It is 100 miles long and the majority is off-trail travel mixed with sections on the JMT. Elevation loss and gain are high and the going is hard.

2019 Backpacking Trip Report

Blake Bole’s 2019 trip report was posted in rhyming verse!

Vidette Meadow

Hiking this route requires a wilderness permit from Inyo National Forest.

Bear canister(s) required. There are no easy re-supply points. Snow is an issue some years.

Khopra Ridge trek, Nepal – day 6

Naya Pul to Ghandruk trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles. 

day 1  | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6/7

Nov 5, 2019 – Tadapani to Ghandruk 

The end of the Khopra Ridge trek (according to Lonely Planet) is Tadapani

Unexpected rain resulted in a power failure for most of the night.

For trekkers that means Kindle light dinner.

Did you see what I did there? 😀

As usual on this trip, next morning skies were clear.

Annapurna South

This has been the best vista so far of my favourite peak – Machapuchare.

“Fishtail”

After evening rain, the village was washed clean.

Lodges in Nepal are very similar. There’s not much difference between yours and HOTEL MAGNIFICENT.

From Tadapani it’s easy to get back to Pokhara in a day. But I decided, instead, to spend one more mountain night in Ghandruk, a  Gurung village, famed starting point for many treks.

Ghandruk was only a couple of hours downhill stroll. A very easy day for me.

Lonely Planet recommended Hotel Trekkers Inn in Ghandruk which had won many hospitality awards over the years. It’s good, but not much different than any other IMHO.

As prices are fixed at all lodges in each village, they try to match each other in features, as well.

Hotel Trekkers Inn did have good food including some menu items I’d not seen anywhere else. I tried the Moussaka … tasty, but unrelated in any way to Moussaka.

And also the local smoked, dried, spiced meat called sukuti,

In the restaurant I met a young American who will be volunteer teaching at the largest school in the area. She’ll be living at Hotel Trekkers Inn for the next 2 months.

We both met a Brit who’s an old Nepal hand. This trip he’s come to photograph the Kulung’ honey hunters‘, men who climb bamboo rope ladders to harvest the world’s largest bees. An interesting man.

Pro tip – bring a tiny luggage lock for your room. What they provide are bulky and awkward.

The Khopra Ridge Trek I just finished is excellent.

In fact, Nepal needs more like it. And there is plenty of opportunity to develop more trails in higher, less developed spurs of the Annapurna massif.

Widely circulated in local lodges is this 2014 article by Donatella Lorch who lives in Kathmandu:

… The tea-houses and lodges are packed. Hikers have to share the stone steps with Nepal tourism’s unsung heroes: the unending series of mule convoys, loaded down with everything from water and food to cooking propane, kerosene, mattresses, stones and bags of cement to feed the mountain region’s lodge construction boom. …

ACAP faces socio-economic, ecological and political challenges. New roads have jeeps and trucks competing with trekkers and brings with it increased risk of landslides. There is little variety as the vast majority of trekkers stick to a small number of routes that are at times crowded walking highways …

Many trekkers along the route are willing to pay more for a more Nepali experience, and were in search of less crowded trails. …

Value-added hiking

Nepal’s trekking is at a cross-road, in need of a quality upgrade
It’s nice to wander Ghandruk’s narrow old stone trails.
But that experience is being lost in the clutter of new construction and added solar water heaters.

Ghandruk 2019


Next morning — day 7 —dawned, as usual, clear. I never tire of looking at these peaks.

Annapurna South from Ghandruk

Fishtail from Ghandruk

I saw my first monkeys of this trip. Always entertaining.

Gray Langur

As the bus stand below town looked good, I decided to take a chance on the local bus to get back to Pokhara.

Yeesh. Getting to and from trailheads in the Himalaya is by far the most dangerous part of trekking.

Looking down from the bus window

The only good news about this ride was the cost — $5 for 5 hours of very rough going.

Back in Pokhara, I took a couple of showers. Then headed for Utopia for Chicken Sizzler.


day 1  | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6/7

related – Click PLAY or watch another trip on YouTube.  (30min)

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