Willingdon Creek Trail, Powell River B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

If you ever get to the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, there are two unique attractions in Powell River you might easily miss:

  1. Powell River Giant Hulks breakwater
  2. Willingdon Beach Trail

First, Willingdon.

Though it’s an easy, flat 1.2km stroll one way, I still rank Willingdon one of the best hikes in North America because it’s so unique. Historical.

Started 1910 as a logging railway along the coast, today it’s an outdoor museum of forestry technology, gradually being consumed by temperate rainforest.

Start at the main coastal park in downtown Powell River and walk towards Willingdon Beach Campsite (excellent, by the way).

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

After you finish the trail, if you continue walking towards the Pulp Mill — staying as close to the water as you can — you’ll get some distant views of the largest floating Hulk breakwater in the world. Very cool.

It’s used to protect the Pulp Mill’s log storage pond.

While nine of these ten ships were built during the Second World War, the tenth ship, the S. S. Peralta, is the last remaining WWI concrete ship afloat.

Click PLAY or see them on YouTube.

related – trip report – Adventure Awaits – Willingdon Beach Trail

K2 Base Camp and the Gondogoro Pass

I was planning on making this trek August 2020 …

… not much chance it’s going to happen this year. #COVID-19

Atlas & Boots was there in 2019:

My 14-day K2 base camp trek in Karakoram mountains of #Pakistan, followed by a crossing of the technical Gondogoro La Pass.

At 8,611m (28,251ft), #K2 is the second highest mountain in the world.

The K2 base camp trek route is via Concordia, the confluence of the Baltoro and Godwin-Austen glaciers at around 4,700m (15,419ft).

It is one of the few places in the world where you can see four 8,000m peaks: K2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum I and Gasherbrum II.

Read the trip report.

K2 as seen from Concordia

Click PLAY or watch their trip on YouTube.

 

documentary – Surviving the Outback

Michael Atkinson places himself in the historic predicament of two stranded German aviators in 1932 to see if the his skills as a survival instructor, pilot and adventurer will allow him to escape to the nearest civilization.

It is a gripping film.

I learned a lot about surviving in the harsh Australian coastal wilderness.

The most remarkable feature of this documentary is its mode of filming. It is not performed by any film crew that follows his journey. It is single-handedly managed by Mike through drones and cameras so it preserves the natural element. The breathtaking pictures of the ocean, varied shades of the waters, flora and fauna of marine sea and the natural cliffs along the coast paint an excellent landscape for the viewers. It manages to take one to an unexplored world …

 Watch the hour long documentary FREE on TubiTV.

History of climbing K2

In advance of a trek to K2 Base Camp and Gondogoro Pass, I’m doing some reading about those insane alpinists that dare to climb the second highest peak in the world.

So much tragedy.

The 1954 Italian Karakoram expedition finally succeeded in ascending to the summit of K2 via the Abruzzi Spur on 31 July 1954. …

… 23 years after the Italian expedition, Ichiro Yoshizawa led the second successful ascent, with Ashraf Aman as the first native Pakistani climber. …

The third ascent of K2 was in 1978, via a new route, … by an American team led by James Whittaker …

I recommend K2: Life and Death on the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain. (2010) by Ed Viesturs.

Ed’s the Mount Rainier alpine guide who went on to become the most accomplished American high altitude climber.

Cautious and lucky, Ed survived 30+ expeditions to the world’s highest peaks. And he’s climbed Rainier over 200 times.

WHAT happened to Nepal’s Royal Trek?

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

The Royal Trek was named because Prince Charles and his 90 person entourage followed this route in 1981 shortly before he married Princess Diana.

It was once a BIG DEAL. Mick Jagger did it too, for example.

Some walked a loop to and from Pokhara. It was jungle.

But by 2019 (during the dry season) you could drive most of this route. Take a taxi to any of these villages. Buses run to each, in fact.

Road building has degraded the experience to the point where very few hikers now visit.

That’s a shame because it’s a great way to see three of the highest peaks in the world from one spot: Manaslu 8,156m, Annapurna 8,091m, Dhaulagiri 8,167m.

Companies will still guide you. 9 days for $600 and up.

We did it independently in 2 days. Walked no more than 35 km.

A taxi from Lakeside, Pokhara to Kalikasthan cost $26.

It’s almost entirely a road walk now. Dusty at times.

Do not go unless the weather is clear. You want to see the big mountains including Machapuchhre (Fishtail).

The highlight for us was not the mountains, however, but learning about Gurung village life in the foothills.

You’ve heard of the Gurungs. They’ve been prominent soldiers in Nepalese, British and Indian armies.

Winter is coming. They were bringing in firewood.

Every village now has water pipes. But in the old days it was carried up from far below. Rain collected in giant concrete cisterns.

Our plan was to hike to Syaklung where I assured the guys there should be plenty of guest houses and restaurants.

Despite having 3 online map apps and a hard copy of the Around Pokhara Valley map, our main method of navigation was to ask people ‘which way to the Royal Trek?’

Eventually … we were lost.

Backtracking to the village of Lipeyani, we were incredibly fortunate to meet a gentleman named Rishi who had come up to the family farm for the Diwali festival. We met his people too.

Moma is age-71, but still works the farm. Her eyes have been damaged from decades of cooking smoke.

She picked fresh ginger and chilies. Their small, hard oranges were excellent too.

Rishi’s brother brought fresh buffalo milk for our coffee (Nescafe).

For Diwali, Nepalis clean and decorate their homes.

Fresh coats of mud applied.

They illuminate the interior and exterior of their homes with diyas (oil lamps or candles), electric lights, etc. .

They offer puja (worship) to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth. Many homes have a trail into the house.

Rishi suggested we stay in his village instead of Syaklung Danda, our intended stop. We were very happy we did.

It was Dal Bhat for dinner, of course. The staple. But for an appetizer we were offered a special treat — dried, smoked, spicy goat meat from the high Himalaya. They call it sukuti.

That night we were welcomed into the annual Diwali festivities. Much dancing, chanting and singing. And a bit of drinking. I had the local boiled rice wine called roxy.

We slept well on hard mattresses. And dreamed of having the big vistas early morning.

It dawned not as clear as the previous day, but we did see the three big peaks from one vantage.

Mission accomplished, we decided to walk out as directly as possible to Begnas Lake. Our Royal Trek route ended.

It was mostly downhill on dirt or paved roads.

Rice looks to be the most important crop.

Rishi is a specialist in rural development. He told us these village are in trouble. The young people leave for the cities, India or the Middle East, and those who remain have trouble making ends meet. He consults on new initiatives for the foothill farmers.

Begnas lake is impressive, but I prefer Lakeside, Pokhara as a tourist destination.

We took lunch at a local restaurant in Begnas Tal Bahar, then caught the Lakeside bus.

It’s only 30km back to town, but the local bus is SLOW. If I did it again, I’d taxi back to Pokhara.

Other highlights:

  • hillside rice terraces
  • no permits required
  • a good first Nepal hike to start acclimatization
  • low risk of altitude sickness

Best months for the Royal trek are March – May and September – December. It can get cold at night.

Annapurna: A Trekker’s Guide by Sian Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons might still include the Royal Trek. Lonely Planet Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya (2016) does not.

If you like this vista, do the Royal Trek on your own. You’ll be unlikely to see any other foreigners.

top 10 hikes – Göreme, Cappadocia

For the next 10 days we’ll be rolling out our top 10 day hikes around the world.

Unique walks. Days you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

For example, exploring the “fairy chimney” rock formations of Cappadocia, Turkey. Göreme makes an ideal base.

Why We Like This Hike

  • Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia are World Heritage sites
  • start on the Rose Valley trail (5km), perhaps the best section of all

  • Love Valley is … interesting

  • to finish it’s downhill back to Göreme. A nice but often crowded trail.

Don’t miss the balloons of Cappadocia.

Click over to our Göreme information page for details.

Charles Darwin was a hiker

He got into hiking in his 20s, but it was trekking and scrambling in little know wilderness on four continents visited on his five-year-long H.M.S. Beagle voyage between 1831 and 1836 that cement him as one of the most worldly hikers in history.

 “Mount Darwin” is the highest peak in Tierra del Fuego. On February 12, 1834, Captain FitzRoy named a mountain after him on his birthday. …

Mt. Darwin

Darwin walked mainly to discover plants and animals unique to those regions.

I learned all this by reading his travelogue Voyage of the Beagle.

By the way, the famous phrase “survival of the fittest” comes from Herbert Spencer’s 1864 publication, “Principles of Biology.” The term is largely thought to have been coined by Darwin regarding his thoughts on evolution; however, this is a wrong assumption.

Legend hiked the Great Western Loop

6900+ miles.

Andrew Skurka invented the Great Western Loop and was the only person to complete it before Jeff ‘Legend’ Garmire in 2018.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube. (24min)

In 2019, the Great Western Loop will officially become the Great Western Loop Trail and expanded to include the northern and southern termini of both the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). …