Quick notices and then on to our blog post
- Composting Toilet workshop on Saturday July 22nd from 10am -noon. Only 4 spots left. Registration and details online here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/eco-sense-composting-toilet-workshop-tickets-32535409285
- Special 1 day Nursery Opening: Saturday July 29th from 10am – 2pm. The gardens and nursery are beautiful in their summer glory. Our nursery is only open in the spring and fall and sadly this is not the most beautiful time. Come and see and buy your perennial edible plants in all their summer glory…but don’t plant out until fall.
What’s Overwhelmingly Wonderful? Worthy Of Writing? Wreaks Of Wildness? In short… WOW!
Our first vacation in 4 years was WOW. Thanks to Tayler and Solara and Jocelyn and Jarvis for looking after the homestead for 15 days while Ann and I set off to be one with the North Coast Trail in Cape Scott Park at the northern tip of Vancouver Island. And I should says thanks to Ann for prepping 14 days of food… I so enjoyed carrying it. (Note: Ann’s comments will be in parenthesis). (Gord’s new nickname is the Sexy Sherpa Dude…it’s amazing what a man will carry with regular flirting).
In our typical naive fashion we decided not to follow the conventional wisdom for this gruelling hike, which is to hike the trail one way, usually from east to west. No, rather than fart around with water taxis and shuttles we decided to just park at the Cape Scott Parking lot and hike it in… then out. Needless to say we are not seasoned hikers so we were a little concerned about our 50ish year old knees, hips, ankles, backs and legs…not to mention our feet.
Ann spent two weeks prior working on food, drying venison jerky, further drying raisons and prunes, dried apple leather, and putting together all the very lightweight meals. She packaged up one of her 6 month old wash rind hard cheeses (think homemade parmesan), prepackaged dinners with our dried leeks/kale/tomatoes/nettles, even dried a batch of our leftover morning fermented mush (that turned out fabulous according to Gord’s tastebuds). All in all we started with approximately 46lbs of food.
Once in the Cape Scott parking lot we spent the next five days hiking to Skinner creek, 49 kms from the parking lot. As we had planned to hike back, we did stash some of our food along the way. We decided not to hike to Shushwartie Bay, the last leg, and instead use the two days that would have been used to go there and back to Skinner creek, and instead use that time to do another trek in Cape Scott Park. (more on that below). So at Skinner creek, we turned back and retraced our footsteps. The terrain was technical, there were a lot of blow downs that had not been trimmed by parks yet, so we found that we had to saw through some roots and branches to get past.
On our trek in, we encountered hikers coming from the east. All were shocked to hear we were doing it both ways, and by the time we had made our return, park rangers had heard of us. With 98 kms complete, our packs lighter and our bodies stronger (10 days) we took a day off to hike around Cape Scott, then headed to San Joseph Bay for the final trek. The final leg was from San Joseph Bay, up over Mt. St. Patrick and then down past Sea Otter Cove to Lowrie Bay. (We had been to Lowrie Bay before… by kayak on our honeymoon 12 years earlier).
The Trail from Mt. St. Patrick to Lowrie is not on the park maps, and park staff only hike it once per season. Needless to say it is off the beaten path… if you could find the path. The distance one way is somewheres between 6-8 kms… not really known for sure. This was the most challenging epic hike ever.
We had multiple encounters with bears and wolves, both employing our skills to be loud and obnoxious. (the recommended approach when encountering a wolf is to stand together, make yourself look big, and stand your ground… which I what I did. Gord on the other hand grabbed the camera) Who needs bear spray when you have Ann who hasn’t washed her hair in 14 days? (It had amazing body and I washed my head a couple times in the salt water). No comment on Gord who wore the same merino shirt and johns day and night… except to say there are some pretty fine vinegar bacteria that we should have harvested before they, (Gord included), were washed. We even had a surprise encounter where we scared a bear who jumped up a tree… a massive Sitka Spruce… and we jumped to the left. All three of us had our hearts racing.
What was so wow?
- Cape Sutil food forest. We won’t give many details other than to say we came across the most amazing First Nations’ 2000 yr old food forest complete with multiple varieties of crab apples, two species of salmon berry, thimble berry, salal, twin berry, black gooseberry, fireweed, giant vetch, silver weed, wild strawberry, huckleberry and evergreen huckleberry… and the list goes on. The layers were amazing. (Fascinating that white settlers had failed repeatedly at agriculture at Cape Scott while First Nations thrived at horticulture).
- Ann’s cooking! (We think part of the reason our bodies thrived with the gruelling physical demands was the nutrient dense high quality foods we ate)
- The real world. (Spending 2 weeks in the REAL WORLD was very good for us)
- The immense gratification and awe we had about how well our bodies were equipped to handle the tough terrain. We even decided to test ourselves one day. (actually this was Gord’s idea and Ann got dragged along…I should have said no). On a section of trail from Cape Sutil – Irony Creek – Laura Creek, which is a two day hike on what is classified as difficult terrain, we hiked two sections (19.5 kms) in a single day. We won’t do that again. After that hike we needed water, so we attempted to limp to the creek only to encounter a bear that couldn’t hear us due to the pounding waves. The bear in the way, it took us 5 minutes of us yelling and banging pots to get him to notice us (100-150 ft away). He finally lumbered peacefully into the forest.
- Losing the track of days. Yup, somewhere’s on the trip we lost track of the days, and thought we had an extra day to get back home. (I never put my glasses on so I could not look at the device/camera to read the date… hence I had to rely on Gord). We realized that the food was not adding up (we seemed to be a day short of food and were starting to ration it… and let me just say that Gord was going to have to be supervised around the remaining food). Then looking at the date on the device (I insisted that Gord look at it and check the date), we realized our trek back to our truck from Lowrie Bay was no longer a two day process, but had to be a one day event – an 8 hour hike, then an 8 hour truck ride home…(the first two hours on a hot, dusty, busy logging road with a truck door that seemed ready to fall off…Gord assured me that it would not). Epic day.
- From Ann: Thoroughly enjoyed my 2 weeks in the “Real World” completely immersed in the biological intensity of nature…however, it’s been tough coming back and adjusting to the human created industrial “civilized world”.A couple thoughts:
* The things our culture focuses on just don’t seem very relevant…
* The news of world issues, political instability and games/power struggles seem downright insane.
* I fell even more deeply in love with nature and feel an even deeper sense of loss seeing the clear cuts of forest ALL THE WAY UP Vancouver Island. Angry!
* 2 weeks with very limited material things showed me how little we actually need. Simplicity is beautiful and liberating!
* Immense gratitude for simple things (like Gord).
* Seeing how attempts at agriculture repeatedly failed in Cape Scott Park…yet First Nations practised forest gardening and lived regeneratively for many thousand years in this same area.
* Death in nature creates MORE life. Mining, logging, and resource extraction creates actual DEATH.