West Coast Trail Planning

West Coast Trail Vancouver Island 

When I proposed that we spend our 10-year anniversary of being together at the Willows Inn on Lummi Island, DD jumped at the chance to say “Well, why don’t we also hike the West Coast Trail?” The West Coast Trail, as it turns out, is a 75 km, 47 mile trail on Vancouver Island that brings trekkers through a meandering path of rainforest and beach, with various types of terrain – boardwalks, mud, fallen trees, boulders, rocks, soft sand, firm sandstone, and ladders. Lots of ladders, apparently. Continue reading

Laos Zipline Jungle Adventure Days 2 and 3

In addition to ziplining…

There were some sounds of scuffling in the night. And there might have been what was a rat or mouse fight near the wooden walls by Dan and Katrina’s beds. I might have woken at one of the sounds, but I don’t recall as clearly as Dan or Adam did. Apparently there was a bit of pounding and a “shut up!” as well. I did wake to go to our en suite bathroom in the middle of the night, but thankfully did not encounter any creatures.

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Laos Zipline Jungle Adventure Day 1

3-Day, 2-Night Zipline Adventure with Green Disovery Tours

In December 2013, DD and I took a monthlong trip to Southeast Asia. We spent the most time in Thailand, with shorter visits to Laos and Cambodia.

Thanks to our friend Adam, who also had relatives – his brother Dan and Dan’s then-girlfriend and now wife Katrina – visiting around the holidays, DD and I got to tag along on what was billed as a “zipline jungle tour adventure” with a stay in a “treetop hotel.” Sarah was unfortunately not able to come along because of a little one being due.

It was one of the most amazing experiences I’d ever had in my life and a definite highlight of our trip.

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Point Reyes Training Hike

Limantour Beach Afternoon

Two weekends after our Rae Lakes excursion and no hiking, DD definitely wanted to head out for a trek. His goal was to do a 16-17 mile training hike and he found us a route in Point Reyes. He mentioned it would be good practice for the West Coast Trail, as we’d do some beach walking. I was a little apprehensive about the distance, and worried about leaving Harlow alone for such a long time (I estimated we’d take 6-8 hours, at least).

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Rae Lakes Loop Day Four

Roaring creeks make me happy

Bubb’s Creek by our last campsite at Junction Meadow

Friday, 26 June 2015. Junction Meadow to Road’s End, 8,400 to 5,035 feet. 10.4 miles. 

I didn’t take too many photos on this day, perhaps because we were all hustling and ready to be done with the hike. Visions of showers danced in our heads.

We woke to overcast skies and a certain mugginess in the air. We were a little nervous that it might start raining, so out came our rain gear and backpack covers to reside in the most accessible areas of our backpacks.

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Rae Lakes Loop Day Three

The View from Glen Pass at nearly 12,000 feet

Thursday, 25 June, 2015. Rae Lakes, Summiting Glen Pass, Junction Meadow, 10,800 to 11,978 elevation, and back down to 8,400 feet. 8.6 miles. 

We rose late again on Day 3. I woke with a dull headache, which I initially chalked up to sleeping poorly with a badly-stuffed pillow (Zpacks Cuben Fiber stuffsack filled with clothing). Breakfast was the chicken jook that was Danny’s idea  — even reconstituted it was fantastic: chickeny and gingery and topped with bits of sweet-salty pork fluff.

The trail up to Glen Pass would take us around 1,900 feet in elevation gain to a summit of 11,978 all in the space of 2.8 miles. We left Rae Lakes around 9:15am, intending to take it relatively easy, with lots of breaks.

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Rae Lakes Loop Day Two

Wood’s Creek Trail. Photo by Jared Williams

Wednesday, 24 June, 2015. Upper Paradise to Rae Lakes, 6876 to 10538 ft in elevation gain, 11-12 miles. 

We left camp a little later than the day before at around 8:15am. In contrast to yesterday’s 7am start, it seemed very late, and it was already quite warm. A group of girls who had camped (but very quietly) at the campsite south of us had already left. We chatted with a couple of them yesterday and learned that they had made their way up to the lakes, but, at 10,000 feet, one of their group had gotten altitude sickness and they were compelled to turn back.

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Rae Lakes Loop Day One

The Sphinx


Tuesday, 23 June, 2015. Road’s End to Upper Paradise Valley Camp, 5035-6876 feet in elevation, 10 miles. 

On Tuesday, we woke at 5am, as soon as it became light, and quickly got ready. Our plan was to have breakfast at CGV, but by the time we made it to the there, it was only 6:52am, and the cafe did not open until 7:30am.

So off to Road’s End long term parking we went, planning on quickly eating a bar at the start and then taking a longer breakfast/ coffee break at Mist Falls, some 4 miles in.

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Rae Lakes Loop Day Zero

Pre-hike. Cedar Grove. Monday, 22 June, 2015

Full car, full backpacks

After having lived for nearly 31 years in the U.S., I have never been to a national park. No, driving through Yosemite (without stopping) does not count. Nor had I ever been backcountry backpacking, not even for an overnight.

Last week I did both, hiking some 41+ miles, going from 5k to 12k in elevation around the Rae Lakes Loop in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, accompanied by Danny and Jared. We had spent weeks in preparation. Since their Lost Coast trek, I had also gotten into obsessive perusal and research, poring over trip reports, maps, backpacking gear, backpacking foods, photos of the sierras, lightweight camera gear, etc. Danny had already done much of the research into ultralight gear, and so I also became familiar with Zpacks, Gossamer Gear, cuben fiber, and began weighing and tracking (some of) my stuff. We went on several training hikes to test out gear and food and endurance.

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Corte de Madera Open Space Preserve Training Hike

Checking route at the junction










Another weekend brought another training hike, and this time Danny chose a spot closer to San Francisco on the Peninsula. The trail he had planned had several ups and downs and some 2300 feet in elevation.

Ended up being 10.95m

GPS of our route












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