Saturday, August 16, 2014

Adventures running the Cape Scott trail, North Coast Vancouver Island, and the miraculous key

It is possible to run the Cape Scott trail on the North Coast of Vancouver Island from the trail head to the lighthouse and back in one day. This is around a 46-km ultra-marathon distance. Due to the technical nature of the terrain I would class it as being even more difficult than a typical 50-km trail ultra. My attempt to complete this run on Friday was hindered by a bear and cub encounter in the early stages. I had only run about ten minutes when I came upon an adult bear and cub at the edge of the trail. Following the instructions that I had just read listed at the information booth at the start, I backed away slowly and returned to the parking lot. The park attendant told me to wait until the bear cleared the area, which would usually be about 1/2 an hour. Encouraged by my wife, Olivia, to give it another attempt I headed down the trail a second time. Cautiously, I ran through the section of forest where I had spotted the bears. There were no signs of them accept for some bear scat at the side of the path. I ran on, making noise as I went, hooting and singing out loud every now and then, to alert any wild life ahead that I was approaching.

With overcast skies the temperature wasn't an issue for most of the morning. I kept a good pace, slowed only at sections with exposed roots and rocky outcrops. With a Camel Pack holding two liters of Gatorade strapped across my back I kept hydrated. I had some power gels and S-Caps in one of its pouches to help out as well. Near 10-Km in I found a good water source at Fisherman's Creek where I refilled my Camel Pack bladder on the way back. After running 2 1/4 hours I was about 2 km past the Danish memorial on Cape Scott. I turned around there because I knew my wife was waiting, and we still had to drive back to the Comox Valley that night. She worked the next morning. I was whacked pretty hard by running around 30 km on the Cape Scott trail that day. When I got back to the trailhead along with several other groups of backpackers I shared their sense of revelry with having come to the end of such a difficult slog.

I found the van was locked when I returned to the parking lot and I couldn't find Olivia anywhere. I was out of water in my Camel Pack and still thirsty. I could see there was plenty inside the van to drink but I didn’t have a key. I felt to walk over to the information booth at the trail head to see if maybe Olivia had left a note there for me. I didn’t find a note but I did find a car key. It was just a random car key left there by someone, but I felt an urging in my spirit to try it on my van door. Miraculously it worked on the passenger door and I was able to get in. My wife came back to find me refreshed, preparing a sandwich with groceries from the cooler. She had attempted to hike to a nearby beach. She was delighted like I was at God's provision of a random car key that would work to open our car door.

To get to the Cape Scott trail take highway 19 until just past Port Hardy. Turn left onto the paved road where the sign says Holberg - Cape Scott Trail. 14-kms down the road you'll come to the boot tree on the right side of the road, where some of the past hikers of the trail have placed their worn out hiking boots. Continue on this road west 50-km until reaching Holberg. Drive through Holberg past the restaurant/pub and baseball field until you see a sign for Cape Scott Provincial Park. Turn left there and follow the logging road as it branches off to the right. Watch out for pot holes and logging trucks while on these roads.

Holberg has a gas station/variety store open from 3-6 pm and a restaurant pub. This is the last place to pick-up any back packing supplies before reaching the trail. For more information on the park visit - CAPE SCOTT PARK

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Long distance running training in Waikiki Hawaii

I tried to keep up my long distance training while serving on temporary duty with the Canadian Air Force for almost a month in Hawaii as part of RIMPAC this July and August. Our hotel was on Waikiki Beach, close to a user friendly running path that looped around Diamond Head providing a good 10km run. Because of the heat and humildity most of these were done at around sunrise or sunset. This made for some beautiful views coming around Diamond Head at the end of the day. To run this, follow KalaKaua Avenue in Waikiki turning left at Monsarrat Avenue behind the Honolulu Zoo. Monsarrat Avenue becomes Diamond Head Road and continues in a loop joining back to Kalakaua Avenue.

Another route around the same distance leads from Waikiki Beach east to a trail around the perimeter fence of the golf course and then back along a palm tree lined river channel utilized by the rowing community.

One Saturday I spent about two hours power hiking up to Waahila Ridge State Recreational Area. This was worth the slog as the views are great from up there. The trails along the ridge weren't runnable though as rain had made them slippery. The only way to access this park is through a winding series of residential streets. Follow Kapahulu Avenue from Waikikki under the H1 highway, turn right at Waialae Avenue. Take the first left at St. Louis Drive. Follow this steep residential street all the way up to Betram Street, and stay on it until you get to Peter St. Turn left, go two blocks, and then turn left again at Ruth Place. There you will find the entrance to the Waahila Ridge State Recreation Area. If you can run up this hill it would make for some great hill training. I could only manage to power hike. But I did run most of the way down, and that did a good number on the quad muscles. I recommend having the Loco Moco breakfast at the Rainbow Drive-In on Kapahulu Avenue after completing this, as you will certainly build up a good appetite. (Loco Moko is a hearty breakfast that includes white rice, a hamburger patty, and eggs, smothered in gravy.) The Rainbow Drive-In also makes a tasty icecream slushy drink.