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


therese rudiger said...

Great run, and Olivia waited patiently for you in Holberg? We are doing a couple km a day walking, sometimes 3, 4 or 6 depending on the time of the day. It gets to be a 'longing to get out there ' for the fresh air and exercise. We are enjoying it. Blessings Therese and Ian

robsargeant said...

Olivia was a big help. I couldn't have attempted this without her support. She did a short hike while I was on the long run so she was able to enjoy some of the trail.