Every time I sit down to write a blog I struggle a little bit. I struggle to find inspiration, and then to turn that inspiration into something concise and easy to read. Today I am struggling more than ever, but for a different reason. I have so much inspiration that I am at a loss for words.It’s been four days since we completed the final kilometer and returned back to civilization; and those few days have been full of mixed emotions. A sense of comfort in a daily hot shower and comfy queen-size, a sense of overwhelm in crowds, traffic, and technology; a sense of sadness in withdrawing from coastal sunsets and ocean air. Most of all though is an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the time I spent amongst the ancient cedars, challenging myself and building lifelong relationships with amazingly courageous and inspiring people.
I have hundreds of memories from our week on the West Coast Trail. Eight of us crossed one hundred and fifty bridges and climbed seventy ladders. We shared twenty-one meals, fifty-some water breaks, seven campfires, and about a thousand laughs. Give or take. No matter how I try I cannot put my memories on paper. But what I can do is translate them all into gratitude.
I’m grateful for the miraculous beauty of Mother Nature; Beauty that was somehow magically heightened deep in the rainforests, and on the shores of the Pacific Rim. I’ve spent my whole life in the mountains. I’ve done hundreds of hikes in hundreds of forests, but I have never seen trees the way I saw them last week.Our hiking terrain was about forty percent coastline and sixty percent forest.
The coastline of the West Coast Trail was named the Graveyard of the Pacific on account of the dozens of shipwrecks that occurred in the straight in the late 18th century. Hiking along this rugged and rocky coastline was similar to no other experience I’ve had. I’ve spent a fair amount of time near the ocean – I’ve lived in Vancouver, I’ve travelled to Mexico, I’ve ferried to the Island – but I’ve never looked at the ocean and seen nothing on the horizon. I’ve never walked across the ocean floor when the tide is out and seen sea urchins and starfish in their little natural aquariums. And I’ve certainly never seen a pod of Killer Whales breach in front of my dinner table.
Watching the sun slip down beneath the horizon, falling asleep on the sand, and waking up to the sound of waves lapping the shore are feelings I will not soon forget.We were lucky enough to share our experience with plenty of local wildlife. We saw Humpback Whales, Orcas and Sea Lions. River Otters, Bald Eagles and Herons, and judging by the fresh tracks we followed, we were in very close range of a Cougar. It was a special feeling watching so many different creatures in their natural habitat, and knowing we were just lucky to be guests in their environment.
Along with the gratitude I feel for the nature of the WCT, I feel equally grateful for the bond I formed with our entire group. There were guests on our trip that I had never met before, who I now feel closer to than some of my oldest friends. On the other hand there was one guest in the group that I have known my entire life, but learned more about in seven days on the trail than I have in nearly 30 years of social gatherings. By spending this time together – away from our everyday routines and normalities – we got to know each other on a whole other level. I realized that when you strip it all down, take away the distractions and the stresses of life, you get to see people for who they truly are. We witnessed one another’s struggles and celebrated our triumphs as a team. We watched our guests share food with hungry travellers, collect driftwood for another group’s fire, and provide assistance to an injured hiker. We came together as a cohesive unit, knowing we were only as strong as our weakest link. We conquered fears together, and at the end of day seven we celebrated a huge accomplishment as a team.
I could not have asked for a better experience on the West Coast Trail and I cannot wait to do it again. The group we hiked with feels like family to me, and I already miss my WCT family dearly.Though they are hard to put into words, my memories are crystal clear in my mind, and there they will stay forever etched with gratitude and fondness. Thank you West Coast Trail for the experience of a lifetime!
As one of 5 Guiding companies certified to guide the West Coast Trail, Irie Adventure Tours gets priority bookings for next season’s trips. By mid October we will have our 2015 West Coast Trail dates secured, so stay tuned at www.IrieAdventures.com, on the Blog, and on Facebook for our announcement in the fall – the dates will fill up fast, don’t miss your chance to See The BC We See on the WCT!
Generally I like to view my pint glass as half full, but I’ll be the first to admit that the overly optimistic ski reports these days aren’t fooling me! There’s no denying it, we’ve had a rough start to winter.
In BC we do the best with what we’ve got. We strap our skis on our backs and hike in our heavy boots for hours, satisfied if our efforts produce five or six good powder turns. We ride chairlifts in the wind just praying it’s about to blow in the next big snow storm. We take chances standing in lineups waiting for untouched terrain to open, or camp out hours early with dreams of first tracks. Some chances pay off and some don’t but at the end of the day a “bad” day skiing…well it’s still pretty much better than any other day.
And I truly believe that. It’s always worth it. Even in less than ideal conditions.
Still, I could use a little dose of honesty in our weather reports.
When a snow report boasts “unlimited visibility” what they really mean is there are absolutely no snowflakes falling from the sky, thus no face shots, no beardcicles, and no snowpacked helmets and goggles. There is absolutely nothing that could possibly obstruct your vision except the glaring brightness of the spring-like sun.
When the resort website says “freshly groomed terrain” what they are trying to tell you is sharpen your edges! It snowed, then it rained, then it froze, and we tried our best to churn it up with our machines but now we’re left with bulletproof frozen corduroy!
When the radio host says “chance of flurries” he’s just saying that. He’s sick of sounding like a broken record “no new snow, no new snow, no new snow”. He’s not lying though… I suppose there’s always a chance of flurries.
There’s one report we can always count on though, that’s the chalkboard sign outside the local après ski bar that says “we have beer”. So after we earn a few turns, carve up some groomers, and race a little slalom through the exposed rocks and branches, we head down for a beer and celebrate another day in the mountains. Because I think we all agree that even a tough day skiing still deserves a celebration!
We’ve been through this before. More than once we’ve struggled through June-esque climate in the middle of January, only to be unexpectedly ravaged by an April snow storm as we advantageously begin to plant our spring gardens. But we are not dusting off our leaf blowers just yet! We know winter will come when he’s good and ready. We just hope he’s almost ready.
So we’ll continue to make the best of it, mountian biking in January and sitting on sunny patios until Mother Nature lets her Old Man Winter out to play.
One thing’s for sure, this spring like weather is getting us excited for our 3 West Coast Trail Hiking trips this summer! We still have a couple spaces open so head over to www.IrieAdventureTours.com to claim your spot!
This past year we shared remarkable adventures in our stunning province with new friends from all over the world. We are so privileged to pursue our love of exploration and adventure in the place that we love, and are continuously striving to learn and grow.
We’ve taken time to look back on the year gone past while we set our intentions for a 2015, and are excitedly preparing for an even better year ahead!
Thank you to all of our family and friends for your continued support, and for all of our adventure loving followers – Come See The BC We See in 2015, Adventure Awaits!
I love the holiday season! The giving, the music, the lights, the snow, and the Christmas Tree. It’s not just the Tree that I love, but the experience of putting it up each year. This week I bought a tree from the Boy Scouts of Canada when I saw them set up in the parking lot outside the grocery store. There they had a lot with dozens of trees to choose from, the proceeds of all tree sales going towards funding the organization’s outdoor adventure and leadership programs. Filling our home with Christmas spirit, while supporting the next generation of adventure seekers sounded like a win-win to me, so I gladly threw in a few extra bucks to support the Scouts!
Two ten year old boys showed me around the lot, proudly explaining the differences between each species of tree and giving me their best sales pitch. They argued a bit over which tree was in fact the best and even asked the all important question “will the tree be placed in a corner, or in front of a window?” Yikes, I hadn’t thought of that. Should that determine which tree I select? In the end, I chose a tree that neither of the boys had named the ‘best’, but one that sat alone in the back. I didn’t want a fight to ensue over which salesman had made the better pitch. They both seemed pleased though, with the not-too-tall Fraser Fir that I chose.
One Scout collected my cash and went to fetch change, while the other dragged my twice-his-height tree to my car. He said “Merry Christmas, thanks for supporting the Boy Scouts” and ran off to a circle of high fives and cheers as the group added my cash to their fundraising jar.
Twenty days before Christmas and I may have already given the most appreciated gift of the season.
Once home I struggled with the tree for a while, trying to get it to stay in its stand. It became clear I had selected a bit of a wild one! I thought to myself several times; maybe I should have considered the whole corner vs. window thing. My tree had a giant hole in the back. OK, I’ll put it in the corner to hide that. Then I noticed one rogue branch pointing right when all its neighbours were pointing left. No problem, perfect place for our wooden ski ornament. Next I realized one of the largest main branches front and centre was completely bare, no needles at all. How did I not see that when I made my selection!? Oh well, good place for a garland.
Two winter Ale’s and two thirds of the way through ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and I think I’ve got it. I’d turned and twisted the tree a dozen times; I’d trimmed a few unruly pieces with my kitchen scissors and covered the whole thing in lights, tinsel, dorky recycled ornaments and a tiny old toque as a topper.
My Christmas tree is ugly.
It’s going three different directions. It’s lopsided and leaning, and it’s got holes that are too big to fill with tacky plastic trinkets. Somehow though, it works. If I step back and look at it, it seems un-perfectly perfect. And if I dim the lights and squint my eyes a little, it’s a real thing of beauty!
When I think about it, our un-perfectly perfect Christmas Tree is a lot like our lives. Quite often we are the ones going three different directions at once…sometimes we need to fill in the holes, and there’s constantly room for improvement. Even with all the flaws though, it is still always, always beautiful in its own quirky way.
We’d like to wish you all a happy holiday, and hope that you are able to embrace the beauty in all the flaws and imperfections in your lives. After all, they are what keep life exciting and adventurous!
Cheers to an un-perfectly perfect Christmas, from Irie Adventure Tours!
I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love. – Linus, A Charlie Brown Christmas.
“To live a life of adventure is my wildest dream come true”. – Josh Dueck
There are people that we look up to because they chase their dreams, and people who we look up to because they overcome obstacles. There are also people that don’t chase dreams, but create them; people that don’t overcome obstacles, but obliterate them. People like Josh Dueck.
I’ve spoken before about how inspiring sports can be, and how inspiration often goes far beyond the sport. The notion that sports give us an expressive outlet, a purpose, and a goal – but that it is about so much more than being the fastest or strongest – rather it is about being the best version of ourselves, the best person. If I could capture all of that inspiration and personify it, it would come out looking a lot like Josh.
It’s true that my personal gratitude and awe for Josh may be less if I didn’t know him as my hometown hero; If we didn’t grow up skiing the same runs, or sitting in the same classrooms. Maybe if I had only heard of him through the coverage of the 2010 and 2014 Winter Paralympics, or if I had only seen him on Ellen, or on the big screen premier of The Freedom Chair, or the video of his groundbreaking back flip on national news…maybe then would I be less inspired. But I doubt it.
Josh has won the hearts of all Canadians, of skiers, of adventure seekers and dreamers. He has inspired so many in the 6 years of his professional skiing career, but the most impressive thing is that we’re not only inspired by his skiing (We definitely are, he’s won 3 Olympic medals!) but more by his eagerness to share and teach, and his relentless quest for adventure and happiness.
Today Josh has announced that he is retiring from competitive ski racing, and looking ahead to more time with his family while working on a book about his challenges and triumphs! We’re proud to say that we share roots with Josh, but more importantly we’re proud of all that he has accomplished and how many people he has inspired to LIVE!
Congratulations on an outstanding career Josh, you continue to make us all proud!
We haven’t even strapped on our skis and boards for the season and we’re already planning for next summer! That’s just the way it goes at Irie Adventure Tours; when it comes to adventure – we’re always looking ahead!
After our inaugural West Coast Trail Hike this past August, we mentioned that as one of only five guiding companies that are certified to operate on the West Coast Trail we have priority booking for next season. Well, the time has come and we’ve got our approved dates for WCT 2015! We couldn’t be more excited to share this amazing experience with new guests and we’re already deep in the planning stages.
The dates we’ve chosen for next summer are;
August 1st-8th, and August 23rd-30th.
Embarking on a journey like the West Coast Trail requires a keen sense of adventure, an appreciation for unspoiled nature, and a willingness to get down and dirty for a week in the wild! It also requires time to plan and prepare, that’s why we encourage our guests to secure their spots early! We’re offering 10% off the package price for those who put their 25% deposit down by December 31st. Give the gift of adventure to a thrill seeking loved one for Christmas, or gather a team of friends or colleagues to commit to the adventure of a lifetime together!
Hiking the West Coast Trail is a challenge, but we make it as easy as possible by taking care of all the details so you can focus on pushing yourself and taking in the beauty of the Pacific Rim. We supply and prepare all food and provide transportation on either end of the trail. All Parks Canada fees and included and our guides are fully accredited by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and are certified in Wilderness First Aid.
Hiking the West Coast Trail is a challenging, lifetime experience, and Irie Adventure Tours makes it a seamless and stress free journey. Read about what you can expect on the West Coast Trail with Irie Adventure Tours here on our recap from this summer’s trip. You can also view the WCT Itinerary and more information on www.IrieAdventureTours.com