Hello fellow backpackers! Hope your day is going splendidly (:
This is my first post, as I have just started planning my very first hike. My buddy and I wanted to go on what he calls "a walk about". Basically just camping and living off the land while exploring for a month. Sounds incredibly dreamy and I wanted to start planning asap so I can make sure it actually happens and turns out well! I should probably mentioned I have never done any backpacking or anything like this before, so all the information you are willing to share is highly appreciated! I have gone on short hikes, and camping(though we always had a car nearby) so I am definitely aware that I will be living in the wild
Some initial questions:
Where in British Columbia should I start?? And where should I finish!? I imagine flying in, and somehow finding my way to a good trail and then just walking and exploring for about a month, and then hopefully finding my way to a hotel to clean up and then hopping on a plane home. How realistic is that?
How good of shape should I be in? I've started running and doing yoga recently, and I plan to keep this as a daily habit. Will this be enough or should I start lifting weights?
How do you prepare mentally/ with packing, for a trip like this? What resources do I need to make this trip successful. I don't need electricity, but do I need lighter fluid? Things like that.
Seriously I'm looking for as much info as I can get!! Thanks everyone, happy hiking!
The most well known long trail in BC is the Great Divide Trail following the Canadian Rockies from Waterton Lakes NP(near the US border)to Jasper.There would be resupply opportunities every 4-7 days so you would not need to live off the land per se(which would certainly slow you down)rather carry a backpacking stove and fuel to prepare freeze dried or other compact meals.The better shape you are in the easier and more enjoyable the hike is likely to be but people start long trails out of shape all the time and use the hike to get in shape.I would recommend continuing the exercise you are doing plus add weight training as well as hiking with a backpack(for activity specific training).All these are good life long habits and the more you can do the better.Perhaps, do a few shorter overnight or longer backpacking trips as a shakeout.And,stick around these forums and ask questions in the gear,cooking and Trailhead Register(for general questions)forums.
If you are talking about something more remote where you are doing more hunting ,fishing,scavenging ,whatever for food I am sure there are plenty of opportunities but someone more knowledgeable about the BC wilderness than I would have to answer that...
Post by High Sierra Fan on Nov 19, 2015 10:07:08 GMT -8
People who aren't skilled hunters and fisherman who attempt "living off the land" either die (see that book on the guy who did just that in Alaska) or have a miserable, weakening, trip and at some point crawl out of the backcountry having lost far too much of their body weight for their health. So that just wandering about is very unrealistic (even were hunting legal at the time and place you were planning on going). It's probably you could, if you have the skills, supplement your diet with fish depending on your route, but requiring fishing success for survival would be very risky. And a hunting rifle weighs more than five days of backpacking food....
For a month long backcountry experience you'd both enjoy and survive I'd suggest looking into one of the established longer routes that can be found in both Canada (as above) or the United States such as some portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, perhaps the down from SR 108 at Sonora Pass to the John Muir Trail in Tuolumne Meadows, combined perhaps with the High Sierra Trail to make a 260 or so mile route through spectacular country but with multiple supply points and lots of information resources to aid in your enjoyment. For something less alpine and more trees there'd be a section of the Appalachian Trail, being over two thousand miles long and running roughly north to south there's plenty of choices depending on the season you'd want to go (the Sierra get's a snowpack into the tens of feet so much travel is restricted to July and later and even then the higher passes can have a ten foot deep snowpack). Lightweight stoves and backpacking food are widely available and FAR more practical for beginners with no knowledge or experience let alone specific knowledge of that particular region allowing for efficient exploitation of the local resources, again depending on legal restrictions in any case.
For a variety of choices IIRC ParksCanada has a good selection of webpages on their parks at least. I found them quite useful for a trip to Gros Morne a while back: local knowledge is always key. www.pc.gc.ca/eng/index.aspx
Not to kill the dream, but this is a very ambitious plan for a first-time backpacking experience. Several parts of the message don't quite match up: No packing experience (so no gear?), a dream to "live off the land" but no real idea of what BC is like (asking where you should start and end?) so maybe you think BC is all wilderness and you just kill something for dinner? No mention of when this trip might happen? Remember that the west coast of BC is rainy. When I started reading your message I thought of the LifeSaving Trail —oops! The name has changed since I lived in Seattle. Now it's the West Coast Trail, a pretty grand name for a trail that is just on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and only half of that!
That trail was established many years ago to give shipwreck survivors a shot at finding their way to civilization,…if they first could to get to the shore. The Straits of Juan de Fuca and storms sent plenty of vessels to the bottom. But now, seeing the webpage linked above, I see the mention of "comfort rooms" and ":1000 people a year hike the trail!" And yet, maybe it's a viable way to test your dream with less chance of regretting your plans? It is a hard trail but can be managed by most. It is only a week of travel, but oh what a week it would be. Hiking mostly beach and watching tides, waves, rain, slick rocks; crossing a river, climbing "stairs" to clifftops, and camping in wet conditions. Living off the land? Sure. Assuming you like seafood, you can forage clams and mussels, even kelp. Berries? Probably (time of year matters) and probably bracken ferns and other items can be found. Eat all you want.
Transportation would be available (fly to Vancouver, ferry to Victoria), so hike it R/T and get three weeks of experience, lots of photos and stories, and end back in Victoria with tea and a scone at the Empress Hotel (after you have showered!)
You should add some info on when this trip would be scheduled? Is BC a primary goal for some reason? It's a beautiful area and has excellent sources for enjoying some of the culture of the PNW Coast Indians (fantastic artwork and history) if that interests you.
1+ on the Vancouver Is./West Coast Trail idea.I bike toured with someone who went on to tour down the coast of BC as part of a longer tour.He spent considerable time on both the Queen Charlotte and Vancouver Islands mostly camping on the beach and hanging out with natives gathering Salmon berries or lambsquarters for food,seaweed for mulch or helping build a stackwall(natural method)house.Further north he hung out with the Inuit drying Salmon.Also,from his photos and description the Cassier Range in the north is spectacular and from other bike journals the Mackenzie area is special and would seem to be a great area to base wilderness exploration...
Post by whistlepunk on Nov 21, 2015 9:06:58 GMT -8
A trip like that would be the culmination of a ten year plan, or longer. Gain skills first with shorter trips, building up experience and knowledge. You may find it is not as fun as you think it will be. The longest I was out solo off trail was 6 weeks and would not want to do it again.
BC is not just a bigger version of the lower 48. Depending where you go there is no government rescue to save you if you have an accident. A friend recently spent three weeks in Wood Buffalo NP in Alberta (larger than 5 Yellowstones and virtually no trail system). He said the most sobering part of the trip was the realization that any injury could be fatal -- bad cut, broken ankle, et al. Even with a sat phone rescue would be 2-3 days or longer.
Remember the mountain man stories of Jim Bridger and Coulter? If that is what put the idea in your ahead the trip would be a romantic adventure, remember the mountain men trappers had a 25% annual fatality rate. 1 out of 4 did not survive a year.
I never get lost. I just have unplanned adventures.
Be very careful with that suggestion. Red tide can cause you to eat a bowlful of cooked wild clams full of neurotoxin in quick order. If unsure about current conditions, it's best to avoid wild shellfish, and BC is no exception.
Shavasy, take whistlepunk's words seriously. I've spent numerous long trips in PNW coastal areas myself from Washington to SE Alaska, BC included. Most solo, most of them off the trail. There is great food to scavenge (berries, fish and select greens primarily) and I've supplemented numerous wonderful backcountry meals that way. But "living off the land" is FAR from easy, and even the best outdoorsmen with decades of experience in BC would find it trying at best for more than a few days at a time. Also, depending what you're hoping to hunt, your plans may be entirely illegal. Best to do some more research before jumping in head first.
I would read a couple guidebooks about hiking the West Coast Trail. Even if you go to other places it'll give you some starter advice about the local climate and terrain. I don't want to dissuade you entirely (it's beautiful there!) but your plans need some practical modifications to be realized.
Best of luck!
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