Activities

Paddling the Broken Group Islands in Comfort at the Sechart Lodge

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Relaxing in Sechart’s hot tub after a day of paddling—C.Helbig

“We’re the closest hot tub to the Broken Islands,” says Nancy, one of the managers at the Sechart Lodge on Vancouver Island’s Barkley Sound. That’s music to the ear for anyone who has kayaked through the frigid waters and often fog-laden air of this magnificent archipelago. Until recently, I had no idea that you could kayak the Broken Group Islands, part of Pacific Rim National Park, in warm, dry comfort. Last weekend, we had the pleasure of staying at Sechart Lodge. It’s the only viable non-camping option for kayaking the Broken Islands, and a haven for nature lovers and relaxation seekers. Continue reading

Categories: Activities, British Columbia, Canada, Kayaking, Places | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail: Logistics and Itinerary

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Nicole and I reading up for our next day on the West Coast Trail

Planning a backpacking trip on Vancouver Island’s famous West Coast Trail (WCT) can be daunting. Should you hike south to north, or north to south? How many days of hiking should you plan for the 75 km route? At which of the campsites should you stay? While there are many opinions on these questions, I can tell you that we were pleased with our 7-day/6-night, south to north trip. What follows is a Q & A on logistics and itinerary based on my WCT experience. For those with no intentions of doing the trail, I hope you enjoy the photos. Also, check out my previous post, which has lots more photos and provides a broad overview of what it’s like to hike the WCT. Continue reading

Categories: Activities, British Columbia, Canada, Hiking, Places | Tags: , , , , | 26 Comments

20 Takeaways from Hiking Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail

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Cribbs Creek campsite on West Coast Trail—C.Helbig

The West Coast Trail, a rugged 75 km (46.6 mile) backpacking route on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, has been on my bucket list for years. In early June, I finally did the iconic trek. It was a great, brutal, muddy affair—an experience I will never forget. This post is a lighthearted account of what I learned about the trail on a 7-day trip with my three hiking companions. In future posts, I’ll provide more of the informational “stuff” like logistics, itinerary and packing lists. So, in no particular order, here are my takeaways from our West Coast Trail (WCT) journey from Port Renfrew to Bamfield: Continue reading

Categories: Activities, British Columbia, Canada, Hiking, Places | Tags: , , , | 33 Comments

Team “Make America Grape Again” at the Half Corked Marathon

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One of our lovely team members modelling “the cap”—C.Helbig

A few weeks ago, six pals and I participated in one of our favourite events of the year: The Osoyoos-Oliver Half Corked Marathon in British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley. We pride ourselves on coming up with clever and current wine-related costumes for the 18 km walk/run through the vineyards. Some readers may remember us as The Real House Wines of Vancouver and The Walking Red. This year our good neighbours to the south provided the inspiration. We thank you. And, in Canadian fashion, offer up apologies if our mockathon antics cause any offence. Continue reading

Categories: Activities, Crazy Fun Stuff | Tags: , , , , , | 21 Comments

Northern Laos Part III: A Perfect Day in Muang Ngoi

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Muang Ngoi’s spectacular riverside location—C.Helbig

We were loath to leave Nong Khiaw (see Parts I and II) and wondered whether Muang Ngoi, just an hour upstream on the Nam Ou, could hold as much appeal. It did, and perhaps even a tad more. Like Nong Khiaw, its riverside location and mountain scenery are stunning, but Muang Ngoi is smaller and even more basic and laid back. Mike and I agree that our favourite day of our travels through Cambodia and Laos was in Muang Ngoi: relaxing, hiking, caving, kayaking, and shopping for weavings (well, that last one was more up my alley).

Continue reading

Categories: Activities, Kayaking, Laos, Places | Tags: , , , , , | 27 Comments

Northern Laos Part II: Hike to Phadeng Peak Viewpoint, Nong Khiaw

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At the Nong Khiaw viewpoint—C.Helbig

If you only do one activity while visiting Nong Khiaw (other than lying in a hammock admiring the view) it should be hiking to Phadeng Peak viewpoint. I heard lots of excuses for not doing it: it’s too hot, cold, difficult, steep, early, late…Mike used a combination of these to talk himself out of the hike. I remember the regretful look on his face when he scrolled through my photos. He hadn’t expected the views to be that stunning (nor had I). Don’t miss out on this activity when you’re in Nong Khiaw. It’s well worth the roughly one hour uphill grunt, and the effort needed is not nearly as bad as many reviewers make it out to be. Continue reading

Categories: Activities, Hiking, Laos, Places | Tags: , , , | 37 Comments

Yant Flat, Dixie National Forest, Utah: Sandstone Drama

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“Quilted” Navajo sandsone at Yant Flat—C.Helbig

It was a fitting end to our last day in southern Utah: a little adventure, some drama, and a whole lot of natural beauty at Yant Flat, in Dixie National Forest near the town of Leeds. During our trip, I had become obsessed with the Dr.Zeuss-like playgrounds of swirling, colourful Navajo sandstone found in these parts. Meghan from Another Walk in the Park recommended Yant Flat (she has three great posts about the place). Yant Flat may not have quite the grandeur of South Coyote Buttes or White Pocket, but it does not require a permit, it’s easier to access, and is totally awesome. Continue reading

Categories: Hiking, Places, United States | Tags: , , | 29 Comments

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