Canada

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

100th Post: Ten Places that have “Stuck with Me”

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Skyline Ridge Loop at Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish, British Columbia

I was going to continue with my Laos series when I noticed that this is my 100th post. To celebrate, I decided to do a post about places that have stuck in my mind and in my heart. It was a tough exercise limiting this to only ten (there are many runners up). I took a broad approach to the word “place” and the list includes countries, regions, and provinces. A few of the places are from visits that happened long before I’d ever heard the word “blog” or even used a computer, and I’m happy to be sharing these “old” favourites. Thank you for reading, for your likes and comments, and motivating me to keep at it. Continue reading

Categories: British Columbia, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Namibia, Places, Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

Feeling Grateful for the Trails at Capilano River Regional Park, North Vancouver

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Capilano River Regional Park in North Vancouver, British Columbia is just a short drive from my house. I go there to run or walk at least once a week. Easily accessible trails weave along the Capilano River and through lush coastal rainforest. Giant red cedar trees and Douglas fir abound. Ferns and fungi thrive.  Eagles swoop through the steep-sided canyon and spawning salmon make their incredible journey up the raging river. Incredibly, this park is only 10 km (6 miles) from downtown Vancouver. As Mike and I were in the park, attempting to walk off several rounds of Thanksgiving dinner (Canadian), it occurred to me that I’ve never posted about this beautiful place that I feel very grateful to have in my backyard.

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Categories: Activities, British Columbia, Canada, Hiking, Places | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Multi-day Cycling on Vancouver Island’s Lochside and Galloping Goose Trails

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Selkirk Trestle, Galloping Goose Trail—C.Helbig

Mike and I recently purchased hybrid bikes. We’ve taken them for spins in the Vancouver area but this was their first test on a multi-day trip. We drove to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal (south of Vancouver), parked our car and boarded the ferry with just our bikes and brand new panniers. It was nice…this unencumbered feeling. An hour and a half later, in Swartz Bay, Vancouver Island, we rode off the ferry and directly onto the Lochside Trail. For four days and 200+ km, we rode the Lochside and Galloping Goose trails, passing along ocean and through forests, farmlands, wetlands, towns, and B.C.’s lovely capital city, Victoria. Continue reading

Categories: Activities, Biking, British Columbia, Canada, Places | Tags: , , , , , | 14 Comments

Fall Colours: Hiking Skyline Ridge Trail, Sea to Sky Gondola

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Great fall colours with view to Mt. Habrich—C.Helbig

There’s something about the colours of fall—the warm russets, shimmering golds, and bold scarlets—that make hiking during this season particularly enjoyable and inspire me to get on the trails. Recently, I had a glorious day on Skyline Ridge Trail at the Squamish Sea to Sky Gondola with fellow hiking enthusiasts Nicole and Jane. I’ve posted about this hike before, as part of an amazing, mildly scary loop from Sky Pilot Valley and over Copilot Ridge. This time we did Skyline Ridge as an out and back hike (not at all scary) of  22-24 km (7-8 hours). It’s a stunning hike and the fall colours are icing on the cake.

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Categories: Activities, British Columbia, Canada, Hiking, Places | Tags: , , , | 15 Comments

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