Tackling the 75km West Coast Trail

I slipped my feet into the white sand. Its cool composure liberated me from the throbbing pain. I was too exhausted to jump into the ocean and wash out all the dirt on my face and my hands, and the sweat that has accumulated on my skin and my clothing. I laid there for a couple of hours, soaking in the warmth of the sun, the breeze of the sea, and the sand between my toes, thinking about nothing but: I did it!

Seven days ago, my girlfriend and I had packed our backpacks with everything we needed to survive for a week: camping gear, hiking clothes, dehydrated food, and survival kit. We had planned this trip for a few weeks and were anxious to finally begin. The West Coast Trail has always fascinated me. I’ve heard about it from fellow adventurers I’d met along my travels, and it seemed like the kind of adventure I had to put on my bucket list. I am no expert hiker, although I have several trips under my belt. The Pacific Northwest has been my backyard for over a decade now, offering many trails to wander, glacier-fed lakes to discover and mountain peaks to conquer. I have also hiked around Kathmandu, Nepal, staying in tea houses, eating home-cooked meals and carrying a small backpack. But the WCT was the kind of adventure I’ve never done before. It was a physical and mental challenge far beyond anything I’ve done. It was much more than just a stroll in the woods.

The West Coast Trail is a gruelling 75km long backpacking trail hugging the southwestern edge of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Construction of the trail debuted in 1889, originally part of a communication system connecting the British Empire in North America by an undersea cable which ran all the way to India. After the wreck of the Valencia in 1906, the trail was improved to facilitate the rescue of shipwrecked survivors along the coast. It is now part of Pacific National Rim and is known as one of the world’s top hiking trails.

Day 1: Embrace the opportunity
Gordon River to Trasher Cove- 6km

Butch took us to the trailhead across the Gordon river with his fishing boat. We jumped off the craft onto the sand, only to be welcomed by a 52 rung vertical climb ladder. Welcome to the WCT!

My bag was heavy. It pulled my shoulders and the strap on my chest pushed my lungs making it hard to breathe. It wasn’t that the trail itself was hard, but rather acclimatizing to my gear. My 43 pound bag carried all I needed for surviving a week in wilderness. I did read it shouldn’t be more than 30% of my weight, yet bringing a deck of cards, a reading book, tank tops and too much food seemed to be essential and weightless at first glance. I regretted my amateur decision of bringing the unnecessary every step I took, carrying a bag nearly half my weight, turning into a turtle camouflaged by her shell. It was a slow march through the woods, travelling 1km an hour.

As I hiked I pondered what drew me into doing this trail. It wasn’t solely for the remote beauty of the coastline, the impressive old growth forests and the endless empty beaches. I wanted to test my capabilities, to see how far I could go physically and mentally. I was attracted to the sheer challenge, to the experience, to the accomplishment, to the opportunity to learn and to grow.

When we got to Trasher Cove, we set up camp on the beach, and watched the sun disappear behind the trees, leaving an orange glow over the ocean. As the sun dimmed its light, we called it a night.

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Day 2: Slow down
Trasher Cove to Camper Bay- 8km

The sunrise was sublime. The sky was clear and the breeze was invigorating. We started the day on the beach at low tide, hiking on black stone shelves, careful about wet surfaces. This part was so beautiful, and pretty enjoyable to trek. We walked through a cave and arrived at Owen Point where a group of sea lions sun bathed on a rock erected from the ocean.

We hopped from boulder to boulder, jumped over crevasses, traversed the edge of a gully holding on a slippery rope.

The magnificence of the views muted me. I was in awe taking in impressive images of the vistas. We took our time, slowing down to admire the incredible landscape.

When the tide rose up, we entered the forest and finished the trek inland. It was muddy, extremely muddy, and we had to be very smart about each step. This very technical day ended up at Camper Bay, where we arrived in our first cable car.

As the sun shied away behind the clouds, we gathered around the campfire with fellow hikers, discussing of food and gear, and sharing stories of the trail and of home.

We retired early to our tent, away from the beach and sheltered in the trees. Then the rain began.

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Day 3: Love the journey
Camper Bay to Walbran- 9km

It poured all night, and it wasn’t ready to stop. We broke camp, put on our monster backpacks and headed back on the trail as the heavy rain lashed. The course was challenging and we got to test our skills and our sense of humour on slippery logs, impassable headlands, uncountable ladders, broken boardwalks, thick patches of deep mud, suspended bridges and one more cable car.

It wouldn’t have been the WCT if it wasn’t for the wet weather, the rugged terrain, the remoteness of the trail. I was soaked, dirty, sweaty, yet I couldn’t be more happy to walk this incredible journey.

As we reached our couple last kms, the sun slowly penetrated the clouds. The forest canopy stood high above me as the sun rays filtered through old growth trees. I fell in love with the lonesome beauty of nature. It was raw, it was pure, it was terrifyingly beautiful.

The trail opened up to the creek, that ran into the ocean. We walked through the fog, shuffling our tired and wet feet in the sand. Campers setting up their tent, warming up by a fire, and collecting water greeted us with a smile. It felt like a parallel universe, being alone all day in the wilderness and arriving to a place temporarily inhabited by humans. I grabbed my flask of maple whisky from my bag, and took off my shoes. I didn’t want to start a fire, set up the tent, get fresh water nor cook dinner. I wanted to admire that well-deserved sunset.

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Day 4: Things aren’t always like planned, and it’s okay
Walbran to Cribbs Creek- 11km

The morning light seeped into the tent. I forced my feet back into my wet socks and boots, and strapped my loaded bag on my back. Our plan was to hike on the beach, but the creek was too high to cross that early. We changed our plan and headed inland, after crossing our third cable car.

It reminded me how in life things don’t always go as planned, and it’s okay. Sometimes we have to change our route or take a detour, but that doesn’t mean we’re not on track.

We arrived at Cribs Creek where I immediately removed my wet gear. I skipped dinner, still full from my decadent $22 cheeseburger I had at Chez Moniques’, a 77-year-old lady who opened up a burger shack in the middle of the trail on reserve land. I was exhausted and chilled to the bones, so after setting camp I crawled in the tent, zipped myself into my sleeping bag, and let my head sink into my pillow.

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Day 5: Keep going forward
Cribs Creek to Tsutsiat Falls- 16km

It felt like a never ending story. My bag seemed heavier than the first day, carrying wet and sandy gear. It was a constant effort to stay upwright. I longed for nothing more than water and to take my pack off my shoulders.

It was a slow progress, stepping one foot in front of another, carefully watching every movement, every step.  My eyes focused on the slippery roots, the sinking mud holes, the loose sidewalk. It became so technical I’d forget to look up. I had to stop, not only to rest my back from the load, but to admire the scenery. I stood in a world of infinite, pure and quiet beauty.

I’d take a deep breath, taking in all the fresh air and the beautiful images. Somehow it gave me energy to pursue. As it reminded me why I was there on this trail, how going forward was the only way to see more, to know more, to live more.

The last couple of hours were brutal. My body was about to collapse in the loose sand, my hair sticking to my face, my provision of water rapidly diminishing. I knew I had to keep going forward, because going back to where I started wasn’t an option. So I put one foot in front of the other, over and over again, because at least I was going somewhere. And I was going to make it.

I was drained, in pain and on the verge of collapsing when we arrived to the falls, but I was also over joyed and astonished of how far I’d gone.

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Day 6: Appreciate the details in each moment
Tsutsiat Falls to Darling Creek- 12km

We woke up to the roar of plunging waves. We admired the falls rushing their fresh water into the ocean bed. The birds songs travelling through my head overpowered the pain on my body. I was ready for another day.

We started off with a series of climbing ladders. I’m not sure if I got used to them, but I didn’t mind them. I had a couple days left on the trail and I was going to win. The clouds rolled in but it never rained. The overcast weather was ideal. There were some really nice stretches in the forest, and cliffside paths, with the ocean appearing in occasional views. I had to pause to appreciate the precious details of my surroundings. It was the lush greens of the trees, the water dripping from the tip of the branches, the sun filtering its timid rays through the fog, the sea foam caressing the sand…

It made me realize that since I’ve been on the trail, my mind never wandered like it does back home. I was so focused on each moment, on each step, free of appreciating the perfection of every circumstances. My mind wasn’t trapped in the past or the future. I was right there, in the reality of the moment, precisely where I was supposed to be.

When we arrived to Darling Creek, we found ourselves completely alone in wilderness. Hikers kept going further on to the next camp. We decided to stay, and enjoyed the whole beach to ourselves. We finally managed to have a raging bonfire, dry our clothes and boots, carved our names on a buoy and share our highlights of our trip, while sipping on the last drops of our whisky and savouring the ice cider I kept for our last night.

The sun came out for a last show of setting light and glow.

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Day 7: Push your limits
Darling Creek to Pachena Bay- 14km

We rose up to a moon crescent and a starry sky. It was 4am and we had a big day ahead of us. We couldn’t miss our shuttle in Pachena Bay back to Gordon River, and considering our slow pace, we had to have an early start. We poured the Bailey’s we kept for that morning into our coffees. I don’t know if it was the caffeine I didn’t have in a week, or the small dose of alcohol in my body, or a sudden boost of stamina on my last day, but I felt awake and energized. I knew I had to push myself even more today than the others. I had to, and I would. I was committed to accomplish this hike with bliss.

The first couple of kms were on the pebbled beach. We arrived at the other camp where everybody were still snoozing. We tiptoed through the tents and took the trail inland, making our way through the forest in the darkness of dusk.

This last stretch was the easiest of the whole trail, and we crunched distance like superheroes. I didn’t let my back, nor my blisters, nor my aching knee, nor my exhaustion discourage me. I was in such a mindset to push and keep going that I couldn’t feel anything anymore but my mind taking over my body. I was in a state I haven’t been in while, pushing myself well beyond what I thought were my limitations. I became numb to my pain, and felt the exhaustive exhilaration of pushing myself to my limits, with a burning desire to make it to the end.

We travelled 14km in less than 3 hours. And then there it was, the end. We have arrived.

We did it.

We signed off and unloaded our packs from our backs. We took off our shoes and our gaiters. We were the first ones of the day to complete the hike, and we had 4 hours before our shuttle. So we took the trail that headed to the white sand beach.

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Humbled and blissed

The coastal trail had humbled me. I was brought into the flow of life, embracing the immense beauty and magic of each moment. I had pushed myself further that I’ve gone before, and discovered a strength within that assured me that I could achieve anything I set my mind to.

The WCT reminded me the importance of setting ourselves goals, pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone, challenging ourselves to take one more step, running when we can’t walk anymore. By physically and mentally pushing ourselves, we discover that pain and exhaustion lead to incredible feelings of joy and success.

Life is about choosing our own path, taking risks, embracing uncertainty, taking the unpredictable turn, falling down, getting up, and never giving up when the road gets tough. We are stronger and greater than we think, and are capable of anything we set ourselves for. As long as we keep moving forward. As long as we have the right mindset and are not afraid to cross the creek and get wet.

How Living In A RV Made Me Rich

What is it that we really need in life? Shelter, food and water, clothes, love, safety? While those are the biological needs of the human being, the modern world has added a terrifying item to the list: money. In fact, money has created a world of wants over needs, a society of consumerism with a lust for wealth and power. But does money make us rich?

While most will refer to being rich as material wealth and copious amounts in bank accounts, I believe being rich is a quality of life. Being on earth is a gift of incredible wealth and money is only delusional. In fact, money creates unethical and immoral behaviours, and distracts and disconnects us from living a nourished and meaningful life.

Last summer I bought an RV. I was tired of paying steep rent and always being behind with money. Little did I know how much it would change my life. In fact, it made me richer. Here’s how:

I have time to appreciate the little things

When I downsized my life to live in a trailer, I never felt so relieved. I finally got rid of things I didn’t need, and only kept the necessary. Long hot showers, laundry and TV have become luxurious activities. Big dinner parties have turned into outdoor gatherings. A large wardrobe have turned into a small selection of clothing. Owning less makes me appreciate what I have even more. And anything else is luxury. Owning less makes you realize that you are doing just fine with what you have. It makes you appreciate the little details that life brings. It makes you slow down, take the time to smell the fresh air, and admire what’s around you. It makes you grateful.

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Downsizing hasn’t felt so good, considering all this immense and stunning backyard I get in return. Far from the city lights, I can see the sky so starry on clear nights. Would you stay in a 5-billion-star resort like this one?

I have the ability to live wherever I want

By opting for a life in a trailer, I can go day by day and and am not attached to any mortgage, or lease. I can choose to take on the road to choose a different backyard, or set anchor for a while. Having the freedom to move whenever and wherever I want means that I am not tied anywhere and am free to live the life I want to lead.

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I hiked it, I flew above it, and now my home is parked beside it. Yet, I cannot express the feeling I get each time I admire nature performs around this pinnacle of volcanic rock. Couldn’t be more grateful to have the view of the mighty Black Tusk right from my window. Love this backyard!

I am debt free

Owning less means more money in my pockets. In a few months I managed to pay off a travel debt that followed me for years. I was never able to pay it with my rent being so steep. Living in a trailer means that my bills are much lower. I also drive a used car that I purchased cash, as well as my trailer. Living with the minimum means that I have fewer bills (campground fees, cellular, and car insurance). Now I spend less than what I earn, and manage to have some savings that allow me to get closer to my dreams. Being debt free and financially stable is a pure freedom.

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My shelter, my ride and my company. This is home, and I have all I need.

I choose experiences over possessions

I have less goods to take care of and don’t need a stressful high-paying job that I don’t like just to pay the bills. That way I have more free time being with the people I love, bonding with my dogs, spending time outdoors, getting creative, and pursuing my passions. With more money in my pockets and more free time, I get to travel more, adventure often and experience life at its fullest.

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Spending a day in my backyard.

I own less, but I gain more

By owning less, I have the opportunity to live more. Living off grid gives me the opportunity to get closer to nature. Not only does living in nature is known to lower stress and increase happiness and physical health, but it also offers me a unique and incredible backyard overlooking the range of the Coast Mountains. I might live in a small trailer, but my backyard is immensely peaceful, inspiring and grand.

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One of the privilege of living off grid is to have an immense playground to ourselves.

Wealth is subjective. But I sincerely believe that money doesn’t make us rich. We have to think beyond money to define success. In fact, happiness is the key to success. When you start appreciating the little things in life, take time for yourself, cherish love, kindness, gratitude and compassion, nurture social connections and family ties, spend less than what you earn, own less to live more, I think you find the true essence of being. Once you understand that wanting is a desire and not a necessity, you start living authentically. And being content and happy with what you have, I think that’s the richest a man can be.

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Right here, tucked into wilderness, and inside my RV, I got everything I need. This lifestyle allows me to get closer to nature and to people, spend more time doing things I am passionate about, focus on dreams and goals, and connect with my one-self. And for me, that is true wealth.

2015 Challenge Accomplished: 20 Adventures In the PNW ✓

In 2015, I chose not to travel overseas in order to save money and focus on other projects. It was a tough decision, since I have been travelling around the globe annually for the past 14 years. It was something I had to do, in order to financially get back on track and work on my future. But not travelling doesn’t mean not exploring. I am fortunate to live in an area that offers such an incredible playground. So at the beginning of the year, I challenged myself in doing at least 20 adventures around the beautiful Pacific North West. 

#1. Snowboard trip to Red Mountain, Rossland.

#2. Winter canoeing on Green Lake.

#3. Nordic skiing nights at Callaghan Country.

#4. Fly over the Pemberton Icefield to the Meager Creek hotsprings aboard a helicopter.  

#5. Hike the Sea-to-Sky trail from Whistler to Brandywine.

#6. Camping-canoe trip to Marble Canyon.

#7. Hike to Stawamus Chief to catch the last rays of sunset.

#8. Take a floatplane to Vancouver from Whistler.

#9. Play tourists and bicycle Vancouver’s famous seawall, and through Stanley Park.

#10. Surf trip to Tofino.

#11. Hike Joffre Lakes.

#12. Weekend escapes to Anderson Lake.

#13. Ocean camping in the Gulf Islands.

#14. Family trip to Hornby Island.

#15. Pig roasting at a beach in the middle of a mountain to celebrate the end of the summer.

#16. Night canoeing under a full moon at Callaghan Lake.

#17. Hike the Skywalk trail up to Iceberg Lake.

#18. Spend a night at a cabin in the backcountry.

#19. Night iceskating under the full moon at Joffre Lakes.

But the most amazing adventure of the year:

#20. I bought my first home (on wheels)! I am now living off the grid, a lifestyle I’ve always dreamt about.

It is important to pause once in a while and look what’s around us. We don’t always have to travel across the globe to explore new paths and be treated with incredible views. Beauties are within reach and waiting to be discovered. And sometimes, it is the people who tag along, our home buddies, furry friends or family that make the journey worth of all beauties.

I am excited for 2016. I am well-rested, projects in hand and ready to move mountains! I wish you all a safe journey to the new year, filled with new beginnings, new dreams and new adventures!

Preparing for a Winter in a Trailer: Winterizing the RV

Owning a RV is in all a project and adventure. As newbies of the RV culture, there is so much to learn, especially with winter around the corner. Depending on how El Nino will affect our region this season, it is prudent to expect lots of heavy snowfall. Plus, we are sitting on an edge, offering pristine views of the mountains, but also exposed to cold wind swirls. To have our RV ready for winter, there are a few things we need to do.

Skirting

Building a skirt to the bottom of the RV will break the wind from cooling the underside of the trailer and can help to keep the rig warm. You can purchase a skirt if your trailer didn’t come with one, or you can build one. We wrapped the bottom of the trailer with foam boards to create an insulation. Then we secured them with plywood. We heard that keeping a space heater works wonderfully as well, to keep the bottom of the trailer warm as well as to prevent the tanks, pipes and hoses to freeze. When snow comes, we will tuck the skirt bottom with snow to give it an igloo effect. Now we just have to watch for rodents!

Roofing

We haven’t quite decided what we will do with the roof. As we aren’t staying at one place permanently, we can’t built a shelter on top of our flat roof to allow the snow to slide off. We also heard that tarps are a no-no. However, we will make sure that we keep shoveling the snow carefully and hope for the best!

Water Hose and Sewer Pipes

We wrapped the water hose and pipes with thick blankets. We heard that heating pads and 40-watt bulbs work well. We will also put an electric heater under the trailer to create heat flow and protect tanks and pipes from freezing.

Windows

We placed shrink film on the insides of the windows to help eliminate cold drafts and reduce condensation.

Condensation

Cooking, washing, showering or even just breathing create condensation. We haven’t had any issue with it yet, but it is something to be aware of, especially living with 2 adults and 2 dogs. When cooking, we always use the stove fan and open up the roof vent. It would be the same thing for showering however, we chose to shower at the campground facilities instead (their showers are amazing!). We might get a dehumidifier for the winter, depending on the level of condensation.

Heat

We chose to use electric heaters to keep the place warm. Electric heaters don’t create moisture and warm up the place pretty quick. We have an electric fireplace that we use when we are here, and at night and during the day we leave an electric oil heater on. Depending how cold it gets this winter, we will try not to use the propane furnace too much as it will get expensive and is bad for moisture. Be sure to read and follow all your heaters warnings and rules. Also get a carbon monoxide detector. Stay warm but mostly be safe!

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We are excited to spend a winter in our new home on wheels. Even though it is quite some preparation to get ready for the cold months and still lots to learn, we cannot wait to wake up to nature, wearing its white and sparkly robe, and go for hikes, snowshoe, nordic ski and sled right off our door steps!

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Hornby Island for a Family Vacation

Raised by a single mother and with an older brother that took on his freedom filled life as soon as I was born, I never really had the chance to understand the term “family vacation”. Of course my mom always made sure we would go on road-trips and explore the beautiful corners and cultural gems of the province of Quebec. It was always a memorable mother-daughter vacation, sometimes tagged with our furry friends.

My brother settled in British Columbia 15 years ago where he met his wife and her family. My first solo flight was when I was 15, to go and visit him on the other side of the country. I got really close to this new circle, a reconstructed family of many siblings. Now that my brother and I both live in the province, he on the island, and I in the mountains, we don’t see each other as often as we wish, but I try to commit to once a year since he now has two beautiful blooming boys. So, when my brother and his wife invited me to their annual family vacation on Hornby Island, there was no way I could miss this special reunion.

We left Whistler on Friday afternoon after work. We boarded the 5:20pm ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay. The 1:40min scenic ride through the Gulf Islands was refreshing and relaxing, soothing a long work week.

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Once in Nanaimo, we drove north on Highway BC-19A. I had booked a campsite at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, just to make the trip less cumbersome and more enjoyable. Rathtrevor Park is located along the shoreline, in the city of Parksville. The campground is very clean and the sites are large, well-maintained and just few steps from the beach.

In the morning, Juno and I went for a stroll. We traversed the short path to the beach across an old-growth forest. The low tide left us with many treasures to find on the golden sand. I took deep breathes and soaked in the fresh air.

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After everything was packed up, we head back on the Oceanside Highway and drove north towards Buckley Bay. We hopped on the ferry towards Denman. Then drove accross the island and took another 10min-ferry onto Hornby.

Hornby Island has a small community of less than 1,000 residents, mostly artists, retirees, bohemians, and any lovers of the remote rural island life. We followed the road that hugged the sandstone shorelines, making our way to the northeast of the island. We arrived at Tribune Bay Campground, where we set up camp. The clouds slowly covered the sky, predicting a heavy rain. We set up a large tarp above our site, making our cozy home for the weekend.

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The rain arrived at the same time as my family. We greeted under the protecting trees. We built a shelter from pop-up tents and tarps where we found dry refuge for the afternoon. After dinner we sat around the fire-pit, catching up with the grown-ups while grandma told stories to the kids.

The weather cleared out the next morning and we spent the day at Tribune Bay Beach. The kids played in the waves, leftover from the stormy weather.

In the evening we headed to the Pizza Galore. We sat on blankets on the soft grass in the middle of an orchard. Under an apple tree we opened our bottle of wine and enjoyed delicious homemade pizzas. A live band paired our meals with notes of beautiful music while kids played hide and seek, and others played boardgames under the trees.

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The sunbeams scattered the sky. We spent another night around the fire pit, telling stories and playing games. And when the night reached its deep darkness, we took a stroll on the beach. We watched the constellations grace the night as the shooting stars ignited one by one.

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We woke up to a stunning sky. The rain evaporated from the heating ground. The kids rushed through breakfast, ready to hit the beach. We headed to Helliwell Beach, located on a headland at the southeast of the island. The sand is white, the beach endless, and the water of a crystal clear blue I have never seen in Canada.

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It was a beautiful day skimboarding, kayaking and paddleboarding.

The girls even opened up a sand spa for anyone keen of a natural seaside massage.

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It was time for me to head back. I kissed and hugged deeply everyone goodbye. As we drove away, I waived a last farewell to my brother still standing on the beach watching me depart.

The 3 ferries home gave me the time and the space to imprint all those beautiful memories I had made. I thought about my dear mother, who I wished could’ve made the trip from the East. I am so privileged to have the mother and the brother that I have, along with all my consanguinity family. I am also so grateful to be part of this circle of people that I have met at 15 years old, half way through my current life. I hope to many more family vacations.

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Whether they are your parents, sibblings, family members, affinities, friends, or whoever with there is a sense of belonging, unconditional love, mutual respect and care, acknowledge who those people are and make time for them, as often as you can. Family is not an important thing. It’s everything. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to call my mother.

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The Ocean Is Calling And I Must Go

There is a place on the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island that was built for dreamers: a place where the salty air is curing, the cold ocean is rejuvenating, and the lush rainforests are reinvigorating. A place where people go to gaze at the ocean in peace, and experience nature at its humblest best.
Tofino is indeed an oasis of nature’s wonders. With its beautiful old-growth coastal forests, abundant wildlife and miles of sandy beaches, this little surfing town attracts many surfers, outdoor adventurers, soul searchers, and nature lovers every year.
There’s been a lot of change recently in my life, and after a long winter spent in the mountains, I felt an overpowering urge to be by the ocean. So when Corianne showed interest for a weekend getaway, there were no doubts we had to make a trip to Tofino. We left Whistler at dusk on Saturday morning and headed South to catch the 8:30am BC Ferry leaving Horseshoe Bay towards Nanaimo. The 2 hour-ride through the Gulf Islands was scenic, as we sat in the rear deck, sheltered from the wind, exposed to the morning sun.
image Once in Nanaimo, we drove north on Highway 19, a car loaded with camping gear and a sun blasting in the sky. We crossed the island on Highway 4 towards Clayoquot Sound, meandering through a coastal forest of old-growth oaks. The beams of the afternoon sun poured through trees and fog. We travelled the road through the rugged coast, ascending and descending, swirling and twisting, until we arrived to the coastal town of Tofino.

We had booked camping on the beach at Bella Pacifica located on Mackenzie Beach. We set up camp and retired on the beach for the evening as the sun was setting. Along with wine, cheeses, and charcuterie, we admired the hues of the sky as the sun retired behind the evening haze.

We woke up early the next morning to another beautiful and sunny day. We brewed fresh coffee and took a stroll on the beach. As we shuffled our bare feet in the sand, we found ourselves spectators of a rare scene: the beach was blanketed by thousands of blue tiny creatures called “sail jellyfish”, scientifically known as Velella velella, that washed ashore during the night. At the rocky shores of the bay, we explored the tidal pools at low tide and spotted many starfishes and sea anemones. Amongst curious children, we were fascinated by the stunning diversity of marine life.

There was a short hike I’ve heard of and really wanted to do. It wasn’t on any map, so after asking a few locals, I had enough clues to hunt for the hidden trail. I couldn’t be more happier when I found the entrance, and I couldn’t be more excited when we reached the top, overlooking the panoramic view of Cox Bay.

After a lunch of fresh tuna tacos at Tacofino, we headed back to Cox Bay with our surfing gear. Time to slip in the wetsuit, put on the booties, strap the leash and head to the water. I am no surfer. But I can play in the waves. And here in Tofino, there is no better place than its beautiful beachbreaks and high waist waves. IMG_9587 I took a moment to embrace my surroundings: The water slipping off my forehead, the air cleansing my lungs, the setting sun warming up my skin, and a setting to dream for. I glanced at my friends, who glanced back, nodding for this inspiring moment we shared. We spent the night by the campfire on the beach, along with friends we met. The moon rose and settled in the sky, full and ripe, stretching its light far in the distance. We watched fireworks exploding in the clear sky while the sounds of drums resonated through the night.

We woke up the second morning to an overcast sky. After we packed our gear we made a stop to the beach. Corianne went for a last surf session while I watched her played in the wave under the rain, sitting cozy in my camping chair.

We headed back to Nanaimo in the afternoon to catch the last ferry. The sun eventually broke through the clouds, taking over the sky. The ferry ride made us speechless, as we watched the sunrays painting the sky, as it retired behind the islands. IMG_9693 Coastal living offers wonderful benefits. Not only does spending time by the ocean balances the body and creates physical harmony, but it also allows us to take a moment to pause, reflect, meditate and embrace solitude. It brings us to a tranquil state of mindfulness and awareness, and gives a sense of freedom. It clarifies the mind and opens up to new perspectives. There is something healing about looking at the ocean, listening to the soothing sound of the waves pounding on the shore and breathing the invigorating fresh air. So if you ever need to calm your mind, improve your physical health or find inspiration and purpose to your life, perhaps all you need is a holistic dose of Vitamin Sea. image

Rohr Lake – Cayoosh Range, BC

Camping has always been an important part of my life. Since I moved to the west coast in 2003, I camp almost every weekend from late spring to early autumn. In the winter, I camp in the cabins of the backcountry. I don’t mind cold temperatures and am not scared of the wild. In fact, I always put up my tent in the wilderness, places where no one goes, and probably no one’s been. Camping is for me a way of disconnecting from the hustling of my everyday life, reconnecting with myself and finding healing through nature. In fact, for me, there is nothing like the feeling of the mothering power from the earth under my bare feet, the cleansing of my lungs from the pure air, the soothing sound of nature in my ears, and the eye candy images of the natural beauty surrounding me.

I have done truck, boat, canoe, and snowmobile camping. However, I have never camped by foot. I have done a lot of day hikes. However, I have always come back at dusk thinking how great would it be to sleep here under the stars. When I called my outdoorsy friend Claudel and explained her my plan, she jumped aboard instantly.

Most of the hiking trails here in the Sea to Sky are part of Provincial Parks or are watershed areas. Both owners of active dogs, we had to find a trail that allowed our furry friends to happily run wild and free. After a long research, I found Rohr Lake.

Rohr Lake is situated in the Cayoosh Range, on an alpine bench north east of Mt Rohr. The trail is a 15km round trip, for beginner/advanced hikers. I had never heard of it, neither Claudel. There wasn’t much information on the Internet or in the trailmap book, only a few blogs from people that attempted the trail. Perfect, we thought, an unknown and uncrowded trail, exactly up our alley!

We each packed a travel backpack with warm and light clothes, hiking shoes and flip-flops. We had one tent, a chicken salad, a homemade guacamole and corn chips, 2 panini sandwiches, a bunch of grapes and a few energy bars. Claudel brought her sleeping bag and mattress. I went commando on that. I had to leave room for the wine (2 bottles of red, and a sparkling for the mimosas in the morning. Oh and a 6-pack of ciders). Water, dog food, flashlights, whistles, lighters, tissues, cups, cutlery… Our bags were probably half our weight.

It was the last day of spring, on a beautiful and sunny late morning in June. We drove north on Highway 99 to Mt Currie towards Lillooet, on the Duffy Rd. When we passed Joffre Lakes and crossed the first bridge, we turned left onto an unassigned logging road.

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We drove as far as our car could go, and parked on the side of the trail. If you have a 4WD, you can probably access the trailhead. 

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We walked the rest of the road to the beginning of the trail. It wasn’t much later than 15 min of walking on an easy surface that I thought to myself: Maybe Claudel was right, we could have brought just one bottle of wine…

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The first few km were quite lovely. It was a very easy hike through a well marked forest trail. At times we hopped on rocks to cross streams, at other times traversed stomps over creeks.

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After a steep path, we arrived at the intersection of Aspen and Rohr Lake, where we stopped to catch our breath.

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After a confusion in directions, having to drop our bags down on the ground and search for the trail, we found our way and got back on track. The soil was muddy and slippery, wet and snowy. Yet, we were still pretty clean. We made our way to the alpine meadow, where a blanket of moss appeared under the melting snow.

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There was so much snow still that no trail was to be seen. On our right side, there was a rock facade where the stream came down. We knew there was going to be an abrupt 300m uphill, and there it had to be. We left the bags on the grass and climbed the rocks. Miraculously, I spotted a red little flag attached to a tree, flowing in the wind. We scrambled back down the rocks, and picked up our loads.

This wasn’t easy. As much as I could freely jump from rock to rock without my bag, now with 50 pounds glued to my back, I felt unbalanced with a lack of dexterity.

“So this is what it is to hike with an alcoholic!” mocked Claudel, with a winking smile, while climbing the wall with both hands and feet.

Indeed, the fermented juice we both carried made the hike most challenging. Yet, so rewarding!

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After climbing the steep hill, reaching for rocks through the stream and our feet sinking in mud, we made our way on top. We turned around and caught a glimpse of the alpine.

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We made it to Rohr Lake, pristine water surrounded by beautiful mountain. Plus, we had it all to ourselves!

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Why bring a mattress when you can find natural cushiness? I made one from cedar. Even Lady used it for a rest.

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The wine was definitely worth the effort and the sweat!

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We celebrated the summer solstice that night up at Rohr Lake. We said farewell to spring as the sun hid behind the mountains. We watched the stars shimmer the sky at night. And when the sun rose up from a short night sleep, we listened to the birds chirping to a new and beautiful morning of summer.

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10 Easy Camping Food

If you browsed my blog recently, you might have noticed that I have been enjoying the great outdoors frequently this summer. Just like travelling, camping is for me a way of connecting with the nature and reconnecting with myself. After a long busy week at work, I find comfort in the wilderness. But camping isn’t just a nature occurrence, it could also be a culinary experience.

For those who are tired of the classic wiener on a bun, here are 10 easy camping food to prepare at home (for most of the recipes I haven’t included measures since I like to go freestyle when I cook):

1. Mexican Breakfast     ***Pair with a Ceasar***

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Photo taken from http://www.cookorgreenic.com

My brother introduced me this flavouring Mexican dish at my first wild camping adventure out West when I was 15. It stayed one of my favourite since. No preparation needed, except for the guacamole.

Ingredients:

  • Tortillas
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Refried beans
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Homemade guacamole

Prepare the guacamole in advance. Put cheese and refried beans on tortilla, then fold in 2. Place on BBQ grill until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crispy. Garnish of a generous portion of salsa, sour cream and guacamole. You could add an egg on top as well.

2. Omelette with Pan-fried Potatoes    ***Pair with a coffee Bailey’s***

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Photo taken from http://www.thedailymuse.com

This earthy meal is easy to prepare and will wake you up nicely.

Omelette ingredients:

  • Your favourite fresh vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Cheese (I use cheddar or feta)
  • Cooked bacon (could also be ham)
  • Salt and pepper

Chop the veggies, cheese and meat. In a bowl, beat the eggs and milk. In a Mason jar, combine all dry ingredients together. In a second Mason jar, put the liquid mixture. Once at your outdoor kitchen in the woods, pour the content of the 2 jars in a hot pan and cook just the way you like it.

Pan-fried potatoes ingredients:

  • Red russet potatoes
  • Onion
  • Green onion
  • seasonings

Cut potatoes in half and boil until tender, but still a bit crunchy. Place in a plastic container and toss in olive oil and seasonings. All you need to do is to pan fry until nice and crispy!

Another alternative to this recipe is to put the omelette and hashbrowns in a wrap with sour cream and salsa. It makes a delicious breakfast wrap!

3. Mini-quiches   ***Pair with a homemade Sparkling White Wine Sangria***

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Either for breakfast, snack or dinner, these mini-quiches are a real treat!

Ingredients:

  • Mini-quiches shells (I use Tenderflake)
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Bacon (or ham)
  • Frozen spinach
  • Feta
  • Cheddar
  • Salt and pepper

Cook the bacon, then chop in small pieces. Unfreeze and drain spinach. Cut feta in small cubes. Beat eggs and milk together, add salt and pepper. Mix the bacon, spinach and cheese to the egg mixture and pour the filling in defrosted shells. Shred some cheddar cheese on top. Follow to instructions for cooking.

4. Ham & Cheese Waffles   ***Pair with a Mimosa***

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You need a waffle maker for this one.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cheese
  • 3/4 cup cubed cooked ham or bacon

Beat eggs, milk and oil in a bowl. Combine flour, baking powder and salt, add to egg mixture and beat until smooth. Add cheese and meat. Pour in waffle maker and cook until brown and crispy. Once cooled down, you can store the waffles in aluminum paper. Place them on the BBQ grill until well toasted. Butter up and put maple syrup. Serve with a fruit salad. You’ve got yourself a delicious sweet and salty delicatessen.

5. C.H.E.L.T Croissants    ***Pair with a Cider or a Stout***

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Photo taken from http://www.babyhedgehogs.wordpress.com

My boyfriend’s favourite!

Ingredients:

  • Croissants
  • Cheese (Brie is phenomenal in this)
  • Ham (for optimum pleasure, substitute for prosciutto)
  • Eggs
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Mayo

Don’t need to give you directions here. Pretty simple. But make sure you toast the whole package on the BBQ grill. Yum!

6. Antipasto Platter    ***Pair with a Pinot Grigio or Dolcetto***

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Photo took from http://www.mygoalcalledlife.com

So much to say here! But I’ll link those recipes to awesome food website. Here are some ideas for when the sun is hot in the afternoon and you want a light snack, or to open your appetite before dinner. Plus in camping, we always eat.

Ingredients:

  • Hummus
  • Artichoke dip
  • Selection of cured meat
  • Assorted of olives (don’t forget the blue cheese stuffed olives)
  • Marinated vegetables
  • Selection of cheeses
  • Bread
  • Crackers
  • Crudities

7. Marinated Thai Chicken Shish-kabob with Green Bean Salad    ***Pair with a Gewürztraminer***

My mom’s recipe, a true finger licking dish.

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Photo taken from http://www.tasteofbbq.com

Thai chicken ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Fish sauce
  • Oil
  • Garlic
  • Cumin powder
  • Coriander
  • Curry powder
  • Sambal oelek
  • Maple syrup (or brown sugar)

Cut the chicken in bite sizes. Pour all ingredients in a dish plate. Make sure the chicken is all submerged. Cover and refrigerate all night. Place on sticks (if wooden sticks make sure they soaked prior in water). Place in Ziploc bag. Cook on BBQ.

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Photo and part of recipe taken from http://www.chow.com

Green bean salad ingredients:

  • Finely chopped shallot
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Minced garlic clove
  • Haricots verts
  • Grainy Dijon mustard
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh parsley

Cook the shallot, vinegar, and garlic in a pan.  Prepare the beans by cutting the stem end off of each, then boil in salted water. When the shallot mixture is ready, add the mustard and add salt and pepper. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream. Stir in the capers. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed; set aside. When the beans are cooked, drain and add to mixture. Toss well. Put in a plastic container and refrigerate. Serve as a succulent side with the Thai chicken.

8. Grilled Prawns with Orzo Salad   ***Pair with unoaked Chardonnay***

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Photo took from http://www.figandcherry.com

Marinated prawns ingredients:

  • Prawns (or shrimps if preferred)
  • Garlic
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • White wine (if you are a fan of prawns, I’m sure there’s some kicking around)
  • Salt and pepper

Marinate the crustacea in oil, garlic and salt and pepper (you can place them on sticks if you want them as skewers, make sure again to soak the wooden sticks in water prior). Ceil in Ziploc bag and refrigerate overnight. When you are ready to feast, add the citrus juice and the white wine to the bag and mix well. Wrap the prawns in foil paper and place on BBQ grill until cooked the way you like (just a few minutes). Or place directly on grill if they are on sticks.

Orzo salad:

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Photo taken from http://www.maeskitchen.com

I always have this side dish during Christmas and Thanksgiving and it’s been so delicious that I modified it a bit and started to add it to our camping menu.

Ingredients:

  • Orzo
  • Frozen spinach
  • Feta cheese
  • Walnuts
  • Bacon
  • Dried cranberries
  • Oil
  • Salt and pepper

Cook orzo. Chop bacon and cook. Toast walnuts. Once the orzo is cooked, drain and let it cool down. Then add all ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well. Add oil to the salad so it doesn’t sticks. Add salt and pepper. Place in plastic container. Yummy side dish that is as good heated or cold (I prefer it cold).

9. Pasta   ***Pair with a Shiraz***

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Photo taken from http://www.bravetart.com

A lot of people don’t think about bringing pasta in camping. But it’s actually very easy to make with no preparation needed (unless you want to add extra to it).

Ingredients:

  • Ravioli or tortellini of your choice
  • Sauce of your choice

Boil water in a pot and cook ravioli for 6-8 min. Add sauce. I even add some cured meat from my antipasto platter and add some cheese on top. Voila!

10. Papillote   ***Pair with a Malbec***

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A bit of preparation at home and a bit of time to cook, but once you dig in it, I assure you that you won’t be able to stop.

Ingredients:

  • Yams
  • Potatoes
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Brocoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Cheese (I use cheddar, my boyfriend uses Velveta cheese)
  • Sausages
  • Butter
  • Seasonings

Cut the vegetables in bite sizes. Take the sausage meat out of the skins. In a large piece of foil paper, place the vegetables, sausage meat, squared pieces of butter and cheese. Combine everything together. Season well. Foil the paper and refrigerate. Just before dinner time, place the papillote in the BBQ (you could also put it straight on the fire). Cook 30-40 min or until everything is soft and hot. This savoury and juicy meal will bring comfort and warmth after a full day playing outside.

Bon Appetit!

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Note:  I am not a food blogger and these recipes are just ideas I share with you. Also, I lost my recent pictures on my phone hence the few pictures taken from the Internet. I hope you enjoyed and I wish you a happy end of summer!