Day 3, 10km
I did it!
50 km on the Sunshine Coast Trail and – the greatest part – with very limited negative repercussions. I admit, 50 km in 3 days was probably a wee bit too much. My ankles ended up being quite swollen and I was TIRED. And my knee pain was definitely more lupus-arthritis pain and swelling, as was the fatigue. So I did overdo it slightly but I still did not require any extra meds to get through the following days. I had a couple of extra naps and I took a couple of days off from biking over the rest of the trip (more on the rest of the trip in a subsequent blog). I need to emphasize this not only for myself (it is a good reminder) but to anyone else suffering from some type of illness: I could barely walk 100 m last summer. One year later, I completed a 50 km hike. Although everyone is different, if you listen to your doctors and take care of yourself, improvement is possible. As I’ve mentioned before, I have no idea how much more improvement I can expect. I can only take things day to day and carefully assess how I feel and that is the reality for the rest of my life (until there’s a cure, that is!).
I haven’t mentioned Shasta much but she was did so well. At 11 years old, we are cognizant of her limitations and paid careful attention to any signs of pain, exhaustion, or other discomfort. She was definitely tired – laying down in the shade and closing her eyes when we stop – but smiling the whole time. On Day 2, Adam did take her pack for the last few km but I’m not sure if he needed to. She loved the whole hike.
Onto the hike itself!
We awoke at Sliammon Lake and smiled at each other. Shasta crept up and squished in between us for some morning snuggles. Taking our coffees to the bench on the lake, we watched the sun dance and glimmer on the lake while listening as the chorus of birds gained volume and momentum. My favourite time while backpacking, it is a magnificent time to start the morning. Reluctantly, we tore ourselves away (the two of us could easily have stayed sitting in the forest silence all day, just drinking coffee). Gagging through a small portion of nasty, stale oatmeal, we counted our granola bars and remaining candy and hoped for a smooth 10km walk out to town to a restaurant.
Casting a final look on our little paradise, we shouldered our packs and headed towards town (and food). Low on energy, I can’t say we sailed along very quickly but we did make significantly better time than I had expected. I was suffering from joint pain but overall, the first few km were fairly smooth, easy walking. Although it was humid under the tree canopy, with limited sun exposure, it remained cool and comfortable. There was more forest road or double-track walking than had been on the rest of the trial so even on the small climbs, it really felt more like walking than hiking. Coming up to a viewpoint, we saw Powell River and could make out where we were headed to. Realizing we were at Scout Mountain, we opted not to do the summit alternate route and carried on along the primary trail.
Scout Mountain is a local’s favourite hike. I’m sure it would be a lovely side trip if you had more time (and food) but given the view we had from Gibraltar the day before, we skipped this one. And I am so thankful for that decision. The 2-3 km down Scout Mountain was the most rugged and difficult portion of trail thus far. Rocky with loose bit and big step downs, I had to give careful consideration where my next footfall would land. My shaking quads threatened to give out on every large step or hop down. Normally not one to enjoy exposed 4×4 or forest road hiking, I was quite grateful when we came upon the wide double track for the final km into town!
Dropping our packs at our vehicle, we peeled off our grimy socks and went for food. I really wish I could report that the meal was the most delicious food we had tasted in years but it was not to end that way. It wasn’t terrible but…it wasn’t exactly a highlight for us.
The Sunshine Coast Trail is beautiful and very well marked. In comparison to the rest of the trail, the portion we did had limited climbing. Further along the trail, there are higher peaks to enjoy. As it is a connection of a variety of local trails, it is perfectly suited for day hikers or small sections. I loved that there was so much water and it would likely be unnecessary to carry much more than 2 L at a time. (I did not carefully check the full length of trail so do be sure to do the necessary research).