Les Talk, More Travel

Juan de Fuca Trail Day 3: Chin Beach to Payzant Creek


Day 3: Chin Beach (km 21) – Payzant Creek (km 40)

Read about Day 1 and Day 2

This was the day I tried to get eaten by a bear!


Day 3 started out like the others, only a little wetter. We got up early, and headed out towards Little Kuitshe Creek, where we were planning to camp that night.

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The hike from Chin Beach to Sombrio Beach started out with some steep ups and downs, similar to the previous day, but this time they didn’t go on forever. There was a flat bit! And a few creek crossings with ropes, but these were fun and we made them look more dramatic in photos than they really were!

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Since it had rained the night before, the day brought a new challenge: mud! We’d encountered muddy spots before, but for the most part, we’d been able to manoeuvre around them, using rocks and tree stumps and packed down patches.

But today, we got the gaiters out! We knew we’d packed them for a reason! We couldn’t really avoid trekking through deep mud just east of Sombrio Beach, but at least the gaiters helped keep it out of our shoes. (Unless you have brilliantly designed boots with a breathable mesh front, like mine! Mud for days!)

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As we made our way onto Sombrio Beach, we met a woman who told us that there was a bear on the beach! “Don’t worry,” she informed us, “it’s a local, it’s friendly, and it won’t come too close”. We were delighted to see the black bear, looking for snacks on some rocks in the water.

We stood watching – at a very safe distance, with other campers – and I decided that this would be a good time for lunch. “Not here!” Kyla whispered, her expression incredulous, as she gestured towards the bear. “Oh, duh! Silly me!” I laughed, taking a half-eaten Cliff Bar out of my backpack. “I just needed a quick snack though,” I explained, shoving the remainder of the bar into my face. She shook her head at me, as we both continued snapping shots of the gorgeous bear.

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*Completely coincidentally*, right around the time I was finishing off the Cliff bar, the bear slowly turned towards us. It seemed to decide that, having found no saltwater treats, it needed a change of scenery. Again, slowly, it started ambling in our general direction. “Whoa, cool!” I whispered. Kyla was looking at me, eyes wide, probably wondering why she’d agreed to do this with me. “Babe, it’s time to go!” A few more clicks of the camera, and I reluctantly followed her further down the beach. As we watched the bear lumber right up to the spot where we’d been standing minutes earlier, I was incredibly grateful that my West Coaster girlfriend had been level-headed and forced me out of my camera-happy stupor!

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The people who’d been standing beside us a few moments ago hadn’t been smart like us, they stayed, taking photos. We watched them slowly backing away as the bear approached, awkwardly waving their can of bear spray, as if the bear knew what was in it. “God, what idiots,” I said, shaking my head and rolling my eyes. Kyla gave me a look. The bear looked bored, and headed into the forest.

So yes, as the story goes (according to Kyla), Leslie tried to get eaten, and Kyla saved her.

At an actual safe distance from the bear, we took a lunch break. Once we found the orange bobbles leading us back onto the trail, 5 more kilometres of hiking brought us to Little Kuitshe Creek! We’d made it! But… did we want to stop? I felt I had a bit more in me that day, and 7 more kilometres would bring us to a campsite much closer to the end of the trail. I loved the idea of an easy last day!

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We didn’t really know how to make the decision. We wanted to stop, because our bodies were telling us we needed to stop. But we wanted to wake up closer to the end of the trail. As we flopped down near the trail map, we saw a Swiss family walk by. We’d taken turns passing each other on the trail, and we figured that if they were still going, we might as well go too! We’d all be arriving at camp around the same time.

Bad decision! We were too ambitious, and each kilometre seemed never-ending. This was where the psychological challenge set in! We barely made it 4 km to Parkinson Parking Lot, between the two campgrounds. Our bodies were rebelling, and we were ready – like literally preparing – to set up camp on a patch of grass beside a parking lot. There was no bear cache, or water source, but there was an outhouse, and we’d figure something out. We took Tylenol, which began working its magic, and I took the heavy, wet fly from Kyla’s bag, trying to even the load. As we waited, somewhere between having made a decision and being really unsure about it, the Swiss family caught up. We chatted a bit, and “invigorated by their accents and determination” (Kyla), we told ourselves it was just 3 more km, and kept hiking.

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About 2 minutes later, we came to some grassy patches that actually looked like they could be campsites. They were near a stream, with a bridge overhead where we could hang our food. “Ok… JK, let’s sleep here,” we decided. We took off our packs, and headed towards the stream to filter some water. The only other people camping in the area were two guys in their 20s, and their two growly dogs. We approached them to find out how to get down to the creek, and they let us climb through their campsite. Great! They were smoking pot and drinking beer but, ya know, cool – they were enjoying themselves! They weren’t hiking or anything… just camping there… beside a parking lot. A little strange, but to each their own, we reasoned. We got our water, but as we got back to our packs, we looked at each other with the same thought: “Did they seem a little creepy?” We really had no way to determine whether we were being smart or paranoid, but we didn’t feel like finding out. (Also, apparently one of them looked like a villain from Orphan Black.) Decision made! “Invigorated by their sketchiness” (Kyla), we decided to keep going!


The kilometres stretched on forever, but the trail was fairly flat and didn’t seem so bad anymore. It started to rain right before we reached the campsite; we were so invigorated!! Finally, there it was, Payzant Creek and the 40 km sign!!! We’d ACTUALLY made it! We put up our tent SO quickly in the rain. So much for the hot meal we’d planned for that night, we inhaled protein bars and mixed nuts, and dove into our warm, dryish tent! (This involved carefully leaving our wet, stinky, muddy stuff and packs rolled up in a tarp in the outer vestibules.)

We were in too much pain for massages, so it was podcast time. The rain (and exhaustion) put us to sleep around 8pm, before our last day on the Juan de Fuca trail!

Juan de Fuca Trail Day 2: Bear Beach to Chin Beach


Day 2: Bear Beach (km 9) to Chin Beach (km 21)

Read about Day 1 here.

The 12 kilometres between Bear and Chin beaches are some of the hardest on the Juan de Fuca trail; almost the entire section is a series of steep ups and downs! We started out early, after filling our bellies with oatmeal and chocolate.

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Continue reading “Juan de Fuca Trail Day 2: Bear Beach to Chin Beach”

Juan de Fuca Trail Day 1: China Beach to Bear Beach


Kyla and I recently spent 4 days hiking the Juan de Fuca trail, a 47km coastal rainforest hike on Vancouver Island’s southwest coast. It was really hard! (Especially for an inexperienced hiker with minimal training, oops!) Lots of steep ups and downs, muddy sections, and tricky creek crossings which required creative, acrobatic moves while wearing a gigantic backpack! That said, it was absolutely achievable, and SO worth it! The trail offered spectacular ocean views and wildlife sightings, great nights of camping on beaches, and lots of hilarity. It was exhilarating to finish, and I’m still riding that high, feeling proud of what we accomplished. (Proud enough to earn a break from multi-day hiking for a while!)


Here’s the first post from my rundown of the trail (with occasional comments from Kyla!), with lots of pictures.  Continue reading “Juan de Fuca Trail Day 1: China Beach to Bear Beach”

Five Things to Do on Hornby Island


Last month I got invited to join Kyla and her family for a long weekend of camping on Hornby Island (I’ll ‘b’ careful not to misspell it). We spent five days there, so I was prepared for lots of lazing around, which – don’t get me wrong! – is a fantastic way to spend a vacation. What I didn’t realize was that there’s tons to do and see there! So while the island’s laid-back vibe meant plenty of recharge time, it was balanced out with lots of time exploring cute spots in town, gorgeous beaches and coastal bluffs, and checking out the bottom of many glasses of mead! Here are 5 suggestions for things to see and do while on Hornby Island:

Continue reading “Five Things to Do on Hornby Island”

Camping Like a BAMF on Mayne Island


Kyla and I spent a long weekend camping on Mayne Island last month and it was badass! Mayne is one of the Southern Gulf Islands, which sit in the Georgia Strait between Vancouver Island and Vancouver/mainland BC, and are home primarily to hippies, artists, and retirees (based on a mix of casual observation, anecdotal evidence, and census data). These quiet little islands can’t really be the site of much badassery, right? WRONG! (No, you’re right, but I lead a pretty tame life, so humour me with this one!)

Being a badass.

Here are some reasons why our weekend rocked, and tips so that you can have a badass-as-you-can-get-in-the-Gulf-Islands weekend too:

Continue reading “Camping Like a BAMF on Mayne Island”

Vegas: 5 Things to Love That Aren’t Gambling

20170402_004547     In March, I met my sister and three friends in Las Vegas. Monica (sis) is getting married this fall, and for a while she’d joked about how much fun it would be to do a Vegas bachelorette. It turned out that the plan made a lot of sense! We were coming from different cities in eastern and western Canada, and it was a good excuse for us to travel.


This was my first trip to Vegas, and I’d conjured up this weird, wonderful land in my mind, where my senses would be overloaded by sounds and lights day and night. When I saw the slot machines in the airport, I knew I hadn’t been far off!


As the hotel shuttle weaved on and off the strip, I craned my neck to see the oversized landmarks and famous hotels and casinos, smiling like crazy about how I was actually physically in this place that had always sounded like fiction. Here are five things I learned and loved about Vegas, the city that seems simultaneously so real and so fantastical: Continue reading “Vegas: 5 Things to Love That Aren’t Gambling”

Mystic Beach: Sunday sun day

This past weekend was the first in a long while that I didn’t have to do any school work. (Master’s complete! Woooo!) Naturally, that meant having a to-do list that’s been steadily growing since, ooh… September 2015! But after prioritizing filing our taxes on Saturday, Kyla and I decided to take advantage of a sunny day yesterday and go for a hike. Luckily, our friend who owns a car was free to join us, which meant we had way more options to choose from! We decided to head out to Mystic Beach, on the Juan de Fuca trail on the west coast of Vancouver Island.


Continue reading “Mystic Beach: Sunday sun day”

4 Reasons Why Japan is an Introverted Traveller’s Paradise

This one’s an oldie – it’s one of the first posts I published on this blog. I’m currently in the home stretch of my master’s degree, so it’s rerun time for blog posts!


Mt. Misen, Miyajima

I’m a major introvert. I like meeting new people and hanging out with friends, I but need a good dose of alone time afterwards to curl up in the fetal position re-energize. When travelling solo, I will almost always choose to spend time touring around on my own, rather than with a “new friend” (i.e. person I just met who I have to make small talk with).

When I visited Japan, I was feeling particularly introverted. I hadn’t travelled across the Pacific to get there; I’d come over on an hour-long flight from Seoul, where I was living at the time. I really just wanted to see all the cool things (and eat all the food) during the day, and retreat to my hostel to read and hang out in the evenings. I was a little worried about whether I would be missing out, but it turns out Japan is a great destination for solo-travelling introverts!

Here are 4 reasons why Japan might appeal to other solitary souls:
Continue reading “4 Reasons Why Japan is an Introverted Traveller’s Paradise”

Getting Naked with Strangers: Navigating the Korean Jjimjilbang

This one’s an oldie – it’s one of the first posts I published on this blog. I’m currently in the home stretch of my master’s degree, so it’s rerun time for blog posts! This is one of my absolute favourites, and since I’ve been dreaming about these warm spas lately, it seemed like the right choice!


One of the best ways to relax in Korea is to strip down and spend a day at the jjimjilbang, or public bathhouse/spa. If you’ve never been before, it can be a little overwhelming to figure it out. Namely: when should you be naked and when should you not be? (Coincidentally also one of life’s greatest questions.) Here are some guidelines for your first time.


Continue reading “Getting Naked with Strangers: Navigating the Korean Jjimjilbang”

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