Anwen Roberts

Squamish to Sunshine Coast Trail

This week I got three days off in a row, which has been a rare thing this summer.
Naturally I was determined to plan incredible things to maximize this time. After eliminating the best options that maybe weren’t so feasible (visit space, write a novel, become amazing at playing guitar), I decided to go on an epic hike. What better option than the nearly-finished Squamish to Sunshine Coast Trail?

I’d been following the Facebook page for about a week, so it had been on…

Days 54 and 55: to Mile 771 and Mount Whitney

It was a downhill morning. The trail wound freely from our campsite just below tree line down into a valley. The forest was quiet and bright, the trees just sparse enough to let in the morning sunlight, with the occasional grassy glade or trickling stream. I stopped for a bit to watch a pair of deer graze in a clearing, indifferent to my presence.

At the bottom of the descent were open meadows and a treed campsite area next to…

Day 53: to Mile 757

With all of our errands done the next morning we prepared to head back to trail. Rowan and Cuban had managed to find someone willing to drive us back to the trailhead for just the cost of gas.

We waited in a sparse patch of shade, just off the main strip where we were dropped off the day before. Our driver pulled up in a Suzuki Sidekick convertible which looked equal parts fun and dangerous to ride in. Cuban hopped in the…

Day 52: to Mile 744.5 and Lone Pine

When I woke, my careful headnet/hat system had fallen apart, leaving me barefaced and exposed to the insect world, mouth agape and drooling all over my stuff sack. Fortunately the night-long wind had kept the mosquitoes away and the damage was minimal.

I scrambled up the rock face shielding our campsite, savouring the last of my oatmeal while overlooking the green valley below, bluish in the morning light and scattered with ultra green clearings and shallow creek beds. I examined…

Day 51: to Mile 739

I started the day with a bout of unexpected anxiety. Now that we were heading into the mountains, I was slowing down. We would soon encounter huge ascents on a daily basis, and I would no longer fly down the trail like I could on the roads and flat desert floors of southern California.

After tea and oatmeal, I carefully packed my backpack, struggling to fit everything around the new bulk of the bear canister in my relatively tiny 50…

Day 50: to Mile 719.5

We found ourselves at Grumpy Bear’s once again for an all-you-can-eat breakfast. The small restaurant was packed with PCT hikers who took the claim as a challenge, stuffing themselves with bacon and pancakes until bloated and groaning, leaning back and staring vacantly at the memorabilia-filled walls of the restaurant while sipping coffee and waiting to digest a bit before returning for another round. Rowan inspired our entire table by rolling his breakfast into a sort-of pancake burrito and downing it…

Day 49: to Mile 702

In the morning I ate a handful of crushed Fritos for breakfast. It was all I had. Despite my effort to ration, I was officially out of food, and ravenously hungry.

I started hiking before the sunrise to take advantage of the cool morning shade in the otherwise exposed meadow. I saw a bunny on the path ahead of me. It hopped lazily out of my way. I thought about lunging forward and grabbing it. My mind graphically fantasized about…

Day 48: to Mile 694

A cloud must have attacked us that night on the ridge top because we all woke at dawn’s first light covered in dew. Rowan and I fought over a patch of sunlight to dry our gear in while Cuban attempted to continue sleeping in his tent. For breakfast I boiled some water and poured it into a couple of instant oatmeal packets. I was surprised with the food that I’d tired of immediately at the start of my hike,…

Day 47: to Mile 676

I followed my morning ritual of deflating my sleeping pad the moment I woke, sitting up only when all of the air had escaped. I zipped open my tent and reached for my backpack by the entrance, only to jerk my hand away and choke on my morning spit the moment I touched it.

Forcing my eyes to focus through the haze of sleep I saw that the side of my pack was covered in thick spiderwebs. I grabbed my knife…

Day 46: to Mile 656

Despite my lack of sleep, my planning worked out well and packing up camp took only minutes. I skipped breakfast, trying to conserve water. Despite my careful effort, yesterday’s intense sun and uphill struggle had resulted in me depleting more than half my water supply. I had only about two and a half litres to last me for the next twenty-six miles. One hundred millilitres a mile, I thought anxiously. I had been used to drinking one litre for…