Day 1 – Spontaneous Butterflies

Two of my favorite feelings.  Spontaneuity and the queezy but adrenalin enduced feeling of butterflies.  Combined?  Even better.  The North Coast Trail.  Or rather, the North Coast Swamp, as I have decided to re-name it.  I didn’t realize what I signed up for, but it was too late to turn around when I was knee deep in mud.  A word to describe the trail?  Rugged perhaps.  A word to describe the week long adventure?  Raw. Raw terrain, raw experiences, raw emotions.  It all came out.  The beautiful and the ugly.  Tears from laughing too hard and tears of frustration.  Of almost wanting to quit.  But never giving up.  And the reward at the end of all of this?  Priceless.  Well, a whole lot of eggs benny’s, burgers, yam fries, ice cream and beer, but all in all – an epic pricelicess feeling.  The gift of feeling alive and the beauty of memories that last a lifetime.  Thats why I do these crazy adventures.  To feel alive.  To remember that so much is possible, and that sometimes it takes a whole lot of courage, tears, laughter and good friends to accomplish the impossible.

(We hiked 58km from San Josef Bay to Shushartie, with a water taxi – and private whale watching tour! – from Shushartie to Port Hardy)(So basically the green part on this map of the Northern tip of Vancouver Island)

First of all, if you are thinking of hiking the North Coast Swamp, I really recommend giving yourself at least 7 days.  Pushing it all into 5?  Well this leads to 3 night hikes, a whole lot of F-bombs and a beaten up body (including a face plant into mud- not cool!). But all in all,  no matter which way you choose to do it, if you want it bad enough, you’ll get’er done.  Why 5 nights?  Busy people working hard to play harder.  I worked until midnight in Squamish on Sunday night – which was awesome!  I was an arms reach away from Weezer!!  Plus it was a huge learning experience dealing with people having a little bit too much fun.  Heather & Mandy were scheduled to work Sunday morning and Josh a flight back up north to work.  But we fit it in, and man was it worth it.Sometimes it doesn’t feel worth it to make a trip like this happen.  It seems like too much work.  So much planning, so much physical effort, and a well- needed vacation at the end of it.  But guess what. We only live once.  So we might as well make the most of all of the precious time we have. Sometimes it’s healthy to be spontaneous – like deciding at the last minute to skip the 12:00 shuttle from Port Hardy to San Josef Bay at the tip of the island after waking up at 4am to catch thhe early ferry.  Rather, spending some well deserved time at a coffee shop en route without any rushing, and starting a week long hike at 4pm.  Trusting that we will meet someone along the trail who we can trade off our key to in order for our truck to be waiting for us at the other end, in Port Hardy.  Did it work?  Well you’ll just have to wait until day 6 to find out. Spontaneous.  I love these types of adventures!

And the butterflies?  Well, I know that you can relate.  You know when you’ve had a goal in mind for YEARS and then you find yourself literally minutes away from actually doing it?  Scary.  Excitement mixed with a whole bunch of nervousness – life wouldn’t be the same without this feeling of butterflies.  Mandy and I had been talking about doing this hike ever since we hiked the West Coast Trail together over 4 years ago.  I have been scared of this hike ever since.  Ever since we decided that it was on the list.  Pulling up to the parking lot, knowing that my life was on my back, and we had a hard week ahead of us – scary!  But so fun.  That’s why I do it.  To feel alive.  And writing this having just finished, I can’t express to you how pumped on life I feel.  Like I can take on anything.  My soul is recharged.  I’m ready to work hard.  Good timing I guess since life has given me such awesome opportunities lately.  I’m ready now to grab it with all I have and give back as much as my body will allow.

So this week I’m going to take you through the North Coast Trail, one day at a time.  The first day wasn’t too eventful.  A 15km hike in and amongst the trees over
hills, mud, board walks, more mud, with a few “is this ever going to end tonight?” and then a steak dinner on the trail just as it’s getting dark giving us enough time to scrounge for our hedlamps and continue on.  The goal of sleeping on a beach was pulling us through. Almost 8 hours later, paradise.  Well paradise filled with bugs so happy to see headlamps that they actually were flying into our eye balls.  But with tents set up, headlamps off, wine poured and chocolate broken, the stars couldnt have looked any more beautiful.  There was even a pscyadelic phosphorescence show waving our hands in the sand near the shore line – THIS is why we do this.  Hiking into the night, getting swarmed with bugs and mud up to our knees.  That was  one of the best sleeps I’ve had in months.  Man life is good.  Day 2 tomorrow – it only gets better from here.  So glad to be back to writing!

Smile with your heart!

(More pics to come!  And trust me they only get better!)

P.S.  Welcome to yet another beginning of a 40 day challenge!  I need your help for a few of mine.  I’m trying to encourage 20 people to donate blood, have 200 people signed up for BYDC (86 so far!), and encourage 20 people to train for the Honolulu marathon in December (more info to follow soon).  Interested in any of these?  Jump on board and spread the word.  Only good things are to come :)

Categories: Uncategorized


  1. I plan to donate blood this week anyways here in Burlington, VT so you can count me in! :)

  2. wow! impressive jenn. I am far from outdoorsy, but its so much fun to read about your adventures.

  3. ohhhh I can’t wait to read more! You make me want so much more out of my life. Just when I think the bucket list is complete, I read about more fun adventures I MUST DO! Thank you!

  4. enjoyed this blog! you’re quite the adventurer =)

    PS JUST donated blood on Tuesday for the first time ever! =D So happy I was finally able to (I’m vegetarian so I normally don’t have a good enough iron level =P)

  5. I had donate blood on my last/first 40 day challenge but never did it. I’m nervous since i felt crappy for 3 days after the first and only time i did it. And i’m training for a half marathon right now and worried it’ll affect my running. You are big into running too…do you find it affects your running after? So i was almost thinking of waiting until the week after my half (It’s Oct 25th). Thoughts? I would love to do the Honolulu marathon but not in the budget this year! And i havent done one yet…i’m working on my 5th half right now. But a full is on the books within the next few yrs! I also will sign up for the BYDC too! I have been doing it anyways since you started:)

    • Hi Amy!!! That’s so great that you want to donate!! It’s totally up to you, and how you think your body will react, but personally I think it’s fine to do it soon. I probably wouldn’t donate 2-3 weeks before, but now should be fine. But if you feel better about waiting, maybe donate a week or so after the race! Congrats on training for your fifth – that is awesome!!! Stoked to hear about your first full!!! And YES to BYDC!! You’re on the list! Thank you!!

      • I’m not sure why i felt so crappy the last time. I was dizzy for 3 days after…no fun! But maybe i just hadn’t had enough water! Who knows! So thats why i want to try again and i have rare blood too! Evene more reason to! I can’t remember what type it is but i do remember it’s rare and needed! Lol. I’ll keep you posted on when i make my appointment to go! I will do it…just when is the question:) Yah thanks for adding me to the list! I am going to try to promote it as much as i can too:) Yah BYDC!

  6. Can’t wait to hear more about the trip! You make me want to carry a heavy backpack and get eaten by bugs…odd but thank you :)

  7. Awesome, looking forward to the rest of the journey. Always inspiring, well done. R.

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