A-Lone Cone

A little update on my training progress for Mount Kilimanjaro – largely because I am pretty impressed with myself (if that’s ok to say), and you have just got to see the view I was blessed with seeing this weekend!

This past weekend was the annual Fat Man Surfing Challenge in Tofino, British Columbia. No, this  is not an official event in B.C. or anything. Rather it is organized by our group of friends for our friends as a way to test the stealth, grace and gumption of a bunch of rugby players (“the fat men”) by suiting them up in wetsuits, marching them out into the waves of Long Beach, Tofino to see who can stand up on a surf board.

Yes you read that right, this is about who can just stand up, period. If you can actually surf, carve a wave, cutback, or layback good for you – but you get no extra points. Standing up is all you need to do to be a challenger. Sounds easy? Not at all – ask Joe’s tooth, and Lance’s head how easy it is! Barneys! [Shout out to the girls who surfed and how they kicked some standing up challenge butt.]

Any who, a tough decision but with all the amazing hikes in and around Tofino, and with Kilimanjaro looming just a month away – I decided to skip the surfing challenge and the fun of peeling on and off a wetsuit and instead get my hike on while the others got their surf on!  I picked the challenging Lone Cone for my Saturday hike.

The Lone Cone hike is located on Meares Island just a 15minute water taxi from the Tofino harbour. Yes I will admit… as a prairie girl from good ole Alberta, the idea of taking a water taxi on the ocean to get to a hike where the vegetation is basically rain forest was too good to pass up and part of the reason I picked the trail in the first place.

Lone Cone, Meares Island, Jamie's Whaling Station, water taxi, tofino

Water Taxi to Meares Island with Lone Cone Mountain straight ahead.

Dropped off at 9:30am on the dock of Meares Island, I arrange a pick up time of 3:30pm with Dennis, the water taxi captain, who dazzled me with all kinds of trivia on the way over. During our conversation we found out his family is from Vegreville, Vermillion and Mundare, Alberta where my Mom’s said of the family hails from. A fellow Ukrainian – what a small world! When I asked him if it would be possible to make the hike up and down before the pick-up time, he looked me up and down and said “you will have no problem; you have good strong Ukrainian legs.”  I took that as a compliment! Right?

Now on Meares Island, I made my way to the Lone Cone Hostel and Campground on the island, about 1km inland, and paid my park fee of $10 to the local First Nations community for upkeep of the trail and dock. The trail was in awesome shape!

Lone Cone trail is described as “it’s all uphill”, “things get really steep”, “feels though it goes straight up the mountain” and “watch your step and not lose control on the slippery, loose dirt” oh and this one “relentless on the knees”. As soon as I started on the trail, I could confirm all of these and some additional expletives are true.

Lone Cone, Meares Island, up, trail, Tofino

The easy parts of the upward slog of Lone Cone Mountain.

This hike is a slog to say the least. I debated multiple times my sanity and my willingness to continue with the stupid-dumb-hike on a stupid-dumb-mountain on a stupid-dumb-island – all of this of course said out loud in grumpy voice  with a couple of “Yuuups” in there to keep me safe from black bears, cougars, wolves and pumas! Because bears and cougars aren’t scary enough, lets toss some wolves in there shall we?!  Oh and if that was not enough to set my nerves on fire, the tape that was used to mark the trail was pink (pretty right?) with DANGER on it (not so pretty!).

danger, lone cone, trail marker, up

Danger tape as a trail markers?!

However, in addition to the super hard work and scary animal eating me paranoia it was also really fun. There were lots of logs to walk across over streams and fallen trees to go under or attempt to crawl up and over. The trail rangers were even nice enough to put in permanent rope in about 4 sections where the incline was super steep and there was no foot or hand holds on the loose dirt or where the bridge over the creek had fallen down. I felt a little like I was in a video game jumping over and across things or something. Yuuuup!

trail, Lone Cone, fallen tree, Meares Island, Tofino

The trail, under that fun mess of logs!

According to my FitBit, after just 6.72km, 2hrs and 58mins and 1,106 calories burnt I made it to the top – I conquered Lone Cone Mountain!

The fear of wolves eating me, of bears chasing me, of plummeting to my death down the dirt slop of a mountain alone, or being found swelled up like a balloon from a bee sting– was over! I was at the top and I was darn proud of myself. Yuuuup! The view was beyond amazing and I had to literally sit, breathe, maybe even tear up a little (not too dramatically, in a really pretty sort of Hollywood way) to take it all in.

Lone Cone, Clayoquot Sound, Tofino, top, Osprey, Asolo

Lone Cone view over Clayoquot Sound, Tofino British Columbia

lone cone, me, top, up, view, Clayoquot Sound, Tofino

So proud of myself, I couldn’t resist a top of Lone Cone Mountain selfie!

Wow, I did it. Wow!

Now where is the Gondola?! I wish!

What goes up, must come down – I always hated physics in school!

If I thought the way up was tough, I knew I was in for a “good” time on the way down. Additional expletives were added to the litany from the way up, some Yuuuups, and some yelps from the knee crunching and ankle jarring. Wow was it amazing though to truly realize how far up I had actually come! I pulled out one of my hiking poles and between the pole and trees on the way down I was making good time swinging myself down. I was mostly upright with just a few Gollum moments when the terrain was too steep for my fear of heights (refer to Lord of The Rings and how Gollum scrambles of rocks on all fours – not overly attractive but effective all the same) .

Wow was I getting tired. You know that tired where you get a little clumsy and don’t lift your feet quite as high as you think you are – I met a few roots in the toe and in the shin. I met the ground suddenly when I slipped and fell but still managed to pop up and pretend to be all cool in case some wolf was watching me. I didn’t need the Big Bad seeing I had a weakness; I am the lion not the gazelle in this story Mr. Wolf!

After 5.75km down in 2hrs and 38 minutes and another 305 calories burnt, I was back at the dock. I called my Ukrainian water taxi captain Dennis to come for me a bit earlier than our predetermined time and ate me a snack from my pack (mmm dried figs) watching the jelly fish floating about below my dangling feet while I waited.

Tofino, Clayoquot Sound, ocean, Asolo, Lone Cone, Meares Island

My tired feet dangling off the side of the dock as I waited for my water taxi back to Tofino.

I was a little worried about how my wobbling legs would get into the boat but, let’s be honest, gracefulness has never been my strong suit even without a crazy hard hike behind me – so why worry about it today.  The captain guy said to me as I got on the boat “did you see any wildlife; wolves or bears?” I replied “Nope, a couple squirrels and these jellies is all” and he says “Hmm, well they saw you”.  Yikes! Not ok!

Back in Tofino, I headed to Long Beach to heckle the fat man surfers, take off my boots and enjoy the warm sun and sand, a cold beer, and the company of great friends! {and maybe brag a little about how awesome the hike was}

Brande

PS: 32 Sleeps to departure for Mount Kilimanjaro

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