Click here to start reading Part I.
This was the biggest day of backpacking I’ve ever done. My sweet spot for backpacking is probably around 15km per day (except for the North Coast Trail, where it’s 10). We had a good experience doing 16km the day before, but we had to do some big days to finish the trail, so we opted for a big day after Manzanita. At minimum we had to go 17km to Rieveley’s Pond Hut, but we were hoping to push for 24km to Big Sliammon Lake, also known as Kokanee Campsite.
We aimed for an earlier start and were hiking before 8am. It’s a steady downhill for the first kilometre until you come to a water source just past the junction for the Spire Trail. The next 2-3km were a bit tiring; it was humid and there was lots of up and down, but the trail evens out around km 20 and it was nice and easy forest walking for most of the morning.
We stumbled upon some trail magic around km 22 where the trail intersects with Malaspina Road. Someone had left a cooler full of cold drinking water! So we didn’t need to hold out until the next source and filled our bottles. We hit Fern Gully campsite at km 24, which was a very basic and rustic site. It was nice enough in the forest with lots of shade, but I think it might be a little creepy to stay there on your own.
There’s a steep uphill after Fern Gully, but it’s short lived and then the trail continued to be pretty easy. Our goal was to reach Plummer Creek Campsite by noon and we succeeded around 11:15am. Plummer Creek is located at km 26, so we’d already done 10km for the day. Plummer Creek itself is a great water source and I liked the campsite, which has lots of flat ground and a few picnic tables. The outhouse left a lot to be desired, but at least it had an outhouse! If you’re looking for a campsite between Manzanita and Rieveley’s, this is the one I would pick.
From there we decided to continue on to the next campsite before starting our lunch. It was 3km that took us through Tokenatch Forest, which was some of the nicest forest walking. There’s a lot of water and several small waterfalls in this section as the trail follows the Tokenatch River. The trail runs parallel to the road until you cross it at Homestead Rec Site, which consisted of lots of easy walking but a very disappointing site. It’s really just a gravel lot on the side of the road with a very dicey outhouse. It didn’t feel like a very safe site to me because of its proximity to the road (I’d rather take on bears than some people), so we stopped to eat some food and quickly continued on. We were sad to hear that Carolyn ended up staying at this site a day later, but she didn’t like it either.
After that it was 4.5km to Rieveley’s Pond Hut, which is located at km 39. This was one of the more challenging sections of trail for the day. There’s a pretty big climb up to Gibraltar Lookout, which was extremely hot and wore us out. Plus the most disappointing part was that Gibraltar Lookout is optional and after a brief discussion where we decided to slightly extend the hike by doing the lookout, we accidentally took the wrong trail and ended up not even getting the view as a reward. It was a bit disappointing, but neither of us was willing to go back for it.
We arrived at Rieveley’s Pond Hut around 2:30pm, clocking in 17.5km for the day already! We were feeling pretty tired, so we decided to take a proper break and stopped at the hut for an hour. Rieveley’s Hut was similar to Manzanita in that it was partially open. We’d seen a handful of day hikers in the morning and there was a group of Dutch tourists there when we arrived. The pond itself is pretty disappointing and neither of us were interested in swimming in it, so instead we finished our lunch in the shade of the hut and took off our hiking boots for a while. Emily was getting some hot spots and had a blister forming, so she put on some moleskin.
Rieveley’s isn’t the most exciting hut, but it had a nice relaxing vibe. We wouldn’t have minded staying there, but we felt it was too early in the day to quit. We needed to do a big day and if we didn’t push further, we’d just have to get up early again and do it tomorrow. We had 6.5km to Kokanee campsite and decided to go for it.
We departed shortly after 3:30pm. It was about 2km to Appleton Creek Rec Site, which we assumed would be dicey like Homestead, but this was actually a lovely site and I kind of regret not staying there. It’s in the forest, but it’s very bright and has a lovely fast-flowing river going through. There’s lots of room for tents in among the trees and there’s an outhouse and some benches. The only thing missing was a bear cache. From there the trail continues through Appleton Canyon for another 2km and I loved this section of the trail! You follow the river down through the canyon and though it’s all downhill (not our favourite), there are tons of beautiful waterfalls. I would have loved to swim in some of the pools, but it had been a long day and we were anxious to get to our campsite – though Carolyn told me after the water was very cold!
The Canyon ends when you cross Tomkinson Road and the last couple of kilometres to the campsite were pretty brutal. We were really tired and Emily’s feet had started hurting a lot. It was slow going and we were desperate to get there. It is a nice section of trail that goes past some other ponds, but we weren’t in the mood to really appreciate it. We finally rolled into the campsite shortly after 6pm, which is really quite reasonable, but we’d been hiking for 10.5 hours and 24km, so it felt like a very long day.
Unfortunately Emily’s feet had taken a turn for the worse and she got a lot of blisters in the last 6.5km. Kokanee Campsite is located on Big Sliammon Lake at km 40 and it a very spacious site in the trees. It’s a bit dark, but there’s a small creek running through and lake access. We decided a swim would improve our spirits and went for a skinny dip. The water was extremely warm and refreshing and we let all our sweaty clothes dry out while we basked on the rocks.
We hadn’t seen anyone since Rieveley’s and no one else showed up, so we were the only ones at the campsite. It was a little spooky, so we played music for the rest of the night. The site does have an outhouse and several picnic tables, so it was really only missing a bear cache. We tied our bear bags to a tree again and hit the sack pretty early. We only had 15km to do the following day and would be passing through Powell River to pick up our re-supply, so we decided to sleep an extra hour in the morning.
Continue reading Part III.