Click here to start reading Part I.
When I got off the trail on August 6th, I felt like the disappointment of not finishing was going to swallow me whole. I’ve had to be pretty fluid with a lot of my trip planning through Covid (like everyone else); when my trip to Assiniboine was cancelled in 2020, I did the North Coast Trail; when Seth got a new job in 2021, we postponed our kayak trip to Desolation Sound; and when Jasper caught fire in 2022, Brandon and I relocated to Strathcona Park. But the SCT had been on my bucket list for several years and I had trained for it and prepared all my gear for this year and I really wanted to finish it.
So I did. Carolyn had been forced to do the entire thing solo when me and Emily got off the trail, so I’d like to think she gave me some confidence to return and finish the rest of the trail solo too. I already had time off in early September, so I finished work a little early on the Friday before the Labour Day long weekend and flew back to Powell River for another attempt. Seeing as I got off the trail at the Shingle Mill Pub, the float plane was the perfect way to return. The shuttle company dropped off some of the supplies I couldn’t fly with (bear spray and fuel) and I arrived at the pub around 5pm and was back on the trail within minutes of arriving!
After leaving the pub, you cross the bridge towards Powell River and then you can immediately jump back on the trail. Emily and I had been planning to camp at Tony Point the night we got off trail, which is 5km from the pub (seen from the float plane in the photo above), so I just picked up my old itinerary and started walking. It’s about an hour to Mowat Bay, which is a popular recreation site on Powell Lake where I stopped for a quick snack, and then another hour to Tony Point, also located on the lake. I did modify my itinerary when I decided to go solo to stay mostly at huts, but given my late start time, I knew I would have to camp the first night.
Tony Point is a lovely little site next to the water. It has a picnic table, a monument, flat space for ~2 tents, and not much else. I assumed I would be alone, but fortunately, there was another solo female hiker there as well! I was prepared to sleep alone, but was also thrilled to have someone to help ease into solo camping. We ended up crossing paths for several days and it was nice to trade stories.
I went for a quick swim when I arrived and then had supper before setting up my tent. I was feeling pretty confident, but the forest definitely changes when you’re alone at night. On this evening, it was windy, which created a lot of ominous sounds in the woods and the trees kept dropping leaves on my tent, so I was glad for a companion. I kept thinking a bear was walking into the site, so eventually I got up to have a look around. It was clear there was nothing there and that helped ease my mind and eventually I was able to fall asleep. I ended up sleeping in the huts every night after that, so it was a little annoying to carry my tent for another 130km for no reason, but still a good safety precaution.
It was nice and sunny the following morning, so I set off before 8am. The other hiker was hoping to go all the way to Fiddlehead Hut, but I was only aiming for Confederation Lake Hut. It’s still a lofty 19km of hiking, but I really wanted to go the long route around Inland Lake, so I ended up clocking 24km. I was a little on edge hiking the first morning because I was very weary of bears. The trail continues around Powell Lake before going through the Haywire Bay Car Camping park. Shortly after Haywire Bay, I scared something large in the woods – I never saw it, only heard it running away from me – it was either a bear or a deer, so I was very diligent with my bear calls after that. I saw lots of evidence of bears (poop), but I never actually saw a bear, so I got a lot more comfortable walking around alone in the woods after a few days.
The trail continues around Lost Lake, which is pretty overgrown, before you come to Inland Lake, which I was really looking forward to. Inland Lake is a provincial park with some frontcountry sites, huts, and a huge loop around the lake. If you do the whole loop, it’s 12km, but on the SCT, you can either do the south end (4km) or the north end (8km). I was looking forward to this section because it follows the shoreline around the entire lake and as a result, it’s completely flat. I was determined to do the longer route because there’s a hut on the west side of the lake that can only be accessed on this route.
I really wanted to visit every hut and take a selfie at each one, so I decided the extra kms were worth it. But I ended up really messing it up. I was having a great time walking around the lake – the kilometers were going by quickly and it was a gorgeous sunny day. I hadn’t yet seen any people, but I was enjoying walking along the lakeside. Such was my enjoyment, that I ended up walking right past the hut without realizing it!! I passed a small log building and picnic shelter that I thought was lovely, but I didn’t stop because according to my GPS (Gaia), the hut was still 2kms away. The paper map shows “Pier Hut” in this location, so I assumed that’s what it was and continued on towards “West Hut” as it’s called on the SCT website. As it turns out, Gaia is wrong about the hut location and West Hut and Pier Hut are in fact the same thing! I didn’t realize my error until 2kms later, so I ended up completely missing it.
There are 2 huts on Inland Lake: “West/Pier Hut” and “Anthony Island Hut”. My guess is that these two huts were built and designed by BC Parks since they’re in the provincial park and are completely different than all the other huts on the trail. These huts were 1 story and could sleep ~3 people, whereas the rest are all 2 stories with a sleeping loft, so I’m not surprised I didn’t recognize it. I don’t have a photo with Pier Hut, but I don’t regret going the long way around the lake because it was a very beautiful trail that passed quickly. Plus I later learned that the south trail has a detour along most of it, so I was glad I got to spend so much time on the lake, as the south route mostly bypasses it with the detour.
I took a short break at the end of the lake to go for a swim and then continued to Anthony Island Hut for lunch. I finally saw a few people around the lake, but it was pretty empty. I passed a group of day hikers, a family bike riding, and a couple on their paddleboards. Otherwise I didn’t see anyone else on the trail all day! When I stopped for lunch before 1pm, I had already hiked 17km, so it was a big start for me and I was feeling good!
I was able to maintain this pace since it was mostly flat, but after lunch it was all uphill to Confederation Lake. The trail does 600m of elevation gain in 5km through the forest, so I listened to my audiobook while I trekked up through the woods. It’s a pretty boring and steep trail up to the lake – I’d briefly flirted with the idea of going all the way to Fiddlehead to catch my companion from the night before, but 24km of hiking was definitely enough for me. The most annoying part of Confederation Lake is that when you finally get there, there’s still another 2km through the woods around the lake before you finally get to the hut. But I loved the hut!
I haven’t heard a lot about Confederation Lake Hut, but it’s really nice! It’s located right on the lake and is fully enclosed, with enough room for a handful of tents. I arrived around 4pm and was the only person there. I took a bath in the lake and then settled in for a snack. I was expecting to be alone at the hut, but it felt nice and safe, so I was okay with it. So I was thrilled when I came back from filtering water and found a family of 4 had arrived for the night! It was an older couple with their grown daughter and her friend/partner. They were super nice and I enjoyed hanging out and chatting with them for the rest of the night after having been alone all day. I’m an extrovert, so I definitely relish the opportunity to chat with people after a day on my own. The theme of my trip was early nights and early mornings though, so I said goodnight as soon as the sun went down.
Continue reading Part V.