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PRIOLO - THE TOUGHEST HIKE OF MY LIFE

7/6/2017 9:09:00 AM / Steve Priolo

Instead of moving into an apartment while he plays in a summer league in Victoria, British Columbia, Bandits defenseman Steve Priolo decided to make a van his temporary residence and hit the road. Each week, he's blogging about his experiences for Bandits.com.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five

This week, my fiancée Jacqueline joined me on the island to live in the van. With a couple things pushed into the corners, there is lots of room for both of us. As some of you may know, Jacqueline has the type of energy that puts my adventurous behaviour to shame, so with her by my side, I let her take me on a weekend I won't soon forget! 

On Thursday, we decided to hit the cliffs so I took her to my favourite climbing spot on the island. Mt. Wells has climbing for all levels, and soon Jacqueline was able to lead climb some difficult routes. We enjoyed it so much we stayed in the van close by and climbed again Friday morning. 

Friday night, I had a lacrosse game in Victoria. After a dip in at Sooke potholes and a quick nap, I was fresh as a daisy for that night’s bout. We came out on top, but the celebration was short lived as we decided to get a head start on our trip to Cape Scott. 

We drove about two hours and spent the night at a rest stop near Nanaimo. Cape Scott is a provincial park at the furthest most part of the island. We decided to go there because we are looking to experience everything this island has to offer, and to do that, you need to go to the deepest corners.

After a seven-hour drive, about two hours of that on rough logging roads, three elk, two deer and a bear later, we arrived at a little parking lot that was the Cape Scott entrance. From here, we would have to hike anywhere we would like to go. The first thing we did was get to the nearest beach. 

We hiked about 45 mins to San Josef Bay, where we were overcome with a surreal feeling of sheer remoteness. After spending the day exploring one of the most untouched beaches on the island, the sun going down and the thought of being eaten by wolves in the back of our heads, we headed back to the van. 

We had only one more day at this northernmost region, and this was when we discovered that there was a working lighthouse with a little village to tend to the needs of the lighthouse keeper. Most people do this trip in a couple days, but with time against us, we decided to make the 46-kilometer journey by running. 

This trail is part of the North Coast Trail and is fairly maintained by travelers and the park rangers. At one point, there were boardwalks over marshes and bridges over stream, but these are starting to become a bit rotten. Now, it is mostly travelers who will lay sticks to make walkways through the mud. 

To put this journey in perspective, this would have been one of the most difficult hikes I have ever done. The 46-kilometer path was filled mud, tree roots, broken boards, rivers, sandy beaches, hills, rocks, wolves, bears – everything you want in a 'good hike', and we decided to run it! 

With a light pack filled with some snacks and a water bottle for each of us, we were off. The first half was great! Just a new experience for us and a lot of fun running though the rough terrain. 

We arrived at the lighthouse after three hours and were amazed at the history of the settlement as well as the fact the lighthouse keeper is still living there. He gets supplies helicoptered in once a month. Just an amazing way of life. 

After about an hour, we realized we still had 23 kilometers to return back to the van, so with a hand shake and a memory, we were off. The return 23 was absolutely the hardest run I have ever done. By the end I was covered in mud; my feet, back, knees, ankles, toes, shins, quads, hamstrings, and calves all hurt. We decided that running that distance is something you need to prepare for and train for, and not something you should run spontaneously very often. 

The round trip took us eight hours with seven hours of running. It’s an experience I am proud of, but will prepare for better in the future. I then slept for 12 straight hours. 

The next day, we had to have an early start if we were going to make the ferry to the mainland. And with a slight detour, we discovered a logging road that would take us to a cave. We had to check it out.

My legs would barely move. With each step we hiked, I was exhausted, but it was worth it to get to the beautiful cave that had been carved by the running stream. 

A great little paradise to soak my feet. We spent some time here exploring through all it had to offer before returning to the mainland.

For photos and videos of my trip, check out my INSTAGRAM and TWITTER accounts! We'll see you back here next week!
 

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