So we are not 100% sure that what we did strictly followed the Park rules. Apparently Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has not been able to keep pace with the “new” sport of trail-running (new???) so they are not able to get their heads around how to permit this. (We did try!). Supposedly you don’t need a permit for day-use (which is what we were). But at the same time, they do not recognize Nitinat Narrows as an official entry point. However, they would have permitted us to do the exact same route in the opposite direction.
But we are experienced runners and experienced wilderness travellers and we take safety issues, especially on a long and remote and challenging route like this, very seriously. We consider going the other direction to be much more risky because:
- it leaves the rougher part of the trail (mud, roots, ladders) for the end of the day, when you are tired and more likely to fall and injure yourself,
- it means that you must rush to meet a boat at the exit point (boat is the only way in and out from the Narrows) – so, if we were travelling slowly because of a sprained ankle or whatever, we would miss the boat and be stuck out all night. Whereas, going the other direction, we could still walk out even if it was dark,
- and that means we would have had to carry a lot of extra camping gear, for that contingency.
So we took the safe decision and went in at Nitinat, even though at the moment Parks do not consider it an official entry point. And, just for the rccord, we are very experienced and safety-conscious – please check the bottom of this post to see all of the precautions that we took to ensure that we travelled safely and did not get into trouble.
By posting our photos here we are by no means trying to say that you should just go and do it. This route is definitely not for everyone, and a lot of preparation, knowledge, and training are required to do it. But let me tell you, all of that training was worth it for us – we had an incredible day. Take a look:
Dave and I invited April Eryou to come with us on this one. Although April is less experienced in the rough stuff, she is a stronger runner than either of us (a marathoner, ultramarathoner and triathlete). But, just as important, we knew she also had the right attitude and approach to this kind of venture, and that the three of us would work well together as a team – as well as have a lot of fun!
Safety issues and preparation:
OK, as we noted, this route is not for just anyone. Here are some of the things that we did to prepare and travel safely: to make sure that we did not get into any trouble, and that we were prepared in case things did not go to plan.
1. We are all very fit runners who regularly run 30+ km routes. If you don’t regularly do long and hard runs like this, you should not experiment with them in a remote place like this!
2. Which means we were very picky about who we travelled with. Dave and I decided upon a maximum group size of 4, and it was important to us to know that anyone we invited was not only fit and experienced enough to do it, but was also a team player whose values and expectations of the run were the same as ours (i.e. that we were not racing or trying to show off; rather, people who would just naturally stay with the group because they like to).
4. We planned for the “what-if” of an unexpected overnight, e.g. due to injury. We each carried extra clothing, a space blanket, a headlamp, and extra food.
5. We had two First Aid kits with us, and also two fire-starting kits packed in separate packs.
6. We had Dave’s wife Karen waiting for us in Bamfield, who knew when to expect us and what to do if we were late.
7. We had sussed out contact options in advance, and found out that there was actually limited cell service at some points, so we were able to text Karen along the way so she knew of our progress and timing.
Dave and I love to challenge ourselves and push our limits. But we are not into risking our own safety or having people come and rescue us. So please, if our runs inspire you, please take your own safety (which includes adequate training) seriously and make sure that you do things right.