Late November may not appear to be the ideal time to hike the Arran Coastal Way. However, I had reached saturation point with day to day life in the dark depths of Glasgow and needed to get out for some fresh air and alone time.
Walking the West Highland Way in November was quite a spontaneous decision, mostly based on a small window of good weather. I’d been in Scotland for a few months and hadn’t seen such a steady forecast lasting 4-5 days. It occurred to me that I could walk the West Highland Way in that amount of time and decided it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
I’m starting to realize that most people who consider themselves hikers will have been on at least one hike where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. We can look at these experiences as opportunities to learn and prevent the same situations from occurring again. Or, we can see them as opportunities for character building. Or, as in my case at the time, we can have an identity crisis and start to over-think whether we really are hikers or just closet nanas.
We didn’t choose the best day to start the trail. It was Friday, 29th June 2018, the beginning of a long weekend thanks to Canada Day, by far the most popular camping weekend in Canada. But, we didn’t have much choice since we had been offered a ride to China beach on that day from Victoria and didn’t want to lose the opportunity.
The Juan de Fuca (JDF) trail is one of 3 classic, long coastal trails on Vancouver Island (the others being the West Coast Trail and the North Coast Trail). Unlike the other 2 trails, neither campsites or transport need to be booked in advance on the JDF. Furthermore, from what I’ve heard, all 3 hikes offer similar experience. So, for me the JDF was number 1 on my list for hiking on Vancouver Island.
Easy trail along an astonishing canyon and its side gorges. Well marked with water in the beginning and the end
Relatively easy, well marked trail along the left side of Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. Drinking water is at the Dettifoss campsite (for hikers only!) and then plenty in Hólmatungur
Easy, yet still unmarked trail over moor dunes and tussocks. There is a drinking water at Dettifoss campsite
The stage is unmarked, tiring and the most challenging of the whole hike as you walk almost exclusively on soft scree. Drinking water is available by the lake Eilífsvötn.
The stage is very well marked with fast changing landscape ranging from rough volcanic fields to grassy flat stretches. There is no water along the way or in Krafla.