At Canada’s Mercy

So, I wrote a short post called I AM IN CANADA!!!! on a smartphone I borrowed from someone else … and somehow WordPress ate the post and only put the link. I could try to re-write the post and have it be as I originally intended, but you know what? The way that post got eaten totally reflects my first week in Canada.

I hiked into Canada, over 25 miles from the nearest road on the US side of the border (more than 40 miles to the nearest US highway) and more than 5 miles from the nearest ATV road in Canada, with further miles to the first *highway* in Canada. I crossed the border on August 29. I entered Canada with no phone, computer, or other electronic device which can be used for communication (except my beacon, which can only send distress signals, not connect to the internet or phone network).

Canada is hot and smoky, especially near that border crossing. To be fair, though the Canada side of the border was hotter (yes, it’s hotter on the Canada side than the USA side) the air seemed to be cleaner, probably because I was just a little further from the Diamond Creek wildfire.

I arrived in Canada midweek (Tuesday, to be specific), so it would be okay to do reservations at the last minute, right?

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First of all, the public computer at Manning Park wasn’t working, so it was more than 24 hours before I could access the Greyhound website … only to find out that the Greyhound bus was sold out (if I had gotten internet access JUST A FEW HOURS EARLIER, I would have been able to buy a ticket). But that’s just as well, because the Greyhound only serves Manning Park at 2 am … except it’s usually a few hours late. And then it got booked solid for a few days in a row, which is a problem for hikers who can’t arranged to be picked up in Manning Park and also cannot reserve bus tickets in advance because they are not sure what day they will be in Manning Park. The staff at Manning Park were very surprised that the Greyhound bus was sold out – they said it sometimes sells out on weekends, but almost never midweek.

Oh, and Labor Day weekend was coming up. Apparently, Canada has the same Labor Day as the USA, rather than celebrating Labor Day on May 1st. Who knew? (Okay, I suppose Canadians knew that). ALL THE HOSTELS IN VANCOUVER WERE BOOKED SOLID!!!!! ALL OF THEM!!!!! ALL THE HOSTELS ON VANCOUVER ISLAND WERE BOOKED SOLID TOO!!!!

While Manning Park is a nice place, I did not want to get stuck there. So I booked the one hostel in the Vancouver region which had space that weekend – on Denman Island. Then I had to get to Denman Island, and since Greyhound was not an option, that left … hitchhiking.

This is where my luck turned around.

I spent a few hours begging for a ride at Manning Park, only to learn that 95% of the traffic was going east, not west to Vancouver. Finally, a guy stopped for a cup of coffee, had room in his truck for a passenger and … his destination was Denman Island, because he lives there (BTW, Denman Island has a population of about 1000 people, give or take a few hundred). THIS WAS SUPER LUCKY!!!!! That’s how I got from Manning Park to Denman Island. That guy was a true trail angel.

Anyway, I loved spending the long weekend on Denman Island. It was totally chill, and I probably enjoyed it more than I would have enjoyed the city.

Now, I am finally in downtown Vancouver. While Denman Island was definitely a more gradual way to transition away from life on the Pacific Crest Trail, I am a city native. I think that even if, as soon as I got off the Pacific Crest Trail, someone had given me a ride straight to the heart of Vancouver, I would have still taken to it like a duck to water. Whereas I have to adjust to life on the Pacific Crest Trail, I don’t have to do much to psychologically adjust to a city on the western coast of North America. That said, I would not have wanted to get from Manning Park straight back home to San Francisco without a cool-down period.

And the Vancouver hostel has a computer with internet access, which is how I am able to write this blog post.

MEANWHILE… three sections of the Pacific Crest Trail which I hiked during this very trip – a total of about 130 miles – are currently closed due to wildfires. Furthermore, I’ve read that Cascade Locks, the town where I started the 500 mile trek, has been evacuated. I am grateful that I never had to deal with fire closures – or deal with a wildfire up close.

3 thoughts on “At Canada’s Mercy

    • I don’t see how research would have helped with any of the problems I experienced in this post. The core problem is that hikers cannot be sure when they will cross the border. 30 miles is a long enough distance for surprises which can change the timing of arrival, and many hikers (such as myself) have to hike over 60 miles from the last highway on the US side because the Hart’s Pass dirt road is difficult to access. Not knowing date of arrival makes it difficult to make advance reservations, especially since there is no cell phone service between Rainy Pass and Manning Park (70 miles), and advance research would not have led me to expect a sold out Greyhound midweek. And based on what I’ve heard from hostel staff, this entire summer has been busy, and hikers have to do this trail in summer because it’s the safest season.

      • It would have told you to expect a long weekend right before the start of school.

        But, yeah, I see your point. I usually try to be really proactive with booking hostels, bus tickets, etc., because I know how chancy doing it on the fly can be. But I’m not a hiker, which means I usually have a good idea of my schedule and regular internet access. Guess things were different for you.

        Anyway, hope you enjoyed Vancouver. πŸ™‚

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