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VIDEO: Solo backpacking trip on Philips Ridge (Vancouver Island, Canada)

The Golden Hinde is the tallest mountain on Vancouver Island and one of the most remote. It takes most people 3-7 days to make the journey.

As soon as heard about it, I knew I wanted to do it alone. I knew it the way I know I like chocolate ice cream.

Last year, I booked the week off work and started training. Then I catastrophically hurt my back. When summer came, I was grateful that I could walk again. No Golden Hinde.

By spring this year, my chronic back pain had faded. I booked the time off work again. I started training again.

Two weeks before I was supposed to leave, I started getting really anxious. I was going to get injured, eaten by wild animals, get lost and run out of food. And worst of all, I might not MAKE IT TO THE SUMMIT.

After talking it over with loved ones and some trusted climbing friends, I decided to still give it a go. I’d define success as learning as much as I could.

On the trail

The first day, I made it up to Arnica Lake in 3 hours, no problem. My pace was right on track for a 5 day summit. I was feeling super stoked.

Six hours into my second day, my stoke faded. My pace was fine. But my knee felt a little off. My back was a little sore. I was feeling a bit dizzy from the heat. So time to set up camp and figure out plan B.

The week before, I was chatting with Chris Barner at Crest Creek. He said, “The reason I’ve gotten to be so old is that I’m chicken shit.” Anyone who knows anything about Chris would not describe this free soloist and accomplished mountaineer scared … of anything!!

But I got his point. Making personably conservative choices over and over again is one way to have a long career as a mountaineer. Some people may see me as being overly cautious. And others might think I’m crazy for even trying this mission. But I did what felt right to me.

Plan B

Plan B turned out to be lots of relaxing, enjoying the views and reading. (Kindle, essential gear for my solo trips!)  This was my longest solo wilderness experience to date — four days.

Now that I am back in town, I just cannot wait to go on another solo trip again. They are absolutely the best.

How to make your next adventure a safe one

Philips Ridge is a wilderness area with no established camping areas and very few people around. You will need to know how to be self-reliant and take good of yourself.

This includes having skills such as wilderness navigation, first aid, animal safety, finding and treating water and choosing smart camp sites. You should leave a trip plan with a responsible person and have a way of communicating in case of an emergency (cell phones will not work). You should also read up on Leave No Trace. This includes absolutely NO FIRES in the alpine.

I love being outdoors, especially in the mountains. I live on Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada.

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6 Comments

  1. Your bugmask will work much better if you have a wide brimmed hat! It’s always a challenge to let go of your expectations, but it’s only when we do that we can enjoy being in that place we arrive.

    • Jes Scott Jes Scott

      I was sad to discover I left my hat in the car 😓 Made the best of it. I loved your trip report on GH, found out the most helpful one out there!!

      • Wow, thanks Jes. I’m happy to hear people still find it useful. It’s an older report now, and , for me, it’s painful to go back an see the writing issues!

        • Jes Scott Jes Scott

          I cringe at some of my earlier stuff too. But I think your older posts are great. Love reading your blog 😀

  2. Evan Evan

    Awesome to read this! I posted 2 years ago looking for a guide for crest creek and I’ve been reading your blog since! My hiking partner and I also got our asses kicked attempting the hinde, though we did have an epic single day hike up and all along Phillips ridge. I entirely concur that safety is paramount, and the hinde is no joke. There is something to be said for taking on a challenge and failing though! Having the realization that you’ve gone to the brink of your ability or willingness is pretty humbling, and an important experience. After all, a lot of good judgement is experience, and a lot of experience is a result of bad judgement (though not excessively dangerous judgement). Looking forward to your next post! Cheers!

    • Jes Jes

      Thank you so much for you long and thoughtful reply! I am glad you are enjoying my blog, means a lot to me 🙂

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