Sunday, April 14, 2024

‘Leave no trace’: Backpacking expert publishes new Vancouver Island hiking guide book


As peak camping season approaches, our fellow outdoor enthusiasts are coming out of their hibernation to plan their next adventure.

Whether you’re an experienced overnight hiker or prefer one-and-done day hikes, it’s important to show up prepared—including proper equipment and the ability to pack out what you pack in.

Enter backpacking expert, Taryn Eyton! Not only is she a seasoned hiker, she’s also a certified Leave No Trace Master Educator, the founder of Happiest Outdoors and published author.

Eyton has been teaching wilderness ethics education for over a decade and is thrilled to introduce her newest slice of wisdom!

Officially being released on Tuesday, April 2nd, her newest book, Backpacking on Vancouver Island: The Essential Guide to the Best Multi-Day Trips and Day Hikes, contains everything you need to get out and enjoy the beauty our island has to offer and minimize environmental impact.

With a foreword from Steven Recalma (Məlidas) from the Qualicum First Nation, a list of backpacking basics and an extensive, comprehensive guide to over 30 different day-hikes and overnight trips, this guide is sure to be your go-to planning tool!

(Backpacking on Vancouver Island by Taryn Eyton)

In an interview with Victoria Buzz, she said it began while she was on tour, promoting her first book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia. People were coming up to her and asking about hikes on Vancouver Island, wanting to know more about them.

“I also love Vancouver Island and have spent a lot of time there, so it seemed really logical for that to be the next book,” she said.

“A lot of people have heard about the West Coast Trail and the Juan de Fuca, but a lot of people don’t know about the beautiful mountain hiking there is [on the island].”

When asked about the spark of inspiration for turning all of her hiking and backpacking experiences into novel form, she said she’s always been a curious person and loved to plan.

“I own several hundred guide books, including the historical ones…so it was always a dream to write one,” she said.

“Every friend group has that person that’s the planner, and that was me. I was putting everything together all kinds of information to plan trips with friends, and I thought ‘Why am I not sharing this with more people?’” 

So, she started a website in 2014 called Happiest Outdoors, where she shared plenty of fantastic how-to information and advice. Eventually, the next step to turn it into a book made the most sense to her.

We asked her whether or not she has any favourite trails on Vancouver Island, to which she laughed and said it’s nearly impossible to pick just one. 

“It’s like asking a parent to pick their favourite child. It’s a two-parter because I can’t pick just one.”

“For a coastal trail, I really like the Tatchu Peninsula. It’s accessible by water taxi only and is quite rugged. For an inland trail, it’s the Augerpoint Traverse, a really challenging route…with a lot of beautiful backcountry.”

Her approach to Backpacking on Vancouver Island is similar to her first book—focusing on providing tips, regulations and cautions to ensure hikers are ethically exploring these stunning places and actively practicing her ‘leave no trace’ philosophy. 

“A lot of people say they don’t want to tell people about these spots because they’ll get ruined, and in the age of the internet that’s really not possible. People are going to find out,” she said.

“The most ethical thing to do is to tell people about them and to tell them how to protect them if they go…the first step is to plan ahead and prepare.”

Eyton mentioned it takes practice to take every single small detail into consideration, including learning how to properly go to the bathroom in the woods—which a lot of people don’t think about until it’s happening.

“Finding an outhouse…[or] digging what’s called a cathole, which is a 6 inch deep hole a good distance away from campsites, trails and water…ideally packing out your toilet paper or wipes in a plastic bag.”

To learn more about proper preparations for keeping the wilderness wild, she points everyone towards the Leave No Trace website.

For people that are just starting out, she mentioned that it’s quite normal to feel nervous about all the gear and planning, but the best thing is just to go. 

“You should pick an easy hike, a one-overnighter such as Helen Mckenzie and Kwai Lakes Loop is perfect for that…they have everything you need and the walk is pretty easy.”

She added that the most important advice for anyone is to consider your comfort levels and go from there. Even if you’re an experienced day-hiker, taking it down a notch for your first overnighter is a good place to start.

Also worth considering is taking a wilderness first aid course—especially useful if you’re nervous about going into the backcountry for the first time and want to improve your confidence in your own capabilities. 

Backpacking on Vancouver Island will be available at our local bookstores and is easy to order if they don’t quite have it yet! 

Eyton said she’ll be on Vancouver Island in mid-May for some in-person events if anyone wishes to come for a book signing and to say hello! 

What’s your next adventure, Victoria?

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