Continuing to uncover the boundless beauty and unforgettable experiences that Vancouver Island’s wilderness has to offer, this fourth installment of our Wild Pledge series focuses on the vital aspect of preparedness. Given our remote and untamed landscapes, adventures on the North Island aren’t always a walk in the park… trail, mountain, or beach. With diverse challenges and fascinating discoveries waiting around every corner, this also brings a heightened need for safety and awareness. By taking the Wild Pledge, you commit to arming yourself with the knowledge necessary to protect not only your personal well-being but also the Island’s pristine natural environments.
What to prepare for?
The North Island is breathtakingly wild. Its diverse landscapes range from rugged shorelines to dense rainforests, towering mountains, and rushing waterways. These secluded, lush wilderness areas provide a true sense of the raw power of nature, and offer unparalleled outdoor experiences. However, this remoteness means that many of our recreation sites are not regularly patrolled. They are also often met with unpredictable weather patterns, challenging terrain, and twisting wilderness roads. Because of this, adventure enthusiasts who journey here should bring ample experience, self-sufficiency, and preparation for various natural conditions.
Practical examples and tips to be prepared
Do your research
Planning your North Island trip is half the fun and a big part of staying safe.
Educate yourself about the places you’re visiting, such as weather patterns, local customs, and native plants and animals. Gain familiarity with safety protocols and regional guidelines – they’re there to keep you safe! Your adventure becomes more enriching and safe the better you know your environment.
Sometimes, people’s enticing photos or exciting tales can fuel our adventurous dreams to the point where our ambitions may outpace our abilities. When you’re trip planning, consider what you truly want from the experience, and make sure this matches up with what you’re ready and able to do. Choosing an adventure that thrills while respecting your limits, be it how many kilometres you can trek or how comfortable you are camping, is essential for a safe and enjoyable journey. Before you take off, make sure you’ve taken the time to consider your physical endurance, brush up your outdoor skills, and gather as much information as you can about your adventure ahead.
Use the resources available
Leveraging online resources and other travellers’ experiences can prove to be a significant asset when planning your adventures. Couple this with trusted government resources such as BC Parks and Rec Sites & Trails BC, and you’ll have reliable and up-to-date information for your outdoor exploration. If you’d prefer to skip the stress that can sometimes come from planning, book a guided experience instead. Local guides provide a wealth of knowledge!
Share your plans
Regardless of where your adventure leads you, remember to share your plans with someone close, especially if you’re travelling alone. Communicate your return date and the time frame in which they should initiate a search if they haven’t heard from you. If private accommodation is part of your travel plans, provide them with your itinerary details and expected arrival time.
Avoid times of high-use
By scheduling your trip during off-peak times, you’re actively helping to conserve resources, prevent overcrowding, and maintain forest, mountain, beach, and trail integrity. This choice rewards you with peaceful, undisturbed connections without the worry of crowds. Often, tour companies and accommodations even offer discounted rates during the shoulder seasons, allowing you to adventure while saving some budget!
What to bring
For a worry-free adventure, remember to pack emergency provisions, including extra food and water. Wear appropriate footwear and clothes suited for the terrain and changing weather conditions you’ll encounter. A well-stocked first aid kit is essential — and knowing how to use it is equally important. If your journey takes you on the water, a lifejacket and necessary CHS nautical charts are mandatory.
Cell reception (or lack thereof!)
While there may be places where your cell reception is strong, be prepared for many areas where it’s non-existent. Bring physical or pre-downloaded maps, and when adventuring into the backcountry, consider carrying a satellite phone or other emergency communications device such as a SPOT, inReach, or Zoleo Satellite Communicator. You can rent these from places like Mountain Equipment Company (MEC) or purchase them. You should also know how to use the device, try it before you leave home, and be sure you have an active service plan.
Mother Nature can be a fickle friend, so it’s wise to come prepared for any unexpected weather theatrics. When you’re venturing into the wild, always pack layer-friendly attire and keep an eye on those weather forecasts. Remember, Vancouver Island is a place where the sun’s embrace can quickly turn to cold shoulder chills. Whether it’s a rogue rainstorm, a surprise snowfall, or a sudden scorcher, be prepared to weather the storm.
Adhere to signage
In the midst of enjoying the beauty and thrill of nature, it’s crucial not to overlook safety. Cautionary signs are there for your protection as well as wildlife and habitat conservation. These indicators bear vital information about the trails, animals, weather conditions or potential hazards. Understanding and abiding by the instructions can make the difference between a memorable outing and an avoidable mishap. Remember, safety should be paramount in any outdoor expedition, so read, understand, and follow all signs.
Be it trail, mountain, or water, the key to enjoying and preserving the North Island’s pristine wilderness lies in a thoughtful and responsible approach toward adventure. Every action taken is not just for your benefit, but also #ForTheGoodOfOurWild. And this is the essence of the Wild Pledge series. Be sure to explore our other stories in this series to gain more insights into how we can ensure that Vancouver Island’s wild remains wild for generations to come.