Category Archives: Trip Planning

TGO Challenge

There are several long distance hikes I want to do over the next few years, tgoand one of them I've had my eye on for a while is the TGO Challenge. TGO or "The Great Outdoors" is a magazine published in the UK.

The TGO Challenge is a ~200 mile hike from the west coast to the east coast of Scotland.

Of course… unlike hiking in the Pacific Northwest – Scotland has a generous helping of pubs to stop at along the way 🙂

Every year in October, TGO magazine publishes the entry forms for the challenge, which is held in May. It's an oversubscribed event every year and space is allocated by lottery. The official challenge site is

I may have missed the window to apply for 2008 – but hopefully I'll I RESOLVE to be more on top of it next year. 🙂

Google Maps Terrain

Google just recently launched their "Terrain" overlay. Microsoft has had one for

a while over at, but I like Googles version better. It's cleaner and more detailed.

I wonder if someone will create a website where hikers can start plotting out trails using a combination of the Google My Maps and Terrain features.

Here's a quick sample one I whipped up for Copper Ridge Loop: Copper Ridge Loop Map.

Something like this for all the hikes in the US, with clickable pushpins showing photos at that view point. How cool would that be?

Heck – I'd even go a step further and allow people to collaborate photos taken from the same view point, combined with Photosynth to give a 360 degree view.

Blisters & Bliss

"Blisters & Bliss" is, by all accounts, the definitive guide to the West Coast Trail.

The best way to purchase it is direct from the authors – Dave Foster or Wayne Aitken – at their Official Website.

I recently exchanged a few emails with Dave, who was very helpful and more than happy to share a few tips about the WCT. Here is what he had to say:


Brett: "I'm not sure how familiar you are with the ultralight movement – but basically – our plan is to carry a ~18lb pack (including food & water) and do the trail in 5 days. with this light of a pack, we get the luxury of wearing trail running shoes vs. boots. i've done tons of hiking in washington and the homeland (uk), but very little beach hiking. how soft is the sand/beaches on the WCT – and would you consider trail runners to be problematic filling with soft-sand etc. my two thoughts to combat this are a) gaiters over the trail runners and b) a pair of sandskins ( to hike on the beach in. i'm not worried about water or mud – i hike for many many miles with soaked muddy trail runners. :)"

Dave: "I admire your move on the 18 lb pack. I think that's great. Beach hiking can be tough on the lower legs and feet. Blisters often build because of the repetitive steps. The soft sand lasts for intervals of 2 hours or so in a couple of places. Same problem, ie. no variety in the step can cause tiring of thighs etc. Sand and grit in your trail runners will be a problem but gaiters should remedy it."

Brett: "we're planning on setting out of gordon at 11am and making it to camper by evening (taking the high-trail as it will be high-tide at owen), perhaps squeezing in a back-trace to owen once we get down on the beach. how realistic is that? everything i read says people barely make it to thrasher – but they also seem to be carrying 80lb packs :)"

Dave: "Many hikers begin at Gordon and reach Camper late the first night. You should have no trouble. Hiking back to Owen Point without a pack is a possible option. You'll want to play this as a last minute decision depending on weather and how your first day goes. You could do part of the beach rather than all the way to Owen."

Brett: "a lot of the camps sound quite crowded. to avoid the crowds and retain a bit of solitude on the trail, i'm hoping i can eat dinner at a primary campsite, fill up with water, then hike a mile or two beyond and find an more remote ad-hoc site on the beach (with no water source) to spend the night. how realistic is this in most places w.r.t terrain and tidal issues? i read a lot about a 'shelf' vs. 'beach' and it sounds like i would not be able to pitch a tent on the shelf easily. any other tips for quiet or special camps spots?"

Dave: "There are several places where you can avoid the popular spots and move on to an equally nice site with fewer hikers. This year hasn't been very crowded so the choice can be a last minute one. We've tried to mention most viable campsites in Blisters and Bliss. The one's to avoid if possible are Camper and Tsusiat. Camper you might not have an option but Tsusiat is a great place to stop for a break and then move on."


The West Coast Trail

Theresa, Tim, Melissa and I were lucky enough to secure a reservation for the West Coast Trail this year – over labor day weekend.

I'm really excited about it. It has been called the #1 best hike in the world by some, and one of the toughest trails in North America by others.

The WCT is a 47-mile long hike along the coast of Vancouver Island. Here are some of the aspsects that interest me the most:

  • The trail has some interesting history, and is littered with ship wrecks.
  • It's a combination of beach and forest hiking.
  • Some exciting boulder and log scrambling at Owen Point
  • Breathtaking views and sunsets
  • Chance of seeing whales and sea lions
  • Chance of not seeing bears and cougars 🙂
  • Cable cars and suspension bridges
  • Amazing old growth forests

There are maps available at: WCT Map Part 1 AND WCT Map Part 2.

Our current thinking is to fly from Lake Union to Victoria, stay over night – fueling up at Mountain Equipment Corp (as we can't bring fuel or meat into Ca)., then take the WCT Trail Suttle Bus to the trail head the next day.

Most people take 6-7 days to complete the trail. The fastest it's been done is in 2 days (1 night) by two triathlon runners. I'm thinking 5 days, 4 nights would be a decent goal.