On July 27th, 2015 Aaron and I participated in the annual walk around Hornby Island. This is a tradition 14 years deep that started with 2 local guys wondering if they could physically make it all the way around the perimeter of the island. Turns out it was possible, although not without a healthy dose of preparation.
While this walk may sound like some sort of cutesy fundraiser, let me assure you, it was NOT. This “walk”, and I use the term loosely, is actually more of an endurance sport. This year it took Aaron, myself and 19 other young folk about 11 hours to complete the approximately 35 kilometer trek, although some did it in about 10 hours by running some portions. The walk covers all sorts of terrain; sandy beaches, awkward ankle twisting cobbles, grassy bluffs, stony slopes, waist-deep water, shopping cart-sized rocks and massive house-sized boulders.
At 9am walkers arrived at Grassy Point, the start line for the walk. Aaron and I came with hiking boots and backpacks filled with water, snacks and water shoes, although some didn’t come as prepared (one guy wore flip flops, he finished the walk but wasn’t smiling by the end). Most people had stashed caches of food and water at various beaches along the way, so they didn’t need to carry a bag. Lesson learned, next time we would do that too.
One thing became immediately apparent: this was a fast walking group. And I mean fast. Aaron and I couldn’t believe the pace they were setting, especially given the fact that they had 35km ahead of them! Needless to say Aaron and I were always bringing up the rear, or close to it. We were fine with that though, it gave the walk a bit more of a leisurely vibe.
Thankfully the group stopped for several short rests along the way. Snacks, water and “pain management” aids were shared liberally between walkers. The great thing about Hornby is that no matter where you stop for a break it is bound to be breathtaking. Here’s a shot of one of the places we stopped to refuel, Helliwell Provincial Park.
Along the way we came across a petroglyph! There are several around Hornby, but this is the first one we’ve seen in person. I will leave the interpretation of the petroglyph to you, but it was pretty amazing to see something that was created so long ago, and that will eventually be gone completely. This one in particular is carved into sandstone, so at some point in the future it will wear down to nothing.
Midway through the 11 hour journey we were both starting to feel it, and naturally this happened right when the terrain got ugly. We’re talking MASSIVE boulders that could only be passed by getting in the water. Luckily we knew this was coming and packed water shoes. Life saver. A BIG thank you goes out to Helen and Steve who let us borrow them.
At about the 9 hour point we stopped for another break, and at this point we were utterly bagged. Every step was a struggle thanks to a few new blistery friends on our feet. Knowing there was another 2 hours to go was daunting, but at this point we were basically walking zombies, so what the hell, let’s give it a go! This next photo shows me, dying, with yet another 2 hours to go.
Let’s just say the last 2 hours were a bit of a STRUGGLE. Full zombie mode. We arrived back at the starting point 11 hours after we started. We immediately sat ourselves down and soaked in what can only be described as pure bliss.
The need to be horizontal in a bed was quite strong, so we drove home as soon as we were able to drag ourselves to the car. I will spare you from any images of our blisters, but rest assured they were plentiful. As the blisters and achy muscles subsided in the days that followed, I can say without a doubt that this horribly painful, exhaustive tour-de-Hornby was worth every step.