A Puma was Here

CAPE SUTIL, B.C. — Arguing the difference in vernacular between puma, cougar, and mountain lion is not going to stop a six foot predatory cat from sneaking up on you.

A puma jaw bone is spotted as I trek by in a pair of "North Coast Trail" shoes (photo by Blair Ryan)

A puma jaw bone is spotted as I trek by in a pair of "North Coast Trail" shoes (photo by Blair Ryan)

Luckily for us, the only evidence of wildlife today is from skeleton remains along the beach.

The 6.2km trek from Cape Sutil to Irony Creek is mainly along the cobblestone beach with short spurts inland. This give us a chance to keep an eye open for whales, eagles, and other wildlife that may stay along the beach.

This is part 4 of the Connected in Motion's adventure team hike of the North Coast Trail in Vancouver Island. The series covers the story of thirteen hikers with type 1 diabetes coming together from August 10th - 20th, 2017 to complete this challenge and raise $25,000. Contribute by clicking here

Each morning the group is spoiled with oatmeal or quinoa with sweet freeze-dried fruit, served with fresh coffee. Briden Solutions donated the freeze-dried meals we have been using for breakfast and dinner. This is a huge benefit because our packs are significantly lighter from dehydrated meals. My legs and hips thank you.

Amongst the driftwood that scatters the beach is a whale vertebra. Staring at the size of something larger than a human head makes you ponder about the size of this animal. The signature call of a bald eagle then comes from the few trees that overlook the beach. If we remain in this spot what will we discover next?

One singular, head sized whale vertebra

One singular, head sized whale vertebra

The answer is an entire puma carcass displayed on top of the cobblestone beach. A hip remains with the ball and socket still in place letting the two bones give a glimpse into how the animal moves in this habitat. We debate for a moment whether it is one or two animals because the size seems too big; the skeleton stretched out is taller than some of shorter members of the hike.

Watch out at night.

Irony Creek has several tent platforms and our group fills them out. Nick and I share a platform with Gamble and Amanda setting up the perfect excuse to have pillow talk all night.

Read the North Coast Trail Series

Lessons using a Whisperlite Stove to Make Coffee

Our luxury item is a coffee percolator. A quick survey of the group answers the question that everyone could use a cup of joe in the afternoon. Blair and I learn to use the group stove and come away with two lessons:

  1. Why did MSR not design all their stoves to be compatible? Apparently whisperlite and dragon-something use different fuel container valves.
  2. When someone says turn the fuel all the way up, make sure to turn all the way. 45 minutes later without boiling water made me realize my mistake.

What would make you happy for under $2?

Huddled under the orange glow of the tarp to keep away the future rain from the threatening cloud, the group huddles knee to knee as Peter holds a large dry sac while Jen has a grimace across her face. 

Apparently this question appeared on the Adventure Team application form, "What would make you happy for under $2?"

Hearing this asked after crossing through small towns in America and speaking face-to-face with so many people made my mind rattle. The current version of myself may answer this in an existential way with words like "Curiosity. Flexibility. Family. All keys to happiness."

Ohhh that is right. All diabetics are chocolate addicts. Obviously a bag of M&Ms is the key to happiness; a small jar of silly putty; flower scented soap; or four containers of bubbles. All good answers.

Amanda covered us in bubbles, "Everyone knows that life is 17% better with bubbles." Tomorrow is a good time to test this theory...

Peter cooking with four stoves going at one time. Under the orange glow of this tarp is where we got our $2 happiness items.

Peter cooking with four stoves going at one time. Under the orange glow of this tarp is where we got our $2 happiness items.