Backpacking With Children: A Week On A Remote Island
All through the spring we worked on getting the kiddos ready for our big (secret) backpacking trip of the year: a week on Flores Island. Mike and I have been there before, and since we were going to Vancouver to see my brother and his lovely fiancee get married, we decided to make a vacation out of it. The best part is we decided not to tell the kids until the day before we were going to head from Vancouver to the island.
The wedding was beautiful and we enjoyed touring the city of Vancouver, mostly by public transit, which was an adventure in itself.
After a wonderful weekend celebrating with family, we took the ferry to Nanaimo and from there drove to Port Alberni, to spend the night before driving to Tofino the following day and catching a water taxi to Flores Island.
The hike from the trail head to Cow Bay is 11kms. It’s not a lot of climbing, but it’s also not the easiest hike in the world, and there are long stretches of hoofing it through the sand, but the kids were troopers. They didn’t complain, and were such superstars, carrying their own gear and marveling at the sights and sounds all around them.
We stopped for a long rest and some lunch at the half-way point. There was some debate about spending the night there and finishing the rest of the distance the next day, but after filling our bellies and taking a break, everyone seemed up to the challenge and we carried on all the way to Cow Bay, where we set up our things and did some exploring before supper.
The days that followed were full of lots of playing in the sand and surf, collecting shells, whale watching (they came very close to the beach one afternoon as we were walking the shore) and fishing/crabbing.
We hiked to the beach before Cow Bay one afternoon to check out the tidal pools. We found what I think was a jelly fish washed up on shore, and we did a lot of learning and discovering.
Towards the end of our week we decided to break up the hike-out, and make our way back to the half-way point, where there is a camping area, to spend a couple of days exploring that beach before we had to leave for home.
All too soon it was time to leave our island paradise. Hike-out day is always hike-in-your-pajamas day, which the kids decided to do.
After making our way out of the woods, we were able to catch a water taxi back to Tofino, and then we drove to Nanaimo for the night. We went for Chinese buffet for supper, because after a week of dehydrated food, the hiker hunger was bad. Everyone was full and happy by the time we went to bed.
Early the next morning we caught the ferry back to Vancouver City. It’s very stressful parking Truck in such a tight space, but we managed.
The kids really enjoyed the ferry ride, they sure got to do a lot of new things on the trip! We spent the evening with my sister, Rayna, who had invited us to stay at her place before the long drive home. The 5 of us went out for sushi, which was AMAZING of course.
After a really great visit, and a good nights sleep, it was time for the very long drive home. Fortunately the scenery through the mountains is gorgeous.
We were tired, but so very happy when we rolled into Airdrie many hours later. It was a long haul, but such an incredible experience for us, and especially for the kids. We all learned a great deal (future posts on that, but spoilers: bring way more suncreen and bug spray than you think you will need) and made memories we will look back on for years to come. Now to plan NEXT summer’s big backpacking trip!