The Kinsol Trestle along the Cowichan Valley Trail in British Columbia.
Rick Long has a “bear-banger”… and he is not afraid to use it.
Long and his son Michael had been hiking a section of the Trail near Lake Cowichan when they spotted a beautiful berry patch and decided to stop for lunch.
That’s when the bush started shaking, and making crunching and munching noises.
To announce their presence, Long called out “hello, humans are here!”
The bush went silent for a minute and then the munching and crunching began again.
Long reached into his pocket and put his trusty “bear-banger” (noisemaker used by hikers to scare-off bears and other potentially dangerous animals) at the ready and called out one more time.
The bush went silent yet again, and then the sounds resumed. “It was now so close that we could hear the animal grunting and snorting,” Long recalled.
That’s when Long and his son realized that they had shown up uninvited to a bear’s lunch patch, and rather than serving as the meat course, they decided to move on.
After 1,825 kilometres, seven mountain ranges and eight summers on the Trail from Victoria to Alberta, Long has plenty of stories.
For example, there was the stretch in the rugged interior when he and his companion didn’t encounter anyone—other than a family of curious mountain goats—for five straight days.
And there was a close call; the time he was hiking with his friend Don Ramage.
Anxious to reach their next destination, Rick inadvertently broke his own cardinal rule of always staying in sight of his hiking companion. Realizing it, he stopped and waited nervously, until finally, Ramage rounded the corner looking rattled: he had tripped and almost fallen down a steep cliff into a rushing river.
But other than encounters with hungry bears or a friend’s near head-long plummet over the side of a cliff, Long says his adventures on the Trail have been relatively smooth.
Long describes his Canadian Journey on the TCT as a “family adventure”; most of the hikes being spent in the company of his three sons—Michael, Jeremy and Jeffrey—with his wife Patricia helping with transportation between trail heads, provisioning, and serving as a hiking companion when needed.
Long says his time on the TCT has enhanced many aspects of his life. For example, in his work as a university professor, he has been able to apply his sense of adventure to the classroom, exploring new ways to craft content and help his students learn.
He finds a sense of tranquility and clear-headedness from time spent in nature. “All the issues of daily life drop away, because you have to focus on finding the way, and putting one foot in front of the other,” says Long.
Rick Long’s Canadian journey on the TCT has rewarded him with many opportunities to learn more about Canada. “Hiking across British Columbia allowed us to learn many interesting stories about the history and geography of the province, things we might never have otherwise discovered,” says Long, who has created what he calls a “photo journal of discovery” of his experiences to share with anyone interested in what he learned on his journey.
What’s next on the horizon?
“We’re planning on hiking the High Rockies Trail in Alberta,” says Long. “After that, start at the very easternmost end of the Trail in Newfoundland.”
The TCT is delighted that Long has been recognized as the first person known to hike the British Columbia portion of the Trans Canada Trail, west to east from Victoria through to Alberta.
To read TCT’s original Canadian Journey story on Rick Long, please click HERE.