A young woman with a Castor connection completed one of the most treacherous hikes in Canada this summer.
Miranda Kroeker, who has served as a lifeguard at the Castor pool since 2019, and her family completed the 75 kilometre West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in early August.
“I was introduced to the idea last summer,” said Kroeker.
Originally intending to do the do the trip with friends, according to Kroeker they all backed out. She ran the idea of doing the trail past her family, and found her mom and aunt wanted to do the trip as well.
Kroeker started the trail with a small group consisting of her aunt, cousin and brother. While the three completed the whole 75 kilometre journey, her parents and sister joined the party at the half-way point.
The full group completed the trail on Aug. 14.
Something that surprised Kroeker about the journey was how fast the days went by.
“I was hoping to journal every day,” said Kroeker.
“But with walking, setting up camp, cooking, you’re always doing things. There’s not a lot of time to relax.”
Kroeker says that one she learned about herself on the journey was how much she appreciates solitude.
“People get loneliness and solitude mixed up and think they mean the same thing,” said Kroeker.
“Spending time with people all the time (on the trail) … I love my family, they are amazing, but I still want some alone time.”
Something else Kroeker was blown away by was the diversity of wild- and marine-life she was able to see on the trip. Her group was able to see larger animals like bears and sea lions, while also appreciating the smaller life like barnacles and sea anemones, life she doesn’t normally see in Alberta.
“You saw a lot of things you don’t see at other places,” said Kroeker.
One major concern on the trail, according to Kroeker, is trips and falls. Despite the natural beauty of the area, Kroeker says that a lot of the time was spent watching the ground in front of her as the group navigated mud-bogs, used “massive” cedar trees as bridges and slippery shelves above the beach.
According to the B.C. Parks website, if an injury were to occur on the trail it could take more than 24 hours for help to arrive due to the remoteness.
With the hike behind her and the pool season in Castor rapidly coming to a close, Kroeker plans to return to school in Calgary to finish the last semester of her Bachelor of Science, a degree which she hopes to use as a stepping stone into an eventual masters program.
As for returning to Castor, with her grandparents, Henry and Frieda Kroeker, still living in the community and the Castor pool having a “great group” of staff, it is not outside of possibility that Kroeker will return for another swimming season.
Besides, Kroeker says, “(Castor is) such a pretty spot.”