I love Cape Scott Park. The winds can reach a varified 120 mph so it’s not a place to hike during fall and winter. You may have to fight trails with bears on occasion so 13 caches are provided for campers food. There are now cautionary warnings regarding wolves as well. You drive 1 1/2 hours over an active, graded gravel logging road, and you must yield right of way to logging trucks traveling between 7 am and 4 pm.
Throughout Cape Scott you will wander past some excellent examples of old-growth forest, including Sitka Spruce and Western Red Cedar in excess of 3 metres in diameter with many treas 7 meters in diameter. I used to love hiking there.
On one such occasion, while hiking with my two (then) teenagers, we took the shorter jaunt to San Josef Bay which is an easy 45 minute hike in. Might I add well worth the effort.
We packed a lunch and frisbee and when we arrived at the beach, we relaxed, ate and played games before wandering a considerable length of beach. Noticing clouds moving toward us, I suggested we head out. When heavy cloud moves in, it’s possible to get stuck there and you won’t move until the clouds lift. One couple mentioned hunkering down for 13 days. Although this was much further into the park, it still concerned me. True or not, it wasn’t a risk I was willing to take as we had only prepared a light lunch and no extra clothing.
Fortunately my son had raced on ahead, determined to win the race back to the car. As I hustled along, enjoying my surroundings, chatting with my daughter, it happened! For no apparant reason, I lost my breath, I couldn’t seem to suck in enough air to fill my lungs and there I stood in the middle of the path shaking my hands in panic. I remember stomping my feet and turning circles for some unknown reason. When I still couldn’t catch my breath, I started ripping layers of clothing off until I stood in nothing but my underwear and shoes. I was gasping for breath, and I couldn’t make a sound to alert my daughter up ahead of me. When she realized she was alone, she back tracked to find me. I grabbed hold of her and held on. Simply touching her seemed to calm me and I was finally able to suck air slowly into my deprived lungs. It took awhile for the panic to subside. My daughter did her best to shield me lest an unwitting hiker should appear.
In the process I re-dressed myself and I began laughing. I laughed so hard i doubled in half and tears rolled down my cheeks. My daughter’s startled eyes now held a question. I’d never had a panic attack and had no idea that is what had transpired. My only thought at the time was what if some poor hiker had come upon us, finding me nearly naked, clad in next to nothing. It would have been mortifying to me, but no doubt a shock to them as well or perhaps provided a good laugh – either way, you can imagine my relief that did not happen.
My daughter stayed close the rest of the way back to the car. I was relieved not knowing what that was, but I certainly didn’t want a repeat. It wasn’t my last panic attack and they would continue for several years. It did not stop me from embarking on other hiking expeditions.
When once I was mortified by panic attacks, I’ve come to understand, they are a result of a stoic strong person holding on too long and a release of tension and stress relief is required. I no longer fear them and they have thankfully subsided over the years.