20 Sep 2008

Juan de Fuca trail, Vancouver Island

Posted by walterheck

I had heard a lot about the trails on Vancouver Island. After asking artound for a bit, I seemed to have two choices: The West coast trail and the Juan de Fuca trail. comparing them, I found out that it costs 140$ to get on to the west coast trail, which made my choice easier 🙂

I set out on tuesday morning, being dropped off by David in the center of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. I needed to get supplies first, so I asked one of the many, many homeless people for the nearest supermarket. Homeless people are a real problem in Vancouver and Victoria. These two cities have particularly soft winters, which makes them great for year-round homelessness. Anyway, I got my groceries and set out to the bus.
The bus took me all the way to Sooke and from there I hitchhiked to the trailhead. I started the trail at 12:30, which would turn out to not be the best time. I would soon find out that parts of the trail are unpassable when it’s high tide. Since it had just been full moon, the high tides were extra high. Due to this, I got stuck on the second beach and had to make camp there. So much for my plans to finish this trail in 2 days. I set up my tent in a really nice spot just along the beach (I could see the surf from inside my tent 🙂 ). I rested a bit, enjoying the hot afternoon sun. There was a huge log on the beach (1,5m+ diameter) with a burnt side. I thought that would make a sweet spot for a fire and soon got one going. 10 minutes later I realised that if the whole side of that log was burnt, that must mean that was a pretty big fire and it must have taken quite a while to put it out. I ended my fire, but wasn’t able to make the log stop simmering before I left the next morning. Oops!
The sunset that night was amazingly beautiful. On top of that, just as the sun was setting, a whale passed by less then 30 meters from the shoreline. In one word: incredible! As I was sitting there, I was once again realising how free I am to do whatever I want and to go wherever I like. That was, until it dawned on me that the piece of land on the other side of the sea (being Olympia Island, located in Washington state in the U.S.) was one of the only places I cannot go to right now (Visa issues, I have to leave Canada first before I can go back into the U.S.)
The next day was a very tough hike. Most of the way was steep uphill climbing about 150m at a time, including parts where you had to use all fours, followed by the same downhill. Then a creek, and then the same thing all over again. This was so tough on my knees that an old injury started acting up and by the end of the first 10 Km I got my ass kicked completely by this trail. I was a little disappointed, but there was not much I could do. I set up camp, was joined by two guys just camping out (not doing the trail) and we had a good evening. They had a beautiful husky that they rescued from being tied up in the blistering sun in Costa Rica. I was happy to have a bear/cougar guard during the night, since I had seen a lot of bear-scat and some cougar tracks on the trail.
The next day my knee was doing a lot better. The hardest part of the trail was also behind me, so the first 8 Km to the next beach were pretty easy. When I arrived at Sombrio beach, I decided to keep going at least until Parkinson Creek, possibly finishing the whole trail. By the time I got to parkinson Creek however, I was feeling my knee hurting badly again so I decided to call it a day. I had to go back to David’s place, because I had told him I would be back that day or even the day before.
Right before I got to the trailhead, there was a little sign saying “Caution, bears in area”. I remember thinking: jeez, that is nothing new! when I rounded the corner that sign was on though, I was face to face with a black bear and her two cubs! I immediately got out my bear spray, opened my pocket knife and started making noise. The bear looked at me, but didn’t seem very intimidated (or angry, for that matter). I relaxed a little, got out my camera to take a few nice shots and then proceeded to clap my hands and talk to it to make it leave. It took a few minutes, but in the end it left. I walked by, quite nervous since I had no real clue where the bear went exactly.
When I got to the trailhead, I had two suprises waiting for me: first, there wasn’t a single car in the parking. second, the road to the main road was another 4km hike. With my knee hurting, that wasn’t very nice. There nothing I could do thoguh, so I hiked to the road where I started hitchhiking.
I was picked up quite soon by two friendly guys who had been fishing that day, catching no less than 24 salmon (and releasing 20 of them again)! They took me to dinner in Sooke, insisted on paying for it and then drove me all the way to David’s place.
I took a well deserved shower! David let me stay for the night, so I sent out a couple of couch requests and then went to bed.

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One Response to “Juan de Fuca trail, Vancouver Island”

  1. He, ontzettend mooi zeg. Maar goed dat jij je niet groot hoeft te maken om beren weg te jagen. Ik moet wel zeggen dat ik het knap vind, dat je nog altijd onderweg bent zonder volledig blut te gaan. Blijkbaar heb je het gat in je hand onder controle gekregen. Hier in Nederland gaat alles zijn gangetje, studie, relatie. Je kent het wel, de iets burgerlijkere aanpak. Ben inmiddels bezig met afstuderen, dus over een paar maanden mag ik sollicitatiebrieven gaan schrijven.
    Nog veel plezier,