All photos taken May 19, 2022.
The day was gorgeous but cool and we knew the forest and trails would be wet and muddy, but we set off to hike parts of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail anyway.
The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a rugged 47 kilometres (29 mi) wilderness hiking trail located within Juan de Fuca Provincial Park along the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island. The trail stretches from China Beach, 35 km west of Sooke, to Botanical Beach, just outside Port Renfrew.
Panoramic views of the coastline, Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains can be seen from many points along this rainforest trail. Lucky are those who spot a pod of whales, but it is not uncommon to view sea lions, bald eagles, herons and other wildlife. It is a stunning trail of moderate difficulty.
The trail can be hiked in part, as a day hike, or backpacked in its entirety in four to six days. Unlike the longer West Coast Trail (75 kilometres (47 mi)), the Juan de Fuca Trail does not require a reservation; however, there is a backcountry camping fee of $10 per person/per night. It is also suggested to plan ahead if travelling with a large group. Some campsites are quite small and so arriving early to guarantee a spot is highly recommended.
My beloved Patty in her Googling found out that the Juan de Fuca Trail has the 2nd most Search & Rescue incidents in British Columbia. No worries, we were not hiking the entirety of the trail, just a couple of out and back trails to catch the feel of the hike. Yeah, right!
Setting off, we headed along Highway 14 to the Parkinson Creek Road, where we turned off. It was only slightly better than the road to Avatar Grove, but all the deep potholes were filled with water.
My travelling companions felt I again required their assistance, so they all shouted “HOLE” when they thought I was getting too close to disaster. It took more than 10 minutes to navigate the road at an average speed of 20 km/hr. I could have sworn the road was at least 20 km long.
In the Parkinson Creek trailhead parking lot, we met a hiker who was covered in mud splatters. We asked how the trail was. He said OK, as long as you like mud. He also advised he had seen a mother black bear and cub near the trail and another black bear feeding on the coast.
Based on that, I went over my checklist
- Bear spray – yup, three cans – check
- Waterproof hikers – hikers yes, waterproof, not totally – half a check
- rain pants – oops, me, who had advised the rest of the party to bring theirs had left his back at the cottage – checked out
Despite all these omens, we opted to do the hike – after all, we could always turn back, right?
From the parking lot, looking not too bad
at Parkinson Creek, still not bad, but definitely rain forest-y looking
And then we hit the Juan de Fuca Trail – the photos show the conditions
When I looked up to the tree tops, the question “How hard could it be to find an injured hiker crossed my mind.” The answer was easy. “Darn hard through the forest canopy.”
This green slug seemed to be enjoying the moisture.
The trail continued to get tougher, wetter, muddier and with drops that required serious concentration to negotiate. Whose idea was this, anyway?
To keep us interested, there were water views from time to time.
I was lending assistance to Patty from time to time. You can see some of the trail was pretty tricky, especially the one 4 foot drop.
Just when we had all but given up, we popped out onto a huge rock shelf beach. (separate post)
We spent almost an hour exploring the rock shelf and eating our picnic lunch, before heading back up. Patty had been dreading this part, but we found a solution….
…to simplify her climbing, I gave her a boost. The first boost was a bit too much and she almost flew up the hill. I adjusted the force and she found climbing up the trail much easier than going down.
How would you ever hope to get out of here in the dark or if you got off the trail?
Before we knew it, we were back at Parkinson Creek….
…and much easier conditions.
Pat’s verdict was “I am glad I did it, but, I will never do it again.” Fair enough. The total hiking distance there and back from Parkinson Creek trailhead to the beach was 4 km (2.5 mi) with 53 m (174 feet) elevation gain. Technical difficulty was rated as moderate. I would have rated it as wet.