The Juan De Fuca Marine Trail, Vancouver Island, BC.        

Carol and I didn't actually hike the entirety of this trail. This is a 3 to 5 day coastal trail located just south of Vancouver Island's famous (and busier) West Coast Trial. What we did do was hike small portions of the Juan de Fuca while doing a 264 km, 5.5 hour driving loop of the area which we had undertaken in order to get a taste of the rainforest.

Starting in Victoria, we headed along busy and windy roads to Sooke. Once past Sooke, Highway 14 (West Coast Road) becomes narrower, thankfully less busy and very very windy (it has to be one of the more twisty and turny road we had traveled). We still don't know what the scenery is like as true to rainforest form... it was raining. The Juan de Fuca trial starts (or finishes) just past Jordan River and it is here we hiked the 45 minutes down to Mystic Beach. It was a wet and spectacular introduction to the rain forest and we reveled in the huge trees, even bigger old growth stumps, large ferns and slimy banana slugs big enough to span your hand (see Extreme Slug Viewing)! Moss was everywhere and in places the forest floor was so tangled with fallen trees and over-growth that it looked almost impassible. Of course it was also soaking wet. One place had a sign indicating that the area receives 12 feet of rain every year - yikes! The trees were huge and I have no idea how the previous generation of loggers would have moved them. I can't even imagine present day machines moving them but I guess human ingenuity knows no limits and we have cleared entire mountain sides. One of the more interesting sections of the trial involved the drop down onto the beach. Park staff had used a fallen tree and carved something like 40 steps and a 30 foot run out into this single tree, in effect turning the tree into a kind of sidewalk! Although the beaches look pretty much as ocean beaches do, it was here that a dream of mine came true. Progressing along the beach we came upon a steady stream of cool clear inland water tumbling off a 50 foot sandstone cliff onto the sandy beach below. Frolicking in the spray where two good-looking and naked women! Etiquette (or maybe it was Carol) prevented me from taking a photo so you will just have to believe me!

The Botanical Beach Park is located at the end (or start) of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail near Port Renfrew. A short hike in from the access point are the tidal pools left on the ocean floor as the tide goes out. Although we had seen numerous tidal pools before, never had we seen so many creatures in them. There were all kinds of crabs, hermit crabs, snails and the like cruising around and eating or doing whatever little marine animals do. The pink crabs were much less active than the brown/black crabs and for this reason they were my preferred photography targets. About 10 minutes later I clued into the fact that they were less active because they were dead - it was not one of my brighter moments! I eventually found a live brown/black one to co-operate and pose. He was a defiant little guy and I called him the "Guardian of the Pacific" (see the photo below).

Highway 14 ends at Port Renfrew but a combination of old pavement, single lane bridges and active logging roads called the Harrison Main provides a link to Lake Cowichan and enabled us to make a loop back to Victoria. The beauty of logging roads is that they take you right into the country in a way normally only possible by foot or canoe but they allow you to cover some ground while doing it. Of course, they have the obvious drawback of exposing you to all the clear-cuts. Maybe this is a good thing... it allows people to see the effect of our insatiable demand for wood products. Along this road we saw two bears (one stopped for a poo) and a giant spruce. Actually it was a GIANT spruce and was easily the biggest tree we had ever seen. It must have been one of the bigger ones in the area as a little sign located on the logging road indicated its presence a short distance in from the road. I am not sure how it survived the first deforestation programs but it did. Maybe it was the biggest back then - I am sure that even the loggers would have had some reverence for the biggest tree that they had ever seen.

So, although we did a lot more driving than hiking, our trip allowed us to get a excellent taste of the area and provided a great rainforest introduction.

It is wet... the rainforest!

A big tree


Pacific guardian


Log staircase

A bear...

...shits in the woods



On the trail



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