Kyla and I recently spent 4 days hiking the Juan de Fuca trail, a 47km coastal rainforest hike on Vancouver Island’s southwest coast. It was really hard! (Especially for an inexperienced hiker with minimal training, oops!) Lots of steep ups and downs, muddy sections, and tricky creek crossings which required creative, acrobatic moves while wearing a gigantic backpack! That said, it was absolutely achievable, and SO worth it! The trail offered spectacular ocean views and wildlife sightings, great nights of camping on beaches, and lots of hilarity. It was exhilarating to finish, and I’m still riding that high, feeling proud of what we accomplished. (Proud enough to earn a break from multi-day hiking for a while!)
Here’s the first post from my rundown of the trail (with occasional comments from Kyla!), with lots of pictures.
Day 1: China Beach Trailhead to Bear Beach (9kms)
We took the shuttle from Victoria, which gave us an early start hiking, around 8 am. We started the day with some hearty, homemade breakfast burritos and fruit on the bus.
After pulling out our hiking poles for the first time, we set off on the familiar 2km hike to Mystic Beach. The ground was dry, and the hike still felt fairly easy, even with our 30+ pound backpacks! So far, so good.
We didn’t stay long at Mystic; we’ve been there a lot, and it’s easy to access for a day hike. We found the exit from the beach back onto the trail (indicated by some signs) and took the steep path up.
The trail continued with some ups and downs, and a little bit of mud, passing over a few small creeks.
Shortly after leaving Mystic, Kyla rolled her ankle and took a fall while going downhill; she landed on her hand and the heavy backpack didn’t help. It was painful and eventually swelled up, but she was a superhero and hiked the rest of the trail using only one hand!
As we took a selfie in the misty forest, by a cliff edge overlooking the ocean, a bald eagle flew by – not overhead – we were at eagle height!
Kyla kept finding edible berries en route. Without fail, whenever she started snacking I’d check: “Are you SURE it’s not poisonous?” They weren’t, but *just in case*, I’d always save mine for later, and keep an eye on her!
We took a few short water and snack breaks, but we didn’t feel the need to stop for lunch until we got to Bear Beach. It was a short first day of hiking, and we arrived just before noon to claim the best campsite and jump into a delicious lunch of pepperoni sticks and other dried foods. We got a Saywer water filter, which we really liked, and we eagerly tried it out in a creek.
Bear Beach has a few spots to camp, with outhouses, food caches, and water sources nearby. Some parts of the beach can be inaccessible at high tide. We were early enough not to have to worry about this, but it’s important to print off the Port Renfrew tide charts before you go. This information is also posted at each of the beaches.
According to Kyla, the outhouse was *extremely full*, so we were happy to have our she-wee/pee-zee/urinating aids on us for number one needs! (TMI? I don’t recommend reading on :P)
We relaxed at our deluxe campsite, reading in the sun, doing tent yoga and sharing back massages to prepare our bodies for the next day.
We’d read that we’d need a lot of high energy foods for the hike, and decided to cook up two packages of Sidekicks for dinner. Needless to say, we hadn’t hiked nearly enough that day to make room for all those noodles in our bellies! We did what we could, but when I rinsed out the pot in the ocean afterwards, the fish definitely got some Sidekicks snacks :S
We were probably asleep by 8pm that night, resting up for Day 2, the most challenging section of the trail!