I am situated here on Vancouver Island for the summer. Before I started my Clinical rotation, my friend and I decided to head west and get a little taste of the Juan de Fuca Trail. Due to time restraints, we could only afford the minuscule 24 hours at this place.
The first morning started off leaving town at 9:30. By the time we arrived to the Sombrio Beach parking lot, it was about 10:45. Once we gobbled down some yummy lunch, it was around 11 when we threw on our packs and hit the trail. From the parking lot to the beach itself, it’s not far at all – a short 15 minute walk in fact. Sombrio Beach is huge. It stretches down the coast for a ways. All sorts of tents formed a mosaic along the sand. Being Friday, it wasn’t too busy.
The plan was to hike to Chin Beach to camp for the night there. From Sombio to Chin Beach is about 8km. Turns out this part of the trail is the only difficult portion of the entire Juan de Fuca trail – ha whoops! We didn’t know what to expect that’s for sure.
The Juan de Fuca trail is cool in the sense you hike along the beach in certain sections. There is no “marked” trail in the sand…you kind of just meander. It’s nice to have the freedom to stop and go “off trail” (scandalous!) and observe tide pools along the way.
As mentioned before, the start of this hike situated us on Sombrio Beach. About 2 km in, we finally entered the trees. The more trees we passed, the smaller things appeared on the beach below. The elevation gain was very giving. Almost too giving.
Eventually we reached Sombrio Point for a quick bite to eat and rock exploration. Amazing views from here!
After we picked a pretty flower for our touseled buns, we once again continued the hike. At this point now, the trail lead us deeper into the forest along with more elevation gain. Between climbing up and around roots and pulling our suctioned boots out of the mud, it was safe to say we were getting a workout. There are people who pay hundreds of dollars for “mud wraps” at the spa. Just hike the JDF and you will get it for free!
About 1.5 km away from Chin Beach we came to the suspension bridge. No one told me you could see right through the floor of the bridge. I was so scared at first. I froze up…heebie jeebies in full swing. I adjusted my Indiana Jones hat and continued to walk along the bridge strutting as confidently as I could.
A little ways onward, we found the fork that lead us to Chin. It was completely secluded — probably because it was so cold and windy. Wow, what a difference from Sombrio. It was unbelievable. We attempted to “bathe”, but the waves were so strong. Between fighting the force of the rip curl and dodging our feet from tumbling rocks; we were out of there in a short 5 minutes. Once dried off, we mutually decided to hike back to Sombrio and camp there. Before departure we fit in a 30 minute nap to re-charge our tired minds before we hit the tricky trail once more.
We reached Sombrio Point for the second time around 4:30. As we were making our way down to the rocks, a tiny garter snake crossed my path. For those who don’t know, but I am deathly scared of snakes. It’s so unfortunate. After screaming like a child and jumping around to find the nearest tree I could climb, the snake made its way into the bush and I could finally breathe. I turned around and Marnel was doing the same thing. We killed ourselves laughing. F*&king snakes.
We were both incredibly hungry at this point, so we whipped out dinner. On the menu (thanks to Marnel) was sourdough pasta with potato soup sauce along with sautéed broccoli, onions, chorizo and carrots. I was in charge of heating up our appetizer – chicken noodle soup! Dinner was so delicious. It filled us up to the brim and promised a good night’s sleep. We left the Point at 6:30 pm and arrived to Sombrio for 7:30. We scouted out a sheltered place for our tent that still provided a stellar view of the ocean.
The next 6 hours included showering off the day in the ocean (finally!), building a lousy fire, dancing to old hip-hop, AcroYoga, and hanging out with our two tent neighbours with wine. They had the cutest dogs. I was missing mine from home.
The next morning we woke up around 8. Since we only had about a 20 minute hike back to the car, we took it easy this morning. After we packed up and ate some oatmeal, the hip-hop was put on again until Marnel’s phone died. I whipped out my sling shot I bought in Jasper last summer after I hiked Berg Lake . A week after I bought the toy, it actually broke. To fix it (like anything) I applied a whack of duct tape last summer. After a few shots on the beach, I could tell the tape was coming loose. Instead of trying to fix the tape, lazy Charlotte made the decision that her thumb would hold back the broken piece just fine. Well, when a rock comes flying into your thumb nail at (what felt like) 140 km/hr – I can tell you now, it’s no fun. First injury of the trip…of course it was me. At first my thumb went white (because I basically forced all the blood away from that one part of my thumb). It wasn’t shortly after when the blood started. Lordy it was bad. Thank goodness my Nurse friend, Marnel, was there to help.
By the time we packed up everything it was around 10:00. On our way back to the parking lot, we walked past our tent neighbours and we got a picture with their adorable dogs.
Back at the car, our stomachs were grumbling as usual. One of our tent neighbours mentioned a little cafe called Shirley Delicious that was en route back to Sooke. He did nothing but rave about the place. We couldn’t NOT stop.
I tell you, it was the best decision to stop at this little place. Fresh food, happy employees and situated in the most quaint forest setting. We ordered an iced matcha latte, AMAZING blueberry/orange cheesecake and the freshest veggie panini you could get. Definitely pay a visit to this place if you’re heading towards Port Renfrew from Sooke. You will not be disappointed!
Happy hiking, and stay adventurous!
Photos by the wonderful Marnel! Thanks darlin’!
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