Retreads explore Mesachie and more

Two were close by with one to good old Mesachie Mountain, one from Skutz Falls upstream, and the third was further away at East Sooke Park.

Beth Kidd scrambles over fallen logs on the Skutz Trail.

Beth Kidd scrambles over fallen logs on the Skutz Trail.

David Kidd Gazette

Retreads continued with three more fall outings. Two were close by with one to good old Mesachie Mountain, one from Skutz Falls upstream, and the third was further away at East Sooke Park.

The Mesachie hike was pretty uneventful. We had hoped for a clear day in order to admire the view from the summit but that was not to be. It was low overcast when we started out, the view from the top was quite restricted and we were only able to just see the road to Honeymoon Bay from the summit. By the time we had finished lunch and headed back down the cloud had cleared a bit and we stopped at the lookout halfway down and admired the view out over Bear Lake and towards Honeymoon Bay where we could see that it was bright and sunny.

By the time we reached the bottom the cloud had cleared completely and we could easily see the top of Mesachie Mountain when looking up from Honeymoon Bay Road. Those who had not done this hike before were surprised at how high it is and how shear the mountain face is. Discussions were many and varied. We talked about the weather (of course), whether it was possible to hike up from the east side, the upcoming election and the surprise appearance that Tommy Douglas would be making at the Lake Cowichan School soon after the election. Back at the Lake quite a few of us met up at Jake’s for coffee etc.

Twenty six of us — an impressive and colourful group when strung out along a trail — hiked what was for us a new trail, starting and ending at the Skutz Falls parking lot and heading upstream along the river bank.

Much of this trail had the look of a fisherman’s trail with side spurs running down to the river. At one point we were out on the Trans Canada Trail then back into the forest again. Further along we faced a challenging “bushwack” up and down over fallen trees and rocks. It turned out that the river had changed course — something rivers are prone to do — and obliterated parts of the trail.

Toward the end of the outward part of our hike we crossed some pretty unproductive gravel-based land where the trees were pretty stunted. No doubt traces of other river bed changes. And then out onto a clearing right at the edge of a deeper section of the Cowichan River. Time for lunch and memories.

It was exactly two years since Jean Cozens had passed and it seemed appropriate to remember Jean, the founder of our club, with a moment of silence and the releasing of memory cards into the river. That done, we gathered ourselves for the hike back along the Trans Canada Trail to the parking lot. A few more enthusiastic members decided to hike back into town on the TCT.

Fourteen of us met at the Aylard Farm Parking lot for our hike along the coastal part of East Sooke Park to the trap cabin. We were delighted to have the rain ease off and the sun come out as we followed the contours along the rocky shore, lead by Jim Jenkins who is well known for his knowledge of the back country and his art work. We had excellent views of the Olympic Mountains and the boats in the Juan de Fuca Strait.

We had lunch at a point by the trap cabin with the ocean pounding against the rocks, the sun warming us, seals frolicking by the shoreline — perfect! Our route back took us through lush forest with a short detour back to the coastline to see the seal petroglyph at Allridge Point. Another stellar Retreads hike that we will long remember. Indeed some members recalled doing the complete hike along that coastal trail together with Jean Cozens a few years back. It was a challenging day.

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