Cowichan Retreads, together with guests and new-comers, hiked one of their favourite hikes: the Cowichan River loop starting from the end of Mayo Road, just downstream from Skutz Falls.
We crossed the forestry bridge and immediately found the trail head. We then moved parallel to the river in a downstream direction. After some time we climbed a steep, but short, hill and paused at the top to gather our breath and look down on the river as it flowed down and around a large curve. We stood back from the edge of an unstable bank, but were grateful to see that willows are beginning to stabilize the base of the bank and vegetation is making its way up the slope.
We then wandered down a long slope and up and down over roots and rock until we came out onto a rocky bank on the edge of the river. In the winter season these rocks would be covered with water. Here we took time to check the river and wave to a couple who were having a picnic and cautious swim in the pool on the other side. Also at this point some hikers took the planned river clean-up to heart and gathered up discarded drink cans and beer bottles. After some time we hiked down over a neat wooden bridge which now crosses above a trickle of water. We then climbed up again and marveled at the rapids as we entered the Marie Canyon part of the hike.
Finally the Mile 66 trestle came into view. Up and down over a small hill and we emerged onto the trestle bridge and greeted a large family of visitors who were also enjoying this trail. At this point we took the opportunity for a potty break but could no longer enjoy the picnic table that was once there.
Next we followed the trail that heads upstream along the north side of the river. At one point we looked down in the clear pool and saw a heap of cans submerged in the river; a project for the river clean up on Aug. 25. At one point the trail brought us out on the Trans-Canada Trail for a short distance before it once again joined the river-side trail. We were skirting an eroded section of the river bank.
After some time we arrived at the group camp site to see park staff busy cleaning and repairing the site. Here we had the luxury of picnic tables to sit at and enjoy our lunch and friendship.
On toward the forestry bridge we saw a number of tubers setting off down toward rapids and through Marie Canyon to Stoltz Pool. Then we were back at the cars; another trip around the loop completed.
Next week we plan to hike the Carmanah Park. Since it is a long journey we will leave Saywell Park at 8:30 am. Contact Willa Suntjens at 250-749-4144 if you would like to participate.
— Submitted David Kidd