Together with a car load of Duncan Outdoor Hikers, a car load of Retreads set off to hike the East Sooke Coast Trail. We met at a general store in the middle of East Sooke, exchanged cars and proceeded to opposite ends of the trail.
Our end of the trail (east) wound along just above a beach and gradually moved into the ups and downs of ridges. Early in the hike we made a brief stop to view a petroglyph chiselled onto the rock a long time ago. Further along we found a marker on a ridge. The marker announced that the Canada/US border was 8.4 metres south of the point.
The ridges became more challenging as time passed. We stopped occasionally on top of the ridges and gazed out across the Juan de Fuca straight to the Olympic Mountains in the distance and a big container ship steaming in toward Vancouver. During one rest stop we counted 20 small boats bouncing around out on the water presumably trying to haul in fish.
Three hours later we reached a trap shack cabin on a small ridge just above the water’s edge. There, a sign board told us that these shacks were located at a number of points along the rugged shore and were a base for salmon fishing. The sign reported that as many as 70,000 pounds of fish were taken from this site in a season early last century.
We took our lunch and a well earned rest at this point, greeted the other half of the hike and exchanged car keys — a critical step for the success of this venture.
Immediately after lunch we climbed out over a hill that gave us perhaps the best among many scenic vistas along the trail. Gradually energy started to flag and we found we were having to rest more often as we clambered up over rock steps onto the next ridge. Lucky for us, Larry, our leader had brought some extra water with electrolytes. Larry spends winters hiking in Arizona so knows the importance of extra water.
Of course another reason to stop was to enjoy the many vistas. While moving you cannot view much more than the path immediately in front of your feet or you risk tumbling over a cliff.
We came to the junction of the copper mine trail and took a look at the map. On the map the end seemed near. Larry assured us that once we reached Iron Mine Bay we would have an easy hike out to the parking lot. We did eventually reach Iron Mine Bay with a great sense of relief. We then found that the hike out to the parking lot on a fairly level service road presented a bit of a challenge. On our return we discussed how we should report on the time we took. We finally agreed that it did take longer than expected and that the actual time should remain unstated.
We stayed two nights at a Sooke B&B and took the opportunity to explore the area. On the way in we delivered Terry Fox T-shirts to a cousin of Terry Fox. That was cool! Then we made a visit to the famous Sooke potholes.
Jean Cozens, who had done this hike a few times ten years earlier, noted she was younger then. She said the advantage of our hike was that we took time to look around.
Next morning after a wholesome B&B breakfast we went off to walk the length of Whiffinspit Park. Yes, we could still walk. We then visited the Tugwell Creek Meadery. They make wine from honey with berry flavours. They sent us to check out a wood carver’s place and greet his Llamas. Beautiful wood work and wonderful animals. We made a brief visit to French Beach Park and then took a late lunch stop at the Coastal Kitchen Cafe in Port Renfrew.
The next day a check of the CRD Regional Park web site we noted that the Eat Sooke Coast trail is described as a “challenging hike.” We agree.
—Submitted by David Kidd