It’s wild out there, the west coast of Vancouver I refer to. Road #14 I took from Victoria, following the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Scant gravel roads cross the island to the west coast. Numerous Provincial Parks protect the island.
French Beach Prov. Park was my first campsite that portion of the trip. Let me tell ya, the Provincial Parks are carefully maintained, campsites are clean, fees are reasonable. It’s clear they invest in their parks and folks treat them well. Wish the US could be as such. Volunteering for CA state parks, lately, I see how badly they are abused. It’s a shame how people abuse the outdoors.
But that’s a soapbox for another time.
A rocky stretch of French Beach I explored that evening. Vastly different from the CA coast I’m used to, thick trees hug the coast.
Next day I played at Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. Hiking a loop that took me to a couple of beaches, thick, primeval-looking trees loomed over the trails. A grey, muggy, moody day I enjoyed the neon-green contrast of the plants with the water/sky and rocks.
Thick, lush vegetation and gigantic trees along the trail:
Water was everywhere! Such a contrast from CA this time of the year. (A dry winter we had.)
Entertaining tide-pools I found here at Botany Bay.
This educational sign made me smile. Tidepools are fragile! Some etiquette:
- LOOK only. Don’t touch! Putting your hands in the water spreads oils and sunscreen into oil slicks that hurt the ecosystems.
- Keep off mussel beds.
- Watch where you step. Those critters blend in with the rocks and can be hard to see.
- Don’t overturn rocks. The undersides protect sensitive critters from light.
- Please do not collect/remove shells from pools. Remember, these are animals homes.
Enjoyed a break from driving and worked on my Pinata Sock:
Asters of some sort:
A second beach to explore, Botanical Beach.
Of note: a 47 kilometer trail follows the coast, this area being its western end. I’d love to return and backpack it.
This area and marks the end of Road #14 at Port Renfrew.
A blurb from Wikipedia:
“Port Renfrew is also the southern end of the West Coast Trail, a world famous hiking trail built in 1907 along the west coast of Vancouver Island to save shipwrecked sailors. During the days of sail, 1830–1925, 137 major shipping tragedies occurred in the immediate vicinity of the entrance to the Straits of Juan de Fuca…It became known as The Graveyard of The Pacific. Originally named Port San Juan, the settlers changed the name to honor Lord Renfrew who planned to settle crofters here. The name was changed due to mail being sent to the San Juan Islands instead of Port San Juan. Port Renfrew’s bay is still called Port San Juan. Like many coastal Vancouver Island communities, Port Renfrew has a rich history in forestry and fishing.”
Stopped at a bridge over the San Juan River, at Port Renfrew, to stretch and enjoy the sights. Heard a familiar sound that stirred excitement in my soul.
San Hill Cranes!
Couldn’t see them but undoubtedly heard them overhead. Also watched fish jumping below. Salmon heading up river to spawn? I hadn’t seen this since being in Juneau, Alaska.
This was a special, memorable part of my trip.
Tied to the ocean I’ve become. Can’t imagine being away. When I see communities (especially small ones) such as this I wonder how the residents feel about their proximity to the ocean. Is is a lifeline (mentally as well as physically/for sustenance?) Do they tire of its temperament?
A winding logging road took me past clear cuts (something new to me, thought-provoking) to Lake Cowichan and down to Duncan. A ferry ride back to Port Angeles, WA signaled the long drive home.
Still smiling when I think of this trip. A fine introduction to the Pacific Northwest, my appetite’s wet for more. I made new friends, explored new ecosystems and yearn for another long endeavor.