This Sunday Ian and I hiked the section of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail that we didn't complete on our annual May hike. We started at Sombrio beach at 10:00am and hiked roughly 20km to Botanical Beach, arriving around 4:00.
Although an anjoyable hike, this section definately pales in comparison to the rest of the trail. Once you're past Sombrio, the hiking is predominantly away from the beach, and follows a muddy path through clearcuts and spindly second- and third-growth forests. Campy signage spin a tale about the benefits of modern logging practices, while a barren, ugly landscape reveals the truth. Even the crew responsible for trail maintenance has forsaken this area, and the trail is choked with Salal and other dense growth. Mud bogs, although dryer than in May, get deeper and wider every year, with no attempts at drainage, diverters, or boardwalks. As evidenced in the picture above, damaged areas are left for hikers to navigate around, further destroying the area. In one area, so many people mistook an unsigned turn that a side trail was almost as well travelled as the main trail. On the plus side, this wrong turn took us down to a previously unknown beach for lunch. A bit of scouting revealed the correct trail hiding behind a tree and some trail debris.
About 8 miles from Botanical Beach the scenery improves somewhat, with a slightly older second-growth forest and a trail replete with boardwalks for the benefit of day-hikers venturing forth from their SUVs. Those wishing to escape the forest doldrum can hike much of the distance on an incredible sea shelf, with frequent wildlife sightings (we saw several bears having a mussel buffet), tidal pools, huge crashing waves, and plenty of stunning vistas.
Closer-still to Botanical there are several secluded pebble beaches ideal for a final rest before the climb up to the parking lot. The hike was followed by a tasty dinner at Mulligans in Sooke, which offers a surprisingly diverse menu and affordable microbrews on tap.