We stayed at Susan & Roelof’s house at Qualicum Beach for one night. This sociable English/Dutch couple invited us to a tour of their wonderful garden, then, as a welcome, Philippe was offered a tasting of Reoelof’s home-brewed beer and Yasuko some cherries and later even a glass of wine before going to bed. The next morning Susan & Roelof spoiled us with a three course breakfast with fruit salad, a salmon crepe and a fruit crepe! All organic or home-grown fruits were delicious and Yasuko who loves berries was all smiles : ) Wonderful breakfast in their garden booming with gorgeous flowers, organic berries and herbs.
We had such interesting conversations on the Canadian/Swiss politics, problematic Vancouver Island’s railway (the trains are not running), etc. that we stayed up close to midnight! We felt that we came as Airbnb guests and left as their houseguests.
When we arrived at the trailhead of Botanical Beach, the area was completely fogged in. We hesitated a bit but we went ahead to walk the last part of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.
It was one of the most dense coastal rainforests with 40-50m high cedar trees. We felt like we were in the deep amazon jungle!
It seems that this part of the coast gets fogged in often and therefore the forest is verdant with moss. This trail had several beach access points and the beaches with full of driftwoods in the mist were mystical and beautiful.
For this short 3km trail we spent almost 2 hours admiring majestic forest and rugged rocky beaches.
After the walk we had our lunch at a picnic table over the fogged bay view….
Misty view just after leaving Sooke…
The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a 47km wilderness trail which is just south of the famous West Coast Trail. Today we walked the first section of the Juan de Fuca Trail from China Beach to Bear Beach (9km) via Mystic Beach.
The info board at China Beach warned us, “You are in Bear and Cougar Country” : (( It was a nice start but we felt slightly encouraged by a number of cars which parked in the parking lot, assuming that bears and cougars would choose more round people (the choice is impressive) than a Japanese who has not so much meat on her body…. I would if I were a bear.
The trail started in a dense forest and it continued on. That surprised us because I thought the trail was along the coast. We arrived soon at the first beach, Mystic Beach, which was a narrow, beautiful sand and pebble beach. After a break, we continued on. The trail was to pass many creeks, more than ten, which meant that we went down to a creek, cross a bridge and up again and back to the forest. This ups and downs were a little too many for Philippe´s liking.
When we finally arrived at Bear Beach, several campers had already set up their tents in the wind. After looking at the map again, we realized that there was no access path to the road so that we could hitch-hike back to our trailhead. We have to keep hiking another 18km to the next trailhead or walk back the same path (9km). Of course, our choice was clear.
The trail was mostly in the forest, which was unexpected, but nonetheless it was full of magnificent trees with occasional spectacular views of the wild Pacific coastline.
From our balcony we could see a very narrow strip of peninsula and people walking on it so we set for an evening walk in the direction.
This 1km strip of peninsula divides the Sooke Harbour and the Juan de Fuca Strait, the mirror-like peaceful bay and the rough Pacific Ocean, and protecting the bay from strong waves. The peninsula is so long that it almost touches the other coast. Boats were passing by through the narrow channel and coming back to the harbour, while locals were enjoying leisurely stroll with their friends or dogs. The sky was getting darker and the long evening was about to end.
A coast trail in the East Sooke Regional Park. This trail is surprisingly not well-known under the shadow of the famous West Coast Trail, but the rugged trail is beautiful wilderness. Stunning coastal views with Olympic Mountains (USA) on the horizon. Jumping fish and fishermen on boats. On the way back, the dense rainforest with gigantic trees.
Finished with nice lunch at the Becher Bay Marina where hobby fishermen were bringing their catch home with pride.
An afternoon 3 hour hike, starting from Aylard Farm Entrance to Beechey Head (a great viewpoint). Back to Aylard through the forest. The entire Coast Trail is a 10km rough, uneven and winding trail (6-8h).
Our best and most memorable meal in Canada.
A wonderful, unpretentious restaurant in Sooke called “Wild Mountain“. It is open only for dinner from Tuesday and Saturday. Even though it opened a couple of months ago, it is popular among locals and we were lucky to have a table on Saturday evening. Oliver, the chef, strives to use local fish, meat, vegetables and wine.
Yasuko had home-made egg noodles with fresh vegetables and mushrooms and Philippe had the Dry Aged New York Striploin. We had an excellent wine from Okanagan Valley.
It is always fun to eat a meal when someone create it with passion and care.
Victoria is a great town with lots of outdoor shops. It seems that at every corner there is another great shop with very friendly staff who are definitely a hard-core outdoor type (therefore, they know what they are talking about) and an extensive product line-up. One can buy anything for hiking, climbing, kayaking (a very popular sport as it is surrounded by the sea)… Outdoor people’s dream place!
We, both outdoor lovers, spent considerable time in these shops….