Posted in Hiking

The Juan De Fuca Trail

So I decided to write a blog, mostly to document my four-and-a-half-month trip to Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka this fall, but I’ve also had some pretty fun adventures here this summer that I thought I might as well share too.

This August, for instance, I hiked the Juan de Fuca trail with my sister. We only had 3 days and after asking friends, we decided to hike from China Beach to Parkinson Creek, instead of doing the full trail to Botanical Beach. In hindsight, hiking the entire trail in 3 days would have been completely possible.

Day 1: China Beach to Bear Beach (9kms – 3 hours)

We decided to take two cars instead of hitchhiking one way or taking the shuttle bus. We met at Parkinson Creek and drove one car back to China Beach, where we would start our hike.

The first part of the trail is described as “moderate”, though we both found it pretty easy. We stopped for a snack on Mystic Beach and arrived at Bear Beach by 2PM. We set up our tents on a little private spot tucked in the trees and then sat out on the beach and enjoyed the sun. I hadn’t really counted on having hours upon hours with nothing to do but luckily for us we had a nice area of the beach all to ourselves. I eventually spread out, face down on the beach and may have even napped a little.

Bear Beach was lovely, but if I were to do it again, I would have spent Thursday night on Mystic Beach and hiked to Chin Beach the next day.

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I’m pretty sure I was face down like this for hours
Day 2: Bear Beach to Chin Beach (12kms – 5 hours)

We got an early start to what was described as the “most difficult” section of the trail. It was a lot of up and downs with tons of mud. What we lacked in mosquitoes was more than made up for in wasps. Thankfully there were warnings before most nests, but my sister still ended up getting stung a couple of times. It drizzled most of the day, so we soldiered through and arrived at Chin Beach around 2:30PM. We had talked about pushing through to Sombrio, but other hikers on the trail warned us of all the young partiers staying there, in other words, my worst nightmare. That along with the unfortunate fact that my sister’s feet were covered in blisters, we decided to stay at Chin Beach.

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Just one of the great views we had from the trail.
Having arrived at the beach early, we were able to choose any spot we wanted. We chose a spot that seemed roomy but nice and away from the people who hiked in from the road with their children and barky dog. We knew we would have to share, but we had no idea how full Chin Beach would eventually get and we ended up sharing a little more than my comfort level preferred. Thankfully everyone was very nice and didn’t stay up too much later than us. The funniest part was watching a group of teenagers’ cook cans of creamed corn in a pot that looked like it was just pulled from one of their cupboards. I can’t imagine what their packs weighed!

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Cosy camp at Chin beach
Day 3: Chin Beach to Parkinson Creek trailhead (16kms – 7 hours) (Chin to Sombrio was 2.75 hrs)

Today was our longest day and the trail was described as “difficult” and then “moderate.” We were up by 6:30 and on the trail by 8. We stopped for lunch on beautiful Sombrio Beach and realized we could have easily camped on the far end of the beach, away from all the partiers. And by the looks of it, it was quite a party – empty beer cans and alcohol bottles were strewn about as weary campers wore the look of painful hangovers on their faces.

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Approaching Sombrio Beach
Despite coming on an August weekend after a long dry spell, there was a surprising amount of mud on the trail. Our dry spell was short-lived as the skies opened up shortly after lunch and then we experienced real mud – thank god for gaiters. We passed other hikers (including a runner that was doing the entire 47k trail BAREFOOT) that were just getting started and we felt very happy to be almost done. Arriving soaking wet, we were grateful for the foresight to keep dry clothes in the car. Back to China Beach to pick up my car and then a stop at the pub for a well deserved pint on a sunny patio closed up a pretty fantastic weekend.

It was a great trail overall, with stunning, diverse scenery, but not one I will likely do again as there are many more exciting places to explore. I’d have to say my biggest disappointment was the amount of garbage and toilet paper that littered the trail. Pack it in, pack it out. Seems easy enough, but apparently not for some.

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I am a total mushroom nerd. Look at this giant Bolete I found!
Pros: 1. Beautiful scenery 2. Easy to follow trail 3. Convenient camping, bear caches, outhouses, and plenty of fresh water sources

Cons: 1. Lots of people 2. Lots of wasps 3. Trails were muddy and need maintenance

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I'm off on my first travel adventure since my 20's. This blog is intended to keep my friends and family up-to-date while I'm away.

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