Well guys, I survived. I managed to hobble out of the forest with only a few scratches and a swollen ankle and maybe a bit of shame. Paije and I hiked the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail which is a 47 km hike with some various degrees of terrain that runs from just outside of Jordan River, BC to Port Renfrew, BC. The views were completely outstanding and made all the sweat and blood worth it. (Really, only some minor scrapes.)
Paije and I left Friday morning and dropped a car off at the Botanical Beach trail head in Port Renfrew and traveled back down to China Beach, which is where we began our four day journey. I was prepared in more ways than others. My weak knee did better than I thought it would and it didn’t even begin to hurt. WOO! My ankle took a turn for the worse.
We only hiked the 9 km to China Beach Friday afternoon. It took about two and a half hours. I honestly don’t remember much of Friday’s conditions because Saturday wiped my memory of everything else. There were some hills if I do properly recall. The campsite was along the beach and was nice and tucked away. It was an easy start to the weekend. I may be turning into a believer with the freeze dried dinners… We had beef lasagna and mashed potatoes and you know what?! Not too shabby. 10/10 would probably eat again… maybe not on a regular evening when I can make my own… But you get what I mean.
Saturday was going to be our hardest day. I knew going in that my upper body strength was stronger than my lower. We were told we had to cross thirteen ravines. And holy shit, did the first few ever kick my ass. It was doable but if I’m being honest, I will not be climbing any mountains anytime soon. We lost track after the fourth or fifth ravine and it all kind of blended together into this steep, muddy trek. We decided to stay at Chin Beach instead of pushing through to the next camp because after the five and half hours, we were toast. I think we were in bed by seven o clock that night. We only traveled 12 km that day but it felt like we walked for days. People would pass us, scrambling down a hill slowly, and they would be prancing down like graceful deer. I couldn’t believe it. Here I am, sweat raining down my face and back and there are these people making it look effortless. Good on them… (Eye roll.)
Now day three was interesting. The night before we had realized one of us left our keys in the car at China Beach and we were finishing at Botanical… Okay, so a problem. We either had to back track and grab the keys or keep going and hitch hike our way out of Port Renfrew.
There was a family doing the hike in two days and they had two children with them. Props to them. So it is possible but I would have to say at least four days to comfortably do this hike would be a good way to plan. That way you get to enjoy what nature has to offer and you can spend some time at your camp, instead of hike/sleep/hike/sleep.
First thing Sunday morning, we heard branches snapping directly above us on the top of a ravine and I started yelling “BEAR SPRAY!!! BEAR SPRRAAAAAY!!!” Paije silently grabbed it from my backpack and told me to keep walking. Five or so minutes had passed and she says, “Oh my god. It was so cute and fluffy!” I didn’t see it but I guess I scared it off with my panicked moment.
We became obnoxiously loud after that incident.
I’m sure someone heard us echoing through the mountains. We made a pretty good team.
We got to Payzant Creek and we were both exhausted from the day. We realized we had hiked 19 km in nine and a half hours. We began day dreaming about nuggets and burgers and clean water that wasn’t tinged yellow with a chlorine taste. A shower was going to be the greatest luxury. And oh god, was it ever. This part of the trail was relatively moderate. There was a lot of mud and tree roots. The beginning of this day was most likely the culprit for my ankle sprain. However, I didn’t notice at the time and just kept going. Poor judgement on my part but what do you do when you’re in the middle of no where?
Our final day we thought would be a walk in the part; with the hardest parts behind us we just had to pack up and hike to the trail head in the hopes that some lovely souls would pick us poor women up. 7 km was the last stretch we had to complete, and the last 2 km was probably the longest length of time in my entire life. No friggin joke. It went on forever. People passed us smelling like tulips and I can only imagine what odors were clinging to us. We finished around eleven a.m. and the joy wasn’t as pronounced as it should have been. Immediately we dragged ourselves out of the parking lot and along the road leading out of the Provincial park. We were tired and sore and the last thing we wanted to do was to hike an extra 7 km, which we ended up doing. Stupid. We stopped for ice cream because I think we both felt like crying on this mission to get back to China Beach. This was our first ever experience hitch hiking and we didn’t know what to do. We walked for over two hours with car after car passing us. Thankfully a young gentleman stopped (god bless you stranger) and allowed us to accompany him for the thirty minute drive to our vehicle. After the moments of rest, I couldn’t walk and there was a lot of anxiety between the two of us since we both still had a six hour drive home. And Paije had a ferry to catch. We weren’t the happiest of campers.
BUUUT, WE MADE IT!!! Looking hot as ever in our unwashed clothes and bodies. Jordan didn’t want to be to close to me when I walked in the door. Okay, that’s a lie… I hopped in because I couldn’t really stand. I don’t blame him.
Anyone who wants to do it, my unprofessional advice would be to be prepared, especially for rain and wild animals. Shits real. Also, remember to carry your keys if you plan on driving out after, because… we didn’t and there is no service so you’re kind of screwed unless you wait for the evening shuttle. Oops. Also, watch out for roots. They are everywhere. Like seriously, EVERYWHERE. Don’t be me. Definitely don’t be me. But I do urge you to try it if you were thinking about it. 🙂
I would like to add as a finishing note that this trail has a bunch of suspension bridges, sketchy stairs and many mud bogs which would be horrible if you weren’t blessed with nice weather.