I’m starting to realize that most people who consider themselves hikers will have been on at least one hike where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. We can look at these experiences as opportunities to learn and prevent the same situations from occurring again. Or, we can see them as opportunities for character building. Or, as in my case at the time, we can have an identity crisis and start to over-think whether we really are hikers or just closet nanas.
We didn’t choose the best day to start the trail. It was Friday, 29th June 2018, the beginning of a long weekend thanks to Canada Day, by far the most popular camping weekend in Canada. But, we didn’t have much choice since we had been offered a ride to China beach on that day from Victoria and didn’t want to lose the opportunity.
The Juan de Fuca (JDF) trail is one of 3 classic, long coastal trails on Vancouver Island (the others being the West Coast Trail and the North Coast Trail). Unlike the other 2 trails, neither campsites or transport need to be booked in advance on the JDF. Furthermore, from what I’ve heard, all 3 hikes offer similar experience. So, for me the JDF was number 1 on my list for hiking on Vancouver Island.
When the three of us stopped to take our 101st break of the day, desperate to get a few drops of water from our near empty bottles, I gazed over towards the northeast and there lied this giant mass of rocky earth. “That’s Girdlestone,” I murmured almost silently, partly because I had little energy left, partly as I knew clearly my friends had this same voice in their mind: “last big climb!”
Gowlland Tod Provincial Park is a hidden treasure, sitting unassumingly on the SE coast of Saanich Inlet. It’s relatively easy to get there by public transport but quiet and forgotten when compared to Goldstream which attracts carloads of tourists.