My first major vacation at post was this past August- I went backpacking in British Columbia with my dad! It turned out to be one of my favorite trips ever. But it did take quite a bit of time to coordinate the logistics. Hopefully this helps anyone considering this trail in the future, I certainly read a lot of trip reports before hitting the trail 🙂 All our planning was more than worth it- nature is always the best form of therapy for me. I have felt so much more relaxed back in Mexico after backpacking for a week.
Part 1: Getting to Canada
Both my dad and I flew from Texas to Seattle- much cheaper than Vancouver. From there we took the Victoria Clipper, a 3 hour ferry from Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia. I was slightly nervous about getting seasick, but it was really smooth for us both ways. Victoria is a really cool city with tons going on- we were there to hike so we sadly didn’t have much time in the city itself. This is the point I noticed that I was not at all used to the “cold” 70 degree weather 😀
Part 2: Driving to the Trail
Our first night was car camping at China Beach, which is about an hour drive from Victoria. Renting a car made the most sense for us, but there are also hiker shuttles from Victoria to various parts of the Juan de Fuca trail. We spent the first day getting our packs ready for the 5 day hike. It was really nice to have a relaxed setup day at the start. We hiked the trail backwards- leaving our car at the China Beach day use area and taking a shuttle early the next morning to Botanical Beach, 47km away.
Hike Day 1: Botanical Beach to Payzant Creek (moderate)
The first backpacking day- at first I was a little intimidated by all the other hikers who seemed to be in way better shape than me, but we made it to our first campsite! Highlight of the day was watching the eclipse from Botanical Beach. This part of the trail wasn’t too hard, lots of boardwalks to start and some elevation gain. Not as muddy as we’d expected. But thankful that we settled for Payzant Creek instead of Little Kuitsche Creek as originally planned! I was not yet ready for an extra 6km of hiking with my heavy pack.
Hike Day 2: Payzant Creek to Sombrio Beach (moderate)
The trail guide calls this moderate, for me it was the hardest day. Once you reach the beach walking part towards the end, lots of scrambling over slippery rocks. I discovered I have pretty bad balance. But happy to be camping at our first beachside campsite!
Hike Day 3: Sombrio Beach to Chin Beach (difficult)
My favorite day of hiking. Lots of wandering along the coast this day, passing the emergency shelter cabin right after Sombrio Beach. This was the first day we had an issue with the high tide- we had to get our feet a little bit wet to cross the beach right at the end! Ending the day with one of the coolest sunsets I’ve ever seen right at our campsite on the beach.
Hike Day 4: Chin Beach to Bear Beach (most difficult)
Definitely the most physical day- up and down over hills the whole day. Having the other end of Bear Beach to ourselves was a highlight.
Hike Day 5: Bear Beach to China Beach (moderate)
Hiked out to the car at the end of this day. Bittersweet- ready to be done with the trail and having real food again, but not wanting vacation to be over.