John Harvey Photo

Port Renfrew

Go to Slide Show Smaller Images May Day long weekend 2005

We have been doing May day long weekends for a while now (Tofino (2000), Salt Spring Island (2001), the Sunshine coast (2002), Pender Island (2003), Mudge Island (2004)) and they have been getting better and better.  Early research was a challenge - we found a few places but they were expensive or difficult (lots of ferry rides) to get to get to.  This year we wanted to try something a little more affordable and a little bit less crazy to travel to.  We explored Harrison Hot Springs (no ferries at all!) but just couldn't find anything big enough to accomodate.  Port Renfrew came up and a bit of digging and we found a place.  The weekend was set.

Getting There

Bike On Bus
Eric (who biked across Japan a few short months ago) suggested we bike out.  Port Renfrew is about 100km North and West of Victoria but a mear 74km from Sooke - the end of the bus route.  David and I were game, but I didn't really talk to people.  Thursday night and I was the only one biking.  I took BC transit to the ferry terminal and Mom and Dad were kind enough to give me a ride out to Sooke.  Bike meets rode and at 1pm I start pedaling.

Arriving In VictoriaMe Outside Moms Cafe

The route is split nearly in half - the first half (to Jordan River) is quite busy.  The road is mostly wide and mostly flat and substantially follows the beach.  I got a good rain storm but I had my goretex Jacket.  Coming into Jordan River felt like an accomplishment - half way there!  I saw the surfers out in the ocean and figured I had little reason to feel cold.

Surfers At Jordan River

Welcome To Jordan River
Bert, one of my coworkers had raced this route (and back) a few years ago on a street bike.  He warned me the second half is a bit more challenging - the road is much higher off the beach and big streams have cut deep valleys that the road plunges into and the works out of.

My second half (and rain storm) was more taxing, but the rare traffic (a car every 15 minutes or so) and the occasional encouragement was appreciated.
Residential Construction In The Middle Of NowhereRain Storms On The Ocean

By the time I rolled into Port Renfrew (5:30pm) I was wiped - I couldn't imagine biking all way back.  I had cycled my regular to work route 6 times in a row.  I found the rental house and took a warm shower.  The rest of the crew were on the 6pm ferry so it would still be 4 hours before they arrived to fill up the house.  I curled up with a good book and let the wood stove heat me back up.

Saturday - Going for a hike
We knew the weather was going to be dodgy this weekend but Satuday was going to be the best of it.  Port Renfrew probably has the highest ratio of quality trails to residents of any town in British Columbia so we needed to go for a hike.  The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail starts at Botanical Beach and works it way south to a number of road access points.   The theory was to start at Botanical Beach and hike to the next exit - approximately 10km away at Parkinson Creek.  10km - we average between 3 and 5km an hour - if we started at 10am we would be back for a late lunch.

Botanical Beach, even at a moderate tide has lots of fun stuff to explore.   We poked around the shore and considered walking a ways along the beach but headlands and the high tide made that pretty slow.

Spread Out On BeachUs At StartHarlequin Duck

We took the trail and very quickly found out how muddy and slippery it was. 

Overgrown Path
The constant rain fall seems to encourage a slick surface on every wood surface and our early season hiking meant anything that wasn't wood boardwalk was probably mud or exposed rock.  Most of our hiking was inland - often just 100m above the beach.  Compared to most lower mainland hikes, it was flat.

Tom Baird Creek Pano

The flora is pure west coast - False lily of the valley covered every bit of ground not dominated by the water loving horse tail or the wall like salal.  Everything was green.

Red Columbine At Ocean SidePlants Of The Rain Forest6 km Later

Around km 4 (of 10) Bob and Andrea reported we weren't doing anything like 3 to 5km an hour - it was much closer to 1km an hour.  Worse, it wasn't because we were dawdling, it was because of the difficulty covering the ground. 

Beach Pano 2

When we passed 5km the scale our commitment really sunk in.   We called Mike (cell phone service was sporadic) and had him delay our pick up (and lunch) by a few hours. 

Walking In Coastal ForestSilverWeed
The last few km were actually better than most.  The trial rose up onto the much better drained plateau and we got a few km of good hiking without mud or slippery boardwalks and made some good time.

Riding In The Back Of A Truck

As a sign of how tired we were, we thought nothing of all piling into Mike's truck.  Mike (who hadn't been working hard all day) really enjoys riding fast on gravel roads.  Our bums, on an unforgiving truck liner, weren't so appreciative.  When we got home, we all felt we had really done something with our day.

Sunday - Hanging out at home 

It really is difficult to appreciate how much food 11 city kids will bring to the country when they want to show off the culinary prowess.  This year we didn't go with centralized buying and were a little generous in a few places like the loaf of bread each, or the block of cheese each.

Official Trip CameraOne Stuffed Fridge

Today was quite exciting weather wise - strong winds and rain made it not an ideal day, but in one of the breaks in the rain a bunch of went down to the beach in town for a little walk.

Waves Breaking Into Shore
Between the high tide and the strong wind, the waves certainly were coming in.  We went for a walk out towards the RV city.  The water races up the beach and a few times we had to race as well to avoid wet feet.  We met a party that had laid crab traps the day before - they were combing the beach for the remains of those traps that had been dragged and battered on the shore.

Catherine And David On Beach

The big sandy beach was different from the rock and trees of yesterday but with the wind and cold we didn't last long.

Beach PeaEric And David Going Out Sea

Other than that, we did the stay at home thing.  Sean brought the beloved game of Diplomacy and we cranked on that for a few hours into the evening.

Mark Making Lunch
We really haven't gotten into the hang of Diplomacy.   We beat on Sean pretty good and started a few other short movements (we played without Italy) but we didn't see any of the alliances or backstabs we've seen in previous games.  Eventually we will learn to play better.

Gabi Playing With Stones

Monday - a walk on the Beach

It's a rare day when I'm out geeked - generally someone brings a map, I have the topo version.  This time Bob beat me - I brought a tide table (highs, lows and times) but Bob had the graph.  The best time was Monday morning around 8 am - perhaps a 1.4ft tide.  I got up early and Eric and I went out to the beach.

Beach With ReflectionsEric Looking In Pools

It was a lovely stroll on the beach, but the tide wasn't particularly low - sea stars for were still below water.  I've been to Botanical Beach before so not many new surprises. 

Aggregate Green AnemoneGiant Green AnemoneSail Jellyfish

Urchine In Cave
The more you poke around, the more you find.  The thing that always surprises me is the variety of plant life growing on the rocks.  Some rocks are completely covered in coraline algae (rock hard), while others are completely buried by floating fronds.

Sea Urchine Bursting OutBlack Katy Chiton

David had breakfast waiting when we got back.  We cleaned up (why does that always take so long?) and took off in the early afternoon.

Packing Up
By now we had wonderful sunshine and a great ride back to Victoria and the ferries.

Official Trip Camera
Person: Catherine, Mark, Sean
Tags: camera gear
Walking In Coastal Forest
Tags: forest, hiking
Bike On Bus
Tags: biking, bus
Rain Storms On The Ocean
Tags: coast, forest
Beach Pea
Species: Lathyrus japonicus (beach pea)
Tags: beach, flower
Us At Start
Person: Andrea, Catherine, David, Eric, Gabi, John, Mark, Sean, Stephen, Bob
Urchine In Cave
Species: Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (Purple Sea Urchin)
Tags: Botanical Beach, sea urchin, tide pool
Tom Baird Creek Pano
Altitude: 8m (26 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, coast, hiking, panorama
Gabi Playing With Stones
Person: Gabi
Tags: motion blur
Mark Making Lunch
Person: Mark
Tags: cooking, lunch
Riding In The Back Of A Truck
Person: Eric
Spread Out On Beach
Person: Mark
Tags: beach
Residential Construction In The Middle Of Nowhere
Tags: construction, sign
Eric Looking In Pools
Altitude: 5m (16 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, Botanical Beach, tide pool
Plants Of The Rain Forest
Species: Equisetum arvense (western horsetail, giant horsetail), Lysichiton americanus (Skunk Cabbage, Swamp Lantern)
Tags: plant
Me Outside Moms Cafe
Person: John
Tags: biking
Catherine And David On Beach
Altitude: 11m (36 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, wave
Eric And David Going Out Sea
Person: David, Eric
Tags: beach, coast, wave
Packing Up
Tags: packing gear
Aggregate Green Anemone
Species: Anthopleura elegantissima (Aggregating Anemone, Clonal Anemone)
Tags: Botanical Beach, tide pool
Beach With Reflections
Altitude: 4m (13 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, Botanical Beach
Species: Argentina egedii (Pacific silverweed)
Tags: flower
6 km Later
Sea Urchine Bursting Out
Species: Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (Purple Sea Urchin)
Tags: Botanical Beach, sea urchin, tide pool
Black Katy Chiton
Species: Katharina tunicata (Black Katy Chiton), Halosaccion glandiforme (Sea Sacs)
Altitude: 5m (16 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: BC fauna, Botanical Beach, kelp, tide pool
Beach Pano 2
Tags: beach, panorama
Welcome To Jordan River
Tags: restaurant
Giant Green Anemone
Species: Anthopleura xanthogrammica (giant green anemone)
Tags: Botanical Beach, tide pool
Harlequin Duck
Species: Histrionicus histrionicus (Harlequin Duck)
Tags: beach, bird
One Stuffed Fridge
Tags: place to stay, shopping
Sail Jellyfish
Species: Velella velella (Sail Jellyfish, By-the-wind sailor)
Tags: beach, Botanical Beach, jellyfish, shallow depth of field
Arriving In Victoria
Tags: ferry
Red Columbine At Ocean Side
Species: Aquilegia formosa (Red Columbine, Western Columbine)
Tags: flower
Surfers At Jordan River
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, panorama
Overgrown Path
Tags: trail
Waves Breaking Into Shore
Tags: beach
Tags: beach(12), Botanical Beach(8), tide pool(6), panorama(3), Do Not Tag(3), flower(3)
People: Mark(4), Eric(3), David(2), Gabi(2), John(2), Catherine(2)
From: John Harvey Photo > John's Overnight Page > Port Renfrew

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