May Day long weekend 2005
We have been doing May day long weekends for a while
(2001), the Sunshine
(2002), Pender 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.
(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
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
half way there! I saw the surfers out in the ocean and figured I
had little reason to feel cold.
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.
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
We took the trail and very quickly found out how muddy and slippery it
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Between the high tide and the strong wind,
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.
The big sandy beach was different from the rock and trees of yesterday
but with the wind and cold we didn't last long.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By now we had wonderful sunshine and a great ride back
to Victoria and the ferries.
Tags: beach(12), Botanical Beach(8), tide pool(6), flower(3), coast(3), panorama(3)
People: Mark(4), Eric(3), David(2), Gabi(2), John(2), Catherine(2)
From: John Harvey Photo > John's Overnight Page > Port Renfrew
Last Modified Sunday, August 10th, 2014 at 22:23:33 Edit
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