The East Sooke Park Coastal Route, Done in the Blazing November Sun!

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Oh the west coast of Vancouver Island. Why are so unpredictable! They say, if you don’t like the weather just wait five minutes….. How true they are!  November on the west coast is not known for is ample sun, warm days, and gorgeous sunny views. Rather it is common to find oneself mired in light drizzle and a bone chilling coolness. On November 24th, I led a group to the south western edge of the island to hike along the coastal route in the East Sooke Park.

This route is one of the best coastal day hikes on the island. The terrain has its ups and downs and does travel through second growth forest but the second growth is 60-100 years old and there are still several giants.  PARK MAP

GPS Route with 48 Photographic Annotation 

Total Horizontal Distance: 12.7 km
Beginning Elevation: 14 m
Max Elevation: 96 m
Total Elevation Gain: 800 m
Time: 6h 30 min

In total 12 hikers made it out for the day, including three guests. I’m normally not one to obsess about the weather, heck I grew up in Nanaimo! I, like many from the area am acclimated to the region. I don’t walk with and umbrella, I don’t spend much time looking at the forecast, however, as a trip leader things are different!  The days leading up to the trip, I checked the weather at least once a day  The night before the trip I awoke to the sound of driving rain beating against my window and roof. The wind was howling as it buffeted my windows.  I was worried that I would awake to discover a dozen emails, sending regrets 

At 6 am, I heard the first ding…. I thought to myself, here we go! To my surprise someone was informing me they were bringing a friend! I was even more shocked as the time to rendezvous ticked closer, no one called and no one messaged…. 
I left the house for our 7:15 rendezvous at the Southgate Tim Horton’s. As I arrived the rain was picking up and intensified as the hikers arrived. We gathered our provisions at the shop, discussed the various rally points en route to the park. We hurried out into the rain and loaded into our cars just in time … for the rain to stop. That;s right, not reduce but outright stop!

We headed south, after a quick stop at the Haida Way Restaurant in Chemainus to pick up two more hikers, we zipped down the highway, turning left at the HWY 14 turnoff to Sooke. Though there are other routes to take that are slightly quicker, the #14 is easy to follow and took us to our final meetin gpoint before making it to the park, The 17 Mile House Pub.  As we drove south the sun was coming up and the skies transformed from dull overcast gray to pockets of blue.

Better instructions on how to get to the park

After reaching the park we organised the car shuffle, needed for this A-B trail. We were hiking from the Pike Road Parking lot to the Aylard Farm, at the end of Beecher Bay Road.  On my GPS route, you will be able to see our approach and the route that is needed for the car shuffle. After the 12 km shuffle, we were on the trail at 1015. By the time we were hiking the sky had significant amounts of blue in it and there was patches of sun beaming through the branches into the forest. We worked our way to the coast enjoying the forest around us.

The hike along the coast is one of the Islands most beautiful. In the morning we couldn’t see the distant Olympic Peninsula as there was a large cloud bank far off our coast. The route is well marked, finding our way was easy.  The route itself is quite varied! Lots of up and downs, most of it over large rocky ground, often wending its way into and back out of the forest, always giving spectacular views of the coast and shore.

We were in no hurry. My goal was to reach the Trap Shack for lunch but they day unfolded on a different schedule. About 30 minutes from the cabin, we decided to stop and eat our lunch on a gorgeous cliff edge. The location was bathed in sunshine and we could see the rocky shore. Farther still, we could see the sun breaking through the cloud-bank off shore. It was quite the spectacle!

After lunch we carried on our way. Before we reached the cabin the cloud bank was rolling over us and it began to rain. The rain was heavy and wind cold, everyone put on a jacket. We carried on walking and within 5 or 10 minutes the rain abated and shortly thereafter we were at the trap shack.

The rest of the afternoon went well. We continued over the humps and bumps heading toward our goal. As we walked the last kilometer, the light  was beginning to diminish. The landscape we had just walked created significant shade and it was as though the sun was setting early. We reached the short path to the parking lot and decided to skip the final 400 meters out to the final peninsula , we were at twilight.   We arrived at the cars at 430 and safely shuffled.

 In the organization of the trip I planned for a dinner stop, on the way home. We chose Craig Street Brew Pub in  Duncan. From my perspective it was great to sit and share a meal with my fellow hikers.

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