Juan de Fuca Trail –winter backpacking trip

–submitted by Angelica Lauzon


I left Courtenay after work at 20:00 and arrived at 23:30 to slept in my truck at Botanical Beach.


I had the pleasure of meeting Stacey Collins, she joined the trip as a guest of the Island Mountain Ramblers. We jumped in her car and drove to China Beach parking lot. We were 2 hours behind schedule, which was not a big deal.

We hiked 2km to Mystic Beach, 6km to Bear Beach where we needed a tide of no higher than 9 feet to pass. We got stuck at because there was a much higher tide, more than 10.8 feet. We waited until 14:17, exactly two hours after high tide, before we could hike the 13km terrain from Bear to Chin Beach, the most difficult section on the trail.

This was Stacey’s first major hike in a while so we needed to build up her muscle strength. We hiked into the night, at least two hours through the dark before we made it to Chin Beach. We set up camp near the tree line and the creek, built a small fire, ate a good meal and fell into deep sleep. We were close to the ocean and we could hear the shifting the rocks on the beach as the waves crashed against the shore.


We woke to sunrise from the east and clouds to west. We hiked through, over, under and around more mud, mini ponds, tree routes, massive fallen trees and beach rocks until we reached Sombrio. We timed the tides just right, we barely made it past Sombrio east were the tide cuts off at 9.8 feet. We ran along the bluff when the waves were out. Stacey pushed me up over a rock ledge and pulled herself up just as the wave soaked her to the knees.

After scrambling up the bluff, we continued along the beach until we saw a lonely fire that needed company. We watched and met many “surf-men” as we waited for the tide so we ould continue trekking to Sombrio West.

We walked through the rainy day, covering another 6km to Little Kuishe camp. It’s an old clear-cut forest campsite that reminds us of Blaire Witch. It has a good view of the cove. We explored near the water but unfortunately, there’s no space to camp. We had a small twig fire, hung our food at the bear cache and crawled into our sleeping bags for a sleep filled with nightmares.


We wanted to wake at 5:30 and hike by 6:30 but inside the dense forest it was so dark that we slept until 7. After waking late we stayed in our tent and ate breakfast in bed.

The day was much better, gorgeous and rain free! We walked the 5 km to Pazyant Creek,  were we took a little break. From Payzant we hiked a moderate mud trail with minor up and downs but we were slowed by a number of fallen trees. We continued 7km through, I’d say the least maintained part of the trail, where we were soaked from bushes hanging over the trail. Finally, we made it Botanical Beach by 2pm.

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