Juan de Fuca Trail
August 31, 2015
Yesterday I woke to the sad news of Oliver Sacks. It wasnt a surprise; he had written earlier in the year of his diagnosis. And of course he wrote as he had written on many other topics - like the mysteries of the brain, recreational drugs, and being gay clearly and rationally. He lived an interesting life, made many contributions to the human condition, and was always a pleasure to read.
Sacks was in my mind yesterday as I hiked part of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, a damp, grey trek accompanied by the crashing of the cold Pacific. The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is one of two long trails on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. The two trails - the other being the West Coast Trail - would be one if it werent for the bay of Port San Juan.
The section I hiked was from Botanical Beach to Parkinson Creek. The hike is a bit of a slog, which is because the west coast of Vancouver Island is a lush rain forest overlaid on a jagged outcropping of rock. There is no flat land and there are no stretches of dirt path. The ground is largely rock and root.
Following the shore, which is what both trails do, means hiking a sequence of ups and downs, down to a creek then up to a ridge then down to another creek. And the footing sucks. The spiderweb of roots that blanket the ground are slippery smooth, just tempting you to stand on them where the slightest movement translates to a slip and a fall. There are the occasional breaks, wooden boardwalks and clever wooden stairs, which help make the hike a bit easier, but there arent enough and the dampness rots the wood faster than they can be repaired.
The day started with sunshine but it soon reverted to the norm of mist and rain. I spent most of the hike staring at my feet, calculating what placement offered the best hold. The hypnotic crash of wave on stone was background music to the hike.
Lucy the dog came along for the hike, her first adventure with the hiking group. She quickly assumed the typical dog behaviour of running ahead then back then ahead again, easily tripling the distance her fellow humans covered. She was full of energy all
of the way but was so tired by the time she landed in the truck that, for once, she forgot to get carsick.