Saturday 10/9 - Week two begins...
Off to Vancouver Island.
Another early start, this time forced upon us by proposed road closures affecting our 30 minute driving route between Squamish and the Ferry from Horseshoe bay. How infuriating that this single cycle race event should be scheduled for the exact three hour period that we needed to drive just that stretch of road! The road was due to close at 8 and our ferry was not until10.30 but we set off at 7 to be safe and missed all but two of the one way alternating lane closures and so arrived just under two hours early (but five minutes too late to catch the earlier ferry! Grrr!)
To compensate for this and the chaotic traffic system in the port area we settled into Trolls family restaurant for a fine breakfast of everything that anyone could ever wish for to stay the day!
Shortly we boarded the ferry, which felt quite an exciting adventure for our little van! Up on deck it was very sunny and very breezy and a very scenic and enjoyable 90 minute crossing to Namaimo on Vancouver Island.
On the island we headed south to Victoria to meet Chris' friend Ollie and then to shop for provisions at the Thrifty Store to supply the next part of our trip - a two day hike along the Juan de Fuca trail and a three day kayak expedition around the Broken Islands. With the latter in mind, we also stopped at Trotac Marine to pick up the necessary nautical chart number 3670 for our trip.
After our DIY work, back in Squamish we now had a large wooden storage box, designed to replace the second row of seats, filling the back of the van. After a few attempts to sell the seats to scrap dealers or via eBay we decided that it was just too much trouble and deposited the seats at the local refuse recycling area where they were immediately much appreciated by a couple of homeless men!!
We had a very spectacular drive along the west coast of the island from Victoria and through Sooke northwards towards China beach in the evening sunshine.
As we drove north, annoyingly the weather deteriorated as low clouds gathered overhead and a thick fog floated in from the sea.
We parked at the China Beach 'day parking' car park, loaded our back packs with camping kit, food and warm & waterproof clothing, and, mindful of the signs saying that 'Thieves operate in this area' left our van with everything well hidden and the window blinds and curtains covering the windows.
We set off along the Juan de Fuca marine trail, a 47 km coastal path all the way to Port Renfrew. Our plan was to walk just over half way along the route as far as Sombrio beach.
The path left China beach and wound down through pine forest and along the coast for about 4km to reach Mystic beach, our first stop and overnight camp.
We arrived at the beach at about 6pm in the dusk. The beach was truly 'Mystic' with evening light reflecting off the sea and mist hovering above the sand. There were other campers at either end of the beach and we could just make out the orange glow of their camp fires and the white dots of their head torches.
Whilst Chris erected a very neat tarp and bivi bag camp, B and K put up the tent and then we all set about collecting driftwood to make a camp fire in the circle of stones in front of our tents.
Supper was a delicious, if rather messy, affair of cold chicken, kale salad, spanakopita and samosas, all enjoyed by the light of our fire.
The camp site 'facilities' although rather primitive, were perfectly pleasant little huts with composting toilets inside - that didn't smell!
After a wander along the beach, we sat chatting by the fire and then settled down for the night, listening to the sound of the waves breaking on to the beach a few yards away.