We were away from “our” stretch of the coast today, but facing it nonetheless a few miles to the north after hiking into Mystic Beach along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. There, we ran into friends, Joanne and Murray, who were taking a short break at the beach on their way home following an overnight trip in to Bear Beach a few kilometres further along the trail. Both Victoria locals, Joanne figures she’s done this same trip, more or less, 10-12 times, but perhaps never so early in the season, coming on the tail of our mild winter. They both spoke passionately about their love for their backyard wild, before reshouldering their packs and heading up from the beach at a clip that spoke further volumes of their times spent on coastal trails.
It’s a passion. I don’t know if I could define it. Murray was just saying, “You know, if you had a day, it would be really cool to try to hike to Bear Beach and back without a pack on - you know, do that whole hike in a day.” And I said, “I couldn’t do that, it would kill be to get out there and then not stay overnight.” I just love it. I love waking up to the quiet, and the sun coming up, and the birds, and watching for whales…I don’t know, I can’t really define it, but it is a passion. And to be able to get out here this early, in April…<laughing>…bonus! First of the year. I was just telling Murray, last year I hiked at least 250 kilometres, in one summer.
About hiking Bear Beach in a day, I was just thinking that we can do these things - we have everything in our backyard. If you don’t enjoy what’s in your backyard, how can you enjoy anything further out? It doesn’t matter where it is, as long as I’m out. I like the ocean, it’s a draw. I like the beaches. If you hike the West Coast Trail, half of it is along the ocean, on the beach, which is spectacular. And you have a lot of changing environments - no two beaches are the same. It’s just a love for the outdoors, being out there, especially if the weather is “cooperating.”
The smell. Oh my god, I love the smell of the dry pine needles, the warm air…
And even when the weather’s inclement, to go further up towards Long Beach, Tofino, Ucluelet, they have a nice big beach there, go in the fall when you have the big rain storms and walk the beach in the rain storms. You know, you get blown sideways, but it makes you appreciate the good weather days…you just develop a love for it all - it doesn’t matter whether it’s good or it’s bad. It’s an experience.
I have friends who fly all over the world - Paris, Moscow, the tropics - and they’ve never been to Mystic Beach. It makes me crazy. They don’t know their own back yard.