A Walk In The Woods

Thursday, October 25, 2018 - By: Sarah R, Mackenzie ‘20; Photo by Dan Norman

On Friday, October 19th, nine students, along with Mr. Norman and Ms. Bell, boarded a bus and set off for the stunning wilderness of the West Coast of Vancouver Island. The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a beautiful and challenging route that snakes along the wave-battered coast, and last weekend, the members of the Outdoor Pursuits program had the once-in-a-lifetime experience to hike a portion of this rugged trail. 

After hiking for about an hour, the group broke out of the woods and onto Bear Beach, an exquisite location that served as the campsite for our first night on the trail. Pulling tents, food, sleeping bags and warm clothes from our loaded backpacks, we set up our camp, collected wood for a campfire, and of course, took time to appreciate our magnificent surroundings. While enjoying a dinner of warm curry and rice (dehydrated to lighten the load), we watched the brilliant sun disappear behind the Olympic mountains, leaving the sky streaked with purple and orange. After a campfire with marshmallows, jokes, and songs, we fell into our tents, exhausted and happy. 

The next morning dawned sunny again, much to our delight. We rose early, ate a hearty breakfast of oatmeal and dried fruit, and by 9:00 am were hoisting our packs onto our backs, and setting out along the beach once again. The hours blended together as we trudged through the forest, the sound of waves crashing on the beach never far away. Up a bluff, down the other side, across a creek, and up the next was the pattern of our terrain for the majority of the 10 km we hiked that day, with a few much-welcomed flat sections. We stopped briefly for water breaks along the way, took one longer break for lunch, and eventually reached our destination of China Beach. With limited time before darkness settled over the beach, we had to move efficiently into setting up camp, ignoring our muscles’ desperate cries for rest. Dinner was delicious, as all food is after spending the day hiking, and after cleaning up, we boiled water from a nearby creek for hot chocolate, and kindled a new campfire. The day presented many challenges, from physical exhaustion and seemingly uncrossable sections of mud along the trail, to the challenge of maintaining a positive group dynamic as we grew tired, sore, and hungry. Despite all of this, however, the beauty of the environment we were immersed in, the virtually perfect weather, and the friendships formed and strengthened along the way more than made up for the challenges. As Samuel S, Ellis ‘19 put it, “It’s not every day we get to experience something new, but I’m glad I got to experience this wilt all of [the people in ODP]”. 

The final day of our trip involved a slightly easier hike of about 8 km before we scrambled around a final cliff and arrived at Sombrio Beach to enjoy our lunch, lie in the sand, and dip our feet into the freezing Pacific Ocean before heading back to school, with many memories of this “rare and amazing experience” (Zoe T, Hope ‘19). 

On behalf of all the students in ODP, I would like to extend a huge thank you to Mr. Norman and Ms. Bell for all the effort they put into the planning and execution of this wonderful trip. 

Sarah R, Mackenzie ‘20 

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