Deer in the forest

It's with the trees that I am truly comfortable

It’s with the trees that I am truly comfortable

How filled I was with rum and whiskey and how sad I felt – as we made our way along the moonlit pavements of Victoria – to see five grand deer stepping hesitantly across the concrete. Indeed, with my blood so heavily infected with liquor, the sorrow of the sight brought me close to tears. The city isn’t good for them – the deer – just as it isn’t for me. But we persist, for one reason or another, against our yearnings.

One day I hope for my instincts and my actions to immaculately align; one day I want to see these very five deer deep in the Island forest.

Hiking the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, Canada

Sunrise from Sombrio Beach, Juan de Fuca trail

Sunrise from Sombrio Beach, Juan de Fuca trail

Heading north from Victoria, we soon found ourselves in a landscape dictated by the trees and the ocean. Pacific waves – each infused with an eruption of translucent, turquoise light as they built in height – lurched onto the pebble beach with a crashing of foam, so raucous that I could do little else but marvel at their force.

We were midway along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, one of several long distance coastal walks on Vancouver Island, stretching for 47 kilometres through ancient, mossy woodland and across storm-scarred beaches.

Without ambition, other than to absorb our surroundings, we pitched our tent beneath a conifer on the water’s shore, before finding the path.

Camping on the Juan de Fuca Trail

Camping on the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail

From the curious head of a harbour seal riding the ocean swells, to caves, spilling waterfalls, towering cedars and blankets of oyster mushrooms, we followed the path at a pace no faster than our natural gait. Indeed, with such a stimulating environment encompassing our steps, it took us some three hours to cover just a few kilometres.

Mushrooms on the Juan de Fuca Trail

Mushrooms on the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail

We spent the evening perched within the crags of a lone rock, each of us deep in thought as the waves – now blackened, save for the acceptance of moonlight at their crests – jostled below.

Tide pools on Sombrio Beach

Tide pools on Sombrio Beach

Though I have only walked bits of the Juan de Fuca trail here and there, I have little doubt that a journey along its entirety would be an endeavour without regret.

Some walkers like to complete the route in just two or three days, whilst others find the charm of the path so great that it takes them a week to complete. There are basic camping spots all along the trail, and drinking water can be collected and treated from the dozens of courses that cut the path. The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a wilderness walk, meaning that all supplies must be taken in, and so too removed. With consistent undulation, slippery rocks and the potential for adverse weather conditions, the path is by no means a predictable plod and those hiking it should have the necessary gear and fitness levels.

Hiking to the rainbow’s end

Looking south from Mt. Branden

Looking south from Mt. Branden

This weekend I took a hike up to the 500-metre peak of Mt. Branden in Sooke, Vancouver Island. With cloud resting in the deeply vegetated valleys, the Olympic Mountains aglow with patches of sunlight and the chirrups of the forest birds, my possibilities for day dreaming were plentiful. Yet, in spite of these patent blessings, it was a show of opalescence earlier that morning that stole my mind for the day: the magnificent arch of a stooping rainbow cast across the Victoria Inner Harbour.

Seeking the rainbow's end

Seeking the rainbow’s end

Seeking the rainbow’s end will not bestow you with a pot of gold, but instead the greater gift of venturing into a land unknown, pushing your horizons and invigorating your soul.