Day Four: The Mud to Sombrio Beach

Kilometers 21 to 29

Misty Morning, Chin Beach

The cold misty morning met us as we stretched, my body less sore, slowly adjusting to the daily routine and the weight of my pack. We start a fire, debating the next section of trail to Sombrio Beach, where our little company would part ways. Amy was to join her sister and friend to head back to Victoria, and Erin and Brittney unknowingly were to change their plans by the end of the day.

Beach Finds
Shy Sea Anemone

Breakfast was a lazy affair, the stink of drying gear slowly replaced with coffee. The sun burning off the lingering mist, bringing us our first true blue-sky day. Low tides revealed the hidden world of tide pools, balancing on seaweed covered rocks we spent a couple hours exploring their wonders. Shouting to each other every time we found something new, or to point out whenever the friendly seals playing in the shallows popped their heads above the water. With our gear as try as it would ever be, we packed up and said goodbye to what was without a doubt my favourite campsite.

Beach Side Camping

A short beach walk led back to the trail which continued up and over the never-ending valleys and ridges. We’d decided to start as a group again, making it understood we’d all hike at our own pace and that we’d regroup at Sombrio. Not wanting a repeat of the day before, Amy and I forged ahead, stopping at a cliffside viewpoint to watch an eagle glide in front of us while keeping our eyes peeled for whales in the distance. The sky was blue, but the wet spring weather had turned the trail in to mud and we spent the day fighting our way through knee deep shoe sucking mud, thankful for gaiters and the added support of poles. The trail, however, did provide, lifting our moods with suspension bridges, waterfalls, and ocean views. The trail narrowed as we approached Sombrio, the high hedges that had herded us all day giving way on one side to cliffs as the trail rounded the corner into Sombrio East, giving us our first views of sandy beaches and surfers braving the cold water. After almost trying to brave a rotting impossible rope climb down to the beach, we found the trail, climbing over and around tree roots and crossing one last waterfall before slipping and sliding down the muddy track to the beach.

Precarious Hallow Trees
Back-country Bridges
Sombrio East from a Distance

Sombrio being the halfway mark, and accessible by car makes it popular, so we kept to the East end, away from the crowds and set up camp on the beach. Stretched out on the sun-bleached logs we snacked, chatting idly as we watched people go by. Adventuring down the beach we went in search of bathrooms and water, finding an outhouse and bear box near our campsite, however, not even the “luxury” outhouses up the beach, could distract from the yellow water we collected from the creek.

Some time later, Erin came around the corner, tired and a little discouraged, confused we watched him approach, waiting to ask where Brittney was. Collapsing on the sand beside us, Erin begins to explain how Brittney’s previous knee injury had begun acting up and he spent the majority of the 8 km hike carrying his pack forward, leaving it, and hiking back to carry Brittney’s – seriously Erin was a champ – after catching his breath he headed back around the corner to get Brittney and her pack. Brittney’s lingering injury left their plans to finish the trail uncertain and with their West Coast Trail start date looming, they desperately trying to rework their plans. Amy’s sister and friend found us, and we spent a laughter filled evening crowded around a bonfire. By the light of our headlamps we giggled, jumping back from the waves while trying to wash dishes in the incoming water. Brushing our teeth by the water we jumped, hearing a rustling beside us as little river otters ran past us to their cozy dens hidden in the banks.

Sombrio East Approach