A Travellerspoint blog

Victoria, Vancouver Island

Getting caught up, overpriced campground warning, Big Sitka Spruce Tree

sunny 22 °C
View TaJ 2019 & TaJ 2019 June 27 to Aug 15 on Rooseboom-Scott's travel map.

We left Fort Victoria RV park early on the morning of July 24, headed just 75 kilometres to French Beach Provincial Park, on the highway between Sooke and Port Renfrew, on the wilder side of the south end of Vancouver Island.

The drive west towards Sooke used to be through rural areas on a winding road. The road is unchanged, but the development along the road and in the town of Sooke is substantial since our last visit here in 2014. Sooke is booming. It is about 1 hour to Victoria and is now a good choice to buy a house at a reasonable price and make the commute to work.

French Beach PP has 69 sites, set in second growth forest, our site 15 was right on the edge of the slope down to the beach, 50 meters below. The campground has pit toilets and access to water, but no wi-fi, no cell phone service and no visitor centre.

After getting TaJ set up we headed down for the first of many beach walks. French Beach is a pocket beach. Hemmed in by headlands at each end it is about 1 ½ kilometers long. Rocky and strewn with logs at the upper portion, along the sea there is a strip of sand beach to the waterline. The surf is generally quiet, unless there is a storm brewing out past the end of the Juan de Fuca Strait. When the wind is blowing directly into the strait from the open ocean, watch out for big rollers.


We had a fire as it was cool for a summer night. It was great to be back out in the wilds after so much time in cities the last few weeks.

July 25

Another morning beach walk. Jenny and I are on a fitness kick now, each of us has gained 3 pounds since we started the trip, and we would like to get home in a few months at the same weight as we left back in May. So, power walks every second morning and a cut back on beer and junk food.
We met up with old work mates of mine from my days in Victoria, Gary and Lori Kirk. They are retired now and love in Sooke, about 25 kilometers from the campground. We had a lovely evening reminiscing about the good old days, etc.

July 26

We headed out fairly early, to take a walk along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, near the Sooke River Potholes Regional Park. The parking lots along the road from Sooke to Port Renfrew have volunteers who help prevent thefts from vehicles and provide information about the region.
These parking lots are remote and heading out for a longish hike leaves your car vulnerable to break and enter thefts. It has been a fact of life here along this remote shore for as long as I can remember that you do not leave valuable in your vehicle. Since we travel with lots of stuff in our Honda Pilot we decided to use an attended lot for safety sake. Turns out the attendant in our parking lot was from Nova Scotia, and has a sister who lives within 10 kilometers of our house back in the Annapolis Valley!

The Galloping Goose trail is named after the train that used to run on these tracks, from Leechtown (an old gold mining town) through Sooke and on to Victoria. The train vanished long ago, but the 50 or so kilometers of trail are still in use to this day.

After our walk, we took in the annual Sooke Art Show and Sale at the local arena. Really nice stuff, with over 250 paintings on display.
We finished our last day at French Beach with a hot dog roast with Lori and Gary. We walked on the beach and had a great time by the fire.


July 27

We broke camp early and headed for a long slow drive along the winding road to Port Renfrew. Beyond this small village lies the back road to Lake Cowichan. If you visit the south end of Vancouver Island, this route is well worth the effort. The road is paved and in relatively good condition. It is an old logging road that has gradually be improved over decades and now makes for an enjoyable tour. All of the bridges on the road are single lane and you have to keep an eye open for logging trucks.

About 25 kilometers onto the road is the Sitka Spruce. A giant tree, a remnant of the old growth forest that used to blanket southern Vancouver Island, sits in a small grove. The moss is thick on its 1000+ year old trunk and branches. I like to think of this tree being the matriarch of the forest of second growth spruce trees that surround it, watching over her children as they grow alongside her.


We arrived at our destination for the day, Country Maples RV Park, near Chemainus. Now, I usually don’t comment negatively on campgrounds, but this one gets a mention. Although the place is nice and the facilities useful, it is exceptionally overpriced. $66 a night, the most we have ever paid for a campground in 8 years of travel. When I booked this, we were looking for a full-service campground after 3 nights in the wilderness after French Beach. On top of the high nightly rate, they wanted $2 for a shower and $3 a night for internet. Really! Not Recommended.

July 28

Our plans for the next 10 days or so involve camping with our friends Debra and her boyfriend Victor. They live in Chemainus and Debra has a 13-foot Trillium trailer. Debra tows with a Toyota Venza, which is a dark brown colour advertised as Root Beer. The Trillium is ice cream coloured. So, we came up with this inventive name for her rig: The Root Beer Float! Here is a picture:

For today, we are meeting up with another old work mate of mine, Edie Leeming, in Duncan. As you can probably figure out from recent blog entries, I lived and worked on Vancouver Island and have been meeting up with old friends as we travel through.
Edie and her husband Matt, hosted us for lunch, along with Debra and Victor. It was great to see Edie again and we had a lovely afternoon chatting about the good old days!


We have had about 8 days now with no significant internet access so there will be three entries to get this blog back up-to-date. We are still not sure if it is our computer, or just plain bad wi-fi that is causing us such a problem in making contact.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 12:37 Archived in Canada Tagged sitka_spruce french_beach_pp

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