First off, let me just say that I am a 56 year old woman with about 75 extra pounds — not in the best shape of my life. At the same time, I am keenly interested in the environment and I try to challenge myself mentally and physically whenever I can. Also, I frequently travel alone and I’m always a bit nervous about how well I’ll be able to fit in with a new group travelling together.
So, when I emailed Rainforest Tours to book a full day hike on the Juan de Fuca Trail, I worried that I might not be fit enough to complete the 4-5K hike, and I worried that I might not be able to fit in with the rest of the group.
I shouldn’t have worried. Toni – the owner of Rainforest Tours (and my guide for the day) promptly put me at ease in her first email.. She assured me that she’d had hikers as old as 80+ as well as hikers with a range of physical challenges. She was able to accommodate and modify any tour. She only takes groups of about 6 persons and can generally accommodate solo hikers as well.
Payment for the tour online in advance through paypal was easy, and I received email confirmation of my pick up time, request for dietary preferences for the picnic lunch, and information about what to pack/wear.
Toni picked me up at my hotel promptly at 9am and we set off in her SUV. Along the way we stopped at a hip little place near Sooke called “Shirley Delicious” for a bathroom break, coffee, and fabulous fresh baked pastries (sooooo gooood!). Then we drove to a place called WHiffle Spit (spelling?) to explore the tidal pools. While there, Toni showed me a variety of marine flora and fauna — her knowledge is extensive — and her manner is easygoing, informative and flexible.
We then drove to the Mystic Beach trail head for our 4+K hike through an amazingly green and verdant forest, old growth trees, lush ferns, mushrooms, across streams, over a suspension bridge, and finally down to the beach and the ocean. Yes, it was a difficult hike for me (uphill and downhill!). But Toni took it slow and I rested when I needed, and along the way she kept me amused and informed with stories about the economic and cultural and geological history of this place, the various medicinal and nutritious uses of the flora, and the history and lore of first nations peoples of this area.
When we arrived on the beach, we took some time to explore and then had lunch. And what a wonderful lunch it was! Quinoa salad with grapes, peppers, and pecans, roast chicken sandwich on whole grain bread with apples, and a cookie almost as big as a dinner plate. A little more exploring, a rest on the beach and a quick trip to the restroom and it was back on the trail for the hike back up the trail. I was then driven back to my hotel and deposited happy and tired by 5pm.
I highly recommend Rainforest Tours to anybody. I want to do it again!