Learning the meaning of hiking pants

This morning Warren and I left to go on a hike and we were starting the hike from our house. The sun was shining, we both had the day off and nothing else planned so why not make the most of a beautiful sunny day?

We left at 8:41am and had our camel packs on our back, some trail mix and dried fruit in a baggie and we stopped at Tim Horton’s to grab a bagel with peanut butter for the road. We didn’t have anything at home that would “carry” well so that was easiest solution I could come up with on short notice…and it worked out perfect.

Our destination was Sugarloaf Mountain towards Sooke. My friend Mark mentioned the mountain a few weeks ago when we hiked three mountains together. After our pit stop at Tim’s we continued on towards Sooke Road. The traffic is busy and moving fast on that road but thankfully there is a wide shoulder; not to say that cars didn’t make their way into it.

Trail head to Sugarloaf Mountain off Sooke Road
Trail head to Sugarloaf Mountain off Sooke Road

Warren knew where the trail head started and I had a rough idea. He also had the trail information from Trail Peak ready on his phone so if we came to a fork in the road we were we could look quickly to see where to go.

Warren lead the way and as he did he cleared the spider webs for me. This was something he was not fond of doing at all and it really bothered him. He at one point took off his camel pack and walked with it in front of him to clear the webs first. I can understand the way that he was feeling because the feeling of the webs on your body and the thought of spiders being on you isn’t a fun thing but at the same time I have come to realize that walking through webs is part of hiking. Just like Warren knows that snakes are part of hiking and I am terrified of them and think about them being on the trail the whole time. We all have different things that get to us.

Creek crossing...go straight across
Creek crossing…go straight across

We arrived at the creek but because the summer has been so dry there wasn’t any water in it. There was no trouble crossing it now but if there would have been water in it I think there was a fallen tree you could walk over. As you cross the creek there is a path straight across that you will follow. You will actually see two paths but they join into one.

A few minutes later we arrived at a steep incline that we walked up. The trail goes to both the left and the right and the Trail Peak directions will say that you walk along the logging road for 15-20 minutes but the road is far from what both Warren and I know as a logging road…at least since when we were born 30 some odd years ago. It was more just like a trail as well and it widens in some places. We hadn’t timed exactly what time it was when we arrived on the ‘logging’ road but I knew what time we had started out on the trail from Sooke Road.  Warren thought that we may have gone by the path that took us to the left but I wasn’t quite ready to give up. We decided to walk for five more minutes and then if we didn’t find it we would turn around. I could see the sun shining ahead, the trail was very narrow and looked over grown but I was hopeful. I really didn’t want to turn back and I wanted to find what we had set out to hike.

Path to the left you take to Sugarloaf Mountain
Path to the left you take to Sugarloaf Mountain

Luckily going a bit longer won out and we found the path to the left that we were to go on.  The path was fairly clear to start with but then got overgrown by ferns and stinging nettle. I didn’t know what that was or looked like until today. And the funny thing is that I have probably touched it or been around it many times. Guess that saying “What you don’t know, won’t hurt you” rings true in this case.

As we went along we started to see orange markers on trees directing us. At one point we came to another fork in the road or what looked like we should go another way but the cut trees laying across the path let us know that we shouldn’t go that way.

Don't cross the cut trees on the ground
Don’t cross the cut trees on the ground

The marker on the tree past the cut trees though did trick us a bit. The trail eventually cleared of the ferns and bushes but as we were walking along I started to think about hiking pants as the bushes rubbed my legs and the spider webs continued to drape my arms, legs and face. Yes, Warren and I were hiking in shorts and tank tops but that is what we typically do hikes in when we go in the summer.

At the thick of the bushes I said to Warren “I think I know why they call them hiking pants!” Warren laughed and said that he was thinking the same thing just before I mentioned it. I love how he and I think the same. So, perhaps we will buy a pair of hiking pants so we don’t have to feel those webs and bushes rubbing on our legs as we go through them.

Me at the top of Sugarloaf
Me at the top of Sugarloaf

It seemed like we had been walking awhile and the information we had read said that you would turn a corner and you would be faced with a steep climb. We were looking and waiting for it and not long after we found it. It wasn’t so much turning the corner and then “BAM”, steep climb but it did start to gradually get harder than it had been. Our heart rate started to raise and we were feeling it in our legs.

The climb to the top though was beautiful in my opinion. You walked over some fallen trees, and it zig zagged up the mountain. In the far distance you could tell that from the top you would see some beautiful views. I just admired how the side of the mountain was. There were some rocks that were huge and pretty much “flat” all along one side. They just looked really neat to me…and of course I didn’t take a picture to show you what I mean.

View from the top to the left
View from the top to the left

We reached the top after some huffing and puffing and we noticed that there was a path that went to the right and to the left. We decided to go left first to see what was there. We could see Mount McDonald from this peak and we stopped to have our lunch. While we were eating I said to Warren that I would like to go down the side of Sugarloaf and make our way to Mount McDonald. I know that wouldn’t be the safest bet so we went down the way we came up.

Beattie's lunch

After we ate, took a few pictures and admired the view, we then headed back on the path to see what the views were like on the other side. They were just as beautiful.

We headed back down the hill and the downhill seemed to go quicker than getting to the top. We had brought bus tickets with us just in case we didn’t feel up to walking back home from Sooke Road. It ended up that the next bus would be 50 minutes from the time we reached the bus stop so we decided walking it was. We were feeling ok but as we got closer towards home we needed to change-up our motion so we did an easy jog.

W at the top of Sugarloaf
W at the top of Sugarloaf

We were out 5 hours and 48 minutes and we walked/hiked for 25.39km. We saw the bus that we would have taken pass us when we were about 20 minutes from home. It was a great day for us both and we should sleep well tonight.

Overall the directions that we followed from the Trail Peak site to find Sugarloaf Mountain were good but have you ever followed directions before that just weren’t clear and lead you the way you should go?

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