Today we are at the West entrance of John Dean Provincial Park, off Alec road. It's situated on top of Mount Newton on the south part of the island and overlooks the Saanich Peninsula, the Gulf Islands and the Cascade Mountains. This land is traditionally known as ȽÁU,WELNEW, which can be described as the place of refuge/escape. This is a Thunderbird mountain, a sacred place for the indigenous W’S’ANEC / Saanich People. Legends of the Great Flood, winter ceremonies, and the Thunderbird figure prominently in their culture. Those who truly know this place, have a deep connection with the mountain, park and as a spiritual centre.
This is also a special forest as its one of the last stands of old-growth Douglas fir, cedars, and Garry oaks on the Saanich Peninsula. In the spring and summer the flora and fauna are incredibly abundant with wildflowers native to BC and birds like bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, ravens, wood peckers, and turkey vultures. For the naturalists, theres also mosses, fungi, and amphibians to observe. If you make it to the summit of Mount Newton, you can see some see some pretty epic sunsets.
This park covers 174 hectares of land, with about six kilometers of hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to more intense hikes. We are going to be hiking up Merril Harrop trail to the West viewpoint. This is one of my favorite trails to hike, part of the reason is the special energy and beauty of this park, but also its very conveniently located for me. As a mom to a toddler I'm not always up to go for a big drive and then a multi hour hike, then long drive back, its just not realistic or practical for me. The convenience really encourages me, and as a bonus its often one of the least busy trails that I've found. We will often plan a bigger adventure for a weekend trip, but during the week while I've been on maternity leave this is one of my go-tos.
What's your 'why'? Have you ever thought about this? What motivates you to get out there consistently- hiking, biking, kayaking, whatever your favorite outdoor activity is. For me, I grew up hiking- there was a small mountain called Horth Hill near my elementary school and my mom would often take my brother and myself hiking after school was done. We did our first overnight hike when I was 12, my parents borrowed some gear from friends and we hiked part of the Juan de Fuca trail which is a 47km trail on the SouthWest coast of the island. We hiked that trail multiple times after that, and also completed the West Coast trail which is a 75km trip.
I've always loved hiking and being outdoors, its where I feel most myself and most at peace. After I had my baby, I started slow with very easy flat walks, slowly building myself back up to be able to hike up mountains again. I was still hiking at 39 weeks pregnant and in pretty good shape, but it still took me six weeks before I could even go for a short walk. Every day we would go out in nature and I would be able to get some fresh air while he snoozed in the baby carrier. This worked really well for us and 99.9% of the time, he would fall asleep right away and have the best nap of the day while we were out walking. This has single-handedly been the most important thing I've done for myself postpartum. Its improved every aspect of my life- mentally, physically and emotionally.
What's your why? Why do we make ourselves do hard things? In short, it puts life into perspective. You will never know your limits until you meet them head on. It doesn't have to be hiking up mountains, but whatever your passion, we all need something that will challenge us and push us to our limits to see how far we can truly go.
Peak season 5/10
Off season 2.5/10
Have a great day, and don't forget to get out there and do something epic!