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Backshore - Clayoquot Hiking Terms

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Backshore - Clayoquot Hiking Terms


Backshore: the area of the shoreline acted upon by waves only during severe storms.  The West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island runs for much of its 77 kilometre length along a very distinct backshore route.  Often visible are signs of winter storms that have recently dislodged enormous trees from the rugged coastline.  A backshore can range from as little as a few centimetres high to hundreds of metres high.  The backshore route along the West Coast Trail is often as subtle as a sandy beach edged by a slightly higher border of grass and forest.  Other areas of the trail the backshore is a vertical, solid rock cliff with crashing waves cutting into it far below.  This image(below) is an example of a backshore along the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island.

Backshore on the West Coast Trail

The image below shows the result of centuries of backshore erosion at Mystic Beach on the Juan de Fuca Trail in Victoria.

Mystic Valls on the Juan de Fuca Trail

Mystic Falls on the Juan de Fuca Trail.  Backshore erosion continues to cut at the soft, sedimentary layers of the cliff.

Mystic Valls on the Juan de Fuca Trail

Caves created by continuous backshore erosion near Mystic Falls.  With the frequent rainy weather on the coast of Vancouver Island, these backshore caves provide shelter.  Along the West Coast Trail these types of caves are often the preferred locations to spend the night.  The Juan de Fuca Trail is an incredible part of Vancouver Island.  Wild and beautiful, and accessible.  All along the 47km length there are convenient access points.  It's wild, and beautiful, and varied, and deep in the wild rainforest of the coast.  From the beautiful flowers of Victoria to the wild and majestic forest of the Juan de Fuca Trail, the drive just to get to it is beautiful.

Backshore Cave at Mystic Falls

There are four main trailheads for the Juan de Fuca trail.  From Victoria China Beach is 70km, Sombrio Beach 95km, Parkinson Creek 100km and Botanical Beach 110km.  The trail can of course be hiked from either end or in parts.  Starting at Botanical Beach and timing the tides correctly allows for a great way to start the trek as you can see the first five or so kilometres at the wonderful beach level.  With the various access points to the Juan de Fuca Trail, you can do several day trips and never walk the same section twice.  All the sections are quite distinct from the rest.  Some trails are wild and overgrown, others are focussed on amazing tidal pools, and still other sections are centred around wide, sweeping beaches.  You can even find good surfing at Sombrio Beach.

Glossary of Hiking Terms


Highpointing: the sport of hiking to as many high points(mountain peaks) as possible in a given area.  For example, highpointing the Highpointing - Clayoquot Hiking Termslower 48 states in the United states.  This was first achieved in 1936 by A.H. Marshall.  In 1966 Vin Hoeman highpointed all 50 states.  It is estimated that over 250 people have highpointed all of the US states.  Highpointing is similar peakbagging, however peakbagging is the sport of climbing several peaks in a given area above a certain elevation.  For example, a highpointer may climb the summit of Wedge Mountain, the highest peak in the Garibaldi Ranges, then move to another mountain range.  Whereas a peakbagger may summit Wedge Mountain, then Black Tusk, Panorama Ridge, Mount Garibaldi and many more high summits in the region.

Panorama Ridge Aerial Video

Hoary Marmot: the cute, invariably pudgy, twenty plus pound ground squirrels that have evolved to live quite happily in the hostile alpine areas of much of the world. In the northwest of North America, marmots have a distinct grey in their hair, a hoary colour, so have been named hoary marmots. They manage to survive Hoary Marmot - Clayoquot Hiking Termsquite happily in the alpine, largely by hibernating for 8 months of the year and largely for having a surprisingly varied array of food in such an inhospitable environment. They live off of grasses, berries, lichens, mosses, and roots and flowers. And live quite well it seems, as they always look chubby, which has one great drawback. They are sought after by bears and wolves. They have a wonderful defense system though. They are constantly on watch and whistle loudly at the first sign of danger, alerting the colony. The prevalence of these "whistlers" as they came to be locally called, in the early days of London Mountain resulted in it's name being changed to Whistler Mountain in the 60's. Hiking on Whistler, Blackcomb or Wedgemount Lake in the summer will almost guarantee an encounter with a chubby, jolly little whistler marmot.

Rethel Mountain Aerial Video

Pressure Ridges: wavelike ridges that form on a glacier normally after a glacier has flowed over icefalls.  Pressure ridges are a beautiful and hostile looking feature of glaciers that, when approached, become menacingly huge and dangerous.Retreation Glacier - Clayoquot Hiking Terms

Pyramidal Peak: a mountaintop that has been carved by glaciation into a distinct, sharp horn-like shape. The Matterhorn in the Alps is a well know example of this striking phenomenon.

Retreation Glacier: a deteriorating glacier; annual melt of entire glacier exceeds the flow of the ice.  Glaciers around Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park are retreation glaciers owing to the past few decades of warming temperatures.

Scree: from the Norse “skridha”, landslide.  The small, loose stones covering a slope. Also called talus, the French word for slope. Scree is mainly formed from the annual freeze/thaw periods of spring and fall, where water seeps into cracks in the rock and expands when freezing.

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