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On every trip I take to Victoria, I spend a bit of time with my cousin Jim who lives there. Today we decided to do a hike in between the rain showers. His first suggestion was Beacon Hill Park and the coastline but I let him know that I walked that on my own just a couple days earlier so he then suggested we do Elk and Beaver Lake. It is a trail that goes around the entire lake not overly taxing and is quite popular. I looked it up and found out it was a 10 km long loop; I wasn’t too excited about that but I didn’t have a better suggestion. At least this was a level trail and rated at only two hours so I figured I could probably manage the loop.
Jim picked me up at noon and we headed for the south parking lot and beach at Elk Lake, though there were a good number of cars, the lot had lots of space for more, we parked and started for the trail. Initially Jim was having a hard time finding the trail, we were looking too far from the lake. After a couple of false starts we moved closer to the lake and there it was, quite obvious actually! Once found, we started off counter-clockwise around the lake. We had some nice conversation as we made our way along to the first distance marker – 1Km we were making good time. The trail was a bit muddy in places, but generally it was very well maintained with a gravel surface the whole way, not too much elevation gain and drop, but a little bit here and there to add variety. The one thing we noticed were the number of dogs owners being dragged. Dogs were taking their owners out for long walks around the lake. I guess they need to do something with them, so why not get some good exercise and fresh air while you’re at it.
When we reached the north end of the lake, the Hamsterly Beach area, where there are many picnic tables, we stopped to have a quick bite and a bit of a rest. It’s about 4 to 4.5 Km into the hike and was a good spot to take a rest before continuing to the west, and then south along the west side of the lake. The west side trail is nicer than the east side because on the east side you’re walking between the lake and the highway whereas on the west side you’re into the more rural and tree covered areas which are much more pleasant.
During the walk we passed a couple of piers where people were fishing. We briefly chatted with one chap who was sitting in a lounge chair fishing, he said he had caught two fish already. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout, and they do seem to get caught. We continued down the west side of the lake heading south, and eventually it turns into an old rail bed where there used to be a train service between the south Victoria area, and this region for I guess shipping trees, and whatever else was being collected. The rail spur wasn’t that long but a train is better than walking it.
As we’re going along, we came across one guy walking with his dog. Both he and the dog seemed to be anxious to move, he said he did trail every day! I’m thinking good grief a two hour walk every day! Not anything I could do. However, I am glad he was out there enjoying the area it is quite scenic. We did stop in a number of places so I could capture a few photos but it being in the winter a lot of the best scenes were probably hidden away until spring comes along. Nevertheless, the bare branches sometimes give very interesting shapes that one can take photos of.
Eventually, we made our way around to the south end of the lake. Jim headed down a side trail which he had previously taken, but I pointed out that that was not the actual loop trail. After a few moments of thought we decided that this time we would do the main loop. We felt that the side trail would likely be muddier than the main one and so we continued down the main loop. It would also give Jim some sights which he had not seen before. We eventually made our way around the south end and up to the zero-trail marker. It was about a half kilometer from the point we entered the trail. We continued past and eventually came to the place we started. We felt good about completing the loop and talked about our next adventure as we walked to the parking lot and got into the car. Feeling a bit tired and thirsty we decided to go grab a coffee at Starbucks.
Though it was around 11C outside – warm for January, it was still cool. A warm drink at Starbucks would complete the day quite nicely. The rain started as we left the parking lot so we finished just in time to avoid any rain. It was a good hike and took us around the two hours to complete it so we were on schedule for the whole time and even with our small break at the north end. I guess we were doing all right and although it was tiring by the time we were done, I survived it which is the important part. I guess I could do it again under nicer weather, but I think in the summer heat it would probably be a lot harder than under the coolness of this time of year, so maybe leave it for the off-season. We’ll see what we do we I return in April; maybe do a mountain hike and I can do some radio activities when I’m at the top.