Such a cute name – and a covered porch that just fits two bicycles. We are drawn to the Rustic Little Cabin, the smallest of three camping cabins along the shores of the Sooke River. The location is convenient, too, for those who want to spend several days cycling the Galloping Goose Trail and feeling the pulse of the region.
How long does it take to cycle the 55-kilometre Galloping Goose Trail? How many days would you like to spend? Our panniers decide. After the sleeping bags, pyjamas, and camping dishes are loaded, there’s room for four days of food, so four days it is.
The Galloping Goose Trail, formerly a railway line, moves through urban areas, rural farmland, and wilderness scenery on its journey from Victoria to Leechtown (now a ghost town). The Goose runs past our front door, so the route is familiar, but there is always something new or seasonal to enjoy. This trip it’s tiny spring leaves, singing frogs, little lambs, and new bedroom communities under construction (Doug likes to keep in touch with building construction methods).
Long gone are the logging sports competitions held on All Sooke Day, but the Sooke River Campground remains on-site at The Flats, on the shores of De Mamiel Creek and the Sooke River. This family- and community-friendly campground offers tent campsites, RV sites, three camping cabins, and event space, maintained by warm and welcoming hosts Rhonda and Todd. There is watchable wildlife, too: swans, Canada geese, herons, deer, black bear, and in October, salmon fighting their way upstream to spawn.
On day two our daughter, Kirsten, joins us for a bike-hike. We ride up the Goose across two trestles to the Sooke Potholes, then hike up the Mary Vine Trail to the waterfall and the old Sooke flowline, an abandoned concrete aqueduct (Doug is very interested in this engineering project).
Kirsten goes home to her garden, and we ride through Sooke on the new Stickleback Urban Trail. Stickleback symbols lead the way as this 6.5-km (one-way) trail links paths and lightly-trafficked roads through the community. Sooke has come a long way with improvements to roads for cycling, but there are some scary spots, such as the bridge across the Sooke River. The bridge is narrow, the trucks are wide and fast, and the traffic is non-stop; we recommend walking your bike along the skimpy sidewalk.
On day three we do some climbing, in Sea to Sea Regional Park. We hike up a series of mountain biking-hiking-equestrian trails that begin from the Harbour View parking lot off Sooke Road. “I can’t imagine wanting to ride my bike up here,” says Doug. With names like Sword Fern and Willow, some trails sound pretty, but they are steep with loose and large rocks. Some people enjoy this type of biking, judging by the number of bike racks on cars in the parking lot. Our half-day loop concludes with the Quimper Summit Trail, which boasts panoramic mountain views.
The third wave of covid-19 has arrived in British Columbia. Province-wide restrictions remain in place, but certain outdoor activities are allowed: going for a walk, hike, or bike ride, camping in a local campground, gathering at a park or beach with a small, consistent circle of people. We were outdoors for four days. We talked to a crossing guard for thirty seconds. We biked with our fully immunized daughter, and we enjoyed a socially distanced campfire with our two oldest grandchildren. We are trying hard to be fully compliant. Hooray! After a slow start, Canada’s vaccine rollout is speeding up.