Snow in Sooke

One of the reasons we chose to extend our trip with a stop in Sooke was to take advantage of the opportunity to do some coastal hiking. The snow completely abolished that plan. Since the snowfall had been so, so, so much more than anyone anticipated, we weren’t prepared with snowshoes or snow boots. So we had to make do with what we had. It didn’t take long to drive to Sooke, but when we arrived, we had a bit of trouble finding a place to eat – that was open – and then a place to park. We ended up at a nice Indian restaurant, one of the few places open, and enjoyed a hearty meal while we waited to be able to check in at our next Airbnb.

Our Airbnb was a very spacious, detached garage apartment. We were down the road from the Whiffen Spit, so after unloading the car and unpacking, we decided to walk there. Without our traction spikes, there were a few dodgy bits – and I did fall – but we made it to the spit before dark. We had a little light left and walked out onto the spit to watch a winter kayaker and take in the view before turning around to tuck ourselves in for the night.

A slightly clearing sky
Zach on the spit
Walking the road back to the Airbnb

My original plan for our only full day in Sooke was to do the scenic drive along Highway 14 to Port Renfrew, stopping to hike along the way. Since the snow canceled our hiking plans, we thought we could still do the scenic drive. It’s roughly an hour’s drive to Port Renfrew. We decided to drive there, have lunch, and then stop along the way back if we spied any worthwhile/accessible spots.

Highway 14

It was a beautiful day. The road was fairly clear – certainly passable with the Subaru – and we were treated to a delightful drive through the cover of a snow-blanketed forest. As we have found on our road trips in Canada, they don’t believe in the scenic pull-out, so although there were lots of beautiful vistas and scenery, we often couldn’t safely pull over to capture it. When we arrived in Port Renfrew, the sky was a dazzling blue, and the sun was shining, but it was also windy and bone-chillingly cold. We explored a bit around the Renfrew Pub and then warmed up with a pint and lunch. Midway through our meal, their power went out, and we had to wait for it to be restored before we could pay our check.

The Renfrew Pub

We began the trek back to Sooke with plans to stop along the way at the Jordan River campground. It is one of the only instances where the highway is level with the coast, so we wanted to scamper around the beach. There were also some more opportunities for us to pull over or briefly pause to capture some of the drive since we were often alone on the road.


At Jordan River, Truman braved the chill with us and enjoyed exploring the rocky beach for edible treasures. The wind was brisk and the sun brought little warmth, but we relished the chance to stretch our legs and enjoy the scenery.

The beach at Jordan River campground

We also stopped at French Beach Provincial Park after seeing a car parked in the snow. We maneuvered down the snowy path to the beachfront in time to catch the golden glow of the late afternoon, lending an ethereal warmth to our photos. I enjoyed the contrast of the gleaming white snow against the black pebble beach, while Truman preferred to gaze out at the sea.

Loved the golden hour light

We caught the sunset in our rearview as we neared Sooke, wishing there was a suitable place to pull over. It was the first sunset we’d had since we landed on the island. Oh well. Certainly, we are owed a glorious summer-time romp on the island now that we have experienced one of its historic snows. We ended the day by returning to Whiffen Spit with Tru in tow, though he was ready to be indoors rather than in more snow.

Zach & Tru bundled up on Whiffen Spit

The next morning we were up at 5:00 to ensure we had enough time to get to our ferry. We ended up being slightly early, so we stopped in Sidney at a Tim Horton’s for coffee, then still managed to be first in line. Unfortunately, our ferry was delayed 45 minutes, so we relished our coffee while it was warm. The crossing was a bit rough, particularly when we returned to the car deck to get in the Subaru. Being at the front of the line also means getting thrashed by the wind!

Already a bit behind for a VERY LONG day of driving, we sat at the border for 1.5 hours before we finally entered Washington close to noon. Luckily, it was smooth sailing for the remainder of our drive. We made it over the blustery Snoqualmie Pass before it was closed for the ice rain that would shut down Seattle the following day, and cruised through frost-laden eastern Washington & Oregon before entering Idaho. Home never felt so good.

Looooong drive home

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