Long weekend adventures on Vancouver Island

This weekend, I was in Victoria for my 2nd Goodlife Victoria Half Marathon. Every year, the race falls on the Thanksgiving long weekend, giving James and I the opportunity to go on short trip away to take in the quaint neighbourhoods, nature and good eats that Vancouver Island has to offer.

Since we were only staying for one night, we wanted to make the most of the day so we took the 6am ferry ride over on Saturday morning – the race was on Sunday. Though it was brutal to wake up at 4am to make the reservation check-in on time, arriving on Vancouver Island at 7:30am had two big benefits in my opinion: 1) No line up at Jam Cafe and 2) Having enough time in the day to explore some of Victoria’s local trails at Goldstream Provincial Park.

No line up at Jam Cafe.

Jam Cafe is one of the most popular brunch hot spots in Victoria – and for good reason. It arguably serves some of the best brunch dishes in and around the Island. If you’re lucky, you’ll wait 20-30 minutes. But because we arrived at the restaurant 15 minutes after it opened (8am), we got the last available table before the line up quickly formed. Here’s my Thanksgiving Eggs Benny, a festive special just for the weekend:

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Goldstream Trestle Bridge Hike

While victoriatrails.com will define the hike to Goldstream Railway Trestle as “difficult”, James and I found it relatively easy compared to the hikes here on the local North Shore mountains. The climb up is only 170 meters and 3km round-trip in total, so it makes for a nice and easy daytime hike.

The only “difficult” part of the hike was at the top, when it came time to walk across the trestle bridge – called the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway – that crosses over the canyon, with Niagara Creek running below. On the website, you are advised against walking across the bridge as it is considered trespassing and could be fatal with one misstep; however, everyone who reached the top walked onto the bridge without thinking twice – everyone but me. Anyone with a massive fear of heights will be able to relate to the anxiety and nervousness I feel just looking down when you are situated somewhere very high up.

Case in point:

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It may be hard to tell from the photo, but in between each plank or beam, you are able to see below, which is very far down. There are also no railings or safety sidings as you walk across – my hands sweat as I type this – and as the website puts it, “spacing between beams is inconsistent and slippery”.

So for about 25 minutes, I stayed on ‘safe ground’ while James – that thrill-seeker – ventured to the middle of the bridge for photos, selfies and I’d imagine sheer exhilaration. After much persuasion from not only James but other hikers (including a man who had just crossed the bridge and back with his one or two year old baby boy who walked beside him, no big deal), I reluctantly and unhappily  walked onto the bridge to take a few photos with James, and so he could take a few of me. Here’s how they turned out – that’s a forced smile on my face btw and notice how stiff I am:

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Needless to say, I clung onto James with each step across the bridge and tried my best to focus on each wooden beam instead of the spaces in between. Also needless to say is the fact that I didn’t cross the entire bridge; 1/4 of the way is all my poor heart, shaking body and icicle  hands could take.

As scary of an experience as it was for me, I still enjoyed the hike and the view is stunning when you walk onto and across the trestle bridge. Though I probably wouldn’t go again, I’d recommend it to my nature-loving friends heading to the Island who can tolerate heights. One last comment is that I personally would not recommend doing the hike a day before a half marathon race; though it’s not too strenuous, you’re still making your legs work when in reality, it’s more effective and makes more sense to rest them the day before, at least for me!

For those who are wondering, I pulled off a time of 1:42:53 for the Goodlife Victoria Half Marathon – probably could have done better had I rested my legs the day before and gotten more sleep throughout the week, but oh well. On to the next one!

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