The Sooke River rushing furiously through the “Potholes”

Sooke Potholes hike: more than meets the eye

What it means to take a hike through the wilderness that is the Sooke Potholes Park.

l admit, I was among the many who believed the Sooke Potholes consisted of massively-wide and deep holes that allowed me to yodel into the centre of the earth. So, when the Capital Regional District (CRD) hosted a free hike down there, I just had to go – and see for myself what these “potholes” actually were.

Our group departed at just past 11 from Sooke Potholes parking lot No. 2 – first stop were the skeletal remains of a massive complex known as the Deertrail Resort, a proposed paradise deep in the woods that never reached completion. Beaten by nature, time and graffiti, its monolithic chimney still stood near the edge of the cliff. One can see why this was to be such an attractive place for a quick weekend getaway; just on the other side lies the picturesque rock and forest chasm that extends north towards the Potholes.

Taken in by the natural splendour that surrounded us, we walked along the edge of the Sooke River, ever-more captivated by local tales coming from Deb Thiessen, our tour guide.

It was nearly lunch, and the sun came up in an almost Spring-like fashion, pleasantly reminding me of green and rebirth. For a recently-moved Ontarian like me (whose last encounter with any greenery was last October) the whole hike took on a more spiritual, out-of-time-and-space sort of feel.

“THIS is January?” I quietly mumbled to myself in disbelief.

Following a brief break at Pebble Beach (a beautiful crescent of sand just off the riverside) we pressed on – interestingly-enough, bumping to a couple of gold-seekers that were knee-deep in mud and sand. One of them found $80 worth of gold grains, and despite the mud on his nose, he looked happy.

Anyway, I digress. By this point I was tingling with excitement; the great expectation of ludicrous gorge or black abyss. But, alas, an hour later, we reached our destination.

And boy, was I in for a treat.

The Potholes are in fact a carefully-cut rock trench sculpted by the Sooke River over a long period of time – which also happens to have cylindrical indentations in the rock surface resembling – you got it – man-made potholes. But it was much more than that. The river rushed through these natural sculptures with outmost fury.

It was the kind of rumble you’d hear and see at Niagara Falls.

Finally, as the water curved and dove through these holes, it turned into a vivid teal, only to disappear again deep below the falls. Watching this theatre of nature unfold was wonderfully disorientating.

After heading a bit further up, we found “pools” – calm water basins that you can swim in during hot summer days, beaches you can enjoy in the sun, and trails that stretch out in every direction. The diversity of this place had taken on a whole new level of awesome.

Sadly though, time had come to call it day. As the afternoon light slowly began to fade, we headed back towards to the parking lot via the Galloping Goose trail. Walking back, I reflected a bit on what I had seen, and my conclusion was ever-clear. The Sooke Potholes are more than just a mythified attraction; they’re a natural wonder filled with history, adventure, and of course, the occasional gold seekers…