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We continued on from the picnic area. Immediately the trail went into the forest and around the tip of a headland, but it was small and soon we were back on more beaches and flat terrain. Often the Trans-Canada highway ran within a few yards of the coast, and we were hiking within throwing distance of cars speeding along the Trans-Canada.
courtesy JInnes
Highway Adjacency
Peninsula forest path
Peninsula forest path
Presently we came to a lookout where, off in the distance, we could see a small rocky islet, separated from the coastline by a shallow bit of water. There were many little stick figures on the island, milling back and forth.
courtesy JInnes
Rounding a small peninsula
Katherine Cove Continues
Bathtub Island
This little islet has become quite famous due to the fact that it has a smooth, shallow basin on it at just the right height, such that a little bit of lakewater accumulates in it and becomes warmed up. It has become known as "Bathtub Island" (which I don't believe is its official name), and is shared all over the internet on Instagram, Facebook, and various trip reports. As a result, it has become a super busy destination.

Some in our group had heard of this island and had been quite excited about visiting it, and perhaps taking a warm dip in its pool. Upon seeing the crowds, though, we (to a person) decided to skip it (hey, social distancing and all, right?) and just continue hiking south down the beach.

Speaking of beach walking... this was a long section. Much longer than any of the other beach sections we had walked thus far. For a while, we completely forgot about all of the awkward, tiring, tedious boulder scrambling we had mostly been doing.
Shoreline towards Bathtub Island
Too busy
Beach Dunes
Approaching Sand River
I could see on my map that we were approaching the mouth of the (very appropriately named, as we were discovering) Sand River. Given that half of the river mouths we had encountered so far had simply involved a hop or a two-step wade, we were wondering if we could do the same here. But no - the Sand River was a much larger flow of water, and it looked like the only way across its mouth would be a full swim. Fortunately, the Trans-Canada highway's bridge over the Sand River was only a hundred metres away, and so we followed the Coastal Path up to it, across the bridge, and then back to the beach.
courtesy JInnes
Up onto the highway
Sand River Crossing
Crossing the Sand River
courtesy JInnes
Sand River
Sign directs hikers back in
Mouth, Sand River
The beach after the crossing of the Sand River seemed like a great place to stop for lunch (it was now 12:30). A grouping of boulders and driftwood provided lots of good sitting spots. The damp overcast of morning had at this point given way to mostly clear and sunny skies. A stiffer breeze was now blowing over the landscape, and for the first time on our trip, a genuine surf (albeit still small) was pounding the sand.

We examined our park topo map over lunch, and tried to plan our target campsite for the night. There were a number of sites spread out along what looked like curved beach before and after the Barrett River. They looked like they might be spacious and comfy sites, too. But we wanted to make slightly better progress than this, and there were a number of sites a little further on that would position us well for the next day's [probably harder] hiking around the headlands near Sinclair Cove and Agawa Point. We placed those sights into our mental cross-hairs, and hoped we could get to them before they got filled up.
courtesy JInnes
Sand River Lunch Stop
Driftwood Teepee
Ready for the Afternoon Push
Post-lunch, things started off quite nicely. The beach walking continued for a short while, then ended, but the flat and easy terrain continued, with quite a long stretch of easy hiking on a very pleasant forest path. This lasted for well over a kilometre south of Sand River and allowed us to make quite rapid progress towards the Barrett River area. Things then got a little more challenging, with more ups and downs and little ledges and obstacles to climb and downclimb. Still, our overall progress was pretty decent, and by 3pm, we emerged onto another stretch of beautiful beachwalking near the Barrett River. A few minutes later, off to the left, we came to a magical little campsite with a picnic table and a big overhanging tree and nice flat spots, looking out over a wide, sandy beach. And it was free! We stopped here for a break and to re-assess our plans.
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Smooth forest path
Easy terrain south of Sand River
Long Pebbly Beach
courtesy JInnes
Bedrock Steps
Nice above-coast hiking
Getting more uppy-downy again
courtesy JInnes
Getting more uppy-downy again
Azure Lake Waters
Dry terrain and flat bedrock
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Emerging onto Barrett Beach
Barrett River Beach
Mid-afternoon Break
The site was a touch small, but could have accommodated us, especially if one of us pitched a tent in the sand. Apparently the backcountry toilet associated with this site (I hadn't used it, but this was reported to me) was close to overflowing and therefore fairly unappetizing, which was counted as a strike against. And the lure of making better progress south was strong. and although we had already come nearly 12 kilometres, it was still only 3pm. On the flipside of the coin, this was a pretty damn nice site - almost tropical in feel somehow. And the whole uncertain lottery of first-come / first-serve sites. This was free, and we could have it now, if we wanted. Do you give up what you know for the chance of something better?

In the end, our group decided to move on. I myself was hoping for one of a group of three sites south of the Barrett, sites that faced a little further north and would therefore offer us a nice view of sunset. And position us quite well for the next day's push around the headlands at Agawa Point. But oh, what a beautiful little site this current spot was.
courtesy JInnes
Beautiful Campsite View
Continuing on...
Heavier Surf
We made quick work of the hike south along Barrett Beach, noting that the other campsites along this stretch had in fact been taken for the day. The Barrett River crossing (which we *had* to ford, since the Coastal Trail route that normally goes over the nearby highway bridge was closed due to construction) was laughably easy - a soft-sand hop across a metre-wide flow (and how we had futzed over the park-issued warning about this particular crossing and had even brought water shoes in preparation for it).

Beyond the crossing, the final beach site here was also taken. Although we hadn't planned on taking any of these sites, just the sight of lots of campers filling sites had started to make us a little nervous. We quickened our steps a little even though the day's hiking was starting to tire us out.
courtesy JInnes
Mouth of the Barrett
Fording the Barrett
Hatko-ssist
courtesy JInnes
Hatko-ssist
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