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Thread: Vancouver Island: The locals know

  1. #1
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    Vancouver Island: The locals know

    Hey all,

    A couple weeks ago, I embarked on my "big" trip of the year. I had 9 days to play with, and wanted to do something a bit different than my past trips. If you've remembered what I'd done previously, my trips consisted of long mileage, structured itinerary, and covering a lot of ground in a constrained amount of time. This trip would be different.

    This trip was about relaxation in the sense of taking my mind of work and all the stresses I'm experiencing right now, but also challenge in the sense of trying a few new things. I had a couple goals: to spend as little as I could on overnight accomodation, to try "stealth" camping, and to not plan my days at all, but instead go with the flow, seeing what I wanted to see, if I wanted to see it. This would come about with my final goal: to ask the locals where to go.

    Enough with talking, we all like pictures.

    July 2nd:

    I donned my gear, loaded up the bike, and headed out, later in the morning, after watching the Netherlands wipe the floor with Brazil (okay, so it wasn't a blowout, but still).


    Starting mileage on the bike: 85685Km. Give or take. I had to kind of estimate mileage on this bike when I put my new Vapor speedo on. I'd had two separate incidents of the speedo cable not relaying information to my stock speedo, so this is my best estimate of mileage on the bike (the stock speedo had 76500Km on it, I estimated 80K Km when I installed the new speedo).


    Loaded up and ready to roll.

    I popped by the bank for a bit of cash before I embarked, took off out of the parking lot, whacking the throttle a bit over a speed bump, and was a bit surprised when the front lifted much easier than usual. Oh right. I have gear on the back. Oops.

    The plan was this: to get on a ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay. From there, that was the end of my planning. I knew I'd be meandering my way up the Island, getting out to the west coast when I could, but other'n that, it was just good to be out.


    Traffic was low, and although the clouds were trying to look threatening, there was very little threat.

    I tried to get to the ferry for the 11am sailing (got called an idiot by a trucker for my troubles), and made it by 11:05, watching the ferry sail off with one less motorcycle than I'd hoped. Ah well, it wasn't that long before the next sailing took off.






    I love priority loading.




    The seas were hopping with ferry traffic.

    I made it to Swartz Bay, headed down into Victoria, and popped by the two House of Knives locations in Victoria (what else do you do on a vacation than visit work?). I made plans with a friend from work for a ride the next morning, then gave some more friends a ring to see if we could meet up while I was on the Island.

    I'd met Doug n' Barb on a previous trip up the Sunshine Coast, where we'd shared a camping spot in the night (after making sure none of us were serial killers: long story). We grabbed breakfast the next morning, and Doug decided then and there that he'd try his darnedest to turn me into a son-in-law, one way or another. Pic from last year's trip:



    Anyway, I gave them a ring.

    Doug answered, "Hello?"
    "Hey Dad."
    "Travis!"
    "Guess where I am."
    "Victoria?"
    "You got it, what you up to?"
    "Getting supper ready, wanna come over for ribs and spaghetti?"
    "Uh, sure!"

    I made my way up to their place, enjoyed a phenomenal impromptu supper, and shared the evening with Doug n' Barb. Doug took me riding after supper and showed me some amazing roads in the area. When we made it back to their house, they offered to put me up for the night. I was sick at the time (partially why I left on July 2nd rather than the 1st), so I passed on the offer of sleeping in their house, but figured if they quarantined me in their motorhome out front, I wouldn't repay their generosity with infection.



    Little did I know that the day I had shown up also happened to be Barb's birthday. I tell ya. These folks are legit. I mean, not only did they offer, on short notice, a meal and a place to stay, but all on Barb's birthday nonetheless. There are good people in the world, and then there are Doug n' Barb, who blow the interpretation of "good" out of the water. Thanks guys!

    I slumbered luxuriously in their motorhome, stuffed-up, yet very much content.

  2. #2
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    July 3: Day 2

    The day began with a stuffed-up nose and a headache. Y'know those days when you just can't seem to get what you need to outta your nasal passages? This was one of those days. I got up and out by 8am, left Doug n' Barb's place (thanks again! You guys rock!), and headed back into Victoria to meet up with a friend from work.

    The morning was spent breaking fast, catching up, and riding in a spirited fashion. It's always fun riding with a passenger, and even more when they mention, "I've ridden with other friends before, but never leaned over that much in corners." Sure, it's a KLR, but it's a whole heck of a lot of fun in the twisties. Anyway, it turned out that Angela had to get to work (oops!), so I dropped her off at around noon, and tried once more to visit Grandma, but to no avail.

    Alright, that's it. I'm done with Victoria. Let's get this trip started.

    From Victoria I headed west-ish, towards Sooke. Doug n' Barb had mentioned that no ride to Sooke was complete without checking out Gillespie and Kangaroo roads. So, that's what I did.


    They were right.


    This is fun!


    Other folks were enjoying it too.

    I'll say it right now: I enjoy riding dirt/gravel/what-have-you, but given the choice between a twisty stretch of asphalt and a gravel forest service road, and I tend to lean towards the twisties. I knew I had plenty of time for gravel exploration once I got into the northern half of the Island, so for now, it was time to exploit the twisties.

    The views weren't terrible either.



    But ohhh.. Twisties. Mm..



    From Sooke, it was onward to Port Renfrew. In my journal, I wrote, "I remember very little of this road." This was true. I have no pictures or memories to speak of. Take from that what you will.

    Port Renfrew was a neat little experience. I poked around town a bit, then headed over the bridge to an area with campgrounds and parking for folks that were starting the West Coast Trail, a popular attraction for adventure seekers -> www.westcoasttrailbc.com

    I poked around by the bridge, ate a bit of food off the bike (pitas and jerky, a common theme) and saw what there was to see.





    As I was spending my time, taking in the sun, a myriad of honking cars and trucks made their way across the one-lane bridge, with the telltale clatter of soup cans to affirm that it was a wedding procession. Although I often find the honking of horns in cities to be an expression of displeasure, here it was a tool of celebration: one I was happy to join in as they passed.


    It's tough to take pictures of cars honking their horns. They just turn out like cars.

    Anyway, from there, it was up to Lake Cowichan, by way of a recently paved road. Years back, this was a gravel trek, but supply routes had deemed it important enough to pave. The twisties were appreciated, and there were bits of wildlife to see along the way, bears and deer and tourists, oh my!

    The day was getting long, and it was time to figure out where to spend the night. I ate supper in a local park, and planned on a stealth camping spot I'd noticed on my way into town. I figured, if I ate somewhere other than where I was camping, the bears would be less motivated to turn me into dinner.


    The view from where I ate dinner wasn't terrible either.


    In fact, I kinda liked it.

    I made my way back to the gravel pit/quarry that I had set my camping sights on. As I set up camp, I heard rustling in the bushes. Not used to camping so near wildlife, I sat, for what must've been hours, but was probably more in the neighborhood of a few minutes, listening to the grazing of what was most likely a deer. I mustered the courage to set up the tent, gathered some firewood, and settled in for the night.







    With a nip of liquid courage to keep the bearanoia at bay, I fell asleep and slept like a rock.





    Mileage, including ferry, from the first two days. A bit different numbers than past trips. I was beginning to like the relaxed itinerary.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hamon View Post


    Looks good so far.

    I want to explore the Island someday. It is on my "to do list"

    I think your tent is on fire

    KTMKen

  4. #4
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    July 4th, Day 3

    I woke up from my rock-like slumber to birds chirping and weasels frolicking through meadows. Well, the birds were there at least. I lay in bed and stared up at the ceiling to see this:


    (Photographic genius, I know) I think it's a tick, but I'm not sure. Anyway, I was glad the critter was outside and not gnawing on my city-boy skin.

    Breakfast was made and eaten, whilst I watched another critter wander his way around the clearcut a few hundred feet away.



    And, closer:


    Mr. Bear was finding things to feast on. Maybe he was the noise from the evening before. Anyway, I packed up camp in a quick, calm, fashion, and got on my way.


    My view from the campsite towards the road.


    Down at road level, the top of the hill behind the bike is where the night was spent.

    I popped back into Lake Cowichan, got fuel, and asked how easy it was to go around the lake. The gas station attendant said it was pretty simple, but it might be bumpy on the bike. Bumpy.. Psh.. I've seen bumpy.


    This was nowhere near bumpy. In fact, this was some of the best gravel I've seen. I had a great time whipping around this lake, getting into deeper gravel at times which caused the bike to wander a bit. All in good fun.


    The clouds looked damp, and I got splattered with the only raindrops I would see for the duration of the trip.


    Mm.. Okay, let's ride.

    I headed back out to Duncan (another unremarkable stretch of paved highway) and stopped near Crofton's ferry terminal to clean/lube the chain.


    It may just look like a stick to you, but I tell ya, that stick is the handiest tool in my arsenal. I've used it countless times to clean the chain, and once to fix a flat as well. It may just be a stick, but to me, it's a stick. A useful one.

    As I was cleaning up, a hispanic fellow made his way over and asked about how easy it was to get a motorcycle license. We ended up chatting for the better part of an hour. Oscar was originally from "El Salbador" and had been in Canada for about 30 years. We talked about motorcycles, about what life was like in El Salvador, and how different life was up here, and really, how easy we had it up here. I left with a great appreciation for Oscar. He wanted to talk, so we talked. That's how it should be, I think.


    Take care, Oscar. Thanks.

    From Crofton, up to Nanaimo, to visit another House of Knives (last one, I swear), secret shop the guy working there, pick up some batteries, and then grab lunch at the local ABC. I considered buying the "Camp Free in BC" book, but couldn't justify spending the money. I ride a KLR, after all. So, I perused it, took note of a potential site for the night near Ucluelet, and headed on my way.

    Onwards and forwards to Ucluelet!


    Rest stop along the way. I was more than a little tempted to swim. Instead, I chatted with a couple from Arizona.

    I checked out the site recommended by the book, but they wanted $14 a night for a simple tent spot. Screw that, I'll find somewhere else to camp. I wandered around the surrounding area a bit, made it all the way up to Tofino, to find campsites ranging in price from $46 to $30 to $17. $14 for the night was seeming more and more appealing. I'd think of it over supper.


    Seriously, if I could eat supper here every night, I'd be very content.

    My contemplation ended with me returning to my original plan: to not spend a penny on overnight accomodations. I remembered a spot I'd seen about 8km up a logging road just outside of Ucluelet, and made my way back there.




    Why yes, this works.

    Another campfire, another swig of liquid courage, and I slept again like a rock. Now we're getting into the swing of things.







    Mileage from Day 3. A lot of that was added after 5pm. This seemed to be the trip's trend.

  5. #5
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    Good stuff Travis!

  6. #6
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    July 5th, Day 4

    Since I hadn't really had much time to check out Ucluelet and Tofino the night before, the plan for the day was to rise when I rose, check out the coast, and make my way back towards the east coast so I could carry further north. That's how the lower Island works, it seems. If you wanna go North, you gotta be East.

    It had been a few days since I'd had a shower. It was a bit chilly (see the hazy shots) to take a full bath in the lake, so I heated up a bit of lake water and washed my face n' hair while fully clothed. If you've never done this before, it's an exercise in caution, with a little contortion thrown in for good measure. I came out clean, refreshed, and slightly more presentable to the general population.

    A couple shots from around camp.


    The day started hazy, as it often does around Tofino/Ucluelet.


    Picture my tent between the fire pit and the lake. Once again, not a terrible spot to spend the night, especially for free.

    Offwards(?) and onwards to Ucluelet!


    Okay, so I do enjoy gravel roads a bit. I wasn't complaining that my camping spot forced me to ride a few kilometres of gravel before I hit the pavement to Ucluelet.

    I made it into town, which, other than the marina in the middle, isn't much. I wanted to see the coast, so I meandered my way up to the Coast Guard station, to check out the shore by the lighthouse.




    Look close. To the left of the wave, a small cauldron of raptors (I swear, that's what they call a flock of raptors) scanning for their next meal.


    Tidal pool




    Yup, I think I like it here.

    I carried northward towards Tofino, to check out Long Beach. When I rolled into the parking lot at Long Beach, I noted that they wanted something like $7 admission so I could enjoy nature. Screw that. I will not pay money to appreciate nature. It just seems wrong to me. Instead, I carried further north, closer to Tofino, to Chesterman Beach, which is the exact same in appearance to Long Beach, without the $7 nature surcharge.

    $7 my ass.. Can you tell I ride a KLR?




    Yes, too much sun can be a bad thing. This guy had gone from pincers n' vinegar to a deep-fry away from crabcakes.



    Ah.. It was good being by the ocean, hearing the waves crashing, and watching the surfers search for that perfect wave. That being said, it was time to go. I rolled through Tofino, and rolled out faster. I realized how little I enjoy tourist traps, especially when travelling solo. They do nothing for me.

    Back on the road, towards Port Alberni.






    I, for the life of me, could not remember why I had taken this picture. I remember now! I tried to get on the other side of Sproat Lake so I wouldn't have to take pavement into Port Alberni, but could not find a way. This was one of the roads I'd tried.


    If you look close, you'll see a couple dogs in the back of this truck. They were just happy to be dogs.

    In Port Alberni, I restocked some camp gear at Canadian Tire, then approached an older fellow about to hop into a pickup truck.

    I started, "Hey there, you from around here?"
    "Yep."
    "If I wanted good sit-down food, not too spendy, where would I go?"
    "Hm. I'd go to Solda's. Back into town, take a right at the lights like you're heading to Tofino, then take a right by the bridge."
    "Thanks!"

    So, I did what he said. I checked out Solda's.


    Older UJM parked next to the door. Already looking promising.

    The food was awesome and the service was even better. I was mulling over a map during my meal, trying to figure out how to get from Port Alberni to Comox without going back out to Parksville. I asked the waitress who told me, "Let me get the cook. He used to be a truck driver and can help you more in 5 minutes than I could in an hour."

    Now we were getting somewhere. The cook popped out when he had a moment, and we went over the map, figuring out how to get to Comox. It was pretty simple, actually, and the road I'd turned onto to get to Solda's was in fact the road that'd lead me to the FSRs that connected with Comox. Turns out, it was the cook's motorbike parked out front.

    I left, water bottles filled, with a clear vision of Comox as my next stop.


    I sometimes can't help but "WHOOP!" into my helmet. This was one of those times.

    As I continued on my northwest heading, I stopped to chat with some quad guys.

    Me: "Hey guys, am I on the right road to get to Comox?"
    Q1: "Where the heck are you coming from?"
    Me: "Port Alberni."
    Q1: "No, I mean where did you start your trip?"
    Me: "Oh, just Abbotsford."
    Q2: "That's no fun. We thought you were from China or something."
    Me: "Do I look Chinese to you?"

    Anyway, the conversation continued. It turned out I was on the right road. They were hauling logs on the road nearer Comox Lake, so I'd have to keep my eye out for the big logging trucks, because they'd not be looking out for me. We ended our conversation.

    Me: "Well, off to Comox for me I guess."
    Q1: "We're on our way down to Port Alberni, if you know where that is."
    Me: "I do, but thanks, asshole."
    Q2: "Hey look! He's getting to know you already!"

    We parted ways, myself laughing and grinning to nobody in particular.

    It was about this point the road deteriorated from a well-groomed gravel road into a rocky, well-worked, forestry road. The rocks grew in size from 1" diameter to 4", and the top layer was very loose if you weren't in a rut. I picked my way through slowly, fearing a big ol' offroad log hauler at every turn. This fear amounted to nothing. It turns out, they'd stopped hauling about a half hour before I came through.

    The road improved as it snaked along Comox Lake.




    Oh, to be back there... This is my new desktop background.

    Not done the day quite yet, it was time to work my way up to Comox.

  7. #7
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    The rest of June 5th

    I made it out to Comox from the gravel road. Dusty and tired, I checked a map to see where I may be able to end up for the night. It was only 4pm after all, plenty of time to explore. Gold River was within range, so I decided that's where I would head. I kept rolling north to Campbell River, taking the more scenic Oceanside route over the Inland Island Highway, which, from what I've heard, is a boring, monotonous, windy, superhighway, that'll suck out your soul without even you knowing.

    The Oceanside route was a much better option.


    Note the lady and her little dogs.

    I was sitting in a rest stop, catching up with my Mom before she took off for a three-week vacation in Turkey. First, during the conversation, an older gentleman locks himself in his car, then sets off the alarm. Great. I'm tired, sick of people, and this happens. Second, still during the conversation, this lady pulls up with her SUV, directly in front of where I'm talking on my phone (the parking lot was virtually empty otherwise), opens her door, and four yappy little dogs make a beeline for me. They clamour to try and gnaw my ankles off, when finally, the lady comes over, yells at them, and puts a leash on -one- of them, because, as she put it, that was the problem dog. I think I'm looking at the problem dog actually, and it's two-legged..

    Anyway, I exclaimed to my Mom, "Frickin' woman," in reference to the frickin' woman, and I must've said it a little too loud, because she turned and gave me a dirty look. Ah well, at least I'm on my way out of civilization again. Back on the road. Get me away from these people.

    I hit Campbell River, then headed due west towards Gold River. What a change. No traffic, great twisty pavement, and beautiful scenery. This is what I needed. Very few pictures were taken because I was just having way too much fun.

    I made it to the bridge between Campbell Lake and Buttle Lake, considered the provincial campground, but couldn't justify the $16 fee for the night.


    Campbell Lake


    Buttle Lake

    Onward to Gold River, and immediately, I felt comfortable here. The town was small and friendly, I made my way through to find camping (Rotary or Lions club or something campground was $10), but decided on a nice spot right on the river with no signage saying anything about overnight camping being forbidden.

    In the course of the next 2-3 hours, I had more wholesome conversations with strangers than I'd had in the rest of the trip combined. Gold River, a town of 1000 or so, was one of the major highlights in my little journey. Whether it was the 19-year-old guy who'd lived in Gold River his entire life, the Geo Tracker packed with 3 adventurous gals who'd just made it down from Woss earlier that day on the gravel road, or the retired mill worker originally from Maple Ridge who was now spending his time trying to save salmon spawning channels, these people all made a huge impact in my trip and I felt lucky to have met them.

    A campfire and a final nip of liquid fortitude ended my evening, and I curled up inside my tent upon a sandy beach along a lazily twisting river. A guy could get used to this.






    Final mileage for Day 4. This was the day that really "started" my trip.

  8. #8
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    June 6th, Day 5

    I know adventure riding is about getting into adverse situations either by stupidity or daring, and then finding a way to triumph over such struggles (with a well-farkled BMW, nonetheless), but I tell ya, this morning was another day of bliss. The sun started peeking through the trees and I slowly gathered my thoughts together.


    Logging trucks were pounding the nearby road, early in the morning, and the dust carried over to the river.

    I made breakfast by the water,



    Did mah dishes,



    Packed up camp,



    And pretended I was a giant.



    Last order of business was to brush my teeth. As I was brushing by the river, an older fella walked onto the sandbar to contemplate life over a cigarette.

    He greeted me, "Morning!"
    Me: "Mrrrffffscrub"
    He: silence
    Me: "Sorry, wasn't trying to be rude, just had to keep the pearlies white."

    We continued chatting, I asked him where he was from (Scotland originally, New Brunswick more recently), how long he'd been in Gold River (3 years), and then I asked him why he'd moved here.

    He looked at me.
    He gazed around him.
    He looked at me again.

    Me: "Oh. I understand."

    There was really no explanation needed. This is the impression of Gold River I left with. During the course of our conversation, a bald eagle soared directly overhead, punctuating our dialogue with an exclamation mark. Allen, thanks for the chat.

    Time to get back on the road. After a resupply of eating food, I started my trek towards Tahsis.






    This is Tahsis inlet. Tahsis is on the right hand side of this shot.

    I made it through Tahsis to the other side of town. Allen had mentioned a little park/trail that would take me to a little beach with the view of the inlet. I had some time, so what the heck?


    A guy could get used to this.




    Knife content, since that's what I do for work after all.


    Okay, one more, that's it.


    Quick lube of the chain, and it was time for lunch in town.

    Turns out I made it into the Marina's grillhouse while a World Cup semifinal was going on. I was lucky enough to watch the Netherlands hand Uruguay's backside back to them in a heavily yellow-carded package. The food was also good, and the serving staff easy on the eyes.

    After refilling my water supplies (a daily ritual), it was time to get moving.


    Tahsis, I feel we'll meet again.






  9. #9
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    As I rolled back into Gold River for a quick fuel-up, I encountered one of the behemoths.


    Seriously, don't mess with these things. You know how wide they make logging roads? They're made to fit one of these rigs. That's it. I was happy to meet him on a bridge, or at least, know he was going down the bridge before I got onto the bridge.

    Sweet rigs, though. They have water-cooled brakes for the more challenging hills. Interesting idea.

    After a quick swim in the river, it was time to head north to Woss.





    From gravel to pavement,



    and from hot to boiling.



    After a bit of food in Port McNeill, I popped back onto logging roads, taking me west towards Port Alice. None of the campgrounds I'd visited really spoke to me, until I got to Marble River recreation area. The campsites were plentiful, the campers few.



    Another campfire (had a heck of a time starting it, actually. Thanks to Wisers for a bit of persuasion there), a nip of the good stuff (Thanks again Wisers), and it was time to tuck in for the night. Teenage partiers woke me a few times during the night. More on that tomorrow.






    Final mileage for Day 5. Mainly gravel, mainly fun.

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    Too funny Travis, especially the Long Beach nature surcharge. We also went up the road to chesterman. Kinda makes me miss the KLR. Look forward to more.
    Cheers,
    Scott

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    Excellent story, familiar area. Lets hear more!
    Too bad your timing was off or you could've joined us on the North Island Ride this weekend.

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    Thanks for keeping me semi-sane while I should be worrying/working!! Very enjoyable read, great pics, too!

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    Alright, where was I?

    June 7th, Day 6

    Dawn broke, after a night of fitful sleep, being serenaded by teenagers, first, bitching to their mom about not being able to go camping with their friends even once "this summer" (it's the beginning of July, seriously.. you'll find time..), and then, shrieking like banshees. I don't quite understand what was going on, but I do understand that it was disturbing an otherwise peaceful slumber. Anyway, I woke up in the morning to peace and quiet. So, between a bowl of oatmeal and brushing my teeth, I roamed around a bit to take some pics.





    And then I stumbled upon the aftermath..


    I muttered some impolite words as I wandered past the now decimated camping spot. They'd not even spent the night, but instead disturbed the campground until the wee hours, and then promptly vacated.

    Ah well, maybe they'll learn eventually..

    Time to hit the road.




    Port Alice. From what I've heard, the islands are called the Friggin Islands.

    I poked around a bit more, up to the pulp mill.








    Uh.. This sign means very little to me, other than the "Days since last recordable incident." Oops!



    It was about this point, as I headed back into town, that I met Wayne. He was heading towards the mill on a BMW R1200RT. We stopped in the middle of the road, chatted a bit, then learned that each of us was thinking of grabbing a coffee in town. Well, that works out just dandy, we'll chat over coffee.

    We found the restaurant in town after asking a local, and sat down to learn about each other's doings. Every so often, the fella from the table next to us would join in, talking about some of the roads that were available for exploration around the area.



    It was here that my thoughts were reaffirmed: I could probably spend another month on the northern half of Vancouver Island, with a fishing pole, a pair of hiking boots, and a tent. Maybe next time.

    Wayne and I parted ways (he had to get over to his son's place on Gabriola Island to help with some construction), and wound my way back towards Highway 19.







    I made my way up to Port Hardy, but had also noticed Coal Harbour on the map. I had time (the luxury of not having a schedule), so I puttered down there. As I rolled into town, I drove onto the pier and watched as a Fisheries helicopter came in.




    Not exactly sure what he was carrying, but I find helicopters fascinating.

    Coal Harbour.







    And, one more shot of the chopper. Told ya I was fascinated.



    Onward and forward! To Port Hardy!

  14. #14
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    Honestly, Port Hardy wasn't exactly the peak of my trip. I didn't explore too much, but simply found it to be a nice town and that's about it.





    I headed out pretty quick, back towards Port McNeill, with the plan to check out Telegraph Cove on my return voyage. I stopped at the Western Forest Products office on the way back and grabbed a couple free forestry maps for next time.

    Soon enough, I was through to Telegraph Cove. My first impressions weren't promising: there were signs everywhere announcing that visitors had to pay for parking. I stowed the bike in a less-used parking lot away from the other vehicles and hoped I wouldn't get ticketed.




    Lookit the size of that fish!

    After an amazing lunch at the restaurant on the boardwalk, I asked the server how easy it was to get down past Bonanza Lake, instead of taking Highway 19 to Woss. She didn't have too much info for me, so I figured, what the heck, I'm gonna try for it anyway.

    Although this caught my eye as I sauntered back to my own powered mule.



    Back past the log sort,



    and it was high time for a bit more gravel.




    Doing my best "I'm hot" face. I think it's quite becoming.

    I carried south, along Bonanza Lake, and parked at the south end for a second or two. It was broiling temperature out, so I took my photos, sweat like a pig, and got outta there.





    Back on the road, I found my way back out to Highway 19, but first, to cross a logging truck/train bridge. Pretty unique setup. I don't know if I've seen a combo bridge like this before.





    Not quite bike friendly.. But I stayed outta the ruts.



    Back on the road to Woss. It was cookin' by this time, around 4pm. I wanted to see if there was some sort of water source to take a dip in near Woss, so I carried through town, and found:




    This one I call, "I'm hot, and dirty."

    I did find the river, but opted not to swim. Too much of a hike down. You'll learn, once you get to know me, how lazy I really am.



    Sure looked purdy though. I made my way back through Woss, picked up some fuel (after waiting in line for a whole 3 minutes... I tell ya, the wait times at some of these so-called "convenience stores" is enough to drive a man mad), and picked up the speed towards Sayward. It was getting near camp time.





    Okay, so it didn't actually get to 52, but it sure felt like it at times. I napped in the shade for a bit, then onward, to Sayward!

  15. #15
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    Sayward, another wooden pier, another photo op.






    I don't know what I was drinking whilst taking this photo. I took 3 shots here, and this was the most level of them all.

    Back to Sayward.


    Big trucks, on the left, a smaller offroad logger, on the right, a highway hauler.

    I ventured into Sayward, noticed a municipal campground in the middle of town, and considered setting up camp there for the night. I poked around town a bit, stepped into the grocery store, hoping for some answers on whether there was any fire ban on, and whether the municipal campground was free or not.

    Me: "Hi there, wondering if I can ask a couple questions of ya."
    Grocery Store Clerk: "I'll try and help, I'm new in town."
    Me: "Any campfire ban on right now?"
    GSC: "Not sure."
    Me: "Alright, is the municipal campground (for the record, this was maybe 50 feet down the road) free?"
    GSC: "Not sure. Why don't you try the fire station? Somebody there may know."

    She ended up being a huge help.

    I popped over to the fire station, where a younger couple was vacuuming out their car. Turns out the guy was a firefighter.

    Me: "Any campfire ban on right now?"
    FF: "Not sure. I actually just got back from a few days of camping."
    Me: "Oh? Where'd you go?"
    FF: "Stella Lake, over by Rock Bay."
    Me: "Did you have a campfire?"
    FF: "Yep."
    Me: "Good enough, thanks!:

    It meant a few more miles, and then some gravel miles, but I was up for it. Heck, it was only 7.



    I carried on out of Sayward, headed east on Hwy 19, and found Rock Bay FSR. I checked out Rock Bay first:



    Kinda nice, but RV central. I had seen signage for Stella Lake a few miles back, so I popped back there. A few folks in the forestry rec site, but still enough room for a lowly motorcyclist. I set up camp as the sun set, and made a point of gathering wood before venturing to the water for some pics.





    When I returned to camp, I was greeted by some friendly campers. They'd seen the trouble I was going through to gather firewood and brought over some beautiful cedar wood out of pity (or maybe my hatcheting was grating on their nerves). I was grateful, settled down to a fire, a cigar, and a nip o' whiskey. Another day in the books.





    Another day, another few hundred kilometres. Bliss.

  16. #16
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    Thanks for the excellent as always ride report, Travis. You are both a good traveler and a good writer.

    That Coast Guard Bell 212 was slinging beacon towers, by the way. They get bolted to concrete bases with lights on top as navigational aids for mariners at crucial points along the coast.

    Cheers,
    Matthew

  17. #17
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    June 8th, Day 7

    Mornin'


    I was up with the sun this morning, but kept fairly quiet until 7 or so, just so I wouldn't disturb the campers around. I guess that's one thing that's nice about camping with nobody around, you don't have to worry about making too much noise. That being said, even if I don't talk to anybody around me, the company of people is often quite comforting.

    Breakfast, and time to pack up. It was about this time I looked at all the crap I had with me.



    Looks better when packed.



    Let's roll.

    I wanted to explore this little corner a bit more before I departed from the Island and over to the Sunshine Coast. I'd still to check out Elk Bay, which turned out to be a logsort with the road running along the coast for a few kilometres as well.



    I carried on the Beach Main FSR, heading south, hoping it'd hook up with Highway 19 at some point. I learned from Dad long ago that backtracking is for suckers.

    At 12Km, signage popped up, stating that the road ahead had been deactivated and no longer carried through. Time to turn around.


    Guess I'm a sucker.

    Nice thing about backtracking is often you see vistas that you had no idea existed when you were riding the other way.




    This is why I ride a dualsport.

    I headed onto a road that I knew would get me back to the 19, admired the wildlife,



    and popped back onto the 19. I stopped at a rest stop to clean the chain, knowing it'd be a while before I'd see more gravel.


    Ooh. Purdy.

    It was time to be chained to pavement for a bit, and I'd not be seeing gravel again until the Sunshine Coast (or so I thought).

    I carried through Campbell River, hopped on the Oceanside Route once more, and admired the scenery.




    Want.

    I hit the ferry terminal at 10:40, thinking I'd be able to hop on a ferry pretty darn quick. Last sailing was 10:10, next sailing, 3:15. Huh. Looks like my dayplanner just opened up a bit. I turned back the way I'd come, and popped into a Yamaha/Honda dealer I'd seen coming in. I told the parts guy that I had some time to kill and asked where he'd ride if he had time. He said one word, "Forbidden," and told me how to get there.

    "Forbidden" refers to Forbidden Plateau, a little area just east of Courtenay. It starts out as a lightly twisted paved road, then turns into a hairpinned, washboarded, gravelly stretch that'll vibrate your fillings and reduce lesser men to tears.

    The view at the top makes up for it.


    For the record, I walked up this trail. My bike, you may be able to see it, is parked down at the "parking lot" for the abandoned ski hill that looms above the road.

    The old outbuildings made for some interesting shots.








    It'd be pretty amazing to ski here, methinks.

    I checked my watch. I had plenty of time to kill.







    Look what excess time does to me.. I'm losin' it!

  18. #18
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    Too bad you did not know it BUT you can (at least you used to be able to) ride to the top of the hill on an old green circle ski run called the Logging Road ! Great report and pictures. Keep it coming

    Max
    When NOTHING goes RIGHT .... GO LEFT!!!

  19. #19
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    A few more wandering pictures, and I was on my way.




    I almost fell off the ledge for this pic. Somewhere around a 9 foot drop. Glad I didn't. I like my ankles.





    As I was packing up (frick, it was hot), a gal was starting her slog uphill. It turns out there's about a 6 hour hike that one can partake in that starts at the ski hill. As I've said before (I think), if I had hiking gear and a fishin' pole, I could spend a heck of a lot more time up in the northern half of Vancouver Island.. I may have to.

    There was still a fair amount of time before the ferry left, so I made my way up to Mt. Washington as well.


    Although you can see a hairpin in this photo, the road up was rather unremarkable. This is strange for a ski hill. Normally, they're outstanding roads (ie Mt. Baker Highway). Ah well, can't win 'em all.

    I was getting hungry, so I headed back towards the ferry terminal with the intention of getting lunch, then my ticket, then board. I found a Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant on Ryan road right by CFB Comox. The food was delicious, and I had a good chat with the server. The restaurant was empty, so we had time to talk. She'd moved from China about 30 years ago after being immersed in the communist culture and schooling in mainland China. She said it was quite a difference in Canada compared to what she'd grown up with, and mentioned the differences she'd seen in the Comox area since she moved there about 18 years ago. It had gone from a small town to a pretty big city, although still nothing like Victoria.

    Heck, Victoria is tiny compared to Vancouver. I guess it's all a matter of perspective.

    I finally made it over to the terminal, got my ticket, and found a spot in the shade. It was mid-afternoon on one of the hottest days of the year. I was cookin'. Once we got on the ferry, some of the heat subsided. That being said, the ferry we were on was older, in the middle of renovation, and had little in the way of air conditioning.. Just reading that, however, makes me realize how good we really do have it. Air conditioning? Seriously?

    Anyway,

    We approached Powell River.



    It was getting later in the day, and from my brief ferry experience, I was already getting sick of people again. I booked it up to Lund, found out that pretty much all the parking in the area was pay parking, and decided I wanted no part of that.


    All I got outta Lund.

    At this point, the fatigue was setting in. I wanted to find a campsite, I wanted some food, and I wanted to not be broiling.

    But, sometimes, you just need to stop and smell the seaweed.





    Good enough. I made it once again south past Powell River, found a forestry site at Lois Lake to set my sights on, and carried up the gravel Forest Service Road. Turns out I missed the turnoff for the recreation site, and carried up the side of the lake for 10Km. Not what I needed at all this late into the day. I turned around and picked up the pace. As I kicked up dust and slid around corners, I had my faceshield open to get at least some moderate airflow across my skin. From a past trip's bee sting, I knew that this wasn't the smartest idea, but I was past the brink of logic by this point.

    As luck would have it, another bee found his way into my helmet. He lodged himself between my face and the side of my helmet, and I felt the searing pain of stupidity once more. Expletives shouted, I tore my helmet off and cast the offending winged beastie to the ground. There he lay, dying, as bees are wont to do after delivering their last blow.

    I popped my lid back on and prayed that this would be the one and only bee in my bonnet for this trip. Back on the bike, faceshield down, I eventually found the recreation site and promptly set up camp.



    I'd not filled up on provisions in a while, and I didn't really feel like cooking something hot, so after my tent was set up, I pounded the gravel once more, this time unladen. I found a convenience store and wandered the aisles, drenched in sweat, in a bit of a haze. Finally, I decided on a bottle of iced tea and a couple cold fried chicken drumsticks. I toted my sustenance back to camp and enjoyed pure and utter decadence as the sun slipped ever lower.



    It had been a day. I lit a cigar and tended to my fire as I soaked in the evening's festivities. A group of campers nearby, consisting of a family that included one bratty, mouthy, little boy, was my entertainment for the night.



    I was spent. It was time for bed. The fire turned to embers, and my eyelids fell heavily.





    Although the mileage wasn't substantial, the day had been more than eventful.

  20. #20
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    Looks like a most excellent adventure Travis , you sure lucked out with the weather !

  21. #21
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    Dredge this back to the surface.. I can't believe I left this for so long.. Anyway, let's finish 'er off.

    July 9th, Day 8

    Up with the sun, I ate some breakfast and headed south to Saltery Bay to hit the ferry there. I had an hour, so I decided to pop up to the local provincial park to lube the chain and hang out.



    I made it back to the terminal as they were already loading the ferry. Shoot. This means that I'm gonna be last getting off.

    Ah well, enjoy the ride.







    When the ferry docked, I was one of the last ones off. I decided to make a quick burn out to Egmont to let the rest of the ferry traffic get far ahead. That way, I hoped I'd have Highway 101 all to myself.

    Egmont was nice as usual.



    And my plan worked, the paved twisties heading south towards Sechelt were free of cars.



    Because of this, and because of the time I had, I checked out a few more little spots along the way. Garden bay and the like.







    I walked a wee little walk down to a lookout and thought about how a trials bike would handle such a path.. Someday.. Hopefully soon.



    Next time, I'll lose the jacket. This was mid-exhale.



    I was sweaty and smelling a little ripe, so I found a lake along the side of the road to freshen up. It just happened to be a town's drinking water supply, but at least I used biodegradable soap.





    I was taking a bit too much time, and had to boot it getting to the Langdale ferry. A few passes were made on double solids, but on the plus side, I made it. Plenty of bikes and bikers to chat with. Here are a few.







    After another good ferry ride, a lot of chatting with fellow riders, and a smooth landing (as opposed to some recent ferry incidents), it was back on the road, north to Squamish.





    I had hit reserve at Langdale, and was hoping my fuel would hold out till Squamish. I filled up at the first station I could, and put in a little over 20L.. That was close.

    Upwards and forwards to Pemberton!



    I grabbed some supper,



    topped up fuel, and it turned into 5pm. Today wasn't even close to being finished. This was where the fun began.
    Last edited by Hamon; 08-08-2010 at 08:47 AM.

  22. #22
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    Man that donair was good. I filled up with fuel and water in Pemberton and set out.

    After supper, I headed further north, towards Gold River, Bralorne, and other territory I've never been. The road started paved (I couldn't find a patch without burnout marks),



    and continued in a more gravelly fashion.



    It was about this time I noticed a truck on the side of the road with a couple forlorn-looking folks standing beside it. Turns out they had a flat, but there was a part broken on their truck that was inhibiting them from getting the spare tire down from its perch underneath the rear bumper.. Long story short, I left, them smiling, with a spare tire to use.

    I turned off and headed east towards Bralorne. I'm gonna have to check this ghost town out a bit more another time.











    Heading up to Gold Bridge, the road gave you options.



    And into Gold Bridge, I thought about setting up camp at the local motocross practice track,



    but decided to head down Carpenter Lake instead. As I rolled through Gold Bridge, the local hotel/inn thinger had 2 quads, 4 dirtbikes, and 2 BMW adventure bikes parked out front. Quite a mix, and an excellent description of the area.







    The road along Carpenter Lake was phenomenal. Partially paved, partially gravel, with scenic vistas the entire way. I made it to the east end of the lake, where the dam is, and looked for a spot to camp. Seeing a couple sketchy little rec sites, I decided to venture further, over to Shalath.







    At 8pm, the last road to Shalath was getting a bit tiring. The constant switchbacks and washboard wore me out, and I was ready to camp anywhere by the time I got off the mountain.

    I checked out the hydroelectric facility, noticed a picnic area that had a big red sign saying "ABSOLUTELY NO OVERNIGHT CAMPING" and thought it made the perfect place to set up camp. I rolled down to the boat launch, talked with a couple locals (who offered me a beer: Budweiser has never tasted so palatable), and concluded that I'd be fine sleeping there if I didn't stay too long in the morning.

    I settled in and took some photos.







    G'night, Shalath.



    Final mileage for Day 8: about 150km of that was done on gravel after 5pm.


  23. #23
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    July 10th, Day 9

    This was it. The last day on the road. If all went well, I would find myself in Agassiz, at my parents' place, for the evening. I still had a lot of riding I wanted to do, so I rose early, ate no breakfast (I was out of food), and got rolling pretty quick.


    I guess I don't know how to read signs.

    I ventured southwest, along the Seton Highline. What a road. Low speeds, high dropoffs, just what I needed to wake me up.



    Into D'arcy was a bit of a descent, and I raced my heart out to cross the tracks before the train made it there. He was going fairly slowly, so I didn't want to get caught waiting. He gave a huge wave as he passed.





    I got on the pavement that'd take me to Mount Currie and hook me up with the Duffey Lake Road. It was freezing. I almost had to stop to put on another layer. On the plus side, I popped the heated grips on and at least kept the fingers toasty.


    Sorry for the blurred pic. The vehicle ahead is a Volkswagon Transporter (y'know, the van with the truck bed) that was tearing up the road. He obviously was a local, but along with that, he was a very skilled driver. I was impressed.

    I made it to Duffey Lake Road, which is always an amazing voyage. Very few photos taken on this leg. I was having too much fun.







    Fuel in Lillooet, and I checked my time: 10am. Good. I'll pop down Texas Creek Road, and go from there.





    Reaction ferry across to Lytton, then up the highway to Spences Bridge for lunch.







    I had a good chat with the owner of the Inn at Spences Bridge. He told me his story about buying the property, falling in love with the building, and realizing that the "dump" he thought Spences Bridge was, turned out being paradise. I could've chatted for hours there, but I still had some riding to do. I took the long way home, down Highway 8 to Merritt, then connecting with the old Princeton highway down to Princeton.



    It was hot.



    Quick bit of fuel in Princeton, then it was onto the Hope-Princeton highway. I always delude myself into thinking this is a good stretch of road. Every time I go on it, however, I'm disappointed. There's too much traffic to really enjoy the twisties, and it just makes me irritable. I made it a point to run this road quick. It was getting near 5pm, closing time at the deli in Agassiz. I still wanted to pick up a couple steaks.



    The home stretch: Highway 7 near Seabird Island.



    I sped into town, grabbed a couple steaks from the deli, grabbed some oil at Lordco for an oil change, and set course for the parents' place. Only when I arrived home did I realize that I had bug carcasses plastered across my face. I wasn't the most presentable when I'd run my errands. Ah, well. I had bigger things to think about: I was home.





    I was home, another few thousand kilometres in the books.



    To wrap this ride up, I'll make it brief: This trip was exactly what I needed.

    Travis

  24. #24
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    Good photos and great narrative Travis. Glad you posted this here, I lost track of the ride report on ADV.

    Scott

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