Cycling Parksville to China Creek B.C.
During 21 days in place in Parksville, I did some research into what kind of outdoor adventures are ethical and legal on Vancouver Island during COVID-19.
National Parks were already closed.
Provincial Parks, including all protected areas, conservancies, recreation areas, and ecological reserves, did not close until April 8th, after I had returned to Parksville.
Anyone found in a closed park after April 8th could be evicted and could face a $115 fine. All front country campgrounds also now closed.
Legally, that leaves Crown Land. Any Canadian can camp free for up to 21 days on Crown Land unless posted otherwise.
BC Ministry of Tourism Culture and the Arts maintains more than 1,200 recreation campsites (on Crown Land) under its Recreation Sites and Trails BC program. …
It looks to me like the more remote free campsites are still open. Those with no road access, no camping fee. No services.
Most Crown campsites with fees are closed, on a case-by-case basis.
Ethically, I don’t want to add any demands on medical first responders. Happily we have many empty hospital beds right now — but I was still enthusiastic to avoid injury.
So … I took off on my bike. Late afternoon.
About 3 hours later I set up camp in a remote wilderness spot close to little hiked Qualicum River Trail.
Next morning I passed excellent Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park Visitor Centre. Already closed — though the Park itself was still open.
From there you can cycle into logging roads. Clearly the NO ACCESS sign means no access for motor vehicles. Clearly.
I’d cycled these logging roads and trails to Port Albeni last summer.
This time I stayed on the main route, Lacey Lake road.
Got lost twice. Pushed the bike a fair bit uphill through mud.
During the day I saw 2 guys on ATVs and 1 other cyclist. Said I was the first other bike he’d seen over 5 days on these trails.
Good physical distancing, I reckon’.
Just before Port Albeni one of my paniers broke. Again. I’d fixed it last season with a zip tie.
Fed up, I decided to stop at one of the Port Alberni bike shops. All open. All busy during COVID-19.
The small shop had only 2 brands of saddle bags. One was the colourful, waterproof Ortlieb, so popular with Europeans. I’d been envious for years.
Though expensive, I was a very easy sell. I paid CDN $240 for a set of two.
At the time the cost on Amazon.ca was
Very quickly I left civilization on logging roads in the direction of Bamfield.
It was 5pm when I decided to camp in a wilderness spot near China Creek on the Alberni Inlet.
I was keen to set-up my new Solar Panel system — BigBlue 5V 28W Solar Charger — which had gotten great reviews.
I hung around for 10 minutes making sure it was charging my iPhone and Apple Watch, then took off on the Alberni Inlet Trail to visit famed China Creek campground which I’d never seen.
I set it up on a log with a good angle to catch the setting sun in the west.
I’d hiked the Alberni Inlet Trail (section 1) in 2019, but stopped short of the China Creek campground where section 2 begins. In fact, later on the same trip my bike broke down just short of China Creek. I hitchhiked back to Port Alberni and phoned my Dad for rescue.
China Creek campground and trails are gorgeous.
About 6pm I got back to camp. All my gear was there … except the solar charger, iPhone and Apple Watch. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Stolen? … By whom?
Seemingly thieves were around. In the wild.
I decided to move camp to deep in old growth forest. Far from sunlight.
By next morning I’d decided to quit. Again. Again at China Creek. Second year in a row.
I cycled back to Port Alberni. Called my Dad for rescue. Again. Second year in a row.
The RCMP are not interested in any crimes valued less than CAD $5000.
But on Find My Phone I located both phone and watch. In a house in Port Alberni. The thieves. … I locked both devices and remotely put on a message offering a reward. With a phone number.
I reported the incident online, including the house address, to the RCMP.
Realizing they’d been found, the thieves phoned me. Said they found iPhone and watch in a ziplock bag. Would be happy to return both — but were afraid of the virus. I’d have to drive back to Port Alberni to collect them.
I did. Thrilled to get my electronics back. … Let’s call the CAD $85 solar charger the reward.
And let’s call China Creek cursed. 😀