Cycling Nanaimo, Cowichan, Bamfield, Alberni – days 3/4/5

Days 1/2 | 3/4/5

It rained most of the night. A beautiful calm morning on Cowichan Lake.

Only my second time visiting the town, I do like it.

From here I had to decide whether to ride the north or south side of the big lake. Google Maps recommended south side, perhaps because a short section is paved.

Unfortunately there is little development and few lake vistas from the south.

The most interesting spot was Heather Campsite (closed) which has all kinds of swings and ladders for campers.  Looks fun for kids.

I had the Backroads Mapbook, Maps.me and Google maps … and several choices of logging roads heading towards Bamfield.

I ended up taking the main road, perhaps longer but in better condition than the rest.

I pedalled steadily for hours seeing almost no development. No people. Perhaps one motor vehicle an hour.

Canada is vast and empty for the most part.

I took few photos as the views did not vary much. Pristine rivers and creeks were the highlight.

Around 6pm I had a surprisingly difficult time finding a good place to camp. Here’s where I ended up.

It was good, but visible from a spur logging road. Normally I want to be invisible from any road.

During the night no vehicles passed.

I was on the road early next morning.

Down a ways, breakfast instant coffee and peanut butter toast.

Again, there was not much of interest to report en route to Bamfield. Here are a couple of highlights.

Hub cap forest

I’d passed through Bamfield quite a few times over the years as it’s a West Coast Trail trailhead. And a popular tourist destination.

With a population of less than 200 — and no tourists — it looked a ghost town.

I had planned to hike muddy Cape Beale and Keeha Beach Trails — but they were VERY closed.

The local Huu-ay-aht First Nation definitely do NOT want visitors right now. They’d declared a COVID-19 state of emergency with regulations more strict than the B.C. government.

The history of First Nations in North America is a history of genocide by introduced diseases.

I did not stay long.

That’s too bad as I had planned to hike … then take the ferry back to Port Alberni. But it only runs 3 times a week during the winter.

During my many hours cycling this trip I was surprised to see very little animal life. In fact, this bear was the highlight. And it was in a Bamfield back yard.

SO … I rode back in the direction I’d come, already having picked a lovely riverside campsite.

Click PLAY or watch me setting up camp on YouTube.

The grocery store in Bamfield was open. I had treated myself to a can of chili for dinner.

Perfect weather. A lovely location. No biting insects. This is dream camping.

Next morning I had about 60km left to Port Alberni

… but on this infamous road.

I don’t really mind hills. But these are HUGE. And LONG. And UNRELENTING.  I wouldn’t ride it again.

After pushing my bike up a hill for about 25 minutes a forestry worker offered me a lift. Yes, he was a cyclist. And he knew it might take me another hour of pushing to get to the top.

On the other side were big hills. But not as big. And the scenery is better than the interior.

Happily, I rolled down hill past China Creek without incident.

Once back to Port Alberni I enjoyed Tim Hortons coffee. Then gave my Dad a call to come pick me up.

Here’s a general overview of the 5 day trip.

Days 1/2 | 3/4/5

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Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

One thought on “Cycling Nanaimo, Cowichan, Bamfield, Alberni – days 3/4/5”

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