cycling, travel

Cycling Nanaimo Lakes, Cowichan, Port Renfrew, Shawnigan, …

My 4th bikepacking trip of COVID-19 was longest yet. And best yet.  Departed May 26th.

Campgrounds still closed.  That meant I had to tent on crown land.

A big loop, Nanaimo return. Well over 500km with side trips.

6 days, 5 nights.

Dad dropped me in Nanaimo, a great place for cyclists.

I toured Colliery Dam Park for the first time.  Lovely day, this was the busiest park I’d seen so far during COVID-19.

Click PLAY or watch dogs swimming on YouTube.

Fun, hilly bike paths take you all over Nanaimo.

It’s easy to connect to Nanaimo Lakes road, a great ride with little traffic, other than cyclists.

For the second time I tried to get through Nanaimo Lakes to Cowichan by remote, private logging roads. I made it further this time, but still didn’t get through.

Folks living at Second Lake scowled when I got to the second closed vehicle gate.  They were about as happy to see me as this mama with only 1 chick remaining.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Happily, I knew of a lovely remote creek campsite nearby I’d used before.

Turning back next morning, I headed to Cowichan via the normal route: Nanaimo River Road, Highway #1 to the lovely Cowichan Valley Trail which starts close to Duncan.

I always try to avoid traffic, but it’s inevitable here to share the road with logging and gravel trucks.

I was tired this day by the time I finally set up camp.  105km on mixed trails and roads.

By all the bones strewn nearby, I assume this is a popular area with hunters during season.

A perfect cycling road is Cowichan to Port Renfrew: paved 2 lane, no traffic.

There are a couple of campsites en route. And the Harris Creek Sitka Spruce. For some reason in the late 1800s, loggers spared this one tree.

Port Renfrew, like Bamfield,  has a large First Nations population most cautious when it comes to communicable disease.

I felt quite unwelcome on arrival.  Everyone there told me to return after June 7th when it planned to open.

I was keen to do some hiking on famed Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.

The signs still said CLOSED, though most Provincial Parks trails were already open.

Checking it out, the biggest mistake of my trip was rolling downhill from the highway to the Parkinson Creek Trailhead.  It’s a long, long descent.  I ended up pushing my bike uphill on the return.

I’d never seen so much bear scat at any one place, one time.  Seems without humans this season, bears have taken over the coast.

Al saw several near here in 2018.

Carrying on down the highway, I finally got a flat tire. My first of 2020.

BUT was quite pleased with myself that I seemed to repair it efficiently.

Since I’d taken the gear off the bike to fix the flat, I decided to camp in the trees right there.

Surf was up next morning. So there were plenty of young people on the highway with boards and surf kayaks.  The beaches seemed to be still officially closed, but it was not being enforced.

I stopped often on this highway as there are many highlights between Renfrew and Sooke.

After finally reaching a Tim Hortons, I continued up the Galloping Goose to impressive Sooke Potholes, my first visit.

I camped at the end of the trail at Leechtown.

A ghost town now, it boomed when gold was discovered 1864,

My maps said I could continue to Shawnigan on logging roads, yet I couldn’t seem to find a way through past Kapoor. Everything was fenced off protecting the Victoria drinking water supply.

No worries. I backtracked on the excellent Galloping Goose towards Victoria, cutting inland to the fantastic Sooke Wilderness Trail.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Sooke Hills is one of the best sections of  Canada’s Great Trail. It connects back up to Cowichan, the western terminus. Very scenic.

My first bear of the trip.

My first rain of the trip.

Happily you can get out of the rain in the Pacific N.W. by setting up your tent under big trees.

It was a nice night. Stag Chili for dinner.

I’m still gleefully carrying a lot of weight on the bike. Volume and weight are SO much less an issue for cycling than they are for hiking.

Awoke early feeling great. Decided to make it home same day, no matter what.

It was a long but relaxed day. Quite a few highway miles getting back towards Nanaimo.

WHAT!? … A second flat rear tire. This time my repair did not go quite so well.

Delayed about an hour with that, Dad drove out to pick me up at the Nanaimo airport in the early evening.

Mission accomplished. 

related – the best cycling trip to-and-from Victoria would be the Cowichan Valley 8 Bikepacking Route

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