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

My China Creek CURSE !

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 157.99. 

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 rescueAgain. 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.  😀

 

 

MUST LISTEN – The Adventure Podcast

Every week I listen to Dave Adlard and Kraig Becker discussing adventures around the world.

Always entertaining.  And informative.

They’ve just posted their official 100th episode:

Our Favorite Podcast Moments

Through 100 Shows

 

____ Here’s my review of the very start from Dec 24, 2017. 

For years Kraig has been my main source of news on outdoor adventure on his site called The Adventure Blog.

He and Dave are co-hosting an extension of that site with a weekly online radio show.

Both are gear nuts. From episode 1 they’ve already convinced me I NEED two products:

The new Omni smart helmet. Indegogo.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

And a Dji spark drone.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Check out the podcast here.

My 14-day quarantine is over

Returning to Canada from Bermuda (zero positives at the time) I was asked at the Toronto airport to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days. And watch to see if I developed a fever or other symptoms:

Stay home for 14 days from the time you returned home from international travel.

  1. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
  2. Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school.
  3. Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares.
  4. Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).

 

Since that time I’ve only had one encounter I considered at all risky — a hotel check-in clerk near the Toronto airport.

When I got to the room I washed my credit card, the room key and my hands very thoroughly.

Physical distancing at my parent’s place in Parksville went well. Just 5 of us in contact. And one friend.

We had no thermometer but it was clear I had no fever — only my usual Spring allergies.

I’ll continue with the physical distancing, minimizing contact with people. But I do feel freer now to spend more time outside running, hiking and cycling in the wilds of Vancouver Island.

As far from people as possible.

Moorecraft Park, Vancouver Island

Surprisingly, I’d never visited Moorecroft Regional Park near Parksville though it’s considered one of the best parks on Vancouver Island.

Moorecroft was established 1934 as a summer camp for girls by Gertrude Moore.

My mother’s maiden name is Moore.

I cycled out. Ran about an hour on nearby trails. Then cycled back to Tim Hortons.

It operated continuously by her until 1954, when her failing health necessitated the decision to sell the waterfront property. The United Church of Canada purchased the property for $50,000, and continued to run it as a camp. It decided to sell the 85 acre property in 2010 and the property was put up for sale for $7.95 million and there was great concern that this great place would be lost to a future subdivision or some other type of development. Concerned local citizens and conservation groups were preparing for the worst-case scenario when three factors made a good resolution possible. The United Church agreed to put a conservation covenant on the property that zoned most of the lands for the protection of its ecological interests.

Not long afterwards it was purchased by the Regional District of Nanaimo and the Nature Trust of BC for $4.8 million down from the asking price of 7.98 million. It opened as Moorecroft Regional Park in 2011. It is a credit to the United Church and the district for preserving this historic property.

Discover  Vancouver Island

cycle → RUN → cycle → WINE

So far this year I’ve run about an hour on 34 days.

Now social distancing / quarantine / lockdown (not all that different than my normal life, actually) … I wanted to increase the daily workout.

After declining the Worldbig3 challenge … instead:

Day 1 in Parksville, I decided to cycle out to Englishman River Falls Provincial Parkrun for about an hour → then cycle back to town stopping at the liquor store.

A good start.  🍷

 

cycling Europe on the EuroVello 6

I’ve added this to my bucket list.

EuroVelo 6 (EV6), named the “Rivers Route”, is a long-distance cycling route that runs along 3,653 km (2,270 mi) some of Europe’s major rivers, including much of the Loire, some of the Saône, a short section of the upper Rhine and almost the entire length of Europe’s second longest river, the Danube — from the Atlantic coast of France to the city of Constanța on the Black Sea.

The EV6 traverses ten countries …

Lauren Pears went for a 3 month solo bike ride across Europe last summer – from London to Istanbul – whereby she used the EuroVelo 6 – Atlantic-Black Sea for most of the way.  …

Riding solo on EuroVelo 6 with Lauren Pears

Read Lauren’s Guide To Cycling EuroVelo 6