SUMMING UP – my Pacific NW cycling tour

My major project of summer 2019, I finished a month long trip on August 3rd.

Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4-5 | 6-7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12-13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | info | video

One excellent adventure.

The Pacific Northwest  is gorgeous. I had fantastic weather. Very few biting insects.

The theme was rails to trails. I tried to ride as many railway lines converted to non-motorized transport as I could.

Kinsol Trestle, Vancouver Island
  • at least 2700 km (1675 miles)
  • BC, Washington State, north Idaho, back to BC
  • 24 days on the bike
  • 2 days off in Port Townsend hosted by the Tumbl Trak crew
  • 8 days off in Coeur d’Alene hosted by the Adlards
  • one night motel

HIGHLIGHTS

Dave and Jeni
  • 5 bears
  • Cowichan Valley Trail on Vancouver Island
  • Iron Horse rail trail in Washington State
  • Kettle Valley rail trail in central B.C.
  • the Relive app for mapping my rides on Google Earth
  • after many repairs en route, my Ghost hybrid bike is running better than new
  • trestles, tunnels, bridges, fantastic wilderness
old Kettle River rail bridge
Othello Tunnels, Hope BC
Myra Canyon Trestles near Kelowna

Click PLAY or watch a 6 minute highlights video on YouTube.

LESSONS LEARNED

  • non-motorized rail trails make for excellent cycling
  • some surfaces are MUCH better than others
Issaquah-Preston trail, Seattle
  • highways are dangerous
  • The Great American Rail-Trail is more of a concept than a thing. There is no signage at all, for example. Current maps on the TrailLink appsuck.
  • Canada’s Great Trail app is better, but still sucks
  • I love the free maps.me app … but it’s lacking in North America as not many people use it here. It steered me wrong a number of times.
  • Google maps offline is not much help as it only shows automobile routes.
  • a British cyclist recommended the free ridewithgps app. I’ll try it next.
  • Canada’s Great Trail (formerly called the Trans Canada Trail) was better than I expected. B.C. includes many of the best sections.
  • I hiked less than anticipated
Sweet Creek Falls, Idaho
  • I had too much weight on the back. Next time I’ll use saddlebags mounted in front and (possibly) mid-frame
  • bikes need a lot of maintenance. And I’m the worst at bicycle maintenance. En route I fixed one flat. Had 4 broken spokes. Visited 4 bike shops. Had both tires upgraded.
  • Dave had his guys replace the chain and some other hardware. That helped immensely.

I started in Nanaimo wanting to get to Lake Cowichan as quickly as possible.

Lake Cowichan is the western terminus of the Great Trail.

  1. Lake Cowichan to Victoria on the Cowichan Valley Trail

2. Islands to Port Townsend WA

After visiting friends in Victoria, I took the most direct route to visit friends in Port Townsend via the American San Juan Islands.

3. Port Townsend WA to Rattlesnake Lake WA

To avoid some highway miles, Doug & Diana delivered me to the Bainbridge ferry. I cycled the Burke-Gilman rail to trail and others connected to get to the fantastic Iron Horse Trail out of Rattlesnake Lake.

4. Rattlesnake Lake WA to Tekoa WA on the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail

5. Eastern Washington

Just past Ellensburg I was forced off the semi-official GART on to secondary highways and alternative trails that took me through Spokane.

I found this section of GART to be too soft and sandy for my tires. Also it was too disconnected.

I finally stopped at Plummer, Idaho. Dave Adlard picked me up. We dropped the bike at a shop for repair as I’d broken 3 spokes the previous evening. And then took an indulgent 8 days off in Couer d’Alene.

6. North to Castlegar

Dave and Jeni rode with me away from the Adlard log cabin in Athol. We headed towards Sandpoint on back roads and I later rejoined the route shown in the map below. Dave had suggested I cross the border close to pretty Metaline Falls.

6. Castlegar to Hope 

For decades I’d wanted to ride the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail and the Columbia & Western Rail Trail. It’s totally wonderful. And obviously one of the great cycling routes of the world.

Hope to Vancouver and on to Parksville on the Island was problematic. There is no excellent route yet available. Cyclists I met took a number of different roads.

Psychologically finished at Hope, I managed a series of rides, buses, trains and ferries to cover the 240km in about 36 hours without sleeping.

related – compare my 23 days bikepacking Patagonia, Chile earlier this year

Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4-5 | 6-7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12-13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | info | video

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mapping my hikes & bike trips

For summer 2019 I’ll use the Relive app.

It generates Google Earth videos with the photos you too included.

Here’s an example from the FREE version of the software.

The free version adds a maximum of 10 photos. For up to 50 photos you must join the CLUB which costs US $60 / year.

Mapping works in conjunction with Strava, Runtastic, Endomondo, Garmin Connect, Suunto, Apple Health (Watch), MapMyRun, MapMyWalk, MapMyRide, MapMyHike and Polar Flow.

I might be using the free version of Strava. Otherwise I’ll use Apple Health.

Washington Park, Portland

Washington Park is the #1 TripAdvisor attraction in Portland.

It includes a zooforestry museumarboretumchildren’s museumrose gardenJapanese gardenamphitheatrememorialsarchery range, tennis courts, soccer field, picnic areas, playgrounds, public art and many acres of wild forest with miles of trails.

I walked from my hostel and then did about 10km of run / walk between some of the attractions.

The trails are excellent. No bikes allowed.

Early April blossoms are the highlight. There were plenty of cameras out.

The Oregon Holocaust Memorial was dedicated in 2004.

It’s very well maintained. Public picnic spaces superb.

Giant Sequoias.

Don’t miss this park if you get to Portland.

I’m now a GoPro guy

Finally.

And I tested it skiing Sunshine. Works as advertised. Perfect for me, I think, as it’s quick, durable and simple.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Gorgeous day. Perfect, in fact. I do love Spring skiing.

In fact, this was only my second day skiing for years. I was also testing the new boots and skis I bought last year.

There was a full moon over the Rockies on the shuttle bus up from Calgary.

So far, I’m super happy it. Of course GoPro has a huge range of mounts and accessories. I’ve already bought the tripod and bike mounts.

For video it replaces the Canon Elf I lost on my last trip. For photos I’ll mostly use my iPhone X.

related – GoPro Hero 7 Black Review

With its new gimbal-like stabilisation and live-streaming powers, the GoPro Hero 7 Black is the best action camera we’ve seen so far…

farewell Patagonia

Having traveled Patagonia 3 times over the past 4 years, perhaps it’s time to give it a rest.

I’ll have to find somewhere else sunny 😎 to travel during Canadian winter 2020. Africa sounds good. Or perhaps New Zealand.

The attraction of Patagonia for me is wilderness so undeveloped. Similar to northern British Colombia and Alaska.

I do recommend it. But you need some basic tourist Spanish.

On the Dientes de Navarino trek, Patagonia, Chile. Overlooking the Beagle Channel.

visiting Ushuaia, Patagonia, Argentina

Earlier on my trip I’d laughed at people who told me they’d taken a bus to Ushuaia.

Those bus trips are LONG.

But when it turned out that neither ferry nor flights were available, I ended up catching the bus in Punta Arenas. 🙄

The day was 11 hours. But not nearly as bad as I had expected.

Long bus rides can be relaxing.

For the first time on this trip the border crossing Chile – Argentina was efficient. Security theatre for luggage was a fruit, vegetable, meat and drugs sniffing dog.

For some reason I’d never heard much about Ushuaia. But it’s an appealing and interesting tourist destination. Many arrive here by cruise ship.

Ushuaia  is the capital of Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur Province, Argentina. It is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world.

… bounded on the north by the Martial mountain range, and on the south by the Beagle Channel.  …

Much of the early history of the city and its hinterland is described in Lucas Bridges’s book Uttermost Part of the Earth (1948). …

the major port of departure in the world for tourist and scientific expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula. …

The vibe in town is END OF THE WORLD. Very far from everywhere.

visiting Puerto Williams, Patagonia, Chile

FIRST you need get to the end of the world. Puerto Williams (pop. 2000) on the island of Navarino.

There are three ways:

– flight from Punta Arenas
– slow (30hrs) ferry from Punta Arenas
– fast boat from Ushuaia, Chile (45min)

BEST is the slow ferry, I’d say. I returned to Punta Arenas on it over 30 hours.

I arrived on the fast boat. About 45 minutes across the Beagle Channel. That can be a rough ride but it was calm as a lake when I crossed.

Your passport is checked. Then you load on a mini-bus for the 45min ride to Puerto Williams.

Ushuaia is a full service city with a population of about 50,000. Puerto Williams has only 2000 full-time residents, many of those associated with the Chilean Navy.

On a hill, you spend a lot of time climbing up and down these stairs.

It’s certainly a port. There are plenty of boats of all descriptions coming and going during the high season.

I met a guy there for 2 weeks sailing on his own boat.

They’ve made some attempts to decorate the town for tourists.

During the short summer a lot of construction / renovation is in progress.

But if your vehicle breaks down in Puerto Williams, there’s no auto wrecker. You leave it parked in front of your house and let the winter storms break it down.


Far fewer tourists come here than Ushuaia. Those that do want to get as far south as they can in the world. Navarino is the last official town. The next place south is Cape Horn. But you need your own private transport to get there. Or you might possibly find a tour that will take you there.


MANY come to Navarino to hike.

There are a number of developed trails including the famed Teeth of Navarino Circuit.

Another highlight for me was the museum. The southernmost museum in the world is extremely good. We watched a Spanish language film about the indigenous people there one evening.

For some odd reason everyone I talked to enjoyed visiting this very remote town. Sam from Calgary was planning to stay at least 2 weeks.