Vancouver Island touring cyclist report

Riding south toward Campbell River
Riding south toward Campbell River (View on flickr)

Vancouver Island is about 300 miles long on the highway. We had a pleasant time touring it, but were surprised by the traffic on the narrow road up north (no surprise since we've been on the easy northern roads for so long).

The section from Port Hardy to Port McNeil was quite pleasant, and we really liked Alert Bay, and also went to Sointula. Very nice cycling.

From Port McNeil to Campbell River was quite bad - much of it has no shoulder, and there are lots of big trucks, including logging trucks.

From Campbell River to Nanaimo was rideable, but not terribly pleasant. There was a lot of traffic on a road with adequate shoulder, but certainly too much traffic.

From Nanaimo south, the roads were great, like New England. Small country roads with little traffic and nice views (and nice hills). Very pleasant. Lots of access to the various islands. We used a bicycle-specific map for this area, the "Victoria/Gulf Islands Cycling and Walking Map". It gave lots of information about the various routes and got us off the main highway.

And the Victoria area (especially Sidney) is delightful, with lots of access to everything for cyclists.

Salmon smoking - first step - sear them

Salmon smoking - first step - sear them
Originally uploaded by refay.
This picture shows what freshly caught sockeye salmon looks like while being smoked on cedar sticks. A huge extended First Nations family came from all over Canada to catch the over 450 salmon and then all worked on preparing it for their food supply for the winter.

Victoria: The touring bicyclist's theme park

Randy on the Lochside trail north of Victoria
The Victoria area is like a touring bicyclist's theme park. There are beautiful trails like this one (the Lochside trail) leading you all over the city. There are ferries to take you out to quaint islands with few cars. There are sea views everywhere. And cars are extra careful of you. We met many people who just decided to go out for a couple of days and go to an island, or do a little exploration around the main part of Vancouver Island. It's all easy.

Ferry Mixups - On Vancouver Island

Well, we got to Prince Rupert and got ready to take the ferry down to Port Hardy (at the top of Vancouver Island). The main reason for going the Prince Rupert way was so that we could take this beautiful ferry, which goes through the Inside Passage and is supposed to be wonderful.

Unfortunately, I had not really done my homework, and there was no room for us at the inn. We had not made reservations, and it's running completely full due to the tragic sinking of the ferry earlier this year. Well, now we know to call in advance and check it out.

We're having a pleasant time on Vancouver Island - last night was on Sointula, on Malcolm Island, just offshore. We visited Alert Bay, too, and it's definitely a place to go back to!

Boarding the Hyder, Alaska Mailplane to Ketchikan

Randy and nancy and russ the pilot of the float plane
Nancy got ambitious while we were in Stewart, BC... She wanted to find a different way out than riding back the way we came to the Cassiar Highway. So she went and talked to the people who run the US mail service just across the border in the ghost town of Hyder, Alaska. And before you knew it, we were loading our bikes into the back of a Beaver floatplane and jamming ourselves in and we ended up in Ketchikan, Alaska, which was never on our agenda! But next we'll go to Prince Rupert, BC (which was) and then to the Queen Charlotte Islands (which weren't until recently).

Ed Frank, mask carver

Ed Frank carver
Originally uploaded by refay.
Ed Frank, a Tahltan member, is a carver of great skill which he shared his sketches and carving at his home on Tahltan band reservation near Telegraph Creek along the Stikine River. The people here are all so friendly and open to visitors.

We saw the Northern Lights!

DSCF0141 dease lake
It seems impossible, but we saw the Northern Lights! It seems like we hadn't even seen a real dark night yet, but it must have been creeping up on us as we ride south and the summer slips away.

One night we were camped right on the beach at the south end of Dease Lake, which is a long north-to-south lake. When we got up to pee in the night, lo and behold the stars were in the sky, but the whole north part of the sky was lit up with something else. It wasn't residual sunlight - it was all kinds of other colors and flavors. We couldn't believe it. Sorry - it wasn't bright enough for a photo!

Ketchikan, Alaska

Originally uploaded by refay.
View of Ketchikan, Alaska from the float plane which delivers the US mail to Hyder, Alaska. We took this plane from Hyder, Alaska to Ketchikan with our bikes and all our luggage. Amazingly it all fit.
Syndicate content