I don’t have any shots coming out of Lake Cowichan but we were just down the road from the local Timmies so we got some hot tea in me and some coffee in Mark and after a quick about face, some gas in the bikes before tackling the gravel section that was going to take us to Bamfield proper.
The original plan was to hit Bamfield for lunch and then double back and head to Port Alberni. It’s always good to be optimistic but reality does have a habit of giving you a good smack if you push things too far.
We left under leaden skies with the promise of rain. By the time we were one third of the way up the side of the lake, that promise was delivered on. I’m not a fan of riding on gravel in the wet as you have a hard time judging your line and the depth of the pot holes, you’re trying to avoid. I think Mark gave up trying to keep to my line and chose his own after I made some pretty bad choices to get through some of the gnarlier sections.
Trouble was it would dry out for a bit and then we’d be right back into the wet.
On the drier sections it was a pretty good ride but on the wetter sections it tended towards being muddy and slippy.
We’d foolishly left our rain layer off because it was just spattering but once the cold set in it was time to throw on some rain gear. We stopped by a grader parked by the side of the road to kit up.
Eventually we outlasted the weather and things began to dry out again. The track was getting pretty heavy on the wash board and it was taking a toll on the bikes and on us physically. My right knee especially.
There was a brief respite from the pounding when we came across a semi paved part of the road. At the end of it we met up with a young guy riding a bike. We stopped for a brief chat and he expressed a hope the paved section would continue. About five minutes after we left him, we took a left turn up a steep hill on the road that went to Bamfield and the track degraded into much deeper and looser gravel. We heard later that he’d finally made it into town around 9pm.
As you can see, the road quality really degraded. At this point, both my mirrors had shaken themselves loose and were pretty much useless. I didn’t know it but I’d also lost the retaining bolt on my chain guard. Mark was having a hard time with his luggage breaking loose. I didn’t realize it at the time but my luggage was rubbing hard enough on my own frame to chew through the side of my 35L Bag. Impressive because it was also strapped down to my bike by a cargo net. Securing our gear was going to become an obsession on this trip among other things.It also didn’t help you were constantly going around these guys as they crawled their way to the coast.It was cool riding by this Skycrane and it’s crew though. Too bad they weren’t ready to fly yet as that would have been some neat shots.
The road down to Bamfield is fairly steep and the sides are deep sandy gravel. By the time we arrived in the town, I was done riding for the day. We had time, Port Alberni could wait.
I guess there’s more than one place to sleep in Bamfield but this place is the first one you come across and it’s fine. I was so done, I didn’t even ask how much it was going to cost.
We had one of the best meals of the trip here. The cook at the place next door to the motel really knew what he was doing. Now I’ll admit, we were pretty hungry but it was delicious.
Our riding for the day done, We decided to go for a hike out to a lighthouse mentioned on a local map. It was about three or four kilometers away. It would have been great if we hadn’t missed the right trail head and ended up on the West Coast Trail instead.
It was pretty boggy and because of all the rain really saturated in parts. We were a good few kilometers in when I went off a log and lost not one but both my shoes in the peaty murk. The one shoe I found right away but the other took a good twenty minutes of rooting around to locate it.
Mark was good enough to take a shot of me up to my knees, literally, “In the shit.”
It was a long squelchy walk back to the motel and It took me a good thirty minutes in the shower to get the peat washed out of my runners. I gave up on the pants and wrapped them up in a plastic bag to be dealt with at a later date.
Dinner was pretty good and the local color was entertaining. Afterwards we walked down to the jetty and took some pictures.
We didn’t know it yet but the next day was going to be one of the toughest of the trip.