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Old 08-05-2011, 12:48 PM   #1
squonker OP
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Northern Vancouver Island - remote communities and logging roads

I've been meaning for years to explore some of the remoter parts of northern Vancouver Island. I'd been to Port Hardy a couple of times and checked out all of the most accessible communities between here and there ('here' being the pansy-arsed southern end of the island!), but have never made the effort to do some real exploring. I took a few days off work this week and decided to do something towards sating my thirst for knowledge of what lies beyond the beaten path. In particular, I wanted to check out Holberg, Winter Harbour, Zebellos and Fair Harbour. Here are the links to a couple of maps:

http://www.explorevancouverisland.co..._BC_Canada.htm

http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&cp=50.679927~-127.591095&style=r&lvl=9&scene=3719179

There are supposed to be somewhere in the region of 30,000km to 40,000km of logging roads on this island, they're absolutely everywhere, and I'd really only been on very few of them. All four of those communities I mentioned above are accessible only by logging roads, so that would add to the fun (even though I am appalingly bad at riding gravel!), and I got to see several hidden gems that I hadn't expected to, too. That's the thing about these logging roads, some of them lead to absolutely nothing (and ultimately simply come to a dead end in the middle of nowhere), but others lead to beautiful lakes, beaches, views and all sorts of wonderful surprises.

I was gone for 4.5 days and rode approx. 500 km of dirt, covered 1,500 km in total. This whole island is paradise, but the north island has the added advantage of being far less populated, more rugged/remote, and isn't about to be paved to make way for more parking for Victoria Intl. Airport, which it seems is expanding rapidly these days. I've been there a couple of times lately and seen, ooh, almost a couple of dozen people there at once - staggering! Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that the north island is where it's at, and this trip only confirmed this for me. (According to the experts the whole darned island is about to be wiped out anyway by the 'The Big One' (earthquake/tsunami) which is a few hundred years overdue, so I had better get out there and explore it while I can)!

Here goes....
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Old 08-05-2011, 01:06 PM   #2
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Looking forward to this one Squonker, I grew-up riding my bicycle on those Vancouver Island logging roads
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Old 08-05-2011, 02:11 PM   #3
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I was there just a month ago. Victoria to Lake Cowichan, logging roads from there to Courtenay by way of Port Alberni and Comox Lake, then up to Port Hardy to catch the ferry. We were kicking ourselves that we didn't allow more time.

We didn't get a chance to hit the outlying communities, but the parts of the Island we did get to see were gorgeous.

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Old 08-05-2011, 03:41 PM   #4
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Ah ha! I've finally figured out to embed maps so that I don't have to link them any more. Cool. Ok, so with this new fangled knowledge, here's a map of Day 1 - Victoria to Parksville. The route would take me through Duncan, where I'd been fortunate enough to meet Charley Boorman a week or so previously, at an event hosted by Duncan Motorsports.




View Larger Map

A couple of shots of the view from the top of the Malahat, on the way to Duncan.






My buddy Pat lives in Parksville. We met on the ice roads in 2005, but Pat was smart enough not to go back whereas I'm all jaded, bitter and twisted! Although it's only three hours from my place to his, it had been too long since we'd seen each other. It was good to catch up with his family too, and I set my tent up in his back yard.



We were busy putting the world to rights when Pat's phone rang and he had an emergency call out from work. He works for a company that does work on the highway and some kids had set fire to a patch of road about an hour away. The RCMP had put out the fire, but they wanted that stretch of road sanded. So, at 9pm we jumped into his pick-up and headed for the yard where we'd take a sander truck to the spot.

There was a problem, though. The only sander truck that was 'good to go' wasn't good to go. It was missing the spinner that spreads the sand as it comes out of the box, plus the under-body blade that can be used to spread it. So basically all we had was a truck with a hole in the bottom of it!



It should have looked more like this


So, plan B was to load a bunch of sand into the back of pick-up and spread it by shovel. That was why it was 1am before we made it back home again, and that it also why the world is going broke - because we have to pay people overtime for emergency call outs to perform completely unnecessary jobs in the middle of the night! Even Pat would tell you that the call out was simply a waste of time and money.

Finally off to bed, I was looking forward to meeting inmate gunnerbuck at Woss the following afternoon for a guided tour of some of the back country in that area.
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squonker screwed with this post 08-06-2011 at 07:54 PM Reason: My own incompetence!
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Old 08-05-2011, 07:13 PM   #5
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Way to go Ben, glad to hear you got out for some nice riding. Gunner/wife met Sandy and I at Campbell River and we enjoyed maybe an hour talkings about folks like you and all the rides Gunner had planned for the next few weeks.
Glad to hear you were on those rides. Keep this RR coming, I am glued to the thread.
ciao, gale
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Old 08-05-2011, 07:22 PM   #6
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I'm not a big one for making plans so I had purposely left details of the trip very vague. I had wanted to catch up with Pat and I knew where I wanted to go but that was it and the rest was down to fate (or up to fate if you live in the southern hemisphere). At the Charlie Boorman event I'd run into gunnerbuck again and he had kindly offered to show me some of the back country so I was glad to take him up on that, so that was the only other plan I'd made - I didn't even know how long he'd be my guide for.

I stopped in Campbell River for a cup of tea (this will become a theme, you'll see. Being British my diet is 99% tea which makes me almost a literal tea-totaller), and I did so at the Timmies on Hwy 19A. I went here specifically because I felt bad that I hadn't been able to make it there a couple of weeks prior to meet Gale B.T. while he had been on the island. So this tea was in your honour, Gale! Actually it was so darn good that I second, sitting in the sun and enjoying being on holiday. There was another KLR there (the newer, lesser kind ) but I didn't see it's owner.





There are two routes from Parksville up island, I could either take the new 'Inland' Hwy 19, or the older oceanside 19A, otherwise known as the Island Hwy. I chose the latter, as is the law in B.C. on a hot sunny day when you're on holiday and on two wheels, and although I didn't really know how long it would take and whether or not I was going to make it to my meeting with gunnerbuck in Woss on time, I made a conscious decision to not give a damn.


View Larger Map

As it happens my timing was perfect, including stops for tea and photos. This is Baynes Sound, and that is either Denman or Hornby Island in the background. Not being a hippie I'm not sure which one.



They farm oysters all along this part of the coast, so I assume that the docks are something to do with that.









More pics of the road between Campbell River and Woss.











Some of these pics are a little wonky. I was using two cameras, a compact point and shoot and a DSLR. The former has a screen that I could easily see what I was shooting a pic of with, but the big camera you have to hold to your eye and I often couldn't be arsed to take my helmet off if I was only stopping for a second, so I couldn't get it close enough to my eye to see what the lens did.









I made it to Woss bang on time. It's so beautiful in this area, and Woss will always stand out in my mind as the place I was when I heard about the beheading on a Greyhound bus in...Manitoba?...in 2008. Just. Plain. Weird.

gunnerbuck was there with two friends, Funrider and Shevthump914 (hope I got those user names correct, guys! Correct me if I'm wrong!) While we were having lunch a guy they knew turned up on a KTM 950. He had turned up on his own, just out tooling around, and he didn't stay.


















Lunch and introductions over, it was time to hit the dirt!
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Old 08-05-2011, 07:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gale B.T. View Post
Way to go Ben, glad to hear you got out for some nice riding. Gunner/wife met Sandy and I at Campbell River and we enjoyed maybe an hour talkings about folks like you and all the rides Gunner had planned for the next few weeks.
Glad to hear you were on those rides. Keep this RR coming, I am glued to the thread.
ciao, gale
Cool, Gale - you must have posted this as I was writing about you! Sorry to have missed you, my friend, but I hope that there will be other opportunities. Ride safe!
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Old 08-05-2011, 07:44 PM   #8
Gale B.T.
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Keep it coming Ben, your pics will give Sandy the only view of those awesome mountains and roads for we had the wet stuff/ heavy wet stuff and visibility ceiling maybe 100 m above the road surface all the way to P Hardy.

It did clear up for the ferry ride to P.Rupert and I was allowed to take Sandy on a privite guided tour of the engine room in that new ship, WOW!

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Old 08-05-2011, 07:46 PM   #9
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Wow Ben, this looks like so much fun! I'll be glued to your report.
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Old 08-05-2011, 08:24 PM   #10
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That's some great scenery you got up there.
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Old 08-05-2011, 09:06 PM   #11
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That's Denman silly!!


And....no I'm not a hippy
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Old 08-06-2011, 05:42 PM   #12
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That don't look like no Triumph...?
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Old 08-06-2011, 08:02 PM   #13
squonker OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Motojournalism View Post
Looking forward to this one Squonker, I grew-up riding my bicycle on those Vancouver Island logging roads
Pretty sweet area to have grown up! I wish I knew what it was like (growing up, that is!!)


Quote:
Originally Posted by TK-LA
(link to my RR in my signature line)
Nice, I've been reading it! Good to see pics of some of the places I plan to go to one day!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gale B.T.
I was allowed to take Sandy on a privite guided tour of the engine room in that new ship, WOW!
Nice Gale! Any pics???


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cowgirl
I'll be glued to your report.
You've been glued to me for ages - what's new?!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Phelgmdog
That's some great scenery you got up there.
Thanks - it took me ages to build it!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mercenary
And....no I'm not a hippy
Alright, I believe you! (Nice tie-dyed shirt by the way - it matches your sandals!)


Quote:
Originally Posted by homeontherange
That don't look like no Triumph...?
How about not rubbing it in?!

I have to say, though, the more I ride my KLR the more I know I could never replace it. Add to the stable, sure - but replace it, never!
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Old 08-06-2011, 09:16 PM   #14
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How'd you know about my sandals???

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Old 08-06-2011, 10:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squonker View Post

You've been glued to me for ages - what's new?!
Umm, that's not glue
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