Another beautiful morning dawned and we were again grateful for the amazing weather we’ve had so far. Our final ferry ride for the foreseeable future took us into Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver.
On the ferry we met Jeremy who was going from his home on a little island to his apartment in Vancouver. He soon discovered that our plans to reach North Vancouver hadn’t been well researched and he suggested that we follow him once we got off the ferry. He took us along a very scenic coastal route with amazing houses and spectacular views.
Several months before we left home, Grieg spotted two touring bikes outside the coffee shop in Dunsborough. He waited for the owners to return then pounced, peppering them with questions about their bikes, gear and so on. It turned out that they live in North Vancouver and invited us to catch up with them when we arrived there. They welcomed us warmly to their lovely home and we shared a delicious BBQ on the deck, chatting late into the evening and planning the following day.
Next morning Ian, Grieg and I had an early breakfast, jumped on our bikes and rode up to Grouse Mountain where we tackled that beast again. The Grouse Grind is Ian’s favourite exercise regime and he’s done it an astonishing 500+ times! This was just our second and Grieg carved a whole nine minutes off his previous time doing it in 49 mins. I got mine down to 54 – those kms on the bikes have been helpful!
Trish chauffered us around to pick up camping supplies and some running repairs to Grieg’s bike before the four of us headed across town for a stroll in the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Gardens followed by a fantastic evening at a baseball game.
This was a great way to celebrate Trish’s birthday. Between her and Ian, plus two of their children and partners, we were kept up to speed on the rules and other amusing things going on during the match. Such a friendly atmosphere, none of the abuse that goes on at soccer matches! The home team, the Vancouver Canadians won convincingly and those guys that came hundreds of miles from Eugene, Oregon would have been wondering why they bothered.
The next day Ian and Trish took us for a walk through their local park, a lovely old piece of forest with a salmon hatchery on the river. We picked more delicious wild berries before returning home, donning our aprons and getting busy in the kitchen.
We were joined for dinner by Ian and Trish’s friends, Dave and Chris. We managed to solve several world problems, but others we could find no solution for. It was an entertaining evening, and then late into the night Ian and Trish helped us plan the next day. A few short hours on and we were woken to the sound of The Who, as selected by Grieg for the early morning alarm. Ian has a great love of all things technological and the house is wired accordingly. He made us one last first class espresso and we were on our way with him accompanying us to the edge of the city. Big thanks go out to these two who have been so kind, enthusiastic and helpful.
We continued on toward Harrison Mills making good progress until we reached a busy four lane bridge with a narrow sidewalk/cycle way. I ran over a piece of wire that flicked up into my cog causing us to have to stop immediately. This was NOT a good place to get held up. Traffic roared by as we wrenched the dastardly piece of wire loose and were finally able to limp off the bridge and ride a further 10km to a bike shop…which was shut! The sign on the door said ‘opening at 11.15am’ so we took the opportunity to get another coffee and were first at the shop when it opened. The guy fixed it in a flash – easy when you have the tools.
We had a planned destination but it turned out to be exposed and windy so back tracked a few kms to a funny little First Nations campground called Squakum. The name appealed, and huge maple trees provided plenty of shelter, so we set up camp and we’re quite pleased the day was over after 126km.
Next morning we were on the road by 7.30 opting to make it to the first town before having coffee and breakfast. Some places are little gems right out of the blue, and the cafe we came upon in Agassiz was one of these. We stayed far too long and enjoyed every moment of it.
Riding to Hope was picturesque with the huge Fraser river running alongside us, and towering mountains all around.
We set up camp at another First Nations campground in Hope, right alongside that vast and intimidating Fraser river. The wind roared through the valley as well as through the campground, but we figured it would drop off during the afternoon so we jumped on the bikes (which feel like runaway broncos without all the gear on) and visited the info centre. The woman on the desk told us it was about 14km each way to the Othello Tunnels so off we went, and soon arrived at the beginning of the trail that would take us to the tunnels. This is also part of the Kettle Valley Railroad. We stopped and chatted with a young woman on the trail and she told us it would take 40 mins to get there. No problem. A couple of minutes later, Grieg got a puncture which was bizarre because we were on a bush trail and have bullet proof tyres (but not staple proof). Anyway as he mended it, another cyclist came along, having already been to the tunnels. He stopped for a chat and told us we were only 2km away! It turned out that he was right but it reminded us again that you can never be sure until after the fact when it comes to information on the road.
We returned to camp to find the wind had not abated at all. It had whipped dust under, into and through our tent so that a heavy layer coated everything. We pulled the whole show down and moved to a grassy site….yes, we should have done this in the first place! It turns out that maybe we should’ve stayed somewhere else in the first place. Knowing we had a big day ahead we had an early dinner and hit the sack at 9pm, just about the time a band of wild natives arrived, drunk and noisy. They proceeded to chop wood for a gigantic fire which they lit and pow wowed around despite a total fire ban. At 10.30 Grieg got out of bed and started to pack up his sleeping bag. I asked him where the heck he was going to which he replied, ‘I don’t know.’ This seemed like a bad option so I turned over and went to sleep. The noise died down eventually and we, along with other annoyed campers, left early next morning in the rain.
Our destination was EC Manning Park, a notoriously long, hard day. It rained almost constantly which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing – except when we stopped, then we got really cold.
We arrived to find that there were no campgrounds available with hot showers and a laundry. These were ‘must haves’ so we made an executive decision and stayed in the relatively luxurious Manning Lodge. It was a good call. We sorted ourselves out, dried everything and we’re ready to go again next morning.
The thing about going up hills is that sooner or later you’ll reach the top and get to come down again, and that’s what happened the next day as we rode to Princeton, four and half hours of mainly down hill, some at speeds we probably shouldn’t be doing with our loads.
Unlike yesterday, we knew exactly where we wanted to stay and easily found this great little spot on the river, bought fresh supplies and cooked up a storm (well Grieg did).
We were on the KVR by 8.15 next morning and ready for a great experience on this much loved and apparently amazing cycling gem.
Pretty quickly we ran into difficulties with the track, soft gravel that brought our speed down to less than 10km/hr in many places. Hmm, not so much fun.
From here it got steadily worse, often we had to get off and push. We didn’t have anything nice to say about the KVR and we especially had nothing nice to say about ATV drivers who have cut the trail up so much (and aren’t meant to be on there). Rattlesnake and cougar warnings were the least of our problems.
Running alongside the KVR was a sealed road and at one point Grieg stood overlooking it, noting how tantalisingly close it was. But large boulders, fallen trees, heavy vegetation and drop offs made cutting through impossible. We were both tired and cranky after 40km on this hot, dusty trail with still at least an hour to go. Then something really neat happened…I glanced up just in time to see half a bear! He saw me first and was off into the forest, but it was the best thing to happen all day. And then moments later, Grieg saw a track going from the KVR down to the road, massive happiness! In a few minutes we were happily pedalling along a sealed road for the first time in seven hours. Not long after we arrived at lovely Osprey Lake.
As we set up camp our friendly neighbour Don came over with a couple of cans of beer. Grieg was overjoyed! Then he offered to take us for a tour of the lake in his fishing boat.
Next morning we woke to the unique sound of loons. This pristine lake is loaded with trout and is also frozen solid for four or five months of the year. We left early on the same road we arrived on, observing the KVR from a distance as it occasionally came into view. It was fantastic to NOT be on it!