My Mini Road Trip: Part One
For the last nine days I have been exploring North Vancouver Island in the van as a sort of ‘mini’ road trip – to both test out the van setup and to see what the rest of the island has to offer. The further you go up the island the less people there are so I had been looking forward to seeing the ‘wild’ part of the island – and so far it hasn’t disappointed.
I have mainly been staying at recreation sites (free government run campsites) which have all been excellent, and mostly empty so far as it’s still a little early in the season. On my second night Gemma and JR joined me and we spent some time together at Woss Lake. It was really nice to hang out with them, especially in such a beautiful location and we were lucky to have a gap in the rain while we took the boat out. Yes the rain eventually came! The weather has been truly erratic, going from glorious sunshine to rain and back constantly.
I had heard Telegraph Cove was a tourist trap, but when I visited it hadn’t opened yet for the season so it was like a ghost town. It was a lot smaller than I expected with a disproportional amount of space dedicated for condos and RV camping compared to how much there was to actually see! I enjoyed having the boardwalks almost to myself and although not officially open a shop assistant who was getting stock ready for the season let me in to the excellent whale museum there – again which I had to myself.
Just outside Port Alice I pulled up at a rec site to find it was closed and spoke to a fisherman who was just packing up to the day to confirm this. A few minutes later he approached me asking for a ride into Port Hardy as he had locked himself out of his car. I obliged and enjoyed chatting to Nick on the short drive to Port Hardy and back. I refused gas money but was paid back in tasty home smoked fish!
I stocked up in the town of Port Hardy and headed for Holberg – which there isn’t a proper road to, just logging roads. It really felt like I was heading into the wilderness! Along the way I saw the “Shoe Tree” which I had read about online and is just that – a tree in the middle of nowhere with loads of shoes nailed to it! Apparently started by a local decades ago and added to over the years. I stopped to admire the wonder and added my old running shoes to the collection.
My first port of call was San Josef Bay at Cape Scott provincial park. A short walk from the trail head leads to a huge sandy bay, “sea stacks” (pillars of rocks, some of which have small trees growing on top) and some caves. I said hello to a couple of surfers and explored the bay, enjoying the calm – only broken by the crashing of the waves. I also hiked some of the Cape Scott trail, though not as much as I would have liked as I didn’t want to push my injured knee too hard. This ruled out any overnight hikes unfortunately, though it did get pretty cold at night so at least I had an excuse to wimp out!
Raft Cove Provincial Park also offered a huge sandy beach and plenty to explore. Not far from here I also spotted an eagle fishing on some rocks. He didn’t seem to mind me too much so I crept up and was able to get close enough for a photo, while he kept a close eye on me.
I had heard rumours of a beach cabin in the area which was fully stocked for overnight stays which I was eager to investigate. I confirmed this with some locals I bumped in to but I wasn’t sure of it’s exact location. After exploring the beaches for a while I had forgotten all about it, then stumbled across it by accident. Unfortunately it was occupied at the time and adhering to the first come first served policy I headed back to the van and started getting ready to move on. Not long after, the previous occupants appeared and told me they were leaving and that it was now free. Great timing!
I packed a few things and headed back along the beach, excited to check it out. It was unreal.
The cabin was rustic, but cozy and fully stocked with literally everything you need to stay there – from a basic kitchen, wood burning stove to an outhouse. I believe it was built by a local years ago and from reading the guestbook and writing on the walls many people have stayed there over the years, each adding to the cabin or leaving something for others as a way of leaving their mark.
I felt truly privileged to have found this little secret and be able to stay there. It was such a perfect start to my Canadian road tripping and I can only hope that the rest of my journey is anything like this.
I have already tweaked a few things in the van and have other things to sort out when I am back in Comox before I head off on my big trip, but I will save those for my next post. So far the van has been excellent and I was lucky not to have any more flats on the rough logging roads considering the distances I did on them. Driving along the logging roads means going slow, looking out for sharp rocks and paying attention for other traffic, which usually consists of big trucks hurtling along. After a while I started to enjoy this kind of driving but it is very tiring so I was pretty excited when I hit paved roads again!
The only injury to the van was on the access road to Raft Cove Provincial Park where the road was so badly maintained that I didn’t have enough clearance and kept grounding the front bumper, no matter how slow I was going. This resulted was quite a large section of the bumper falling off! It is currently strapped to the roof and I am confident that with a few zip ties I should be able to reattach it and have it as good as new… I mean i’m pretty confident!
This trip has also been a chance for me to test out my new camera, a Canon Rebel XTi which I bought from Karina as she is upgrading soon. It’s my first digital SLR and I am enjoying playing with it’s many buttons and features and I am pretty pleased with the results so far.