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Day 29

We woke up early today to make sure we could make it up to the campground (North Thompson River Provincial Park) just outside of Clearwater. It was a gorgeous day, and we were making amazing time! We had a wicked tail wind and were going 27km/hr on the uphills! We took our first real break in Barriere (we saw a liquor store and thought we would buy something for around the campfire!). We ended up talking to the woman working in the liquor store (Jazz) and the woman who worked in the hotel next door (Brenda). They were very nice and seemed really impressed with our trip! They told us to send them a postcard from Newfoundland (which we intend on doing) and gave us a business card with the hotel address to send it to. Probably just over 5km out of town Michael clipped a piece of metal and I couldn't avoid running it over. It slashed my tire (the tire had a gash in it from one end to the other). I didn't have a spare tire, so used a tire boot on the inside (and obviously had to replace the inner tube) and used duct tape on the outside (to prevent anything going into the obvious hole on the outside of the tire). With every rotation the tire made, The bulge in the tire would rub against the brakes (which made it annoying to ride and made it a bit slower too). I tried calling the number on the business card Brenda gave us, and a guy answered who told me there wasn't a bike store in Barriere that he knew of, so we decided to go forward, and hopefully there would be something in Little Fort. Turns out there wasn't. The guy working at the gas station said there was a home hardware in Clearwater that might have my size tire (we called and the only size tire they had was for a 26” rim, and mine is a 28” so there was no way it was going to work! We continued onward, hoping there would be something in Valemount or something along the way tomorrow or the next day. Seeing as how we were cycling an average of 120km for the next few days, I was really nervous about my tire. I was hoping it would last!!! But there was only 30km from Little Fort to our campground (probably just uner), so we gunned it. About 10km later we had to stop again because Travis broke a spoke. Upon closer inspection, he actually broke three (which you could not bike on! His wheel no longer had any structural stability!). At this point, Michael also broke a spoke, and ran over a staple of sorts. Luckily, he was able to make it to the campsite with one broken spoke (decided he would change the spoke at the site), and he had Armadillo tires and self-sealing inner tubes so you heard the air escape, then slowly stop. He didn't actually need to do any bike maintenance at the side of the road! Travis on the other hand, did. He has had a broken spoke already on this trip, but this time we could only fix the one. In order to fix the other two spokes, we needed to first remove the cassette, but unfortunately didn't have the tools to do so. So we stuck out our thumb. Eventually a really nice man named Grant stopped and gave Travis (and his broken bike) a ride to the campground (right to the site!). Grant lived in the area for a while and told Travis a bit about the area (and showed him where the bike shop was for tomorrow morning). Michael and I cycled the rest of the 20km and met Travis at the site. We made a campfire, had dinner, and celebrated our day of technical difficulties with some rum and coke! But regardless of our bike troubles, we still make the 114.8km scheduled, so we were still on schedule!

Day 28

This morning I woke up and realized that my bike rack was broken (severed across the part that attached to my brakes (the part attached to the axle is still fine though...don't know how it broke and for how long it was broken, but it wasn't safe the way it was). We duct taped the rack to the bike to prevent the bags from moving around (causing me to go slow or creating a hazard). We figured we would get a new rack in Kamloops, or at least get some zip ties. Approximately 10km from where we camped out, we found a small truck stop restaurant where we could fill up our water bottles (as we were all out). It was so cute and authentic (pictures of trucks EVERYWHERE, and everyone eating there was stereotypically what you would expect). We had a BIG feed! Michael had the steak and Travis and I had the trucker's special. And it was so cheap! Then we hit the road. It was a pleasant ride (the weather changed quite a bit from kinda rainy to hot and sunny and back). About 20km outside of Kamloops there were TONS of T-Birds that passed us (there must have been about 50 of them!). It was so random, but cool to see. About 10km down the road, we stopped off at a gas station to use the washrooms and randomly enough, all the T-Birds were there as well, taking a break. They were all part of some T-Bird club and it was their annual road trip. Earlier today, Michael and Travis were talking, and Travis misheard when Michael mentioned “Kamloops” and thought he said “Fruitloops.” That inspired our Kamloops activity: Fruitloops in Kamloops. We bought groceries and went to Riverside Park for our cereal. We were SOOO full by the end of it! It's hard to eat THAT much cereal between three of us! But we did it! When we were done, we wanted to find a bike store or somewhere to buy the zip ties. That's when we met Kevin and Lisa. They thought it was laughable that we would think anything would be open in Kamloops on a Sunday at like 4-5pm. But, they asked what we were looking for and were nice enough to give us some of their zip ties they had at home. So we walked with them over to their house, and had a really nice conversation. They gave us advice on how to get out of Kamloops and filled our water bottles and REALLY helped me out with the rack! We ended up cycling about 5-10km outside of town and pitched a tent at the side of the road again. It was perfect timing too! Just as we stopped the winds changed from a tail wind back to a headwind!

Day 27

Today the plan was to just wake up and head out. Unfortunately we had some technical difficulties. Travis needed to go to a bike shop to fix his wheel. We ended up leaving Terry and Linda's around 2:30pm. Linda gave us a LOT of food for our journey, which was amazing! We really enjoyed their hospitality and were sad to leave, but excited to hit the road! Terry recommended taking the road that goes along the west side of the lake up past Vernon rather than taking the 97. He said it's far more scenic, and less busy. There are some ups and downs, but a much nicer ride. He was right! It was a really enjoyable cycle! Just about all the ups were preceded by a down so none were overly difficult. We ended up cycling a total of 85.6km today. So although we left late, we did roughly as much as we wanted to do today (we didn't want too long of a day, and wanted to split the ride between Kelowna and Kamloops in half to make sure a) my knee was fully up to par, and b) to ease back into some intense cycling coming up ahead for the next few days. We pitched a tent at the side of the road (up on a hill away from traffic obviously).

Day 26

It was a nicer day today! I got a ride to Winner's to hopefully buy a dress (so I don't have to walk around in either spandex or sweatpants all the time. and dresses are good because it's easy to pack, and then i don't have to buy separate tops and bottoms. all in one convenience!), and a frame. Unfortunately all the dresses were ugly and expensive and all the frames looked REALLY cheap. Since it was such a nice day out, I walked downtown to the art store. Kelowna is a very nice place! I can see why Linda and Terry like it so much! (It also helps that they live in a wicked house on the lake and have a dock in their backyard for their boat so they can REALLY optimize on what Kelowna has to offer!). I bought a frame (to draw a picture as a thank you because both Linda and Terry really went above and beyond for us!). When I got back Michael was still doing work on the computer, and Travis was on the phone. While I was out the company that Travis had an interview with offered him the job! Which is wicked for him! (But that unfortunately means he will only continue until Calgary). We decided to go out and watch a movie (something we haven't done at all since we started). We watched Robin Hood and really enjoyed it! We walked around for a bit, then went back to the Sturgeon Hall and the two boys had dinner and beer and I just had beer. Then we went back to Linda and Terry's and went into the hottub before bed! It was a really nice night!

Day 25

We had an amazing sleep last night! Don't get me wrong, the air mattresses and tents are nice and luxurious and all, but the bed was SO comfortable! We were out like a light! We woke up to a nice breakfast of bagels (Linda had everything all laid out for us already!). The weather outside was less than ideal so we stayed in and did some work (ie. Michael was replying to e-mails from his prof and updating the blog as we were very behind (as per usual since we have limited internet), I was updating my journal and working on the budget and uploading pictures, etc). The plan was to ship the wine we bought as gifts home to people, then Travis was going to visit his grandparents, Michael was going to do some school work, and I was going to go out with Linda and some of her friends. The wine-sending fell through because they charged A LOT of money. After they finished packing it all up and then rang up the total it came to $270! For 6 bottles!!! The shipping was WAY more expensive than all the wine combined (although the wine TASTES like it's worth more than that... for everyone reading who is getting a bottle....). We were able to get back the shipping cost, but since they already packed it (and didn't say how much they were charging to pack), we had to fork out $80 (that's right, to pack 6 bottles!!!! ridiculous in my opinion!!! Damn UPS!). But Linda was wonderful and is helping us out by having her daughter bring wine back home to Ontario with her after the wedding in early July. It was such a relief to have her help! It would have REALLY put a GIANT dent in the budget otherwise! That night Travis went to visit his grandparents, and Michael and I stayed back and did some work (Linda didn't end up going out after all so we had a night/dinner in). Right as dinner was being served Travis walked in just in time for second dinner. Then Travis, Michael and I went into town (to Sturgeon Hall) to have drinks with Travis' cousin Pat. It was our first night at a bar this entire trip (the only other time we were at a bar was in Osoyoos for the Habs game). We only stayed for one or two drinks then headed back. It was a nice, chill night.

Day 24

This morning we woke up in OK Falls, where we camped out right on the lake! Instead of taking the highway (which ran along the west side of the lake), we took the route that EVERYONE recommended on the east side. It was fairly flat and very scenic! We were making really good time and were really glad we took everyone's advice! There was way less traffic as well, so it was really enjoyable! (although the shoulders could have been a bit wider at times!). We made it into Penticton fairly early, had a quick stop to de-layer (as it was getting quite hot mid-day) then headed north along the 97 to Kelowna. We had a headwind for most of the trip, but we were still making amazing time! The entire trip followed the lake, which was very pretty (there were only a few times we couldn't see the water). We stopped off at a winery along the way (Greata Ranch Winery just outside of Peachland) to buy Terry and Linda (Travis' aunt and uncle) a thank-you wine (we would be staying with them for the next few days). The woman who worked at the winery was very nice and told us about two detours which were far more scenic, and far less hilly than the highway. The first detour was lovely and flat, so we were excited for the second. The second was horrible! It was very hilly with NO shoulder! Horrible advice! We should have stayed on the highway (there would have been a larger shoulder and it would have definitely been less steep and much quicker). But you live and learn! We made it into Kelowna. It was overcast, and along the way there were little periods of light rain. It was easy to find Terry and Linda's. Travis didn't think Linda would be there, but she was (she just came back from Korea where she was visiting her son, daughter-in-law and grandson)! We met Terry first, then as we were finishing unpacking our gear from our bikes and coming into the house Linda met us. She showed us how to do the laundry (and did our laundry for us!), and brought us towels to shower. She let me use the master shower which was so nice!!! (especially since we haven't showered since Osoyoos, words cannot describe how wonderful the shower felt!). She had snacks ready for us and was making dinner. We felt like we stepped into a 5 star resort! Terry was very nice and funny (with a touch of sarcasm!). It was such a nice night, and I can't express how wonderful and generous both Terry and Linda were!

Tipsy wine tour

I towed Travis into town today while Nicole was getting her knee checked out, so we hit the road a little late. But that was ok since today was going to be our tipsy wine tour! As we were cycling along the 97, all we saw were vineyards after vineyards, all next door to each other. There were wine tastings at the wineries we stopped off at, so we managed to stop off at plenty of them: Golden Beaver, Rustico, Cassini Cellars, Inniskillin, and Jackson-Triggs. Neither one of us were anything close to a wine connaisseur, so we were joking around by swirling the wine, smelling it, tasting it, and thinking hard before saying "this wine is... good". The people selling the wine were nice enough to answer many of the questions that we had, and I think we learned a lot today about the wine industry. Too bad that we were drinking too much wine to remember it all! We all had a lot of fun on this tour!

We stopped in Okanagan Falls (or OK Falls, according to the locals) for ice cream at Ticleberry's for some crazy flavoured ice cream flavours like carrot cake, cinnamon bun, paydoh, apple pie, etc. We camped in town, had a large fire and roasted sausages, drank some more wine, and listened to Johnny cash all night.

Fun facts, stats and lessons learned

Distance travelled today: 62.06 km

Total distance travelled: 939.13 km

Starting point: Osoyoos, at a private campground

Our Route: Highway 97 north the whole way. The shoulders were excellent all day.

Ending point: Okanagan Falls, at a private campground

  • Oliver is the wine capital of Canada because it has the highest concentraition of wineries
  • Apparently, Inniskillin put Canada on the map for Ice Wines
  • Ice wines grapes need to be picked and processed at temperatures below 8°C.
  • There are no falls in OK Falls. There used to be a small one, but it has since been dammed.

Rodeo! Yeeehawww!

We started cycling today into a very strong headwind. We were drafting off each other, but we were going pretty slow so we decided to stop off in Keremeos for second breakfast at a fruit stand. Unfortunately most fruits aren't in season, and I'm sure this area would be much different if we were to do this in July or August. We still feasted, though, with blueberries, cherries, bread, locally made jam, sugar cane, bananas, and apples. We noticed that there were signs for a rodeo that was happening in town this long weekend, so we went to check it out.

Nicole and I have never been to a rodeo before, and Travis had only been to the Calgary Stampede and we all wanted to see what a small town rodeo would be like. Luckily, it was just getting started as we got there. It was quite the scene. It seemed like a stereotypical rodeo with cowboys everywhere and everyone dressed in such attire - but this is how they live. It's a strange though to compare this to the concrete jungle and think that this is the same country. We were wathcing the bull riding, which was very entertaining, and I was wondering how this event came about. How people thought that it would be a great idea to jump on a beast and try to stay on as long as possible while it tried to launch you off. It was cool to watch, but we left at 2pm so we could try to catch the Habs game in Osoyoos. Unfotrunately the wind didn't really die down and it was very brutal. We were drafting and killing ourselves to maintain 20 km/h. Nicole's knee was acting up, so her and I went slower and Travis sped up to try to catch the game. It was nice going slow and enjoying the views along the rolling hills, and even stopping by the spotted lake, which is very strange. There were also many crosses along the way, and it's a scary thought to think about all those accidents and unfortunate events.

As we were biking, someone stopped th their car and told us that our frind had bike troubles (his chain was wedged in between the chainrings) so they gave him a lift into town and we could meet up with him there. Nicole and I walked into the pub to meet Travis just in time to see the Habs lose, and we stayed, had a few pitchers and chatted with the bartender about Osoyoos. We ended up spending the night at Waterslide campground (the water slide wasn't open then - what a shame), had some great pizza and had some more beers with someone else staying on the campground.

Fun facts, stats and lessons learned
Distance travelled today: 83.41 km
Total distance travelled: 877.07 km
Starting point: Just before Keremeos, by the side of the road
Our Route: Highway 3 (Crowsnest) the whole way. The shoulders were excellent all day.
Ending point: Osoyoos, at a private campground

  • Mountain goats aren't actually goats at all - they're antelopes.
  • Osoyoos is Canada's only desert.
  • The poulation of Osoyoos triples during the summer time.

Along the Crowsnest

After yesterday's summit, we were expecting a day of downhills, at least into Princeton, but little did we know that there was another summit up ahead. It wasn't as big, but when you're expecting downhills, it seemed like a slap in the face. On the downhills, however, we were drafting again and maintained above 40 km/h. We were flying! After the summit, the mountains suddenly opened up to a valley below - Princeton. There was a great downhill, winding in circles to reduce the grade, but it was still very steep. As we were circling around, the road was in the middle of steep drops on either side, a valley to the North and mounatins everywhere else. The view was phenominal! We even crossed a family of deer along the way, which was pretty cool to see.

We decided to have a large lunch in Princeton and let our stuff dry out. We stopped at a park, and the sunshine was very kind to us, especially after the snow only a few hours ago. The meal of ham sandwiches, grapes, strawberries, cookie dough, and of course, chocolate milk really filled us up.

The ride out of Princeton was magnificant. We went along the Crowsnest towards Osoyoos, and we passed a buch of ranches, so we thought it would be a good idea to stop and pet the horses. They're formidable animals. I've never really had many enounters with them, so it was a cool experience to pet them by the side of the road. We were cycling along a river in a valley, surrounded by mountains and cliffsides all around us. Some of the mountains even seemed fake - almost as if they were models or paintings. It was both calming and humbling to be within this area, and it was probably my favourite landscape so far on this trip.

We set up camp early today by the side of the road (read: free) and we were just lying in the tent and chatting for a bit before bedtime. All I was thinking as I went to sleep was that I'm very happy being here and I'm glad to be doing this trip.

Fun facts, stats and lessons learned
Distance travelled today: 126.78 km
Total distance travelled: 793.66 km
Starting point: EC Manning Provincial Park, by the side of the road just past Allison Pass Summit
Our Route: Highway 3 (Crowsnest) the whole way. The shoulders were pretty bad until we were just outside Princeton, where they got much better for the rest of the day.
Ending point: Just before Keremeos, by the side of the road.
  • It's amazing how quickly a headwind can turn into a tailwind & vice versa when winding through the mountains.

Let it snow!

This morning we tested drafting off of each other, which worked really well. We kept the speed above 30 km/h for a long time. It felt like we were doing windsprints though, and I was tiring myself out too much to maintain for the whole day. While drafting, I had my first real scare of the trip. I had just finished leading, and Nicole and Travis were passing me when Nicole cut in too early and he pannier knocked into my handle bar. We both lost control, and I had to swerve on the road to maintain balance. Luckily there were no cars coming, and we were able to stay on our bikes and there were no wipeouts.

We stopped in Hope for lunch, and looking at the mountains up ahead, there was a rain storm that was about to come in. This would be our first real outdoor day with precipitation. One of the guys in town was telling us that we should stay in town for a couple of hours to wait for the storm to blow by, but the three of us wanted to test out our rain gear and we were excited to were really excited to bike through it.
Just out of Hope and entering Manning Park, there was a great 6 km uphill. The scenery was great with the mountains and the clouds covering parts of the mountians (especially since we almost got level with the clouds). however, we did know that Allison Pass Summit was coming up. After the first big hill, the terrain was rolly, and we didn't want there to be any more downhills since we knew that we would be climbing right back up them and more. It was also difficult to regulate temperature since it was getting colder as we were getting higher, but we were sweating coming up the hills and freezing coming down them.

Climbing up Allison Pass Summit, Nicole's knee was starting to act up, and Travis and I were exhausted. It was such a long uphill, and to make matters worse, it started to snow! So there we were, chugging uphill at no more than 10 km/h for what seemed to be forever, and we saw a sign in the distance. It was the sign for the summit! I was so happy to see that!

Afterwards, the downhill was pretty painful and cold with the wind blowing so much snow in our faces (we wore sunglasses so we could actually keep our eyes open) that we had to stop early and set up camp by the side of the road. We got set up fast, had a large hot meal and went to sleep.

Fun facts, stats and lessons learned
Distance travelled today: 105.10 km
Total distance travelled: 666.88 km
Starting point: Campground in Harrison Hot Springs
Our Route: We went back on Highway 9 to Highway 7 through to Hope. We then hopped on the Crowsnest Highway (Hwy 3) for the rest of the day. There was great shoulder and road up until Highway 3. There were great shoulders on the uphills for Highway 3, but it was very cracked at other points.
Ending point: EC Manning Provincial Park, by the side of the road just past Allison Pass Summit

  • It's not always sunny in Sunshine Valley. Talk about false advertisement! I was dissapointed.
  • Total black bears seen so far: 4
  • Allison Pass Summit: 1342 m.

Mission for Hope

We were aiming to cycle a long way to Hope, BC today, but it took far too long to get out of the city. It's amazing how much a little traffic and traffic lights can slow down your average speed. Travis had his first flat tire and broken spoke just as we left the greater Vancouver area, which made for a great hour and a half rest.

The scenery through Highway 7 was amazing. There were meadows and farmlands surrounded by mountains. As always, the pictures never do the place justice. Our mission for Hope failed due to the delays, but we got close and ended up camping in Harrison Hot Springs at a private campground. There were tons of RVs there and a lot of families - makes sense due to the May long weekend. I don't know if it's just a BC thing, but there always seems to be more RVs than tents at these campgrounds.

Fun facts, stats and lessons learned
Distance travelled today: 158.30 km
Total distance travelled: 561.78 km
Starting point: Bruce's place, in West Vancouver
Our Route: We went back through Stanley Park and went on Cordova Street, where there was a bike lane. When that ended, we went on Hastings Street which turned into Inlet Drive,and turned onto St Johns Street, which became Highway 7. We stayed on Highway 7 for a long time until we met up with Highway 9 that took us to Harrison Hot Springs. The roads were paved the whole way, and there were good shoulders at some places, decent at others, bad in other places, and nonexistent in some places (mostly through towns).
Ending point: Campground in Harrison Hot Springs
  • Travis had his first flat tire and broken spoke
  • My new max speed: 65.1 km/h
  • I guess it's worth mentionning that, ever since Victoria, every single time we go to a grocery store, it's tradition to get a flavoured milk (chocolate, vanilla, chocolate orange, orange, strawberry, coffee, etc.) and drink it as soon as we leave the store.

Getting ready to leave Vancouver

Travis had his big phone interview today, and Nicole and I were sorting out our stuff to be ready to bike again. It's been so long since we've cycled, especially since this is a cycling trip. Bruce and Lori have been so great to us, letting us stay at their place for so long and being so hospitable throughout our stay! We decided to cook them dinner once again to thank them. A few of Travis' cousins came over, and we had a big pizza party with his family. We were now ready to cycle once again and put in some mileage!

Mountain Biking

Again, the weather was very good to us as we were outside. Today we went back to Whistler village to go mountain biking. The bikes they use are crazy! I've never seen such wide tires and I've never been on a bike with both front and rear suspension - I was bouncing up and down just pedalling to the chair lift. We were geared up in enough safety equipment that would suffice for ice hockey. I did a year of mountain biking at UofT, and although it took a few runs for me to get completely comfortable. They had some great runs, like "Oriental Express" which was very technically difficult with many roots, rocks, and narrow passages, or "Crank It" which was full of jumps, one after the next. I liked Crank It the best, and we were just juicing it on some of the trails. I had so much fun, and I was surprised with how much abuse these bikes must go through. While we were going, we kept on reverting back to our rule from the West Coast Trail, which was modified to be "don't get injured". By the end, we were riding some blue trails, but we ended up on a black diamond run for a little section by the end. On our way back from the mountain, Kevin had his sister's CD in the car, so we blasted "I've Had the Time of My Life" from Dirty Dancing with the windows down and the four of us singing along as we passed people on the highway. It was pretty obnoxious, but hiarious nonetheless! I would like to say a huge thanks to the De Muszka family for letting us stay in their Chalet! We had a great time in Whistler because of them!

For lunch, we had ants on a log since Travis had never heard about it before. We're going to have to teach him the wonders of peanut butter before the trip is over. We headed back to Vancouver, and it started to rain. Kevin stopped by at some lookouts and at Shannon Falls to show us the scenery, but it was cloudy and foggy, so it was difficult to see too much. We ended up staying at Bruce and Lori's place again, which was really great. They're great people who are always smiling and seem happy.

Rest in Whistler

Today was a very chill day. We slept in and drove in to Whistler Village to check it out. We decided to have breakfast (just after noon) in town, and by Frédérique's recommendation, we went to Dup's Burritos. When we went, we found out that they had an item on their menu called the Phatty - a 3-4 lb burrito. If we finished it, our pictures would go up on the wall, and if we didn't our vandilized pictures would be on the wall. We couldn't resist the challenge, so we each ordered one. They were massive. Although it was difficult, all the guys finished, but not Nicole. We were all so full that we didn't need to eat anything until really late in the evening.
We came back to the chalet and decided to watch Indiana Jones. Ever since the West Coast Trail, where we were humming the theme to the movie, we wanted to watch it. Well, we tried but I think we all fell asleep. But we did wake up from our nap in time to fit in another hot tub session and watch the Habs game while cooking a mean barbecue. Man, cycling across Canada is really tough.

At night, we went out to Crystal Lounge for some Karaoke, and the place was jam packed with Auzzies. It had a very strange atmosphere, but it was still fun to watch people butcher songs and sing along with them!

Rock Climbing

Today was a very relaxing day. We slept in for the first time in a while, then we decided to walk around Stanley Park. It was very nice and there were many people outside running, rollwer blading and cycling throuhg the park. Vancouver is a very active city, and it seems like a place where I would be happy to live. We came back to meet Bruce after his work to go rock climbing. I've never gone outdoor rock climbing, and it just so happens that he loves to go and he had enough extra gear that luckily fit me, Nicole and Travis. He took us to Lighthouse Park to go climbing at Juniper Point. What a location - we had to rapel down to what at first seemed like nothing but water, but there was a flat rocky platform just above that we used as a base. I've never been outdoor rock climbing before, and this was just great; such an excellent experience. Instead of having the climbing route planned out for us, we had to figure it out as we went, which was much more fun. There was a great view of the city, mountains and water, and we kept climbing until the sun set.
We came home and cooked Bruce and Lori a barbecue to thank them for everything, and Kevin came by for dinner as well. Nicole and I know Kevin from a summer french program back in 2001 where we stayed in Sainte-Foy. It was a blast, and I'm terrible at keeping in touch with people, but luckily Nicole still did. After dinner we headed up to Whistler where Frédérique's family was kind enough to let us stay in their chalet. We arrived late, but soon demolished a tube of the Pillsbury cookie dough and hung out in the hot tub for a bit before going to sleep.

On the mainland

We arrived in Saanich and got our stuff together to go to Vancouver. Travis didn't have panniers yet, so he and I were carrying some stuff in our packpacks. We hadn't had a day of rest from hiking to cycling, and I was so tired on the ferry that I took a little nap. Nicole woke us up so that we could get ice cream, and although we got a small, we were allowed to pour it ourselves, and the cup was overfillingwith ice cream! as we went to the observation deck, we were talking with people who saw us in our biking gear and were impressed when we told them about our trip. I like talking about the trip, and I like it when others are interested to hear about it. It was a sunny day again, and watching the mountains in the distance was exciting, calming, and yet a bit scary to know that the big mountains are still to come.

As we were cycling through Vancouver, I was very slow with my tired legs and heavy gear, and I just wanted to reach Travis' uncle's place as soon as possible. After crossing the Lion's Gate Bridge, we arrived at the intersection on Marine and Taylor, where we stopped for a quick second to stare at the steep, long hill ahead of us. Then, just as we were about to get going, Travis' uncle shows up in his car and offers to take our gear off our bikes. It was incredible - as if he read our minds and came in to help in the nick of time. Our bikes were so light afterwards; I don't know how I would've been able to climb the hill otherwise. When we arrived at Bruce's place, there was a large meal waiting for us, again as if he read our minds and knew exactly what we needed. We had a great feast! Bruce and Lori were very hospitable to us, and it was great to talk to them for a while before going to sleep.

Fun facts, stats and lessons learned
Distance travelled today: 71.40 km
Total distance travelled: 403.48 km
Starting point: Derek O'Farrell's place, in Saanich
Our Route: Took the Patricia Bay Highway (Hwy 17) North to Swartz Bay, where we took a ferry to Tsawwassen, and then continued on Highway 17 until it met up with Highway 99. There was a decent shoulder the whole way through. We weren't allowed to take our bikes through the George Massey Tunnel, so we took the free bus service. The bus driver then told us to take Rice Mill Road to No. 5 Road, West at Stevenson to No. 4 Road, and continue until it met up with Highway 99. There weren't any shoulders, but the traffic wasn't too bad as we were cycling. From there, we met up with the Highway to go over the Oak Street Bridge (cycled on sidewalk), and stayed on Oak Street although it didn't have a shoulder. We turned on Broadway, then went to Granville and Georgia. We were allowed to cycle on the side walk through Stanley Park and the Lion's Gate Bridge, and we went to MArine to Taylor and then some side roads to our destination.
Ending point: Bruce's place, in West Vancouver

WCT Day 5 - Caves

We woke up really early to another sunny day to make Owen's Point by 8am, which is when tides are the lowest. Owen's Point is along the beach, and it has tunnels that are only accessible at low tides. As we were walking along the beach, there were some very large gaps that we had to jump over, and if we slipped, we would've fallen a good 40 feet into some water with no easy way out. The gaps were maybe 4 feet, but it's far with your pack on and jumping from one slippery rock to another. We each had our fair share of slips and falls along the way, but we were very fortunate that they weren't at points where we would fall to our death - and no kidding, there were places where a single slip would've sent us over cliffs or far down to a rocky creek, and the terrain was filled with roots or slippery fallen trees that require your full concentration. At these points, we had a very strict "no falling" rule that we reminded each other on. I meant to ask how many people have died on this trail and consequently the survival rate, but I completely forgot.

The caves at Owen's Point were amazing, and we had a lot of fun climbing in, out, and around them for a while. The next part of the trip involved climbing around large boulders and rocks, which required a lot of patience, planning and leaps of faith. They were difficult to navigate around, and some were very slippery. There was a seal that kept following us along the way and popped his head out a couple of times, but every time I tried pointing it out to Nicole, she couldn't see because there were boulders in the way. It kind of felt like a Polkaroo situation. We met up with Sean and other hikers at the last campsite, and we said our goodbyes and headed for the last 5k of the trip. We were told that it would be the hardest part of the trip and it would take us 5 hours, but it only took us half the time. Maybe because we were expecting something brutally difficult, but to me it didn't seem as bad as everyone said it would be. By the end, we were all so exhausted and our legs seriously felt like lead weights. Hiking with these packs is definitely more exhausting than cycling through the mountains.

After finishing, Rinita came to pick us up and we headed to her place in Port Renfrew. Rinita has been so nice to us to go out of her way to help us, and seeing her and a real shelter was a very welcoming sight. We spent the rest of the evening with her, playing Oh Shit (card game) and relaxing. It was nice to go to sleep in a bed.

Day 12

If there are two words I can use to describe today they would be ladders and mud! (and lots of them!). We definitely had a late start this morning! I woke up around 8, and the two boys probably closer to 9. By the time we left, EVERYONE else at the camp had left at least an hour before (most more like 2+hrs before. We hit the road (or the trail i guess?) around 11:30am. The morning was BEAUTIFUL, and we started with a nice beach walk! It was a quick paced walk, and we were covering a lot of distance. We needed to make it to Camper's Bay in order to guarantee we would see Owen's Point tomorrow morning. Although it was only 16km away, there were rumours floating around that after the 53km mark (the time-wise half way point, some would say), we would be very slow going. The first people we bumped into in the morning were three avid hikers. You could tell how avid a hiker is by his/her walking stick. Although we were authentic and resourceful and environmental and chose driftwood walking sticks, this does not speak highly of our hiking abilities. ANYONE can pick up a stick, but only a true hiker would spend money on something you could get for free. These three men were SO avid that they each had TWO purchased walking sticks each. They were a bit negative, saying we'd have a hard time making Camper's by nightfall (we were clearly being judged by our walking sticks). The next two ppl we bumped into were a lot more positive and warned us it was hard going, but that we'd definitely make it. We decided to ignore Two-sticks and listened to the positive encouragement instead. I must say though, although negative, Two-sticks did give us good advice. They told us to take the bush route at the next beach access point because Waldron was very deep, and the tide was coming in. When they crossed the river the water came up to their upper thighs. It was solid advice (we later learned Sean did the river crossing and then proceeded to spend 1-2hrs just drying off). So we headed up into the bush (and were thankful for a change in scenery). The bush route was tons of fun! It was like an obstacle course, where there were roots everywhere, and pits of mud we had to maneuver in/through/around. There were a lot of ups and downs, and it was very interesting, made us think, and was just fun (had to jump, duck, climb over/under, etc). We had several cable cars as well to take us over rivers. Then the ladders started. We were warned about the ladders, but the warnings didn't quite give them justice. They were LARGE ladders. We were told they were 100ft deep/long (by Two-sticks.....and they would know). They never mentioned at the start of the hike that you shouldn't do it if you're afraid of heights. Good thing we didn't have that problem because these ladders were HIGH. And there were a LOT of them!!! They usually went down to a bridge (wood or suspension) or to a cable car. We were definitely wrecked by the end of the day! We didn't really find it got much slower at the 53km mark per say. It was more that once you hit a ladder, you would spend time and energy climbing down then up, but you wouldn't actually gain any distance. Once we were done the ladder section, we were a little worried that we would be caught out in the dark (having no concept how long it would take to complete the last 4km). By that point there were no more ladders, but there was still a LOT of mud to maneuver through (which needless to say is time consuming!). The sun was getting quite high in the sky, and we didn't give ourselves many (or any) breaks. By the time we hit Camper's we were WRECKED! We immediately started cooking dinner and setting up camp (and obviously taking off all our wet shoes/clothes). Turns out we had just enough sunlight. The sun started setting as we were washing up our dishes and it only became dark after we were all ready for bed! No one in the camp thought we were going to make it (because of our late start) but we won! (as if it was ever an option to not make it in time!).

Day 11

We woke up at 6am today and were hoping to cover some ground, and were looking forward to some crab/salmon breakfast/lunch, and some burgers for dinner!!! Although we learned yesterday that the beach route was slower than the bush path, it was such a beautiful morning, and the Tsusiat point looked really cool in the distance that we decided to start the day with a beach walk. We would make an occasional side route to climb a boulder in the ocean.
We opted to head into the forest the first chance we got after Tsusiat point. We walked for approximately 7km that morning, on the beach, through the forest (and some reserves), until we got to Nitnat river. We needed to take a ferry crossing. The guy who drove the boat was the one who sold us fresh salmon or crab. Michael ordered crab, while Travis and I ordered Salmon. It was SOO good! (albeit quite expensive). We asked, and he said the burger place probably closed around 6pm and we should be able to make it by then. So we decided to bust it and get a burger for dinner! We were making decent time, but not good enough to make it for 6. So we decided to take a quick break to decide what we should do. We could camp out at the 42km mark and have burgers in the morning, or we could bust it to the 46km mark (our original plan) and hope they're still serving food. We decided to stay at the 42km site until Sean caught up to us. He pointed out that if we wanted to make Owen's point (which we did) on Sat, we would need to camp out at Camper's to ensure we could make it before the tides came in. Therefore, we should camp out at the 46km tonight to cover enough ground to make it to Camper's tomorrow. We thought that sounded smarter than basing our decisions on burgers (which we could easily get off the trail as well) so we hiked the rest of the way with Sean. When we got to the 42km campground, we noticed that the two Germans were there already. Sean said he was hiking with them earlier, and they took the beach route while he took the forest. Therefore, we decided to stay along the forest if it was going to be quicker. It was really quick. The beach today had firmer sand, and smoother rock shelves. Therefore, we covered quite a bit of ground! We stayed on the beach until the path led into the forest via the lighthouse. It was a bit of a steep climb up to the lighthouse (where there was a really nice view!), then mostly downhill through the forest back to the beach. Michael and Travis took a bit of a side route that resulted in them getting wet trying to get back off the rocks (and then they had to detour back through to forest again just to make it back to the beach without being soaked head to toe by the ocean). There were three WOOFers working on the reserve (at Chez Monique's), who were still around, chilling out. They cooked us up a burger for dinner, and it was delicious! We then went to set up camp and build a fire. We finished off the smores and vodka and camped out under the stars. I went inside the tent part way through the night because my sleeping bag was getting a bit wet. The other two stayed camped out and apparently by morning, all their things dried (according to Michael, Travis was fast asleep all night and didn't notice anything wet at all).

Day 10

We set the alarm for 7am this morning. By the time we had breakfast (oatmeal), and packed everything up and hit the road, Sean had already left. We set out, hoping to cover a lot of ground today. We were told that the first part of the trek was easier and although it's a 75km route, the 53km mark is halfway time-wise. Therefore, we wanted to cover as much ground during the easy segment as possible. Unfortunately that didn't quite happen. In total today, we only covered 11km. Most of the trail today was along the beach and it was SO slow going! We had to walk over a rock shelf for parts, which wasn't too bad, but when we had to walk on the sand or gravel it was as if with every two steps forward, we were taking one back. It was SO slow going, we were so happy when we finally were able to take the bush path! It was still a nice day, but overcast at times. By the time we got to our camp it was beautiful again!
We camped out at Tsusiat Falls. There was a massive ladder system going down to the beach. In order to get to the camp, we had to cross a stream (created by the runoff from the falls). There was some wicked camping on our side of the stream already, so although we wanted to scope out the other side, we left our packs behind. The water was REALLY cold, so at first (partly for comfort and partly for a challeng) we started making a bridge. There was a lot of driftwood, but the stream was moving too fast, and it proved quite difficult to do. How many ppl does it take to build a make-shift bridge? Apparently more than 2 engineers and 1 carpenter. We gave up not long after starting and rolled up our pants and crossed the FREEZING water. Michael found some random skull. We tried guessing, but don't have a clue what animal it could have come from!
Although the other side did have the washrooms and bear lockers, Our original side had a cave we could camp in, and some wicked large rock formations that blocked some of the wind for our campfire. We set up our tent in a cave, and then started making the fire. We cooked over the fire instead of using the stove. After dinner, we had smores and more skittle vodka and tried to make the fire bigger than yesterday's. Unfortunately with the wind, although the fire was very large, it was too smoky to sit by comfortably. Therefore, after Michael and Travis hung our food, we put the fire out early and had an early night's rest to hopefully get an early start to cover some ground tomorrow!

Day 9

We woke up REALLY early today to get the 6:15am bus for the West Coast Trail. Our original plan was to start the trail on Sunday, but since Michael and I got into Victoria on Saturday afternoon, there was not enough time to get everything ready for Sunday. Unfortunately the bus only leaves every second day, which is why we didn't leave yesterday (and instead got a double tour of Victoria). But Renita was amazing (thank you so much for everything Renita)! She woke up early just to drive us to the bus (then I'm assuming she went home and went back to bed for a bit). There was only one other person waiting at the bus stop. His name was Sean and he just graduated from U of T engineering. He spent the past six days hitch hiking across Canada to do the trail.

The bus was long and windy. All of us slept for most of the ride up to Bamfield. Roughly six hours later, we were at the Start of the West Coast Trail. We signed up and $168 later, we were allowed to do the trail! We had to wait until the info session at 1pm, explaining things about the trail before we were allowed to begin. They went over a general overview of the trail, talked about safety (ie bear/cougar/wolf info, info on tricky parts of the trail, etc). Then we headed off. Sean was a bit ahead of us, and at the 3km mark we caught up to him and the four of us continued to our campsite. It was a gorgeous day for hiking. The sky was blue, the sun was out, and the scenery was spectacular! The forest was so dense and interesting at times, and there were some amazing beach views! We also saw some sea lions, and climbed down for a closer look (not too close obviously!). Just before the campground, we stopped off at the first lighthouse on the west coast. The lighthouse operator came out to talk to us for a bit. She thought I was someone she knew in school, and then told us about her job, and showed us the glass balls that washed ashore from Japan. It was really cool.

We decided to camp out at the 14km mark. It was a nice campground on the beach. It was just the three of us and Sean who camped out there (everyone else decided to camp out at 12km). We set up camp, started making dinner, then started making a MASSIVE bonfire. It started out tame enough. We passed around the skittle vodka for a bit and had nice deep conversations about life (etc). Then we decided to make the bonfire MASSIVE (and by we, I mostly mean Michaeland Travis). There was so much driftwood to use that it wasn't hard to make the flame as tall as Travis. Then we packed up and put our food/toiletries in the bear lockers and went to bed.

Day 8

Today Renita (Michael and Travis' friend from McGill rowing) showed us around town. She arrived at Derek's with Nat (another McGill rower) and we went for breakfast. She was going to take us to the same restaurant Derek took us to yesterday, but after finding out we have already been, she took us to the "Blue Fox." It was really good. Nat had to go after breakfast (he had rowing practice) and Renita proceeded to take us around Victoria. It was funny because EVERYWHERE she took us, Derek took us the day before. It was nice to know we thoroughly saw Victoria, twice over. But Renita gave us a more thorough tour of U Vic (and then took us to the same grocery store as yesterday), and the liquor store. We then went to Renita's to watch the Habs game (Montreal won!). We got all our West Coast Trail stuff from Derek's and brought it back to Renita's (we were crashing at hers for the night and then getting a ride to the bus for the West Coast Trail). Her parents made us an AMAZING Indian food meal! It was delicious! Then we packed up all our gear and went to bed.

Day 7

Today was Mother's Day. Happy Mother's day mom! We started off our morning with a rower's special breakfast with Derek at a cute little restaurant. We spent the next part of the day getting our stuff together for the bike and the West Coast Trail. We ended up hitting up MEC, then walked around downtown Victoria. We had some really good sea food on the dock and then met up with Derek and Simon. We were going to go to a bar to check out the game, but the bars seemed to be empty (even during the playoffs!). So we saw the parliament building, saw the house boats (house boat village of sorts?), went to "mile 0" with the statue of Terry Fox (it's where he was planning on finishing his run across Canada), saw U Vic (quick drive through), and drove along Dallas Rd (a nice, scenic drive). Then went grocery shopping, and started sorting ourselves out for our upcoming adventure!

That's family!

I got up this morning to another beautiful morning. I was so cozy in my sleeping bag, and the air was so nice and fresh that I didn't want to get up, but we had to meet up with Travis today so we could get started on the West Coast Trail. I was a bit sore this morning, but after walking around a bit it went away.As we were cycling along the highway, everyone was warning us about the Malahat - a mountain just south of Mill Bay. I guess it was because we were so mentally prepared for it, but it didn't seem too difficult. Sure, it was relatively steep and fairly long, but it didn't seem to compare to those summits near Port Alberni. Going down the mountain was a beauty. Steady downhills that lasted a long time. As we were heading in to Langford, the trees grew thick around us, and there was a gorge along the highway that was very beautiful and scenic. For the first time since we landed, it rained... only for 20 minutes, but I was forgetting that I was in BC with the lack of rain we've lucked out on.
We arrived in Saanich to meet up with Travis at his brother's place by 3:30 pm. His brother, Derek, is on the National Rowing Team, and he was planning on having a bunch of naitonal team guys over for a bbq and a celebration since they figured out who will make the team for Worlds through a tough regiment of seat racing. When they figured out that Travis and Derek were brothers, they kept on saying "Oh man, that's family"; and when they found out that Nicole and I were twins, they extended that to everything. Shotgunning bear (opening it with a huge knife or teeth) - that's family; tossing around a cantaloupe and taking bites out of it after it cracks open - that's family. They were an absolute riot!

It was also pretty cool that they told us that were were intense for doing this trip. I mean, here are monsters of human beings, who wake up super early and row three times a day, six days a week, and some of them already have gold medals from the 2008 Olympics, telling us that we were hardcore. It was a pretty cool feeling.

Fun facts, stats and lessons learned

Distance travelled today: 82.08 km

Total distance travelled: 332.08 km

Starting point: Chemainus River Campground, in Chemainus.

Our Route: Took Highway 1 all the way to Helmcken Road in View Royale, which turned into Wilkinson Road, and then went North on Highway 17 and turned off on Haliburton road, where Derek resides. All roads have decent shoulders, except when passing through Duncan, and on Helmcken/Wilkinson where the bike path seemed to start and end at every block.

Ending point: Derek O'Farrell's place, in Saanich.

  • Malahat summit is 352 m.
  • We biked to the grocery store after taking all our gear off. The bike felt as unstable as the first time we put on the gear.

Day 6

We started off the morning with a 5:30am alarm. I apparently didn't even hear the alarm go off, and Michael pressed the snooze. We ended up actually getting up just past 6am and were on the road by 8:30. Our plan was to make it all the way to Victoria by mid afternoon. From Nanaimo onwards people were telling us that it was a decent ride except for the Malahat. Everyone warned us about the Malahat mountains and said how big of a climb it would be etc. Therefore, we were a little nervous, having just done a day of hills the day before yesterday, we knew how hilly Vancouver Island could be. But that being said, we also figured it couldn't be worse than the roads leaving Tofino because the Malahat was a more populated area and therefore, there would be more room, and less steep inclines (this is what we were telling ourselves before getting to the Malahat). Turns out it wasn't so bad after all! It was about a 5km steady uphill, followed by a continuous downhill (and fairly downhill into Victoria....with some ups and downs). We definitely built it up so much (from all the warnings) that we definitely expected much worse. I don't know if I would be saying it wasn't so bad if we didn't have all those warnings though...
It was a beautiful morning and a really hot mid day! The sun was beating down on us (as it was yesterday in Nanaimo) and although we were wearing a lot of spf45 sunscreen, both Michael and I are nice and red. On the other side of the Malahat, it started raining (and we thought, this is more like what we expected, and dreaded from Vancouver Island). We put on some of our rain gear, which kept us very comfortable (we didn't feel it was hard enough rain to pull out all our waterproof pants etc). But the rain was weird. It just suddenly started, and then suddenly stopped. And once we passed the area it stopped, the roads were instantly dry. It was like it only rained in that one spot that we unfortunately had to pass through.
Because of our technical difficulties with the stove last night, we didn't want to take the chance and start it up on the road again, so for most of the day our snack consisted of carrots (which we polished off), and raisins (since we bought SO many!). Turns out, after getting into Victoria, Michael and Travis had another look at it and it was working fine, so who knows what the deal was!
It was a nice ride, and we ended up doing 82.08km today, with a whapping total of 332.08km from Tofino to Travis' brother Derek's in Victoria! We got here by mid afternoon, as we hoped, and had an amazing ride and are looking forward to starting our trip with Travis! Both Michael and I have slightly sore knees and tight thighs (and I definitely have) sore shoulders (when cycling you are supposed to relax your shoulders, but with all the gear, if we relax too much, we swerve into traffic!). Oddly enough, my right hand is still tingling. I have bad circulation in my hands and feet and sometimes when I ride my toes fall asleep (which happened only a few times on this ride, but for the most part was alright!), and my hands (usually my thumbs, esp my right thumb for whatever reason) feels like it's falling asleep. For whatever reason, it happened again yesterday (around the time the rain hit), and it still feels off. Hopefully it's better tomorrow or in the next few days!!!
For dinner, the three of us decided to head down to the grocery store to get some steak and then over to get some local beer. Without all our gear loaded up on the bikes, Michael and I found our bikes were actually wobbly! It was almost the complete opposite sensation of when we put our gear on the bikes for the first time (which felt like going on our bike for the first time! didn't think i could do it at first!)! We quickly got used to it again, but it felt so light! It was weird. But after dinner, a bunch of Derek's team came over (he's on the national rowing team, which is wicked!). It was funny to hear national rowers (some of whom have gone to world cups, olympics and even the podium) say how impressive our trip is! We think what they do is unbelievable and with all the training etc they do, we didn't expect them to be impressed with our journey! We had a great night and want to thank Derek and his roommates for having us over!

Nanaimo bars!

We got up, and we decided to take a short walk along Cathedral Grove. The trees were impressive, but the trail was very short so were able to start cycling early. Today was the first day that it felt real that we're actually cycling this country. Yesterday was a long bike ride, but to wake up early and do it again the next day was a different feeling. The roads were rolly, but mostly downhill, and a tailwind made the cycling very easy as we maintained 35 km/h for minutes at a time. It was a bit scary when we went on Highway 19 since the speed limit is 110 km/h and it had a small shoulder. It was especially intimidating as large trucks zoomed by, but I got used to it after a while and it was fine. A few days ago I was worried that we wouldn't even be able to start our trip since Nicole was very wobbly on her bike and kept on saying "I can't do this." But with a little rearranging of equipment (put the heavier stuff towards the bottom of the panniers) and time, I even got comfortable enough to stand up while going uphill.

As we completely underestimated the time it took to get to Port Alberni, we overestimated the time it would take to get to Nanaimo.

We were excited.

We decided it would be a great idea to stop for a while and air out our equipment, take showers, and enjoy the sunshine! After getting Nanaimo bars at a local bakery, we're currently chilling out along the port boardwalk. The sun is shining again, people are strolling along and talking to us, and there is someone playing the guitar not too far away. Nanaimo is a cute town, with a downtown area with old style shoppes along well maintained brick roads.

We spent a full four hours in town, and left after the wonderful break. We were hoping to make it to Duncan, but we finally decided it would be best to stop in Chemainus instead of trying to find a place in the dark.

Fun facts, stats and lessons learned

Distance travelled today: 104.20 km

Total distance travelled: 250.00 km

Starting point: MacMillan Provincial Park, along the side of the road near Cathedral Grove.

Our Route: Took Highway 4 to Highway 4a in Coombs, which led to Highway 19 (Inland Island Highway). Just before Nanaimo, the Highway split and we took Highway 19a (Island Highway) into the town. As we were cycling along, we found a bike path that ran parallel with the highway, so we switched over and it took us straight downtown. Leaving Nanaimo, we went back onto Terminal Road, which led to Highway 1. The shoulders have been decent, and the roads are in very good condition with the exception that there are frequent encounters with patches of rocks/pebbles.

Ending point: Chemainus River Campground, in Chemainus.

  • MacMillan Park contains some of the only remaining old growth coastal Douglas-fir in Canada.
  • During high winds, people should evacuate the hiking trails immediately.
  • There is no "must go" shop to get Nanaimo bars.
  • Many BC campgrounds, if you show up after the office closes, will let you stay on an empty site for the night and you pay in the morning.
  • When following someone, there's a tradeoff between drafting and being able to see potholes or debris ahead. I found it most effective to draft on the flats, but leave space on the downhills.
  • Having that extra small front chainring helps a lot on the uphills. I am much faster than Nicole since she only has two up front.
  • There is no sales tax on bikes sold in BC.
  • Nicole and I could demolish 1 kg of trail mix as if it were an in-between-meal snack.