Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Marooned on an Island!

 We enjoyed the time camped at Elk Bay rec site on Discovery Passage, north of Campbell River.  The weather was a mixed bag, and even when the sun was shining, the tall trees to the south blocked much chance of solar.  Plus, it was time to replenish the propane supply!  So we headed back into Campbell river briefly.

With no real plan of where to go next, we headed back out to Lower Campbell Lake by a different route.  We found the preferred spot at Burnt Beach vacant, so gladly moved in, and managed to get close to level.  We had to go through this very solid looking gate along the way.

Ms Hailey has been eyeing up a lot of the trees around here, trying to decide how best to climb them with 3 legs.  Well, she surprised me by climbing up about 5 feet, and hung there a while before deciding to retreat.  She was too fast for a photo though.
(Video of camp spot)

We spent three nights at that rec site.  It was wonderfully peaceful and quiet, like most of my camp spots have been on this trip.  We debated going further north on this trip, and finally decided to go for it.  Some of the rec sites along the highway were marked as closed, so that usually means a gate, so we avoided those ones.  We did go south of Woss and checked out the one on the north end of the lake, but it was heavily treed, quite uneven, and most importantly was pretty much full of what appeared to be long term or permanent residents, possibly working in the area? 
Last summer we had checked out a site on the very south end of Nimpkish Lake, but after a very long, overgrown dirt trail, it was found to be very small, with hardly room to turn the truck around. So it was easy to skip that one this trip.  But the map showed another one just up the lake a ways.  Most of these spots do not have signs on the highway, so you have to try and figure out how to get to them.  After going down an unmarked road, it was a pleasant surprise to find a long, narrow rec site along the shore of the lake.  My map showed it was called Kinman Creek, but the sign at the entrance called it Nimpkish Lake rec site, so we'll go with that, I guess.  It was a great spot, stretched out for about 500 yds along the shore with all sites right on the water.  There were a few rigs present, but there is enough room for good separation and privacy.  I even managed to heat up my solar shower ... :-)

I had some beach wood with me from Elk Bay, but even after split it seemed a bit wet, so it was nice to find literally tons of mostly dry driftwood just waiting to feed the fire!
It was tempting to stay more than a night, but morning proved cool and cloudy, so we kept on heading north.  I hadn't been to Port Alice in a while, so that's where we headed next.  Marble River rest area and rec site was a good place to stop for a break, but the rec site itself was gated and closed.  It looked like there had been some recent extreme winds and a lot of blowdown in the area, so I suspect that is why it was closed.  Onward into Port Alice for a look around.  An attempt to go south of the closed pulp mill south of town was discouraged by very poor road conditions, so backtrack it was.

The pulp mill appears to have been closed for years, but there is still security and workers around, so I suspect they are starting to dismantle it, or reduce it's impact on the environment, etc?
Heading back from Port Alice, we took another logging road leading to the end of Rupert Inlet.  Many of the roads out here have signs warning of active logging traffic, and are radio controlled for commercial users.  Recreational users have to use lots of caution to avoid getting run over!  I usually scan multiple radio frequencies when on these roads, and I have my amateur radio I can tune in and talk back if necessary.
The map showed another rec site there, and we did find a couple of long-abandoned outhouses, but it seems like this one is no longer in official existence.  It does not appear on the official Recreation Sites and Trails BC website, so I guess that is the case.  Notwithstanding, there is enough space for a number of rigs, with great views of the inlet.  Skies were overcast and grey, but we set up and had another peaceful night with ocean view.

With no solar about to happen in the morning, we continued on into Port Hardy.

Ate breakfast on the waterfront, before heading out to check the Georgie Lake rec site.  Found it had too many trees and a bit too rough with only marginal lake views.  Next, we hung out near the ferry terminal, watching the ferries come and go, while getting caught up online.  One ferry departed, then returned and docked again 15 minutes later! Trouble, or just crew training?

Then we headed back to Port McNeill, where there is a spot right on the water with great views, but still close to town.  Weather was a very mixed bag; driving rain, brief sunshine and calm, then howling winds, more rain.  At high tide the waves in this relatively sheltered area were crashing within 20 feet of the rig.  With no better weather in the forecast, it was time to just hunker down and enjoy the occasional break for Hailey to get out and explore.  The sun really tried to come out on the final morning as we departed for points south.

There are some higher elevation sections of the road as we moved south past Woss and Sayward.  It was easy to see that the rain we had received down at sea level was heavy snow up here.

After being on the road for almost a month, and avoiding the snow at home, we thought it might be time to go home and see how my skating rink and hot tub were holding up!  Pretty sure there is no grass to mow there yet - unless you want to use the snowblower first!
But then, a quick check of the weather and road reports, put that plan on hold indefinitely.  Days and days of snow were forecast, and there had been some major pile-ups of up to 70 vehicles on area highways!   :-(

So, I guess Hailey and I will just be marooned on this island for a while longer! 
We'll check in later.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Finding new free campsites on Vancouver Island. Lake and ocean-front.

 We haven't been out to the area of Tofino and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in a few years, so that was our next planned destination.  The plan did not go as well as expected.  They are doing major work on the section of road past Kennedy Lake, with major amounts of rock blasting and re-alignment.  


This results in road delays of several hours, though you are given warning from flashing sign boards along the way.  I finally convinced myself to buy an annual park pass (when you have lived and worked in a National Park for 30 years, it doesn't really seem fair?).  But the information office at the junction was closed.  Not sure if it was a Covid thing, or a seasonal thing.  Several logging roads leading out of the park were my preferred parking spots for the night, but they had all been blocked off or gated.  So, I resigned myself to staying in Green Point campground with all the surfers.  Well ... the road to the campground was gated, and there is not even a sign on the highway anymore.  It must have closed permanently for some reason? 

 I guess Pac Rim is trying to be like Banff and build a cycling/walking trail alongside the highway.  But this requires the destruction of a whole lot of huge old timber, new bridges, rock work, and though parts of it are almost finished, some parts have the ambience of a cut-over!  I know it will be nice when finished, but I'd hate to see the price tag.  Speaking of cut-overs... up around the airport (not sure if that is within park boundaries or not, there IS many, many acres of clearcut logging, with huge burnpiles of what used to be habitat.

The park has gone all 'Disney' with some of the park signage, too.

With the apparent lack of camping, no information at the info centre, the signs, and the lovely logging areas, I'd had enough.  I didn't even go have a look at the ocean - without a vending machine permit for my window.  We turned around and headed back through the construction zone we had just come through.  Found a nice quiet side trail for the night, and came up with a new plan!

I had been perusing my maps, and spotted a number of intriguing camp spots in the vicinity of Campbell Lake, which is near the city of Campbell River, half way up the island.  So that's where we headed next.  There are quite a few forest service rec sites along one section of lake shore and I wanted to see them all before picking a spot.  Found a nice spot at Burnt Beach rec site for the first night.

It looks like a great spot in the summer, with a nice little bay for swimming.  Someone else already had the best site with sun exposure, so after one night we carried on. Another spot down the lake is on the portage to Gosling lake.  They have even provided resting spots along the road/portage route to hold your canoe!

Overall, there were few campers out, but this rig had taken the best view spot in this rec site.

 Next, we found a spot at Dogwood Bay rec site.  Water levels were low, so we were right down on the bare beach, which would be under water at other times of the year.

While my phone wasn't picking up much service, my mobile router with MIMO antenna was rocking it. Peaceful, quiet, isolated location, with plenty of connectivity!  We spent 3 or 4 days there, with frequent rain showers.  We exited the lake in another direction, discovering the brand new rec site they have built to replace one closed below a dam.  Wow, pretty darn fancy and well engineered for a free campsite.  I'm sure it will be packed all summer when the locals discover it.

Next, it was decided to visit some previously enjoyed spots from last summer, as we continued northward up the island.  First was McCreight Lake, on the Rock Bay forest service road.  Managed some marginal cell service here.

Next, it was on to Little Bear Bay, another free camp, but this time on the ocean - no service here this time.  This is on the inside passage up to Alaska, so there are lots of barges, tugs, and the occasional ferry going past in the distance.

Since this was an exploration trip, we took a new route leaving there, and discovered another great spot at Elk Bay.  It's on the same channel a bit further south, but the boats and log booms pass much closer here.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate for any good aerial surveillance.

There was a log dump nearby, where they sort logs and form up log booms to be towed to the mills.

US Coast Guard  ship John McCormick headed north to Ketchican, Ak.

Till next time...



Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Blogger disappears me again!

 Published a new blog post yesterday, but Google didn't update on anyone else's sidebar.

If I published and no one reads it, did it really happen.

See yesterdays post below!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Traveling up Vancouver Island in the spring.

 We were camped on the western shore of southern Vancouver Island, enjoying the rocky beach below and keeping track of all the ships going in and out of Vancouver and Seattle ports via the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  We were parked in a 'scenic' clear-cut with a great ocean view because Mystic Beach 'campground' is only accessible from the Juan de Fuca Marine trail, and has about enough space (at high tide) for one medium sized tent.  (Perhaps there were more sites hidden above in the trees?)

Before heading further north, we backtracked into Sooke to re-stock with supplies.  While there, we made a run up to Sooke Potholes Provincial Park to have a look at the river.

Headed up the coast to Port Renfrew.  Masked up and made a brief stop there to check on their Covid protocols.

I thought things were a bit fishy, but the sign hooked me!


On the drive across the island on this road last summer, I had spotted this camp spot; this time it was unoccupied, so we moved in for the night.  It's right under the bridge, but there is virtually no traffic at night, so that was not an issue.

Next day, there was a bit of snow remaining roadside on the 1200' summit on the way to Lake Cowichan, but none at the lower elevations.  We frittered away most of the day getting caught up online etc, so when evening came we were parked right by the small ferry terminal in Crofton, on the east side of the island.  Rain returned, but despite being in town, in it was a quite uneventful night.


 Sun came out in the morning briefly, and we were rewarded with a nice sunrise over the water.

Spent a bit of time walking around the waterfront and marina in Ladysmith.  I did some shopping for a suitable watercraft.  The first one was advertised as needing some TLC and minor fire damage!

The next one was 'guaranteed not so sink', as long as you kept it on shore, but it was in my price range at least!

 There was even a boathouse I could rent for cheap ;-)

Before I get complaints from the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce, that appears to be the 'unnoficial', 'discount' area to moor your boat!  Here's what the regular marina looks like.

(Blogger editor refuses to remove the underline!!!)


We found a trail later in the day to Cable Bay, that was a nice hike to the shore through big timber.  The parking lot cleared out in the evening, and there were no signs, so ...  Next morning I was surrounded by loggers and logging 'security' guards, crashihg trees, and a working feller-buncher!  They were polite, but I decided to leave, so they could cut the trees I was parked beside.  :-(  Indications are that it is a hot-button issue with the locals there and I can't say I blame them.


Hailey napped when we stopped at Wheatcroft Park in Nanaimo for a look around.