Published: September 13th 2011September 9th 2011
Thursday September 8, 2011
I went to bed super late; in fact I wouldn’t even look at my watch because I knew it was that late. That’s what happens when you put me in front of a TV after a few months of no TV. I had thought about staying another day (at the hostel) but the weather looked like it was improving and I got a fair bit accomplished last night (laundry & most of the blogs). I got a bit of a later start this morning but it was only 40 km’s to Rennell Sound; how bad could things get?
The gravel road was in much worse shape than I had hoped for. I don’t want to say it was the worst I had ridden on; but maybe it was. The road was real bumpy due to large rocks packed into a hard packed surface with (large) gravel strewn across the road. Not to mention mud with all the rain. Actually I am going to say this is the worst road conditions I have ridden. I had ridden some bad conditions in the NWT but this was bumpy due to large stones and with the
amount of gear (weight) I was pulling this was putting too much wear and tear on my poor bike. I don’t want to say I should have stayed off this road but whatever; I’m on it now.
The turn off to Rennell Sound was actually closed due to mud slides. Now I have to ask my readers if such a barrier would stop me. You know me too well; I didn’t think so either. The road so far had been a little up and down. No big climbs or drops. Turning onto the turn off the road started to climb. I also got my very first flat tire since this trip started (or 5,060 km’s). Imagine ridding that far before your first flat tire. I got the flat part way up the climb. The weather so far had been on and off light rain. The rain held off while I fixed my flat. Shortly after; the rain came harder. After reaching the top of the mountain the road obviously starts to head down wards.
With a little more than one kilometer to the bottom there is a sign that warns that the downhill is at a 25% grade.
I was hoping to get a picture of 1 of these ridding down the road. Unfortunately it was always raining. If you notice the width of the trailer. Almost as hide as the whole rode. I actually pulled over and stopped for them every time they passed.
Yes, 25% grade. If you notice when there is a steep downhill on highways they post the grade. The grade is usually 8% or 9% not 25%. This is also the part of the road where the mud slide happened. This is also about the time the rain started coming down real hard. I made it down the mountain very aware that climbing out of here would be the big problem. Once at the bottom I turned right looking for a camping spot. The road ran along the water. Evening was setting in and getting dark fast. I had already experienced being stuck in the rain and dark with no camp site the other day. I did not want to repeat that experience. Finding an appropriate camping area where I could string up my tarp was miserable. I was completely soaked along with most of my stuff. Last night I was dry and in aprivate room; tonight wetter then I had been in years. I didn't think I could get any wetter then I had gotten already on the island; but I did.
I found a spot a ways off the road and dragged my gear and bike through
the forest. I got my tarp up, cooked my hotdogs and set my tent up in the dark. I don’t know if I have a word to describe the experience. Try to imagine being in the middle of nowhere on a bike; down a closed road due to mud slides; a road that is/will be impossible to ride out of. You are in the middle of a rain forest in the pouring rain and in the dark. You are soaked; most of your gear is soaked. Can there be anywhere else in the world you would rather be? Every day that I have been on this island has been an experience. Today was at least an experience and a half.
When I was looking for a camping site I seen a seal at the shore; but he disappeared before I could get a picture.
I should also mention the significance of Rennell Sound. Rennell Sound is the most or furthest west anyone can drive their vehicle to in Canada. Obviously he you can hike or paddle further west, but you cannot drive a car further west in Canada.
Friday September 9, 2011
the rain had stopped at some point in the night. Through the canopy of the forest it seemed the sky had cleared some. I broke camp and packed up. I figured with clear skies I had better make a break for it. I had a late breakfast a little down the road at the recreation area. It was open and the sun was determined to make an appearance. I took advantage of this and dried a few things out.
It took me 2 hours to get me and my gear to the top of the mountain where the 25% grade started. I had to take my bike bags off the bike and hike them up and then return for the bike. In a few areas I was able to do a bit of peddling but mostly I had to push. I still had my trail bag in the trailer so there was nothing easy about pushing. It was a bit of a work out to say the least. None of the climbs that I have done on this whole bike trip have even come close to this climb.
This road has been real hard on the bike and
When I saw this stump (not that it is the biggest that I have seen) I immediately thought "how do you cut down such a tree and sleep at night?"
now something is out of tune already. I just had the bike tuned up in Terrace. The back tire is in desperate need of replacing as well as the brake pads.
The weather has been the best toady since getting on Queen Charlotte Islands. I would have liked to stay at Rennell Sound longer. It is a very neat area. But I see this good weather as a gift and good reason to get out because I would not want to have made that climb out in the rain. I wish I had better equipment to deal with the rain to stay.
I saw a weasel on the road and my first bear (on the island) from a distance riding back to town. The bear was of no great size and at best I had a view of his back. I mention size because these islands have the largest sub-species of black bear on them. Deer were plentiful as they have been on every part of the island. I never even got rained on at all today.
This evening I have caught the ferry off the island and have lucked out because I am catching the connecting
ferry to Port Hardy, Vancouver Island right when this ferry lands in Prince Rupert. The only thing is I wanted / needed to bring this bike in to get looked at in Prince Rupert. I will attempt to get internet access in Port Hardy and see if I can figure out how to do a bit of tuning up on my own.
A few things about Queen Charlotte Islands now that I am leaving. I am definitely glad I came here. Every day was an experience on the island. That being said; Queen Charlotte Islands are not really Islands to come here on a bike. I became very aware after riding through Tow Hill and to Rennell Sound that what this island offers is not on the roadways but on the trails. When biking your trails are the roads not the hiking trails. I believe I saw but a fraction of what the islands offer. With a vehicle and proper rain gear one has much more freedom to explore many many trails. There was a trail running along the ocean that had the last remains of a ship wreck and a recently beached whale; I would have loved to
take the time to hike it. Unfortunately as I mention that a cyclists trail is the road and “I” rarely venture far from them and am always aware of the irresistible urge to move on (down the road). I strongly recommend anyone to visit Queen Charlotte Islands. I don’t think they have seen the last of me.
I did not take the ferry to Moresby Island to ride to the town of Sandspit. My understanding of that island is that the main reason to go there is as a starting point for a kayak trip. There is a logging road that would complete a one way ride back to the ferry but I was told that it was way way worse than the logging road that I had just done. Therefore I saw no point in going to that island.
I had not given my riding kilometer since being on the island for two main reasons. Most days were not heavy riding days and there are no kilometer marker signs to go off. The island is fairly small anyways. In total I road 355 km’s while on the island.
There are more photos below