Part 3: Sunshine coast, Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands (Day 36 – Day 59)

Sunshine Coast

We ended up staying with a the sister of a friend of mine in Vancouver, which worked out well for us. She lived near Commercial drive which was not only a neat place to explore, but close to the Skytrain and cycling trails – Vancouver has an amazing bike infrastructure system. We stayed here for a couple of days, exploring, eating and drinking before setting off for the last leg of our adventure: Sunshine coast and Vancouver Island/Gulf Islands.

Setting up the bikes outside a skytrain station in Vancouver

We started this part of our journey by taking a quick detour through Stanley Park before going up some hills towards Horseshoe Bay Terminal. We took the ferry to Langdale where we found a pretty sweet spot to set up camp. It was a neat find since it was in-between two properties with large trees. We were well hidden from the roads and felt pretty stealthy.

Admiring the view from the ferry

The perfect camping spot

The next morning we wanted to head out to Smuggler’s Cove, but we didn’t quite make it on time. We passed too much time near a beach area soaking up the sun and people watching. As the end of the day drew near, we were desperate for places to camp. At the end, we found an old logging road that became an unofficial dumping ground for people. Despite the junk nearby, we were able to find a spot to put up our tent. The next morning, we went down the road towards Smuggler’s Cove however found that the camping sites had no water and were difficult to get to via bike. We decided to turn back, but we were getting grumpy due to our low water supply. It took us a while to find a stream of water to filter and even when we did, we were not sure if the water was safe to drink. Luckily, we were able to make it to Madeira Park and found an IGA which meant actual food for a change! We ended up sleeping on an abandoned RV campsite which was (again) fairly hidden from the general public.

Beach along the sunshine coast near Sechelt

Catching a gull admiring the view

Fisherman throwing out his crab trap

Resting at Madeira park

During our trip, we met some great people who helped us, from giving us water/food to telling us about great places to visit. We met at least two people who recommended that we make the trek to Egmont. We weren’t quite sure what was waiting for us there, but we would not regret it. The campground we stayed on was spectacular – there were free range chickens and the host even gave us access to their canoe. The big attraction which was nearby was the Skookumchuck rapids, a spot known for their standing waves due to the long inlet. The tide coming in and out meet each other and produce an interesting standing tidal wave.

Getting ready for a day of canoeing and fishing in Egmont

This chicken is beautiful!

Skookumchuck rapids at the “medium” level

This hammock on the peninsula in Egmont was calling our names

PE spent hours fishing and eventually caught a small trout

The next ferry we took along the Sunshine coast was from Earl’s Cove to Saltery Bay. We met other cyclists on the way, but they were in a rush to get to Vancouver Island, while we were simply taking our time. We eventually found a nice beach spot to make our lunch and relax. We didn’t cycle nearly as much as we did in the beginning of our tour due to the nice weather, beaches and ocean! However, we did make it to Powell River where we were able to eat well, fish and drink some lovely local brewed beer.

Fishermen in their waders

Trying to fish with our improvised system

It wasn’t too bad, we caught this guy

Vancouver Island/Gulf Islands

From Powell River, we took a ferry to Little River (near Comox) on Vancouver Island. Here, we experienced our only other bike problem: a broken gear cable. Unfortunately, we we did not carry a spare cable on us but luckily, the bike shop wasn’t too far away. After a quick fix, we headed off on Highway 19A towards Nanaimo, but first we would stop at Cathedral Grove to see the old growth forests.

The magical Cathedral Grove

Tree synapse

In Nanaimo, we would have another Warmshowers host which was nice – we discovered non-alchoholic radlers and ate some of the best maple fudge. We had to (of course) eat a Nanaimo bar and PE had the best cream ale of his life at White Sails. Before we knew it, we were off to Gabriola island followed by Salt Spring Island, Galiano Island and Saturna Island. These were all wonderful places to relax and take it easy before heading towards Victoria. Our last Warmshowers host in Victoria was actually an old colleague of mine that I found on the website by chance. He gave us some cool parts of Victoria to check out and let us take apart our bikes in his small little basement apartment, which we greatly appreciated. And just like that, we were done our first cycling tour – what a journey!

Getting geared up to go to Gabriola Island

Malaspina Galleries on Gabriola Island

Low tide at the twin beaches on Gabriola Island

Smokey skies on Salt Spring Island

Hanging out with the gulls on Galiano Island

Admiring this dead tree that found its way to the shore

All our bikes piled into my friend’s small apartment (already filled with bikes)

All in all, our time out on the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver island/Gulf islands was phenomenal. If you want to bike this, you’ll have to be get ready for a ton of hills as you’ll see  below. Despite the hills, we felt like it was well worth it!

Sunshine coast pathway:

Distance: ~151 km (Excludes Ferry distances)

A look at our elevation profile (using RouteElevation) from Vancouver to Powell River:

Start altitude: 31 m
End altitude: 48 m
Minimum altitude: 0 m
Maximum altitude: 197 m

Note: negative elevation and 0 m is from ferry ride

Our pathway on Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands:

Distance: ~325 km (Excludes ferry rides with Gabriola/Galiano/Saturna Island rides)

*Note: I reached the limit of locations to put on Google Maps so Gabriola,Galiano and Saturna island biked distances are not on the map

A look at our elevation profile (using RouteElevation) from Little River to Victoria:

 

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