With the sun shining we not only started our sixth year of living on the road we also were headed to a “new” location for the first time in what seemed like forever. Since the Covid pandemic started early in 2020 we have become a lot more sedentary than what we have become accustomed too. If we look back at the kilometers that we have explored over the first four years of our journey we have ranged anywhere from just under 12,000 km to our busiest year of almost 22,500 km but our fifth year we only travelled 2,300 km. In fact this is the first time that we actually put more kilometers on our bicycles then the motorhome, we explored the Okanagan Valley to a tune of 3,300 km by using our leg power. This actually is also our lowest cycling total as well because it was our fist winter where we were in winter and without cold weather cycling gear our bicycles stayed put from December to March.
Our travels to the Sunshine Coast took us on a 40 minute ferry ride. The Sunshine Coast in British Columbia is actually part of mainland BC but is only accessible by either boat, plane or ferry. Since we were taking our home we chose the ferry ride! It is across Horseshoe Bay from Vancouver and across the Georgia Strait from Vancouver Island. To the north it is separated from the rest of BC by the Coastal Mountain range. The first 2 weeks we spent in Sechelt. The name Sechelt is derived from the Sechelt language word, shishalh, the name of the First Nations people who first settled the area thousands of years ago. Now it is a tourist destination for its rugged beauty.
After getting settled in Bayside Campground and Site #20 which we were calling home for the next 2 weeks. It is situated just outside of the town boundaries and up the east side of Porpoise Bay. With the sky blue and beautiful weather the next day we decided to get the bicycles out and explore the countryside. Our first ride took us up along the Bay to Tuwanek. To get there we had to climb up 135 meters to the top of the hill before racing down the other side. Since there is only one paved road that goes this way we had to turn around and climb back up that hill. The “backside” of the hill was the same elevation but the grade was a lot steeper. It was a great workout and we ended up coming back into Sechelt and then east along the coast to Davies Bay. To top off a great day as we were enjoying the view of the Strait of Georgia and Vancouver Island on the horizon 2 orca whales swam by us!
We had 2 other great cycling loops as well. These did not have hills that were 100 meters high but lots and lots of 50 to 80 meter hills with grades of up to 18%. Our legs were forced back into cycling shape. The one loop took us up the west side of the Bay before looping back towards the Strait, past the Botanical Gardens and on of the area cideries. This was well placed and was at the highest point of our ride. So after stopping and tasting some of their ciders we headed back into town and home. The other loop took us out to Halfmoon Bay, situated about 20 kilometers west of Sechelt. This one we followed the coastline which took us up and down as the coastline was far from being flat. Both of these were great rides as well.
We also drove back on the motorcycles to Gibsons and Langdale. These are the 2 villages that are at the eastern edge of the Sunshine Coast. We spent a couple hours walking around downtown in Gibsons going in a few of the local shops. Gibsons was made famous in Canada due to the tv show called The Beachcombers. One of Canada’s longest running tv series. Our visit here was cut short as the clouds came in and made for a wet ride home.
Other outings that we enjoyed experienced here were some wonderful walks or hikes. A nice walk downtown ending up being over 8 kilometers ending up at the Lighthouse Marine Pub and rewarding ourselves with a nice fish and chip dinner and one of the best seats in the house. Sitting along the edge of the patio looking out into Porpoise Bay, watching the starfish down in the water and the float planes coming home for the day. Then a few days later with some unsettled weather which we stayed closer to home this time and walked up the road and to Burnett Falls Park. This walk was mostly along the road but the last half kilometer was up a ravine in the park to a nice waterfall. The walk home took us along the shore of the Bay with the tide out and walking on the rocks and stones that half the time are under water.
At the top of the hill that we cycled up the other day is a nature reserved called Hidden Grove. Hidden Groves, combined with the Sechelt Heritage Forest, have over 16 kilometres of hiking trails including two wheelchair accessible trails. The routes of the smooth and well marked trails thoughtfully weave through the 170 acres to allow everyone a private experience of this magical forest. Most of the trails are in the trees and very few views. The lush forest floor covered in fallen moss covered logs and lots of ferns was very pretty. We did manage to find 3 lookouts that gave us some nice views of the surrounding waterways and mountains. Also on the trails were highlighted some “giants” that have been growing here in this old growth forest for by some estimates close to 1,000 years.
We also celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary here in Sechelt. June 11th was forecast to be a rainy day so we decided to rent a car and drive west to Pender Harbour and go for a hike to the top of Mount Daniel. This was a nice climb through the forest up 450 meters over a trek of 2.5 kilometers. The rain held off and we were rewarded with a spectacular view looking out over the Harbour and out onto the Strait. After feeling a few drops of rain we decided to head back down to the car. An hour up and an hour down and we stayed dry all the way. We continued up to Egmont and Earl’s Cove as the rain started to come. After turning around when we hit the ferry terminal we drove back to Pender Harbour Hotel and the Grasshopper Pub where we had an anniversary dinner of fish and chips with a side of butter chicken poutine. It was an amazing view and amazing food.
Most of our other time in Sechelt was spent looking for more orcas at Davies Bay, buying stone beads at the Gem Store for June’s beading passion and just watching the eagles soar overhead as we worked out at our site. So, the first two weeks on the Sunshine Coast did give us some nice sunny days with some non sunny days thrown in as well. It also gave us an appreciation for the rugged beauty of the area. Orcas, eagles, ferns and pines but no bears!
So after two very nice weeks in Sechelt it was time to move further north up the Sunshine Coast. This drive took us to Earl’s Cove where we had to catch a ferry. This ferry was a non reservable ferry so we arrived about 90 minutes ahead of time. Once on board we sailed across the Jervis Inlet to Saltery Bay, approximately 40 minutes. Then we had another 32 km to go to Powell River and Willingdon Beach Campground.
This is a city run campground that is right in the city on the beach. Our site #20 was tucked in the corner of the campground at the far end of the park. When the tide was at high tide we were probably about 10 meters from the Strait of Georgia and about 5 meters above the water level. We had a nice view through the trees however a few less trees would not have hurt.
We got our home set up and decided to walk down to the beach, about 200 meters and then along the waters edge and into the downtown. We spent a couple hours then at the Coastal Cookery enjoying some calamari and some fish and chips. Along with a couple local dark beers and relatively local ciders. With a view of the water and the snow covered peaks on Vancouver Island a little over 30 kilometers across the water, it was stunning.
The next day we started to explore. There are lots of walking/hiking trails throughout the area so we strolled along the Willingdon Beach Trail. It was an old logging road/railway from the early 1900s and rain about 2.5 kilometers just in the trees along the water towards the pulp mill. We split the walk between the very rocky stoney beach and the trail. They did a very nice job of an outdoor museum with lots of plaques along the trail talking about the trees but also about all the old logging equipment that is now on display all the way along. We ended up back at the beach at the far end of the trail and just off in the distance was a mother and daughter and their dog, Cedar. We walked over to see Cedar and they were sitting there watching and taking pictures of a pair of Bald Eagles and their nest with a young chick in it. We hung with them for a little while and were treated to a bit of a show with the eagle fishing for food for they young chick.
Our next outing was on our bicycles. We headed over to Powell Lake. As we found in Sechelt, there are no flat roads around here. Nothing drastically high but some really good 100 meter hills with grades posted of 14 degrees. The first few kilometers we were not impressed as there were lots of dump trucks and logging trucks that just did not care you were on a bicycle. We almost turned around but were glad we did not because the ride up to Wildwood as a good leg exercise and had a nice bike lane as well.
The following day we decided to leave the bicycles in the trailer and took the Harleys over to a small city park called Valentine Mountain. After parking in the parking lot we had to walk about 500 meters to some very old stone steps. There were approximately 100 steps that took us up to a nice little rock lookout with a secondary loop around the top. We had a fantastic view of the “Hulks” and the Pulp Mill and the Strait and Vancouver Island. The “Hulks” are old World War 2 warships that have been chained together to make a logging pond and break wall for the mill. On the other side of the top we had a nice view up Lake Powell. Lake Powell was formed when the mill damned the Powell River to utilize the power of the water. Powell River is now considered the world’s second shortest river at just 500 meters. Sorry, I do not know the shortest as the signage did not tell us!
After arriving back at our motorcycles we drove about 5 kilometers to the parking lot of Shingle Mill Pub down on Lake Powell. Here we parked them and joined the Sunshine Coast Trail. This is a trail that runs 180 kilometers and stretches the length of the Sunshine Coast from tip to tip. We only did a short section of it as we climbed up Scout Mountain. We walked 3 kilometers and up 350 meters to the peak of the mountain. The last half of the climb gave us some amazing views of the ruggedness of the area. We did not linger long at the top as we were starting to get hungry and the Cliff Bar was not near as good as the fish and chips waiting for us down below at the pub.
We were very lucky here as well and had some very nice neighbours, Diane, Brad and Poppi. We enjoyed conversation around the campfire a few times in the evening. After so long of restrictions it was very nice to get to met people again. The fact that they had an adorable dog did not hurt either!
We have always been attracted to Farmer’s Markets and Powel River had a nice little one. So Sunday morning we decided to brave the bicycles again and found some good cycling roads. The main road south out of town took us along the water which is always beautiful and then we looped back around town through more rural farmland before we found the Farmer’s Market. We arrived a little early so we cycled past the Market on the back road for about a kilometer before June spotted something move down a laneway. We circled back and almost came face to face with a big black bear. He did stop and look at us but decided the berries he was eating were better for him then us and soon wandered off into the bush.
We planned another outing on the Harleys. This one took us to the end or start of Highway 101 in Lund, BC. It is the end or start of Pacific Coastal Route. A series of highways that stretch from Lund, BC to Quellon, Porto Monte, Chile, 15,202 kilometers. There is not a lot to do day tripping to Lund, it is more a starting point of some back water and back country adventures but there is a restaurant that sits on Okeover Arm just outside of Lund called the Laughing Oyster. We went there for some spectacular food with views of the surrounding area to match.
We rounded out our week in Powell River walking along the beach and checking on the eagles. On the one walk at low tide we discovered lots and lots of starfish that were nestled into the crevasses of the rocks waiting for the water to come back to them. That was so cool. Almost every night we walked down to the beach to see sunset. It is amazing how late the sunsets this far north.
It is a beautiful place to be!