Cycle hiking Gabriola Island, B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

On July 1, 2020 I cycle toured Gabriola Island, the first time I’d been back to the island since I was a kid on family summer vacation.

Gabriola is about 14 kilometres (9 mi) long by 4.2 kilometres (2.6 mi) wide, about the same land mass as Bermuda.

I caught the ferry over from Nanaimo in the early evening.

Next morning, while celebrating Canada Day, I was reminded that descendants of the original inhabitants are still there — the Snuneymuxw, a First Nation of the Coast Salish People.

Sobering.

First stop was the Malaspina Galleries, a sandstone cliff carved by wind and waves. Lovely shoreline, as well.

To navigate I used Cycling the Islands: A Guide to Scenic Routes on the San Juan and Gulf Islands by John Crouch.

And Hiking Trails 2: South-Central Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands by Richard K. Blier.

Gabriola is less developed than I anticipated.  A definite hippy vibe.

I circled the island counter-clockwise, stopping next at Sandwell Provincial Park.

Popped in briefly to Joyce Lockwood Community Park.

There’s a marina and campground at Silva Bay at the far end of the island.

Cycling and hiking temperate rain forest is wonderful when it’s not raining. And the rain held off this day.

My last stop was Drumbeg Provincial Park.

One day was enough to explore Gabriola. All good. The hiking trail infrastructure is excellent for a small island. Paths well marked.

All trails are short and easy.

I recommend Gabriola.

Out There: A Voice from the Wild by Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend (born 1949) is the hiking author who’s influenced me most.

He’s written over 20 books, including Cicerone guidebooks,  and countless articles

I started with High Summer: Backpacking The Canadian Rockies (1989).

He’s most famous for The Backpacker’s Handbook.

But If you’ve never read Chris Townsend, I’d recommend you start with Out There: A Voice from the Wild. I recently read the Kindle edition while hiking on Vancouver Island.

Chris reflects back on the takeaways from all those trips.

Drawing from more than forty years of experience as an outdoorsman, and probably the world’s best known long distance walker who also writes, Chris Townsend describes the landscapes and wildlife, the walkers and climbers, and the authors who have influenced him in this lucid and beautiful book.

Writing from his home in the heart of the Cairngorms he discusses the wild, its importance to civilisation and how we cannot do without it.

Kilimanjaro Uncovered by Alexandra Tanbai

I read this book in preparation for our own Kilimanjaro climb scheduled for September 2020.

Alexandra penned Kilimanjaro Uncovered in real time while preparing and during her climb on the Northern Circuit, a little-known hiking route away from the crowds to the top of Kilimanjaro.

She provides valuable guidance for those interested in climbing themselves and tells a broader story of a truly life-changing experience.

Alex is a rookie mountain climber. She over-prepares. Is cautious and thoughtful about every aspect.

The book is very informative for anyone who has never done a serious multi-night tent trip.

I admire her courage in planning that big adventure on her own. I admire her  honesty and vulnerability sharing fears and problems on the trek, big and small.

Alexandra Tanbai made the summit. In fact everyone in her guided party made the top though one had a serious ankle injury. No helicopter was available for evacuation.

Less than a year after publishing Kilimanjaro Uncovered, Alexandra founded KiliGATE.com—the first and only online Kilimanjaro tour booking platform committed to responsible tourism.

Her goal—make it easy for tourists to book their climb with a responsible tour operator and promote fair porter treatment.

I do feel this book is too long.

It’s available in paperback and Kindle formats.

 

History of climbing K2

In advance of a trek to K2 Base Camp and Gondogoro Pass, I’m doing some reading about those insane alpinists that dare to climb the second highest peak in the world.

So much tragedy.

The 1954 Italian Karakoram expedition finally succeeded in ascending to the summit of K2 via the Abruzzi Spur on 31 July 1954. …

… 23 years after the Italian expedition, Ichiro Yoshizawa led the second successful ascent, with Ashraf Aman as the first native Pakistani climber. …

The third ascent of K2 was in 1978, via a new route, … by an American team led by James Whittaker …

I recommend K2: Life and Death on the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain. (2010) by Ed Viesturs.

Ed’s the Mount Rainier alpine guide who went on to become the most accomplished American high altitude climber.

Cautious and lucky, Ed survived 30+ expeditions to the world’s highest peaks. And he’s climbed Rainier over 200 times.

Cam Honan’s Wanderlust hiking books

The world’s most travelled hiker, Cam Honan, has 3 coffee table books in the series.

Ideal inspiration for future hikes, click through to check them out:

Wanderlust: A Hiker’s Companion (2017)

The Hidden Tracks: Wanderlust – Hiking Adventures off the Beaten Path (2018)

Wanderlust USA (2019)

Click PLAY or watch a TV feature featuring Cam on YouTube.

Cicerone hiking books 50th Anniversary

Cam Honan:

Over the past five decades, UK-based Cicerone Press has established itself as the gold standard for hiking guidebooks.

I bought my first Cicerone guide in the mid-90’s, and since that time if I’ve been planning a walking trip in Britain or continental Europe, there’s a good chance I utilised one of their books.

Apart from hiking, Cicerone also publish cycling and mountaineering guides, and in recent times have begun to expand their coverage beyond Europe, and now increasingly feature other areas around the world such as the USA, the Himalaya, Andes and Atlas mountains.

The Hiking Life

Charles Darwin was a hiker

He got into hiking in his 20s, but it was trekking and scrambling in little know wilderness on four continents visited on his five-year-long H.M.S. Beagle voyage between 1831 and 1836 that cement him as one of the most worldly hikers in history.

 “Mount Darwin” is the highest peak in Tierra del Fuego. On February 12, 1834, Captain FitzRoy named a mountain after him on his birthday. …

Mt. Darwin

Darwin walked mainly to discover plants and animals unique to those regions.

I learned all this by reading his travelogue Voyage of the Beagle.

By the way, the famous phrase “survival of the fittest” comes from Herbert Spencer’s 1864 publication, “Principles of Biology.” The term is largely thought to have been coined by Darwin regarding his thoughts on evolution; however, this is a wrong assumption.

walking the Keystone XL pipeline route

When writer Ken Ilgunas set out to walk the 1,700-mile proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline and talk to the people he met there, he expected challenging debates about climate change, energy security and national sovereignty. In researching his new book, “Trespassing Across America: One Man’s Epic, Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike Across the Heartland,” he expected to experience the wisdom of the people and decipher the pipe’s symbolic meaning. He expected enlightenment.

Instead, he found a country we wish were just a caricature: an America that does not actually value debate, or enlightenment, or wisdom at all. …

LA Times review

Ilgunas is a very interesting and thoughtful writer.

He’s personally against the pipeline.

I listened to an interview on the Backpacker Radio podcast.

The Keystone Pipeline System is an oil pipeline system in Canada and the United States, commissioned in 2010 and now owned solely by TransCanada Corporation. It runs from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta to refineries in Illinois and Texas, and also to oil tank farms and an oil pipeline distribution center in Cushing, Oklahoma. … 

 

… The proposed Keystone XL (sometimes abbreviated KXL, with XL standing for “export limited” Pipeline (Phase IV) would connect the Phase I-pipeline terminals in Hardisty, Alberta, and Steele City, Nebraska by a shorter route and a larger-diameter pipe. …