Cycling Vancouver Island

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

My favourite month in Canada is September.

Weather is still good. Yet the tourists have mostly headed home.

I’d always wondered if it was possible to cycle logging roads — then bushwhack to the trailhead of Della Falls on Great Central Lake.

As expected, it’s nearly impossible. I never made it. 😀

But I’d wanted to do a gear check on my old Ghost touring bike in any case. Della Falls was an excuse to get out into the wilderness.

The only official campsite in the area is Lowry Lake. Very nice. But I passed by too early in the day. So ended up wild camping 2 nights.

Logging is horrible on Vancouver Island. Very few people see the vast swaths of clearcut hidden away from pavement.

BUT they certainly make the island wilderness accessible for anyone on a good bike.

I ended up camping 2 nights. The first on a sand bar in the Ash river. There are more bears than people in this part of the island. I thought I’d keep myself well clear of any animal trails.

The second night I pitched on a quiet lake where I’d stayed twice in the past.

My meandering route ended up looking something like this.

Vancouver Island is fantastic.

FREE Wild Camping in Norway

Report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

I hiked and bikepacked Norway for many weeks summers of 2018 and 2022.

Norway IS expen$ive. The best way to lower your holiday costs is to sleep FREE in your tent.

A longstanding law called allemannsretten (loosely translated as ‘the right to roam’) allows everyone to wild camp virtually anywhere in open country, for free.

Langøyene island, a 15-minute ferry ride away from Oslo, has grassy glades to pitch up in, right next to the fjord. Sognsvann lake, north of Oslo, is another good spot. …

CAMPING IN NORWAY: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

That sounds GREAT.

However — it’s a small percentage of Norway that is both flat enough and dry enough to pitch a tent. I was happy I carried a foam sleeping pad as well as my air mattress. I put it UNDER the tent to keep everything a little drier.

If you can’t find a good free spot, it’s easy to locate one of the 1,000 or so paid campsites.

Protection from the wind is another problem. I did hear of wind breaking tent poles. It’s often gusty.

A hiker had recommended this free spot in Sommarøy⁩. Ideal. Wooden tent pad with protection from the ocean wind.

I like having a picnic table to organize gear and sit down for meals.

This was the closest free site I could find near Svolvær⁩. No picnic table.

Here are a few more typical sites.

Last night tenting, I found my MSR Hubba™ NX Easton Syclone tentpole had brokensomehow. It’s the most unreliable part of MSR tents, along with their lightweight zippers.

My favourite campsite was Uttakleiv Beach, Lofoten. But this cost $20 / night. It’s the trailhead for the Veggen and the more popular Mannen climbs.

Cycling the Great Himalaya Trail

Mangal Lama, professional mountain biking guide from Kathmandu, is currently solo riding the Nepal section of the Great Himalaya Trailas high as possible. About 70 days.

Locked-down at home due to Covid-19, he decided to try to be first to complete the #GHTonWheels, and bring attention to the imminent dangers of climate change.

Click PLAY or watch his story on YouTube.

FINALLY – the Camino de Santiago

I’ve many times been asked IF I’d done the Camino. Surprisingly, the answer was NO. Until now. 😀

The Camino de Santiago … known in English as the Way of St James … is a network of pilgrims’ ways or pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition holds that the remains of the apostle are buried.

As with most hikes that can be cycled, I prefer to cycle. At least 10% of pilgrims cycle rather than walk or arrive on horseback. They are known as ‘bicigrinos’ or ‘bicigrinas’, bike pilgrims.

My PLAN is to ride León to the famous cathedral. About 325km. Perhaps a week. No rush.

The total length starting in France is 825km.

You need to cycle at least 200km in order to receive a Compostela certificate in Santiago (as opposed to minimum 100km walking).

Nearly 350,000 Compostela pilgrim certificates were issued in 2019. I won’t be lonely. 😀

The Camino Francés, or French Way, is by far the most popular of many routes. Roughly 60% of pilgrims choose this camino over other options.

Though no guidebook is needed, I picked up a paper copy of Mike Wells’ Cycling the Camino de Santiago (2019). I’d listened to a good interview with the author.

Wish me luck.

Many folks only know the famous pilgrimage from the 2010 Martin Sheen movie. It’s very good, by the way.

Click PLAY or watch the trailer on YouTube.

500 Days in the Wild

Dianne Whelan is making a film about her solo adventures on the non-motorized Great Trail (the Trans Canada Trail).

From pushing 150-pounds of bike and packs over rocks, to hiking through flooded bogs, paddling the largest lake in the world, snowshoeing through dense coniferous forests, skiing across wind-blown plains, the trail beckons.

Dianne travels the ‘Old Way’, the slow way of the turtle,seeking wisdom from those that live close to the land, asking the questions “what have we forgotten?”

“What do we need to know?”

500daysinthewild.com

Click PLAY or watch a teaser on YouTube.

related – Is it called the Trans Canada Trail … OR Great Trail?

Hiking Prince Edward Island

Everyone loves PEI, one of the Canadian Maritime provinces.

Population only about 165,000.

Nora, Marian, Danny, and Bryson were first to do the NEW Island Walk as a thru hike.

  • 700 km
  • 32 sections
  • one month
  • easy compared with most other thru hikes

A detailed guidebook is available:

Digital: Etsy
Paperback: The Bookmark

I’ve cycled a lot of PEI myself. As it’s quite flat, I’m predicting cycling the Island Walk will be even more popular. Alasdair Veitch cycled it.

Details on theIslandWalk.ca

Hiking the Faroe Islands

If Iceland seems too tame for you, consider hiking the Faroe Islands, an autonomous country of the Kingdom of Denmark.

I’m hoping to get there myself next summer. 

Click PLAY or get a glimpse via Rannvá Joensen on YouTube.   (4K)

 

Some of the best hikes include:

  • Lake Sørvágsvatn, Bøsdalafossur Waterfall
  • Kallur Lighthouse, island of Kalsoy
  • Slættaratindur (882m)
  • Mykines Lighthouse
  • Draganir (Sea Stacks)

Here’s a hiking map of the islands.

It’s included in an excellent free hiking guide (PDF).

I’m planning to arrive by ferry from Denmark on my touring bicycle.

Dreaming …

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