Day 3: Saltery Bay PP to Fillongley Provincial Park - Four-day Sunshine Coast Loop - CycleBlaze

August 11, 2014

Day 3: Saltery Bay PP to Fillongley Provincial Park

On the road at 8 again to get to Powell River before too much traffic and heat. I suppose I could have used and alarm and started early enough to make the 8:10 ferry, but I wanted to have time to stop if I saw something interesting and to explore Powell River if I wanted. The second ferry departs at noon.

I was impressed by this section of highway. The shoulder was wide (for BC, about a metre) all the way and there wasn't much traffic compared to the southern part of the Sunshine Coast. Very pleasant, except for the rising temperature.

In Powell River I stopped at a bike shop to get screw-in bar plugs (why do even expensive bikes come with the cheap plastic ones that fall out with the least excuse?) and then at Breakwater Books where I bought a paper journal. I remembered this fabulous bookstore from a kayaking trip a few years ago and when I decided to keep a paper journal (to enable me to write this), somehow I knew where I would buy it.

Waiting to get on the ferry, I leaned my bike against the fence behind two Dawes bikes, one with panniers and one with a trailer. Dawes bikes, and on the trailer was a BC flag on a whip and an Alberta car licence plate under one of the bungies. When they returned, I learned that the riders were German and had started in Vancouver. They were planning to work their way down Vancouver Island to Victoria and take the ferry to Port Angeles, then continue south. A fellow from Powell River who introduced himself as a member of a cycling group advocating for better cycle touring facilities on the Sunshine Coast and I gave them some route suggestions.

I also learned from him that it is possible to continue riding up to Lund and then take a water taxi across to Cortes Island. From there, one can ride across Cortes and take a ferry to Quadra Island, ride across Quadra and take a ferry to Campbell River on Vancouver Island. This would be expensive to do solo, but maybe I'll try it for a future trip.

The ferry crossing was long enough to recharge my bike bike computer for the rest of the trip (I hoped). I should have used and outlet while I was sitting in the bookstore cafe.

From the ferry, the Germans and I rode toward Comox; they turned off to stay in Comox while I followed Anderson Road all the way to Comox Road and turned to follow the estuary. Very pleasant route! Across the bridge (unfortunately Highway 19A uses the same bridge) and onto the Courtenay Riverway multi-use path. I would be on the highway later, but it's a busy arterial through town which I prefer to avoid. I left the river way near its end but soon enough to visit the last big grocery store on my way out of town.

I wasn't sure where I was going to camp. The next provincial park with camping wasn't until Parksville and I knew I couldn't ride that far. I wasn't aware of any other options on my route, so when I saw the Denman Island ferry beginning to load as I arrived at Bulkley Bay, and knowing there was a Provincial Park with camping on the island, I took the chance.

Martha Barchyn (from whose journal I learned a lot before taking my trip) says of this part of the route, "The ferry hill on Denman is steep but the next hill, on the way to Fillongley Park, is even steeper. Brace yourself!" She was lucky--she doesn't mention loose gravel. Whoever does the road maintenance on Denman Island had just (that day, I think) spread tar and dumped loose gravel on top. Eventually this solidifies but it hadn't yet. That second hill was impossible for me to ride up with the loose gravel. I could barely keep my feet after dismounting; it was like walking on marbles. I managed to get on the other side of my bike and walk on the narrow verge, pushing my bike. Luckily for me there were no cars on the road except for one heading downhill who shouted "you can make it!" as they went by.

I arrived at the Provincial Park to discover that there are only 10 campsites of which 8 had been reserved for that night and the other two were already occupied. Another bit of luck--the people in one of the two "first-come" sites told me that one of the reserved sites was theirs but they had taken this one instead. They were not using the site they had reserved, and since it still had a "reserved" sign on it, it was still vacant. I learned later from the Park Facility Operator that they never turn away cyclists--there is an overflow are they use for campers arriving by bike. I don't know whether this is BC Parks policy, but I'd love to know.

I just had to take a photo of this--south of Powell River on Highway 101
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I love these old park dedication signs from the 1950s
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Today's ride: 75 km (47 miles)
Total: 180 km (112 miles)

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