Not only was this my first bikepacking trip of 2017, but it also happened to be with some radical riders I’d recently met at #coffeeoutsideyvr: @foundinthemountains, @srauer, @darrengillespie, @woodwheels, @thesonofhans and @patvalade! Amongst Vancouver’s snowmageddon winter, the weatherman was predicting sun for a couple days over the Family Day long weekend so we decided to head to the Sunshine Coast.
Before meeting up with the gang at Ambleside Park in West Vancouver, I loaded up on trail mix, sesame sticks, chocolate and probably a few too many bananas. These trail treats filled what I dubbed as my “sin bin”, a 1.75 liter yogurt container I duct taped and cut holes into. I wired it up to my handlebar so I could feed with ease while riding.
We rode the cycling route along the water as far as we could until connecting to Marine Drive. As we swooped up and down the West Vancouver hills we caught glimpses of our sunny northerly destination which only added to our excitement. As usual, Marine Drive was mostly populated by roadies. We played a game to see how many responses we could get from our over-joyous waves and hellos. We didn’t do so well.
We arrived at the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal with enough time to grab some pizza slices and make some coffees on the camp stove. The ferry ride to Langdale was beautiful, passing Bowen Island, Keats Island and Gambier Island in the Howe Sound. Nearly an hour later, we were riding our bikes off the ferry and up the Langdale hill towards Gibsons. It’s amazing how a short ferry ride is all it takes to escape the city and become surrounded by the friendly, quiet and modest nature of the Sunshine Coast.
We heard Persephone Brewery was at the top of the Langdale hill so we decided to break there and reward ourselves with beer and cider. The brewery had some delicious looking wood oven fired pizzas but I had already filled up on subpar pizza in Horseshoe Bay so I decided to hold off until the following day.
We stopped in Gibsons for groceries and booze before heading towards Roberts Creek where we would setup camp for the night. I expected the road to Roberts Creek to be full of short, steep hills like West Vancouver’s Marine Drive, however they were more stretched out and gradual which was nice. After setting up camp in Roberts Creek, we ripped down to the ocean to catch the glorious sunset over Vancouver Island. We met a local lady named Kim and told her what we were up to. She thought we were absolutely crazy for camping in the winter. She graciously offered us some firewood and invited us into her house so we could fill up on water. We didn’t hesitate to accept.
As soon as we arrived back at camp, we got a fire started and filled our stomachs with a variety of scrumptious foods including ramen, crackers and cheese, butter rolls, butter chicken etc… We curled around the fire with hot cocoa in hand in attempts to store as much heat as possible for the winter’s night. Erik brought some blinding mystery whiskey which helped create the illusion that we were warm inside. We couldn’t have asked for better circumstances to get to know each other.
We rose shortly after sunrise and covered ourselves with every possible layer to warm up. In no time there were 6 stoves fired up for coffee. After a simple breakfast, we loaded up our bikes and headed off. We decided to extend the length of our trip by continuing north to Porpoise Bay Provincial Park before riding back to Vancouver later in the day. As we entered Sechelt we cut off onto Ti’Ta Way which connected us to Sechelt Inlet Rd. About 5km later we were rolling into Porpoise Bay Provincial Park which was covered in snow. We headed down to the beach and had some snacks and another coffee.
We haphazardly rode throughout the park and along the beach like a bunch of little kids. It was loads of fun. At one point I spotted some black bear cub tracks in the snow! We rode back to Langdale with enough time to catch a mid-afternoon ferry with another pitstop at Persephone Brewery. I had to get some of their pizza which I had dreamt about all night.
Our last leg from Horseshoe Bay to Vancouver was beautifully lit by the setting sun. It was a perfect cap to my first bikepacking trip of the newyear! Thanks to all the beautiful folks who made it special. Check out Morgan’s awesome article on The Radavist about this trip!