Day Eight

8 days of it already! I can’t believe I set off from Swartz Bay last Sunday, it seems like I’ve been here months! I’m really missing home now and know this time next week I’ll be arriving into Victoria Inner Harbour to reunite with my girlfriend Kate and family. I can’t wait to see them!Today has been amazing, simple as that.I headed out of the big hill from Port McNeill at 8:15 this morning and made my way towards the turn to Zeballos. I left the knobbly tyres on, it was going to be logging roads after the turning.

My legs just weren’t working. I could barely go 5mph up the hill out of Port McNeill. I take a long time to warm up these days but this was the first time my legs went on strike, from the outset!

There was nothing I could do other than push through it. It was then hill after hill, like a roller coaster. There was a little rain but I was glad for a break from it after the previous few days.

I could barely muster any speed along the flats and was convinced my tyres were flat, but it was just my tired legs. I downed an energy drink, scoffed some peanuts and ate an energy bar I’d bought from a garage a few days ago, just to kick start my legs.

It worked, but I was definitely off-form so I bimbled along at a steady pace.

I could see something in the road quite some way off. It looked like it was sniffing around roadkill or something that had been thrown out of a car. I couldn’t tell what it was though.

A few cars sped past me and past the animal, which scared it off. It could have been a small bear, raccoon, skunk, who knows. I was disappointed not to have seen it closer.

The highway before the turning was pretty mundane, but the backdrop sensational. It was so quiet, even for a highway. That was until an RV flew past me. It must have missed me by inches. I wobbled with the backdraft and went straight into the side of the road. I didn’t come off but was close not to. Whoever that was had the both lanes to use, the highway was empty! That left me shaken for a while but got my legs going again!

After 25 miles, I finally saw the turn to Zeballos. The place that had eluded me for 2 days. The place that could so easily have been gotten to if I had listened to local advice. But in many ways, I’m glad of the experience the attempts gave me. I wouldn’t have seen those bears, tackled some monster obstacles, been out in the wild and learnt from it.

But here I was, 50km from Zeballos where some very kind folk had offered to transfer me by boat to Tahsis. And where a very kind lady has put me up in her lovely B&B!

The road was your standard logging road (I’m quite the expert now). Packed down with a layer of loose gravel. Some lumpy bits but on the whole, pretty good. It got my seal of approval.

There was no bear poo anywhere to be seen, I suspect because this road is normally far more active. However, I stopped at the side of the road to take off my rain jacket and saw some cougar scat, I recognised it from the research I’d done prior to the trip. It was pretty fresh and was accompanied by a few trail marks back into the woods. I didn’t hang about there for long!

The mountains either side got closer, it was amazing to see snow up on the peaks still. I was alongside a river nearly all the way. You could hear rushing water everywhere, the rain had filled lakes and streams.

I looked up to the top of a mountain and saw 5-6 waterfalls plummeting down the side of it. It was Mason’s Falls. Further on, waterfalls flow under the road and under bridges. The river was getting fuller and fuller. The power of water coming to one, out to see what quite something to witness over 25 miles.
I was in awe of this place. The sounds of waterfalls and fast flowing water crashing into rocks in the river was hypnotising. I took loads of photos. How many photos can one man take of running water!?
waterfall 2
A few nasty ascents and I freewheeled into Zeballos, home to 125 people, Canada’s smallest municipality. I was due to meet Ted, the mayor who would be kind enough to call Jude and Scott from Tahtsa Dive and Charter who kindly offered to pick me up! Jude is also the mayor of Tahsis!
I couldn’t access my phone so had to ask where Ted lived. I found his place but he was not well and was sleeping. I then met his wife Barbara who called for the boat. She would meet me at the dock when she got through to them.I made my way to the dock, waiting for the shop to open for a few snacks. I got talking to a really nice couple who were working on the harbour. She ran to her car to get me a Snickers when I said I was hungry and what time does the shop open. I forget your names, sorry! Nice talking to you and for the chocolate!
boat 3]The shop opened shortly after so I bought a few drinks and sat outside. A few more locals came in, one lady came out of the shop and said “my god, she’s happy. She’s never happy! What’s happened to her!? She must have been laid!”. That made me chuckle, the shop owner was in a good mood, who knows why…Barbara came down and waited with me. She explained Ted is very ill with cancer. He’s had it spread all over, he was given 2 days to live not so long ago. He’s a fighter by the sounds of it, he’s had strokes, heart attacks, broken his back, told he can’t walk or work again but has done. It’s a shame I didn’t get to meet him. People spoke very highly of him and what he’s done for the community. I hope you get through this rough patch.I could also see where I had planned to go over the mountain to Tahsis. It would be impossible, they used to have a logging road up there but it’s been reclaimed by forest. I’d have been in trouble attempting that.

The boat arrived just after 3pm and myself and the duchess were loaded on. It was a 30 minute journey with some great views of the inlet, islands and some of the route I would have taken. It was madness to think I’d be right up there, in dense rain forest. I kept shaking my head looking at it and am so thankful locals acted and gave me a safer option.

boat 2
We saw a sea otter paddling along on it’s back, it looked like it was having a great time!We pulled up into Tahsis and Jude introduced me to Silvie, who owns the Nootka B&B. She also runs a restaurant too and was clearing up from a busy brunch. This was amazing, community spirit in full effect, people helping each other and complete strangers. We should all do more of that.Scott is a paramedic too and offered to show me some backroadmaps to help my journey in the coming days. While we’re looking, Jude presents me with something to scare bears and cougars off with. A huge Marine Signal Horn! It can be heard over a mile away, that should do the trick! Everyone has said there are lots of cougars here and told me about some encounters. I want to be safer than sorry, thank you so much for the ride and sorting the bear horn too!They drop me off at Silvie’s B&B where I meet her corgie, cookie. She has a lovely place and separate area for guests. I shower and start planning tomorrow when she’s given me a starter! Garlic bread with a salad. Some veg! Haven’t had that in a few days!

Then some chicken, carrots and potatoes rounded off nicely with a local stout. How generous! Thank you Silvie, she’s also making breakfast too! She’s a very good chef, it was great to hear what she’s doing to promote good and healthy food in the community.

I can’t thank everyone who’s helped me enough. It’s been so very kind and generous. You’ve gone out of your way to make sure I’m Ok, fed, have a bed for the night, got me here safely and given me loads of advice.

These are remote places but very beautiful and well worth the visit.

I totalled around 62 miles today, 4k ft of climbing. Tomorrow will be a relatively short ride too but some big ones coming up in the week.