Monday, September 6, 2010

Labour Day Weekend 2010 Sooke Potholes

The end of summer 2010 and camping seemed to have come this last weekend at the Sooke Potholes Regional Park. Not only was Labour Day weekend the closing date for camping at the Sooke Potholes it also seemed like the end of the summer weather as well.

Saturday started off with sunshine, but as we made the Seventeen Mile Pub on Hwy 14 the weather was starting to cloud over. Still in good spirits the campground was alive and well with campers and only 6 or so campsites left available around 2pm.

The night was very enjoyable especially with the company of two members of Club Mud coming over and sharing a fire along with a hot dog and refreshments complete with the tranquil sounds of the Sooke River flowing in the background.

During the next morning though things started to change with a number of campsites being vacated for that night and the temperature cooling off. This was very peculiar as in order to stay for the Labour Day long weekend payment for Saturday and Sunday night is required. So much for the recession.

Sunday was very enjoyable but starting to get quite cold especially felt during a swim in the local swimming hole. That night the campground seemed to be vacated with only a third full and yet everything was pleasant, especially with fires allowed.

That all changed this morning, with rain starting about 2 am and poring continuously all morning. The Sooke Potholes transformed instantly now looking like a typical fall day, dark, wet and miserable . As the scene changed dramatically the look on a number campers packing up was where did the summer of 2010 go.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Muchalat Lake Recreation Site

Going back to work after a summer vacation is always interesting especially if you experienced a number of discoveries along the way. For the people where I work a topic of camping came up and it seems like a number of other people found a few good spots to stay as well.

For one person he experienced the west side of Slocan Lake and found a hidden gem with a spot right on the lake and very little people. Another fellow still swears by Nanaimo Lakes with it's large slightly treed camping sites with a lot of privacy and close to the lake. Then during a large power outage at the corner of Blanshard Street and Bay Street the foreman talked about some Recreation Sites in the Okanagan where he could relax and take his dog for a walk.

For me the top spot on the list had to be at Muchalat Lake Recreation Site just 13 km (8 miles) north of Gold River It is located on the Nimpkish Main a forestry road that continues north eventually coming out at the Mount Cain turnoff on Hwy 19 just south of Woss.

Located in a large valley that runs north and south Muchalat Lake has the hot sun that you can experience in Gold River making for some great swimming in the lake, fishing for a good size fish has nice large semi private campsites in a quite atmosphere and very little bugs because of a slight breeze that comes up in the night.

If you do go here expect to see very large logging trucks taking up most of the road and a road that is made up some of the largest crush rocks seen in British Columbia.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Scarlet Iris Pub

Just got back from a short motorcycle trip into Winter Harbour. Along the way got a chance to stop for a short visit in Holberg outside the Scarlet Iris Pub.

The Scarlet Iris brought back great memories from a few years ago as a place to celebrate with Club Mud on a recent hike that was completed into Cape Scott Provincial Park. The thoughts of hamburgers, french fries and a cold berverage made my mouth water for a quick fix from campground food.

Once leaving Holberg and the Scarlet Iris the travel into Winter Harbour seemed a bit sluggish and little on the unnerving side with large gravel rocks making up a lot of the road base. The 21 km (13 miles) or so distance took around an hour to complete with a total of four sightings of Black Bears, either climbing a tree or scrambling into the bush.

Winter Harbour was a pleasant sight after driving in. We were able to find the local store called the Outpost for a quick chocolate bar, unfortunately the thought of the Scarlet Iris and the celebration kept coming back in my mind.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Yalakom River Fire

On the way from Gold Bridge to Lillooet today we had a chance to watch to witness the fire suppression helicopters load and transport fire retardant to help stop the large wildfire ragging on the mountain side up the Yalakom Valley.

The wildfire which has been going for a number of days now had made the sky around Gold Bridge and Bralorne very hazy making the mountains barely visible.

On the north side of Carpenter Lake along Hwy 40 the sky was full of air traffic noise in the background. Once pass the bridge over the Yalakom River the road winds up to the where the Yalakom Road starts. This was the staging area for the tanker trucks loading Phos-Chek Fire Retardant, Class A Foam & Gel for the helicopters.

From this vantage point the 7 square km fire could now be scene ragging on the side of the mountains towards the north-west. The loading site was amazing with helicopters landing and taking off in a matter of minutes and other crews arriving and getting mobilized to head in and fights it head on with 31 degrees Celsius temperatures present.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Spinnakers Brew Pub

Had a great lunch the other day and if you happen to looking for a place to have refreshments and/or something to eat also and you’re near Downtown Victoria try going to Spinnakers Brew Pub & Guesthouse situated along the Westson Walkway in Vic-West .

With a reputation as Canada’s oldest brewpub Spinnakers offers hand-crafted beers and an up-market cuisine served in a beautiful setting next to Victoria’s Inner Harbour. The facility which is housed in a waterfront location at 308 Catherine Street has beautiful easterly and southerly views of Victoria’s coastline towards Ogden Point.

Everything is fresh and unique from Spinnakers Brew Pub including the different types of ales, in season menu from local ingredients, in-house bakery and a bounty of seafood. The facility is very convenient and all within a stones throw of the walkway from the hotels next to Johnson Street Bridge, the Galloping Goose Trail and the regional transit system of Victoria.

Any time in the year is a good time at Spinnakers Brew Pub as the chefs tend to capitalize on local products that the CRD and the rest of Vancouver Islands harvest throughout the four seasons. If you have children Spinnakers also has a restaurant located on the main entrance way into the facility.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Toquart Bay

Although the weather in May has been really wet lately an opportunity for a motorcycle ride up Vancouver Island turned out great, with the discovery of Toquart Bay.

To get here you have to go west of Port Alberni on Hwy 4 towards Ucluelet. Just before Ucluelet about the halfway point along Kennedy Lake is the turnoff for Maggie Lake Forest Service Road, turn here. From this junction there is another 16 km of gravel road to the Toquart Bay Forest Service Recreation Site.

The recreation site is now managed by the local Toquart Bay First Nations and included in the facilities is a concrete boat launch, marina and a campground next to a sandy beach.

If you enjoy kayaking this makes an excellent base camp for exploring Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Island Chain. There is overnight vehicle parking and long term storage if required.

See Toquart Bay for more information, photos and visiting here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gun Lake

We just got back from a May long-weekend trip up to Lillooet, through the Bridge River Valley to Gold Bridge and Bralorne with the highlight being an overnight stay on Gun Lake at a Forest Service Recreation Site (FSRS).

Coming in from Lillooet was about 2.5 hours long travelling on Hwy 40 at first through the lands of the Bridge River First Nation, , through the canyons west of the Yalakom River, past the Mission Dam and the turnoff to Seton Portage, then along the lakeshore of Carpenter Lake to Gold Bridge. Once at Gold Bridge Gun Lake is only 10 km away.

The road in to Gun Lake from Gold Bridge travels up and has views of Lajoie Dam, the intake tubes of the dam, Downton Lake and the surrounding snow-capped mountains above Bralorne. Once at the lake there is a perimeter road that goes around Gun Lake. Take the left or west route to the FSRS.

The small user maintained FSRS campground has about 8 tables and two very crude not so clean pit toilets. There is no water available except for scooping it out of the very clean lake. The campsites are in a row set amongst mostly pine trees, with views of Gun Lake. The lake is located steeply below the campground with a few rocks to sit on and no beach. At the lake there is a beautiful view back towards Gold Bridge.

There were some power boats operating on Gun Lake. If you need a launch there is FSRS public boat launch one back on Gun Lake towards Gold Bridge. You pretty well need a 4x4 as the road in to the boat launch is carved out of the bush and looks like it could be muddy.

If the FSRS is full there is other camping back at the Tyax Resort on Tyaughton Lake, the BC Hydro site at Gun Creek on Carpenter Lake or the rough site south found on the Hurley River FSRS at Gwyneth Lake.
For more information and links see Gold Bridge or for a map.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hiking up Mount Douglas

I had a chance yesterday to hike up to the top of Mount Douglas Park, which is located in Saanich near the north end of Shelbourne Street. This particular hike though started form the parking lot near Mount Douglas Crossing Road on a small dead end road called Glendenning Road.

The entrance into Mount Douglas Park from Glendenning Road is a little less popular than the main entrance off Shelbourne Street. If you are driving there is a small parking lot for about 5 cars. There are a number of trails that start from here with the most popular being the hike up to the top. Don't expect to see any trail signs or bathroom facilities here because there isn't any.

The unmarked trail travels through a very thick Douglas fir forest going on a slight uphill climb. Eventually the trail comes to the rock face area with a trail going up a very steep bank with a power line in the background. Don't take this route but continue on through the forest until another trail breaks out onto the rock face. If you want take this route instead because at times it can be less slippery and also goes through a Garry oak meadow.

If you don't have time for a walk from the bottom you can get to the main parking lot from where Shelbourne and Cedar Hill Road meet. You then have to travel up Churchill Drive to the top of Mount Douglas. The 360 degree lookout is a short 5 minute uphill walk from the parking lot.

Google Map
To Mount Douglas Park in Saanich.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kapoor Main Line to Bedspring Suspension Bridge

Yesterday we did an interesting motorcycle ride out of Shawnigan Lake on the Renfrew Road towards Koksilah River Provincial Park. After the park Renfrew Road eventually joins up with the Kapoor Main Line logging road and goes in a north-west direction following the Koksilah River.

While travelling on the muddy logging road we passed Sunny Daze Campground, a favourite place to stay in the area for 4x4 adventurers and events like Dual Sport BC's annual Orca Run.

Once we were past Sunny Daze it became very evident that this was an active logging road with lots of trucks passing us carrying full loads of timber. The Kapoor Main Line was well marked out with km signs and gated at certain points along the way. One posted sign at one gate stated that the gate was to be closed and locked at 4 pm. We figured we would have to turn back by at least 3 pm.

At one time the Renfrew Road (Kapoor M/L) went all the way to Port Renfrew. Today the road does not go through and stops at Williams Creek, where at one time was the site of the unique Bedspring Suspension Bridge. Unfortunately the bridge deck rotted out and was never replaced.

The goal was to make it as far as the old Bedspring Suspension Bridge crossing. But because of time constraints concerning the possible gate closures we ended up turning around at around 3:15 pm, about the 22 km marker. Although we never did make it to Williams Creek, it was an adventure and we have already started talking about coming back sometime in the future.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gordon River Forest Service Road

What a day today on Southern Vancouver Island. With temperatures hovering around 12 degrees Celsius it proved to be a good day to attempt a motorcycle ride from Honeymoon Bay to Port Renfrew via the Gordon River Forest Service Road (FSR).

Going up to Lake Cowichan started off with a coffee at the Tim Hortons located on Hwy 1 at the Drinkwater Road exit in North Cowichan. From here a quick trip up Mount Prevost was in order. While travelling to Lake Cowichan a few drops of rain started, eventually stopping at Honeymoon Bay. Luckily we never had to put on rain gear.

The ride started off very muddy from Honeymoon Bay with snow on the sides of the forest service road following Sutton Creek. We passed a few logging trucks and heavy equipment on route to the turnoff back towards Lake Cowichan on the Caycuse Hookup.

From here the road was in good shape and very scenic as it travels next to Gordon River. The only issue was at the turnoff for TR4 for Baden Main, TR10 for Loup Creek and Gordon Main all meet. Eventually we figured it after seeing signs of km markers stapled to the trees on Gordon River Main.

After crossing the bridge over Gordon River the gravel road turns to rough pavement en-route past the Port Renfrew Marina and the Deering Bridge over the San Juan River.

Once in Port Renfrew we made our way to the Coastal Kitchen Cafe for a well deserved coffee and french fries. We both marveled at this route compared to the Harris Creek road for the shear joy of letting the motorcycles perform on the gravel road. Definitively a good choice, will try later in the summer when the water level of Gordon River goes down and try to find a swimming hole.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Port Renfrew Loop from Saanich

It proved to be just a perfect day today on southern Vancouver Island. With this in mind another opportunity for a motorcycle ride came up.

Starting off in Saanich to Hwy 1 then north to Duncan where gasoline was nearly 4 cents less per litre. After filling up at the Chevron headed inland on Highway 18 to Lake Cowichan. The conditions were excellent with surprising enough very little traffic. Although there was quite a few other motorcyclists who had the same idea.

From Lake Cowichan the trip took us to Mesachie Lake where the completely paved road to Port Renfrew starts. Highlights of this trip included Harris Creek Canyon, Lizard Lake, Renfrew Creek and some exploring on the Gordon River Main FSR past the Port Renfrew Marina.

Once at Port Renfrew the weather was crystal clear with very little wind. The ocean and beach area along the bay inside of Port San Juan was incredible.

After a quick coffee at the Coastal Kitchen Café in Port Renfrew it was off on the road again going south to Jordan River and Sooke. Just a note the Coastal Kitchen Café was very busy with everyone's plate looking very delicious especially the fish & chips which featured fresh halibut.

Coming back to Victoria on the West Coast Highway 14 was fairly quick with little vehicle traffic. The only unfortunate thing was an accident scene Near China Beach with the remains of a motorcycle in the ditch and the RCMP watching over it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Motorcycle Ride March 4, 2010

What an opportunity to get out for a motorcycle ride today, with clear blue skies and a high temperature of 11 degrees Celsius for in the middle of winter, it doesn’t get any better.

The day started off with a ride to Sidney for an Americano coffee at the Serious Coffee on Beacon Avenue with Ron from BC. From there down Wallace Drive to Willis Point Road, Ross Durance Road eventually to Millstream Road, Hwy 1 north to South Shawnigan Lake Road. What a treat, great conditions and no traffic.

Turning off South Shawnigan Lake Road along West Shawnigan Lake Road the conditions were excellent with beautiful views of the lake and Old Mount Baldy in the background. From here the road meets Renfrew Road and circles back to the small community of Shawnigan Lake.

Along the way a short detour was made for a small 15 minute walk along the Trans-Canada Trail to the Kinsol Trestle. The trestle which crosses the Koksilah River has been closed and in need of major repairs for a number of years. From notice signs posted at the trestle it is in the process, through grant money, of being reconstructed and made safe to be used again.

Going back to Victoria was made easy by taking Shawnigan Lake Road back to Hwy 1. Again the ride was really nice by the fact there was little traffic and conditions favourable.

3rd St. Cafe in Sidney

An opportunity came up yesterday to go out for breakfast and because it was during the week plus a little later in the morning just before the lunch crowd, the 3rd St. Cafe in Sidney came to mind.

Heavily rated and often recommended as one as the best places for breakfast in the Capital Regional District this is one place we had to try.

The small café located right on Beacon and 3rd street across from Starbucks can’t be mistaken by the large crowd that’s inside enjoying the great food. The sign in the doorway said it all. “Small Place Big Flavour” as well as “no camping allowed,” and “please be patient and we will eventually serve you.”

If you do arrive at peak times it can be crowed at times so please be prepared for a wait. The 3rd Street Cafe does have a wait list if you would like to browse the shops in Sidney. Breakfast runs at around $15 per person (which includes coffee and tip).

The facility sits around 30 people at max. The owners recognize this and really try and get you seated and served right away. If you are by yourself there is a bench area for quicker service rather than waiting for a table.

Breakfast is served all day as well as lunch after 11:00 am. The 3rd St. Cafe is located at 2466 Beacon Ave in Sidney. Telephone (250) 656-3035 for days and hours of operation.

Reviews: 3rd St. Cafe

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentines Day Bike Ride

With the beautiful weather here in Victoria an opportunity came about during a break in the 2010 Olympic coverage to cycle the Galloping Goose Regional Trail on Sunday February 14, Valentines Day.

Taking off from near the Saanich Centre on the trail it soon came apparent we were not the only couples with the same idea. With the afternoon temperature at around 12 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit) and sunny who could blame them. The conditions were absolutely perfect for a bike ride or walk with your sweetheart.

The route taken was to go towards the new Uptown development (the old Town and Country Shopping Centre) and then travel west towards Langford. This part of the regional trail was ideal in trying a new Kona hybrid bike that was purchased earlier the day earlier from Russ Hay’s Bicycle Shop.

A real surprise on this section of the trail was found in View Royal at the Atkins Avenue parking lot (around the 10 km mark) where there was a section upgrade of the trail. Paid for through grants from Canada’s Economic Action Plan and the BC Economic Stimulus Plan 2.67 kilometres (1.7 miles) of the trail has been vastly improved.

Rather than going over compacted gravel the trail is now paved all the way past Thetis Lake to Wilfert Road and Wale Road near the Juan De Fuca Recreation Centre. By having this improvement now a cyclist can almost make the same time schedule as the Old Island Hwy but be completely away from traffic. What an improvement to an already jewel of the CRD.

For more information see Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Coastal Renaissance

As we headed out to the BC Ferries Terminal this weekend on Friday the traffic was very busy around 3 pm, I figured there is no way we are going to make it, especially with the 2010 Olympics only 2 weeks away.

What appeared to be disappointment turned out to be an expected "Yes you made the extra 4 pm sailing" by the BC Ferries attendant collecting money. Not only did we make the 4 pm sailing, but we boarded the new vessel the Coastal Renaissance.

What a treat to go aboard the Coastal Renaissance with the new vessel better than expected. The seating area seemed to have more room, the chairs way more comfortable and as we sailed, the vessel was definitely more quiet than any other vessels in the BC Ferries fleet

Once we off-loaded at Tsawwassen the driving trip into Vancouver through Richmond and Delta was definitely at a different pace than experienced on Vancouver Island. Although there was a posted speed limit you would never know it by the cars whizzing by us.

All in all though we made it into North Vancouver safely and had a very good time even with the heavy rains.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sooke Potholes Regional Park

Although to day was a bit rainy it proved to to be a good day for a walk along the Sooke River in the Sooke Potholes Regional Park.

The day started off by meeting the Club Mud gang in Langford at the Westshore Mall Serious Coffee location for a wake-up Americano coffee. From here it is about a 30 minute drive to the parking lot for the regional park located at the end of Sooke River Road.

The Sooke Potholes have been caved out of the Sandstone bedrock over the years by the cascading river creating some very unique geological rock formations. Although the area boasts some of the CRD's best swimmingholes during the summertime it was just as beautiful during one of Victoria's wet winter days.

Over the last few years since TLC has handed over stewardship of the area to the CRD many of the old trails have been upgraded with crushed gravel replacing some muddy sections. The trails meander next to the Sooke River intermixed with west coast rain forest offering fantastic views of this very special place.

More information can be found at and the CRD webpage.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Flooding on Colquitz Trail, Panama Flats

The hard rain in Victoria today finally let up around noon with the afternoon having some sunny periods around 1:30 pm. This provided an ample opportunity to get put on the bike for a ride along the Lochside Trail.

Going through Saanich towards Royal Oak Drive the regional trail was in good shape with very little water on the path. The views of Mount Douglas from the Blenkinsop Trestle were outstanding with the warm sunshine starting to dry out some of the ground cover and neighbouring farmers fields.

From Royal Oak Shopping Centre the trail down through Colquitz River proved to be OK but the water rushing down the waterway was very high and close to the top of the bank in certain areas.

Upon reaching Panama Flats by Roy Road there were signs up warning of flooding along the Colquitz Trail. Proceeding along the trail the water in some places came right up to the pedals making for very wet bike shoes.

Panama Flats an area that is dry in the summer now resembled a lake with one person noting it was the highest he has seen the water. Once past Panama Flats and onto the Galloping Goose Trail near Interurban Road the ride proved to be a very pleasant experience as we were back in the sun.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Long-Weekend in North Vancouver

We just got back from a quick trip over to North Vancouver on the New Years Day long-weekend. The trip proved to very fast on BC Ferries as they were offering extra sailings during various times of the days.

The wet weather experienced while in North Vancouver brought up a number of past memories especially when we were out walking in it. The sky was gloomy plus the rain never seemed to let up and unless you had a hat on it was incredibly wet.

Things that were going on: Lonsdale Avenue between 21st Street and 12th Street had a great selection of small ethnic restaurants especially an incredible amount of Sushi outlets. Businesses along this stretch that were busy included FatBurger, Yaas Bazaar and London Drugs.

A special thank you has to go out to Beans on Lonsdale at 18th and for having a small TV where a person could watch the Canucks win 3 to 1 over the Dallas Stars, have an Americano and dry out.