Recently, you may have noticed an explosion of lengthy posts coming out of my blog. Opposite to the current state of affairs, this content was preceded by nearly a month of silence on my part. In short, I have been busy. My summer began with a road trip through the American Southwest, followed by smaller weekend trips to prepare myself for the journeys ahead of me in August.
At the time of writing this entry, I am nearly one week away from placing my boots on the ground in Nunavut–Canada’s largest and newest territory. God willing and weather permitting, the plan is to take a boat up Pangnirtung Fjord and hike into Akshayuk Pass, located in Baffin Island’s Auyuittuq National Park. The hike itself will take eight days to complete and the trip as a whole will be ten days more, affording time to explore the northern capitals of Yellowknife and Iqaluit.
Upon my return I will have two days to unpack and repack before heading across the nation once more; this time on my way to cycle the coastline of Prince Edward Island in its entirety. Here, three of my closest friends are to join me in cycling the 1000km route in two weeks.
The difference between Canada’s largest territory and its smallest province are much greater than just size. Nunavut is a land of extremes while PEI is a land of plenty. In Auyuittuq, polar bear, river crossings and inclement weather are all factors for concern, whereas our largest worry in the maritimes is a simple sunburn. Thanks to these differences, our preparations for each trip have been very dissimilar.
The biggest challenge for this trip will be managing the weight of our backpacks. Rain gear, windbreakers and camping supplies are a must have (obviously), so where we’ve had to cut back is with food and clothes. To this end, we have spent the last week dehydrating various meals and cramming them into plastic bags.
The food in the above image should last us the full eight days we will be hiking, pending some added pasta noodles.
The final step of my preparation for this trip is to get some new hiking boots, as my others are not able to be waterproofed.
Prince Edward Island
For this trip, we have had more than a few setbacks in its planning. First came the struggle associated with getting four university students to commit to the trip and simultaneously book flights. Secondly (and much more pressing), we had some troubles reserving our bikes with one of the rental companies in Charlottetown.
As far as I can tell, there are two main outfitters in the capital city who rent bicycles on a large scale; one is MacQueen’s Bike Shop and the other is Outer Limit Sports. We dealt with the latter, though our dealings did not come smoothly.
In late January, I had done a price comparison between outfitters. I found that OLS was the better deal when renting for a week, but unlike their competitors, the firm failed to list a rate for a two-week rental. Prompted by this lack of information, I contacted Outer Limit Sports and asked them if, like their competitors, they had a two-week fee which would be cheaper than paying for two one-week rentals. The response was that they did have such a rate but that they didn’t advertise it. They explained to me that to rent for a two-week period, it would cost $250.00 per bike. I responded saying that there would be four of us and that we would reserve the bikes at some point in the future.
Some time passed before we were committed and organised enough to rent the bicycles, but when we did eventually get around to it, we found that each of us had been billed roughly $400. Frustrated, I called Outer Limit Sports to ask why we were not receiving the bikes at the rate we had previously agreed upon. The staff and manager claimed that they didn’t know what quote I was talking about and acted quite surprised when I presented them with copies of our earlier correspondance. Even when I managed to convince them of their own quote, they were reluctant to give the same deal to the other three members of my party because I had been the only one to speak with the firm. Eventually they gave in and honoured their own agreement, but regardless, the experience was an unwarranted thorn in my side for some time. I am expecting yet more complications when we arrive to pick up the bikes.
Aside from the above inconveniences, I have spent some of the last few weekends training for this trip. As none of us are cyclists and our itinerary will force us to cycle well over 100km on some of the days, we have found it helpful to plan and execute a few trips around the Georgia Strait, where we live.
We did both trips over two days, the first of which took us from Nanaimo to Victoria and back again. We left on a Monday morning and cycled south along the island highway. Roughly an hour or so into the ride, we arrived in the town of Ladysmith and turned off onto a smaller, more scenic and less frequented road which meandered through the townships of Saltair, Chemainus and Crofton. At the latter destination, we boarded a ferry which took us to Saltspring Island, one of the most beautiful and most populated of the Southern Gulf Islands. Here we rested and ate lunch, before cycling across Mt. Maxwell to reach the harbour on the other side. Our last ferry of the day took us to Swartz Bay, only 30km from Victoria. Some leg cramps aside, the ride into town was relatively easy, placing us at our accommodation before dark.
The ride home the following day was equally nice, retracing our steps up the Saanich Peninsula until Brentwood Bay, where we arrived with one minute to spare at the ferry terminal. A short jaunt later and we were in Mill Bay, from which we rode through Cobble Hill to Cowichan Bay and ultimately Crofton before following the earlier day’s route in reverse.
The second trip was a circular route which took us up the sunshine coast from Langdale to Powell River and on to Vancouver Island, where we rode from Little River to Nanaimo the following day. Below are some photos from that trip.