Vancouver (and Salt Spring, and Pender) Island by Bike

“Without risk, adventure is an empty word.” –William Sullivan, Listening for Coyote

As I sit on my back porch in this amazingly gorgeous Portland fall weather — sunny, crisp, everything bright, trees turning all shades of brilliant — it’s hard to imagine that anything could possibly be better than this. It’s hard to think back to a Canadian bike adventure and remember that when I was in Canada, I similarly thought there’s no way that anything could be better than this. Which is a great mindset to be in, I suppose, when everything seems like the best of all possible worlds.


(Walk-in campground at Ruckle Provincial Park)


Though it wasn’t the rugged backcountry adventure I’d initially imagined for myself, my trip to Vancouver and then also Salt Spring and Pender Islands was so rad. There was so much awesome coastline and such good through-the-massive-forests-to-the-coast hiking. There was lots of great camping, both in real campgrounds like the one above and in tucked-away little spots of my own devising. There was much swimming. It was great.


(and there was so much wholesome produce everywhere! Including a bazillion honor-system, pay-into-the-box stands like this one on Salt Spring Island)


This was probably my most unplanned trip ever (which is saying a lot for me), since I decided to go to Canada I think literally a day and a half before I actually left. So I had no maps and no idea what I wanted to do and really no plan whatsoever, just a ferry ticket to Victoria and a day slightly over two weeks later that I had to be home again.

But as always, the path reveals itself as you walk (or bike;) down it. I loved the feeling of deciding at every moment what it was I wanted to be doing. I loved the sense of absolute discovery, that anything was open to me. I loved that I could go back to Victoria on a whim, for example, to meet up with some people who I tenuously knew through the internet for their monthly “swim-a-month” swim across the Georgia Strait:


(YAY SWIMMING! Picture courtesy of the fellow on the left)


And I really loved all the multi-use, rails-to-trails paths I was able to take. In large part, what dictated where I went was what trails looked appealing to bike on. Which is a fantastic place to be, where you can take your pick of dedicated bike paths:)

I’ve been slowly posting pictures from my trip over here should you want to hear about it in more detail. I’m not done with it yet (and I’m going at the rate of about a day’s worth of pictures every two days or so), so check back later to see them all. In the meantime, this is a very approximative map of where I went. Except that I forgot to put in a few key adventures through Mt Douglas Park and a few other places. But you get the point.



I even managed to sneak in some awesome riding around Seattle during a 2ish hour layover between my ferry and my train home.

So there you go. I’m not going to say too much more about it here other than that I loved Vancouver Island, liked Salt Spring Island except that the biking was kind of shitty on the main roads, and super loved Pender Island. I’d go back to any of them for sure. And it was great to just set out having no idea what I would find and discover part of a whole new country:) And if you want more specific details, check out my pictures with cheesy travel captions!

Oh, and it’s good to be back in Portland, too:) Best of all worlds:)

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