ICESEND: Sunshine Coast Trail - Bike Packing from Vancouver to Earls Cove: Part 1
With 3 weeks to go until we set across Iceland, we decided to test both the gear and our spirits with a warm up traverse of British Columbia's Sunshine Coast. To be completely honest, this trip was way harder than we expected. From what we had read and the maps we looked at, wewere under the impression this was a cake walk - it was not.
Bikes loaded, chains lubed and spirits high, we set off after work on Thursday evening. After a hustle to the ferry, we crossed to Langdale with just enough time to dart into the woods and set up camp, concluding day 1 (or the 4 hours we had of it.. ).
30km - Primarily Road
Day 1 (For real this time): Langdale - Sechelt
Waking up to a light drizzle, we began our trip. With a fresh cup of Joseph and some instant oatmeal we started the slow ride/fast push up Mt. Elphinstone. After taking one wrong turn after another we eventually found highway 102 trail and traversed from Sprockets to Roberts Creek, towards Sechelt. This section of the trail was dense forest, mid-day temperatures reached 26 degrees Celsius, making the forest floor brittle and dry, raising a cloud of dust as we pedaled.
The first day was testing on all of us. Adjusting to the new gear and becoming aware of our reality, every 100 ft of elevation slowly clicked by and conversation became labored breathing.
We eventually reached our trail out and followed a loamy decent towards Sechelt. Under the thick canopy, the heat and sun could no longer drain us. We were surrounded by lush greens and large trees as our bags rattled against the frame, descending the trails. This trail brought us all the way down the mountain, within 100m of the service road to Sechelt. All that stood between us now was an active mine, littered with NO Trespassing signs and a barbed-wire fence. The only way around, a game trail in the general direction of the service road. We eventually ended up at a dead end and an even larger fence around a private property. With consent of the land owner we could follow the overgrown fence line to the driveway, this sounded much easier than it was. Despite countless scratches and nearly an hour detour we were on the service road heading towards Sechelt and the bike campground at Porpoise Bay. However, not before a stop at the grocery store to replenish our junk food stores.
Day 1 totaled ~ 8hrs and 48 km (including getting lost and a harsh bushwhack)
Day 2: Sechelt - Klein Lake
Waking up on day 2 (after a blissful sleep in our brand new Sea-to-Summit ultralight sleep system - excuse the plug), we had a big day of riding ahead of us. Not only were we intimidated by the distance and elevation, but also the unknown. We had seen the route on paper and could make out the peaks of Spipiyus Provincial Park. With hopes of getting near Earls Cove in daylight we set off on the forest service roads ascending northward out of Sechelt.
After a hour or so we were well into the hills. Riding primarily service road we gained the ridge and traversed northward. With another hot day the dry roads made for fast rolling but draining ascents.
After following a road for a few miles, we came to an abrupt dead end. The road we had followed did not connect, leaving us with 2 options. Avoiding a long detour we took a chance on a steep and un-mapped gravel road. Leading in the general direction of Earls Cove, we climbed for hours hoping this road would connect. Crushed beer cans marked the road as we got deeper into the forest.
After what felt like hours, we finally came to a decent. The trees opened and we were rewarded with a 450m vertical decent in a hydro-cut block. Bellow us were the scattered islands of Medeira Park - turns out our gamble payed off. Despite the 2700ft climb, we drew a straight line up and over the Spipiyus ridge.
From here there was only 450m of elevation to gain of undulating descents/ascents. For once, this next section to Earls Cove was easier than it seamed on paper. Spirits were high as the kilometers clicked away. Immersed by the thick forest we rode single and dual track all the way to Klein Lake recreation site, a mere 6km shy of Earls Cove.
After a long day (what originally seamed too long) we set up camp, stoked on the day and the distance and elevation we accomplished.
Day 2 totaled: 55km Traveled, Primarily Trails and service Road
Day 3: Part 1: Klein Lake to Earls Cove
Ignoring the day we had ahead of us, we woke up slowly on the third day. Today's primary goal, get to Earls Cove and have a decent cup of coffee. Following that, we only had to bike the remaining 60km back to Sechelt - for the time being, we were ignoring that fate.
Instead of fully loading the bikes we partially packed up camp and set of to Earls Cove. taking the Klein Lake service road there, we made haste with cravings for coffee and sweets. It was a quick and easy 4 km, arriving at Cove coffee shop to friendly staff and full mugs of fresh Joseph.
We took our time, enjoying every sip. Concluding Part 1, we enjoyed a cup at the turn around - Earls Cove, BC. - ICESEND EXPEDITION
To follow Oliver, Jalen and Kieran’s adventure, stayed tuned to our blog. You can also follow them on Instagram !