Fat Tire Girls Trip
It was an impulse trip, thrown together in a few days. An adventure was needed. We set our sights on East Beach, then remembering our buddy Terry (Masset Bikes) had two fat tire bikes in his rental fleet the plan set sail. We packed our panniers and I packed my poodle, Pepper. Genevieve was accompanied as always by her trusty pup Reggie. Our gear consisted of a tiny tent, two litres of water each, two sleeping bags/pads, a wee camp stove, rain/cold weather attire, a GPS, dog food, fourish days of military rations and a few odds and ends including some life giving gummy bears and beef jerky. On December 6th, we set off in Genevieve's tiny car with two bikes, two dogs, and our tightly packed panniers. Vanilla Ice was in the tape deck and adventure was in the air. We drove from Masset to our starting point at the Tlell bridge and arrived at low tide, which is what we needed to get our bikes down the narrow stretch of mud/beach until it opened up around the Pesuta shipwreck. Timing the tides and daylight were the major determining factors of how much distance we were able to cover each day.
Day one: Tlell river bridge to Cape Ball Cabin (13km)
The beginning of the ride was spent slagging through mud along the riverbed but after about 20 minutes the beach opened up. We leisurely biked along the hard packed sand of the low tide zone, pausing at the Pesuta shipwreck for a snack and a picture. An hour and a half later we came to the mouth of the Mayer river. The tides were big due to the nearly full moon and the rivers were full from all the rain we had earlier in the week. The crossing was a bit sketchy. The waist deep water demanded we would have to tread carefully, take several trips across and also take off our pants and boots. There was a fair amount of cursing, teeth gritting and dog carrying. I nearly got knocked off my feet by the current at one point but was heroically rescued by Genevieve who jumped in to save me and also take some very funny pictures. We got dressed and examined our cut up feet and then began our short journey (4km) to that night's accommodations. The Cape Ball cabin.
It was only around 3pm but the tides dictated we stop for the night. The Cape Ball cabin was clean and cozy. We made a fire to dry our gear and whipped up some rations for dinner. Later we toasted our first day with a beer and a game of Uno, which I probably lost because I always do. Pepper volunteered herself as Genevieve's pillow at some point in the night and G awoke with a face full of sandy fur.
Day two: Cape Ball cabin to Hoyagundla (40 km)
The second day started with a bit of nerves. Our first task of the day was to cross the Cape Ball river which was just 2km North of our cabin. It was low tide but the river was nearly as deep as the Mayer had been. We were old pros now through. After reluctantly taking off our pants and boots again we were able to make the several trips without any hiccups. Reggie the adventure dog was a skilled river crosser but Pepper, a 14 lb hairball, had to be carried. With that bit out of the way we started the cliff section of the trip. The sun was out, the wind was at our backs and the views were stunning. As we cycled down the sliver of beach between the towering white sand cliffs and the turbulent ocean I was awestruck by the power and beauty around us. However beautiful, there was no time to play around. We were racing the tide. The cliff section stretched as far as the eye could see. After around 4 hours of biking, we had run out time. The cliffs and ocean met with a kiss just ahead of us. We found a break in the cliff and secured our bikes up high on the dunes. To our surprise we discovered a small cabin sitting atop the cliff. Not wanting to disturb it, we set up our tent beside it and lounged around filling up on rations, waiting for the tide to recede again. Our goal was to make it to the Oeanda cabin, 2km before the Oeanda River and at this point we were only half way there. To achieve our goal we made the decision to push through the night. At 10pm once the tide had finally receded, we packed up our bikes. Donned in headlamps and puffy jackets we rode down the moonlit beach. The SE wind was blowing hard but it was at our backs. Reggie discovered a few racoons foraging the low tide treats and decided to say "hello" ensuing a fumbled chase in the darkness that ended with Reg swimming around in the ocean with his backpack on.
After many hours of night biking we reached the Oeanda River mouth. We did not see a cabin along the way. After consulting the GPS and biking back and forth a few kilometres looking for the cabin, we admitted defeat. As we discovered after the trip, that cabin had been removed and we were looking for a non-existent cabin. We chose instead to camp at Hoyagundla, the site of an old Haida Village. It was an eerie yet beautiful sight. All the trees were dead and there were spiders all over! It was late, 2 or 3am by the time we got in our tent. We fell asleep to the sound of gusting 90km/hr winds and crashing waves.
Day three: Hoyagundla to private cabin (16.5 km)
Day three was a total breeze...well the winds were technically storm force but they were in our favour. The rain found us for the first time on the trip and we were instantly drenched by the heavy downpour. No amount of rain could dampen our spirits however because we were so jazzed about tonight's accommodations, a friends' cozy, private cabin. Our stoke continued when we discovered that a large log had washed up across a narrow section of the Oeanada River during the storm the night before (we had scouted it the night before). We were able to walk across and float our bikes across one by one with a rope. The wind pushed at our backs so strongly that we didn't even need to peddle most of the time. We called them our scooters. The dogs really had to hustle to keep up with us. We arrived after only two hours of biking. The cabin was heaven. There was a wood stove, fresh rain water, cell service and a bed! Pepper and Reggie immediately curled up in their respective corners. Pepper was quite exhausted and didn't leave her spot other than to lift her head up to eat a small meal and have a lick of water until the next day. We basked in the luxury of a warm cozy space and dried our clothes by the fire. It was our last night so we no longer had to ration our rations. The menu was smothered chicken and stuffing with cranberry sauce. For dessert, gummy bears and chocolate covered berries. We played the many board games. I was annihilated at Battle Ship and Connect four. Apparently I'm not very good at board games. After a warm, cozy night, It was hard to leave our retreat the next day.
Day 4 (beach ride +10km Cape Fife trail)
We slept late and took our time packing up. The wind was still blowing storm force. Our plans to ride around Rose Spit to Tow hill would be impossible against the wind so we had to change our plans and cut through the Cape Fife trail. We arrived at the Cape Fife cabin in early afternoon and began the trail. The last leg of our journey. It was the absolute worst. At times we couldn't help but laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. At one point we waded through a swamp that was over waist high and floated our bikes. Mostly it was just pushing through mud and slash and lifting our bikes over blowdown (sorry Terry) . Six hours later, in the dark, we emerged beaten and exhausted (me more so than Genevieve, what a power house) but still high on the stoke and adrenaline from a damn good adventure. My husband Dan picked us up and I melted into the front seat. An hour later we were out at a fancy restaurant, drinking wine and pulling our pants down to show our friends and unsuspecting acquaintances our bruised and beaten legs...because we're classy like that.
We'd like to give a big thank you to Terry Wallace at Masset Bikes for making this adventure possible and just being an all around awesome dude.
Masset Bikes Phone: 250-626-8939