Back to the "City"

Friday July 25, 2008

Cape Scott to Winter Harbour and back to Port Hardy.
All by gravel roads.

I'm now comfortably sitting by a campfire near Port Hardy as I'm typing. The camp is now quiet and everyone has gone to bed. The raindrops tap out a lullaby on the tarp I managed to set up before the skies opened up. All is dry and all is well ...until my laptop battery runs out.

Rewind to this morning ....

My tent neighbours offered me a cup of coffee and we had another little chat before all heading back to the parking lot. A nice group of 4 young Vancouverite friends on their first and only overnight hike together.

The tank bag was still where I hid it near the parking lot. I guess there aren't too many desperate junkies looking for easy drug money when you're 65km's away from the nearest town, along some bumpy logging road. It was now noon and decision time. I opted to head back towards Holberg. Come to think of it, it's the only way back out. But then I did another "whim" thing. I turned south at the sign for Winter Harbour. Since I'm up here I may as well check it out. The road became even more twisty, bumpy, potholey and dusty than before. There was even a little delay as a backhoe was trying to clear a beaver dam which had flooded the road. The backhoe driver insisted on no pictures. Something to with the logger's religion and it stealing their souls. I respected that and didn't even try to sneak a picture while no one was looking.

Waiting While a Beaver Dam is Cleared Away by the Wester Forest Products People.

So there it was, Winter Harbour. Summer population 400, winter population 25. Hardcore sport fishermen come here to catch big uns, sit around and drink beer and smoke their lungs out. The town is actually quite quaint and has a neat boardwalk along the water for a little stroll and access to some of the seasonal houses. There's even a federal government dock with sea otters frolicking in the water. Those teddy bears of the sea are simply adorable.

Fisherfolk Hard At Work, Winter Harbour.

Now some raindrops started falling and my thoughts were torn between "Yay! no more dust" and "Oi, slippery and muddy roads". The rain actually never really materialized in any substantial way all the way back to Port Hardy. I rounded a gentle curve in the road and had a passenger van catching up to me. Suddenly I saw the most wonderful sight on the road. A black bear stood ...literally stood on its' hind legs on the side of the road. I've seen too many bears to count but this one was quite special. I had never seen on stand right up. It went back down on all fours, like any self respecting black bear is supposed to do and ran into the bushes at the sight of this frightful two wheeled monstrosity coming at it. I stopped to let the van pass and waited for the dust to settle. The bear came back out of the bushes and trundled down the road. When I made a noise it once more ran off into the bushes. About 5 minutes later yet another black bear was on the road and beat a hasty retreat into the bushes as I approached.

Once past Holberg, the road improved and I opened the throttle a bit. I was now rolling along at a much nicer clip while still repeating my usual gravel road mantras. The rubber side stayed up once more but I was actually singing "Hallelujah" when I reached the pavement all dusty and my nose feeling clogged up in spite of the dust mask.

Holberg, Population 75. But Ya Gotta Have a Pub Anyway.

The cheapest hotel in Port Hardy is close to $100 and the rather nice local hostel had a seriously drunk guy, complete with open beer bottle in hand, staffing the front desk. I guess they have to make the most of their short tourist season to make up for the lack of business most of the year. So I once more opted for the Wildwood campground in spite of the impending rain. As I was waiting to ask the clerk some questions there were four women signing in. They were going to hike overnigth to the Cape Scott lighthouse. 22km's one way. There was something familiar about one of the women. I mentioned to her "you seem awfully familiar". She responded with "You know me". It turns out she's the ex girlfriend of someone I used to know in Vancouver. They and I happened to be gardeners in the same community garden in East Vancouver while I still lived there. I'm quite amazed at how small the world can be sometimes.

I managed to get my campsite all set up and a beautiful campfire going before the rain started coming down in earnest. Camping in the rain is actually great if you're set up before everything gets soaked. The other motorbiker at the campground came over for a chat and to share the fire. A young fellow from Victoria who rode the 500km's to Port Hardy in one day. Tomorrow he's riding it all back in one shot in the rain. Ah, to be young!

Good night all. I hope you're all feeling for me all alone in my tent. Bone dry, with my laptop, listening to my ipod while the fire still crackles outside. Tomorrow I start making my way back south. Which way I take remains a mystery, even to me. Such is the way of a Scrabblebiker. But even a Scrabblebiker must return to her lover and I'm looking more and more forward to having her in my arms Monday night.


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