Stages 10, 11 & 12
Post date: 14-Sep-2016 19:25:18
After having spent the night in Port Hardy, we decided to ride stage 11 in reverse to Cape Scott Provincial Park, then loop back along stage 10 and up to Port Hardy before quickly riding stage 12 to our campsite for the night. As with all motorcycle trips, things don't always go as planned.
Stage 11 (in reverse) began in Port Hardy on a foggy morning down by the docks near our hostel. After a quick breakfast and the daily route review, we set out on the road to Cape Scott Provincial Park. We were immediately greeted with thick, soupy gravel before we even made it 5 km into the stage. There must have been at least 3 inches of gravel on the road causing the front tires to drift and slip. While this was not an issue for me because of the additional stability I get from the sidecar, it was very difficult for the other riders to manage. Without knowing exactly how much gravel was ahead of us, and after taking a beating on Stage 9 the day before, the 1200 GS, V-Strom and Tiger 800 decided to turn back and see out some fast pavement by riding back to Port Alice for the afternoon. I couldn't resist the lure of San Josef Bay in Cape Scott, so I continued on alone.
After about 15 km of that deep gravel, the road conditions turned into the usual dirt and gravel that most of the forest service roads are made of. Along the way, I took a break at the beautiful Nahwitti Lake with a glass-like surface reflecting the entire sky. I also made a quick stop at the Shoe Tree to observe the hundreds of shoes that have been nailed to the tree as a sort of memorial.
Finally reaching Cape Scott Provincial Park was a huge achievement for me - it was my primary goal on the trip to see San Josef Bay. The hike out to the beach takes approximately 45 minutes each way. The hike itself is along a very easy, well groomed trail with lots of tree cover, bridge crossings and wooden foot paths.
San Josef Bay itself was everything I could have hoped for and more. A massive expanse of wide open, sandy beach bordered by large hills on one side and beach trails leading off on the other side. The shallow rise of the beach causes the water to stretch out far into the distance at low tide making it a gentle hike just to even reach the water. San Josef Bay is considered by many to be the most beautiful beach on Vancouver Island, and I can easily see why. I love it and can't wait to visit again.
Stage 10 (in reverse) leads out of Cape Scott, quickly rides through Holberg and jumps onto the Hashamu forest service road. This then connects to Wanokano Road and eventually the Coal Harbour Mainline. The stage is in very good condition, for a forest service road. However, once I reached Coal Harbour, I did not continue along Stage 10 to Port Alice. I instead, rode north to Port Hardy and joined up with Stage 12. If you have
personal experience along Stage 10, specifically the CH200 road and Port Hardy Road, I'd love to hear about it. Please contact me and let me know how it is.
Stage 12 coming out of Port Hardy and riding to Telegraph cove is a nice change of pace with 120 km/hr speeds (of which my Ural has never, ever reached). The turnoff from the highway onto Beaver Cove Road is especially nice in the morning when the fog has settled leaving only a few hundred meters of visibility and an eerie feeling of riding through the silence. Telegraph Cove is a sight to behold with nearly the entire community sitting on a stilted dock over the water. It's a fantastic community with vacation rental cabins, kayak rentals, and a few really good food options for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
We camped for the night at Alder Bay nearby and exchanged stories of our different routes. As soon as the sun set, we called it a night pretty quickly and looked forward to the next days ride taking us further south along the Vancouver Island Grand Loop.