Tried a couple of rides in recent weeks but had ambitions scaled back by the deep snows in the backroads. This time I tried something different - drove up to Port McNeill, ~200kms north of Campbell River, left my CRV at the ferry terminal ($5/day parking) and took the 6km ferry hop over to Sointula on Malcolm Island. My hunch was right - no snow about!
Photo from the ferry as I was departing, showing seaside Sointula.
Here's a little history:
"Sointula means “place of harmony” in Finnish.This charming seaside town on sprawling Malcolm Island was established as a community in the late 19th century when a colony of Finnish settlers arrived with utopian dreams of building the perfect community. While that vision was derailed within a decade ....." Many of the Finns stayed on, farming, fishing & logging, and helping give the island a distinctive character that lives on to this day.
It started when I was boarding the ferry from Port McNeil. The BC ferries staff and other walk-on passengers almost all greeted me. Stopped for a coffee in Sointula and asked about camping at Bere Point Campground on the north shores, and soon a small group was all gathered to offer advice, including to bring my own fresh water as it was off-season and the pump disabled. I started my ride, and right away noticed that almost every car (there's not many) waved. And some whimsical roadside character.
Seaside character in downtown Sointula
Sointula Park host wearing a nice plaid wool sweater
The ride to Bere Point Regional Campground on the north shores was only 7kms (my shortest ride ever!), mostly dirt track. A modest (~100m) island spine to climb over, then down to the campground. Gorgeous. I'm adding it to me favourite campgrounds list. 24 sites, some right along the beach (looks great for swimming), others set back some. I assume that there can be occasional windy outbursts, so one might want to ask some locals and choose a site accordingly. An incredible smooth pebbled bay, with driftwood along the high tide marker. Apparently, if one is lucky, the bay is famous as a "rubbing beach" for killer whales who scrub their skins on the smooth stones. There's trails heading along the north coast. They take reservations, and it's only $20/night in season (open & free out of season).
The campground continued the theme of whimsy, with intricate driftwood tables, benches, stairs cases and windbreaks about. One gets the sense that visitors like to stay a while, and no wonder. It was pretty cold & rainy on my arrival day, but I woke up to a new day of beautiful blue skies.
Beach & bay in front of Bere Point campground
Campsite family room
On my way back, I took a little side track to visit Telegraph Cove. A little eerie with all the boating and tourist businesses deserted. Lots of evidence of logging activity about. Then the drive back down the Island home. I'll be back to this area again, likely this spring. There's so much more to explore & see.
Photo from the North Island Highway, just south of Woss.