I have a number of local higher elevation rides (~1,000m+) planned this summer now that the snows are mostly all gone, so I need some seasoning. I figured I'd start near home by heading up to Mt Washington (our local ski hill) via a little known back route to the north. I'd found one route up last year (see Courtenay NW), but figured there had to be more.
I took Duncan Bay Main NW, past Wolf Lake, where I stopped for a lakeside coffee (above pic). Then past Regan Lake to the south banks of the upper Oyster River. This year I planned to follow Rossiter Main along the south of the Oyster River, then Piggott Creek, before branching off to climb up behind Mt Washington.
I've also wanted to reach the higher backroads on the north side of the Oyster River, and spent my first afternoon (unsuccessfully) trying to find a connection through. I camped in the cold rain (thank goodness I brought a good sleeping bag) near the bridge over upper Piggott Creek, about 600m up: our miserable weather of late has kept this creek full and fierce considering we're well into June.
I saw a couple of bears. This thin fellow above (likely just a year old) was close to Regan Lake. The other bolted before I could get my camera out. But what gave me pause was just how frequently I rode by fresh bear shit. Seems they're having a good year in this area. Bears very sensibly like walking on old tracks rather than through undergrowth. My route up Mt Washington was on an old decommissioned track - steep, rocky, with lots of close-in (wet!) undergrowth, and totally deserted. I was talking out loud to myself to warn foraging bears. My GPS was recording my track so I could find my way back if the road faded away, which I feared was going to happen.
The above pic, taken into the morning sun, is at the turn-off onto the old track, heading SE. There were a few downed trees and small slides that were possible to clamber around. Once up to ~900m, I reached a junction and the road got more sane. Then the trees opened up for a view SW into Strathcona Park. See pic below. And then - suddenly - I was at Mt Washington's Strathcona Park HQ and Info kiosk. And here's a good thing - the parking lot was almost full of vehicles, which I assume must almost all be for hikers.
Well - I definitely got my fill of climbing, with more than enough pushing and hauling. But, I still had the grand finale - bombing down 1,100m on smoothly paved, wide shouldered Strathcona Parkway (see pic below). My 29" ECR, loaded up, phat tires and all, had never blown past 75kph before.
This is a ride that builds in a special reward. After all the sweat to scramble up Mt Washington by my roundabout route, it only took me an hour to make it back to my home. Yahooo.