The Queen Charlotte Islands
Masset Travel Blog› entry 3 of 55 › view all entries
June 12th, 2008 – by: silan
It's a great thing to travel by bike. You get those great looks from people wondering where you're going, where you've traveled from, what kind of monstrous hills you've climbed. Most of the time they ask us where we're from and we say "Vancouver".
"You've biked all the way from Vancouver?!? Wow! That's impressive!" they reply quickly.
Our plan was to take the bikes on the ferry and make our way from the south of the Graham Island to west of Masset in the north where we had found a place to stay. The ferry across is about 6 hours over open water, and it was rocky. Countless seasick patrons hung out in the bathroom as the ship carved its way through swells in the water. Despite the communal motion sickness, it's a beautiful ride. The Queen Charlottes aren't known for their blisteringly hot days and sunny weather, so we didn't expect it nor experience it.
We arrived at Skidegate Landing, about 5 km from Queen Charlotte City, in the late afternoon and decided to start heading north along the highway. If you're planning to bike the Islands and are worried about getting lost, dont. There's only one highway, and if you find yourself back at the ferry terminal, turn arond, head the other way and you'll be fine. It's also a great destination for bikers because of the lack of traffic on the highway. There's a small shoulder, but passing cars have lots of room and will give you a wide berth. We had planned to stop in Skidegate at a grocery store to get some food for dinner... but alas, it was past 6 and only the gas station convenience store was open.
The rule with camping in the Charlottes is... basically camp wherever you want. So we managed to find a great spot by the beach that was clear past the high tide mark and a bit shaded from the wind so it wouldn't be too cold. We pulled out our camping stove and had a meal of hot beef stew and crackers on the beach as the sunset and eagles flew overhead.
The next day we made our way past Tlell (where we simply had to stop for lunch at a little bakery by the road - and where we ate with a guy we had recognized from the ferry the day before) and cycled our way up and down the hills to Port Clements. Finally a place with a real grocery store! We stocked up on a bit of food to last us the next day or so before finding a place to camp. Now we were tired at this point.
I guess Port Clements didn't get many visitors at that time of year, so we had the campground to ourself, complete with a large wooden gazebo. The man, and also the woman who came by later to collect the fee, told us we could set up our tent under the gazebo since it was supposed to rain that night.
The next day we set out for Masset, which is fairly flat for the last 20km or so, and stopped at a grocery store to bring out to the cabin we had rented 17km east of the town.
We stayed out at the cabin for 4 nights and explored the area, including a daytrip out to Tow Hill and the Blowhole. We had underestimated the distance between the cabin and Masset and had consequently not brought enough food with us, thinking we could ride back out to Masset to get more. That's when the food rationing started. It wasnt too bad, we ended up having just enough food, and splurged with a meal at Moon Over Naikoon, a great little bakery about a hundred metres down the road.
We booked it back to Queen Charlotte City in one day (about 130km in all) and camped there for the night, giving us the next day to explore the town a bit before leaving that night.
The ferry ride back to Prince Rupert is overnight, so the majority of people will bring sleeping bags and pillows and just camp out on a free spot on the ground.
We got back to Prince Rupert, and suddenly, it wasn't so "not that great of a town" anymore. This time, we saw it as having all the luxuries we didn't have on the Queen Charlottes - including our car! We would spend the rest of the day (we got in a 5:30am, so we had a lot of time), doing laundry, getting groceries again, and contacting parents as cell phone service is non-extistence on the Islands (except for 3 very specific spots we've heard).
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