Sunday morning we got up early, had breakfast, struck camp, and made the 5 minute ride to the ferry. We knew it wasn’t going to be a long day of riding since the ferry from Courtenay to Powell River would take up a chunk of the morning and we wanted to camp on Okeover Inlet, just across the peninsula from Lund. Plus we really didn’t want to be in a rush on this trip as it was all about enjoying the scenery. And that scenery was spectacular! The ferry trip alone was beautiful but what really made it was the Sunshine Coast Highway ride.
The trek from Powell River to Lund was beautiful. Much of it followed the coast and all of it rolled, turned, and undulated. The ride wasn’t fast; speed limits on the north end of the Sunshine Coast Highway (Hwy 101) sit around the 60km/h mark. That didn’t make it any less fun. Many of the corners got tighter as we went through them, collapsing in on themselves before straightening out again. It’s the kind of riding that keeps you on your toes regardless of the speed. Being a total stranger to this part of the 101 I had a blast riding here. Lund came to us much too fast.
While Lund may have come up quickly, it was a welcome stop. We had a nice lunch at the Lund Hotel (with a visit from a helicopter), enjoying the sunshine and people watching. NMBL had a fantastic burger for lunch, topped with buttermilk fried onions. There’s a picture up in the photo gallery… of course. After lunch we explored Lund for a bit. It’s quite the little community. There are fishing boats in the bay as it was a fishing community. These days it seems to survive more off of tourism with charter boats and some very spectacular private vessels docked on the pier. Add to that the huge homes surrounding the bay and you know there’s some money camped out there. I’d definitely go back since the ride is amazing and the jewel at the top of the highway is worth the ride. Oh, and Lund is Mile 0 of Hwy 101. The Mile 0 marker is a magnet for bikes of all kinds and sizes. Very cool.
From Lund we backtracked a bit to get to our camping destination: Okeover Inlet (check out the map above). It’s located just on the other side of the peninsula from Lund and offers a Provincial camp ground that is free before June. We didn’t know what to expect going in since neither of us had been there. We had to roll down a bit of dirt road to get to the camp ground and found it to be a very minimal place with open, side-by-each camp spots. They all had fire pits, parking spots, and tent pads and that was about it. Even so, the campground was almost full. It turns out it’s a popular spot for a very good reason that I’ll get into in a bit. The camp spots weren’t to our liking since they didn’t offer much in the way of trees for hanging. However, there was an embankment down to the water so N went exploring. She soon came back with some good news: there were a couple of likely spots to hang the hammocks!
We ended up hanging in this copse of red cedar trees whose trunks were embedded in the embankment and branches umbrella-ed up, over, and down to the edge of the high tide line. N called it our Lost Boys camp because it was truly magical. The cedar trunks came out of the embankment horizontally before making graceful right-angle turns to reach towards the sky. Where the boughs came reached across the land and came down again at the water’s edge, the great reds created a small cathedral for us to set up our camp. I can’t really do the place justice with my description but there are some pictures in the Sunshine Coast gallery which might help give you a better idea of this ideal spot. It is my favourite hang location so far. We’ve got a lot of country to explore yet but I think it’s going to become a regular haunt for us.
I hinted earlier at a reason for the popularity of Okeover Provincial Park and it can be summed up with one word: smorgasbord. When the tide is out the flats are a buffet of mussels, clams, and oysters. All you have to do is harvest them and many of the campers were. We met two couples who were camping together in their RV’s and doing just that. They were even gracious enough to teach me to shuck my first ever oyster!
To get back to the hang we had at Okeover, both N and I were able to easily get the hammocks up and ridge-lines strung. The Lost Boys camp gave us loads of room for our fold-up tables and chairs. We created the perfect camp with the ocean at our doorstep. We were able to enjoy time on our camp chairs outside of the cathedral on the tidal flats sitting in the tall salt grasses just enjoying the beauty of Okeover Inlet. Hmmm… I might be over doing it a bit. Don’t get any ideas. Okeover is terrible. Don’t go there.
Needless to say we both had a great night’s rest and gently woke to the sun coming up over the mountains across the inlet. My sleep was only disturbed by a clumsy racoon falling down the embankment and scrambling up a tree at some point in the predawn morning. We both woke again with the sun and I got up to make coffee. From there we packed our gear with reluctance and loaded the bikes. It was time to head south on the BC 101.
Many of us have heard the modern proverb “The journey is the destination”. For me this is a truth of motorcycling. When riding you have to be in the moment and aware of everything around you. Tunnel vision will kill you as surely as a wandering mind. It’s why many motorcyclists seek out those secondary roads and highways. These snaking lengths of asphalt force us to be in the moment with their twists and turns, their challenges, and the pure fun they offer. This is exactly what is presented by the Sunshine Coast Highway. The BC 101 is a magnet for motorcyclists with wonderful scenery and amazing rides from top to bottom. There is rarely a spot that lulls the rider into a false sense of security as those quiet moments quickly become corners on hills without warning. Bliss!
The only interruption heading south on the Sunshine Coast Highway is the ferry from Saltery Bay on the north part of the coast to Earls Cove on the southern part. Unfortunately for us we didn’t make the 10am ferry. Like, just missed it. Like, watched it leave as we were four cars back in the lineup at the ticket booth. Drat! Fortunately for us we met some other motorcyclists, great people all. The one couple, John and Pauline from New Zealand, came to Canada, bought a BMW touring bike in Victoria, and were, at that time, planning to ride around B.C. and Alberta. They ended up doing much more! John and Pauline are an amazing couple who own a special getaway in Wanaka NZ called Limetree Lodge. When you head to New Zealand you should look them up.
We sat and chatted with our new New Zealand friends and another motorcyclist for much of the four hour wait (yep, four hours) and made plans to meet up in Gibsons before hitting the ferry back to Vancouver. By the time the ferry came in there were a number of us two wheeled freaks ready to go. Bikes are always first on and first off the ferries. At the Earls Cove end it was a cacophony of engines, twins and four-bangers, racing away from the dock and onto the highway. If I haven’t already pushed the point enough, this is some of the best motorcycling highway along the west coast. The exclamation point was put on this for me when we finally got to the Langdale ferry terminal just outside of Gibsons. The bikes waiting to get on the ferry were in the dozens. It was a sight.
At this point I’ll leave the narrative. If you ever have the privilege to ride to the west coast of B.C., ride the Sunshine Coast. Ferry costs aside, it’s worth the trip. Better yet, if you can, hang your hammock at Okeover Inlet just down the embankment from the campground. It’s a spot that you will never forget.
Happy hanging and happy revving. DES out.