Leg 2: Nanaimo, BC to Port Hardy, BC
4 July 2022
The morning began with us opening up the blinds to another day of liquid sunshine. Corbin, fresh off ten hours of sleep, realized he was missing another item: a rain jacket. Therefore, we paid another trip to Canada’s vast collection of strip malls that we were now becoming very familiar with and headed to every gun owner’s favorite outdoor emporium: Cabela’s.
The nice thing about the Cabela’s stop is it was the closest we had come to camping yet.
After debating whether he could live with walking around with the Cabela’s logo on a well-fitting rain jacket, Corbin decided he couldn’t and bought a black North Face jacket instead. I also suggested that we should buy rain paints, but Corbin said, “Nah, we’ll dry off in the car.” More on that later.
After Cabela’s, we headed north and stopped at Englishman River Falls a Provincial Parks. (provincial parks in BC seem to be free!? Good for them!) There, we took a soggy stroll to see the upper and lower falls of the loop. The upper falls plunged into a very narrow canyon right below the footbridge. We also enjoyed the preponderance of warning signs scattered about the hiking trail.
Next, we drove through Campbell River on the Oceanside Scenic Route (behind the slowest car known to man) on our way to a more substantial 5 mile hike: Ripple Rock.
Ripple Rock is the name of a (former) rock formation and navigational hazard in a popular shipping lane. 70 years ago it was obliterated with 2.7 million pounds of TNT in the largest non-nuclear explosion in history. So Ripple Rock is no more. Corbin thought this was very cool!
We didn’t see the rock (obviously), but we did find an explosion of wild berries along the trail!
Corbin confidently picked salmon berries and huckleberries. Though hesitant at first, eventually I enjoyed quite a few myself. The stomach ache I have today as I write this may or may not be related (Corbin doesn’t think so).
After this hike, which turned out much longer and much wetter than expected (rain paints anyone?), we continued on a long and uneventful stretch of driving.
Two hours later, we pulled into sleepy Port Hardy, the northernmost town on Vancouver island.
It was only 7 when we arrived, but the receptionist at the hostel told us most things would be closed by 9pm. “It’s Sunday,” she said. It was in fact Monday, but when Corbin politely pointed this out, she said, “Oh it doesn’t matter, Sundays and Mondays are the same here.”
After that, it was time to celebrate the 4th of July with a drink and maybe some sparklers. As it turns out, the (single) Port Hardy grocery store had little to offer in either department. So we settled for ginger beer, cucumber Lay’s (quite good!), and a sunset stroll around town before bed. On our walk we saw a bald eagle (‘Murica!), lots of kelp, and learned about Carrot Park. Carrot Park was built to mark the government road promises that the government dangled in front of the north Islanders from the 1870s until the 1970s when the road was finally finished.
Corbin also got very excited about an electric Ford F-150. The town actually had quite a few electric charging stations.
With an early ferry checkin the next day at 5:30, we headed back to our hostel around 9:30 and tucked ourselves in for the night. Next stop: Prince Rupert!