Thursday, August 23, 2012

Surviving the Dangerous Hwy 4

This morning I left Pacific Rim National Park and made my way to Sproat Lake. Most of the people I talked to said Hwy 4 was VERY VERY dangerous. It is winding and narrow! Traffic goes very fast! The log trucks are the worst! Well, yes, the road was winding and places. The traffic didn't seem to be going any faster than one would expect. I didn't see a single log truck! Maybe it's just my good karma..but it wasn't too bad of a ride. The hills, on the other hand, were some serious doozies! They weren't extremely long, just extremely steep. There was one that the other side said 18% grade. That part I came down, but I swear the part I went up was every bit as steep if not more! But, I made it.

I stopped at a place that I think is the Taylor River. There was a large expanse of flat rock where you can tell the river flows over in the winter. In August, however, it flows through a narrow gorge. The water was crystal clear and a beautiful blue. At first I walked down to the rocks in my bike sandals. After a few hairy moments of slippage, I went back to Betsy and changed into my 5 finger shoes. Ahhh, now I was like a lizard scampering over the rocks! There were lots of people climbing around. I heard a variety of languages.

After a few photos, I continued on my way. Eventually I made it to the top of Sutton Pass. I didn't actually know I was climbing a pass. When I got to the top, some people in a pickup parked across the road applauded. They yelled that they had seen me far below.

I was getting hungry and started looking for a suitable lunch stop when I came upon the Taylor River Rest Stop. Perfect! I had a bit of lunch and talked to a road cyclist who was there too. I asked her about the danger of cycling Hwy 4. She said she has heard that too, but has never had a problem. It reminds me that I should not take too much stock in what non-cyclists say about a road. Sure, their perception is that it's dangerous but, they would likely think cycling on any road is dangerous. I found it to be no worse and often better than New Zealand roads.

I made it to Sproat Lake to find the campground full. I circled around once then as I came around again, I stopped to ask a gal with just one tent on her site if I could possibly share with her. She said sure. Her son and daughter-in-law had been there with their tent, but had to go home. Her name is Val and she just lives in Parksville (not all that far from here--I will go through Parksville again tomorrow). Several of her family members are on adjacent sites. She has to go home tomorrow. Her two granddaughters are with their parents. They are Kailee and Ashley (6 and 4). They were fascinated by my cooking set-up. I let them play with my collapsible cup. I told them the area around my stove was the "No Go Zone". They are cute girls.

The big tanker plane is sitting out on the lake like I remembered when I was a kid (I'm sure it's a different plane though). Val said it took off yesterday. Dang! I was hoping to see it take off. I don't remember much else of the park. I have no memory of the petroglyphs, but I'm sure they were here long before I was.

Anyway, I'm planning to stop in Parksville at Starbucks to sent these last few posts. Then it's on to Newcastle Island (that's if they have overnight camping there--Val says she doesn't think they do).

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