A great, but long ride, with some “connections” that did not work out.
So, the ride started with the normal 2 hour ride out to Port Renfrew, which starts off hot, and gets somewhat cold before Jordan River. Stopped for gas at the marina again. There might have been a very old and decrepit railway trestle just upriver of the bridge before the marina. Something to look for and maybe photograph next time.
From there, we followed the GPS route we (Rick?) got from somewhere called the bugaboo bypass. This is a “shortcut” from Port Renfrew to Nitinat Lake or Carmanah. The southern part is a pretty nice dualsport road. It hasn’t been in active use recently, and at the south end there were some impressive dead standing cedar trees. The whole ride up to Nitinat, and including the detour up to McClure lake was a pretty easy ride. A little more challenging than “graded mainline”, and far more interesting, but still novice friendly. (Our exploring after the bypass, was NOT easy.)
The only real detour off the bypass path, was a jaunt up McClure main to check out the lake. I was impressed, it is a nice looking, big (deep?) lake, with some campsites set out near the N end. We didn’t scout around much, although we did stop for lunch.
Back on the bypass route, we stopped where the view to the S opened up… This shot was probably around 48.71, -124.55
I shot a couple clips of video here too, they are a bit shaky :(
From McLure, it really wasn’t that far to the bridge over the Caycuse river where Mainline Carmanah and Rossander Main meet… and if you’re generous, you can say that Caycuse Main comes in on the N side of the bridge. That (Caycuse Main) was the hoped for return path. Unfortunately, it is much more overgrown than I had expected. We apparently took a wrong turn when we took a hard left for a second switchback. Google maps shows the road going straight, and satellite images suggest there might be a path there. Clearly we found some track that was more obvious. (My bad, as I was leading that section.) The road started off nice and level, and after the wrong turn, it got fairly steep, and challenging.
We got past the above rut… down was harder than up!? I do wish I had my shovel, but instead of panniers I was just using a tailbag. Anyhow, we learned that the chunk of road we were on wasn’t going to take us anywhere shortly after that rut (very steep section followed by a tree blocking the road). Looking at the backroads book, It looked like we might be able to take Granite Main over to Caycuse main (where it goes south from the town). So we headed N and NE to the top of Nitinat lake and the normal route back to Lake Cowichan. Well, Granite Main didn’t pan out for us all that well either… although the satellite pix suggests that we might have done fine if we had pushed through here… but it was getting on, and there was lots of agreement when Sean suggested we just go back to the main route and take the “safe” road home.
Total mileage shown in the GPX track above is aproximately 350 km, and something like 10.5 hours from rendezvous to my getting home. Long Day.