Bikepacking From Our Front Door to A Lake in the Middle of Nowhere on Vancouver Island
When Logan decided to start doing bikepacking adventures, I was both extremely excited and very nervous to join in. I didn't grow up biking, or really doing any outdoor activities that involved any kind of extraneous activity and that has meant that for the past few years I have been playing catch- up in the biking and hiking skills department. I didn't, and still don't, feel like I have nearly the endurance that I wish I had, but I am always up for a challenge and willing to try new things, even if that means I might fail and that I will for sure suck for a while.
Bikepacking is something I have wanted to do for a long time, but due to my lack of endurance on a bike and just not knowing anyone that was doing it, I hadn't given much weight to the idea of actually being able to travel to cool places on a bike. That was until Logan decided he wanted to do it and suddenly the doors to try these adventures opened up in front of me. AND it turns out that Vancouver Island is an amazing place to go bikepacking!
For my first bikepacking trip we decided to head to a series of lakes called Nanaimo Lakes not too far from us. It was meant to be a 35-ish km ride from our front door to the lakes where we planned to find a secluded place along the second lake to set up camp. I honestly wasn't sure if I could make it because the most I had ever ridden in a day was 15 km, but it sounded worth the risk.
We invited two friends along and the four of us set out on May Long weekend in hopes of reaching the lakes. The plan was to bike to the lakes the first day, spend a day enjoying camping and then bike back home on the third day. Logan also planned a route to the lakes that meant we wouldn't climb above 300m in elevation in order to avoid any snow that may be remaining thanks to our late spring. I say our elevation didn't reach over 300m, but we climbed lots more than that! The trail was a series of up and down and up and down and up and down in almost 30 degree direct sun.
The trail wasn't really a trail. It was a series of gravel logging roads with large chunky rocks and gravel, but epic views of the surrounding mountains.
I did a lot of panting and complaining about hills, but by the time we reached the lakes I was both exhausted and wanting to keep going, which was kind of lucky because we had a hard time finding a camping spot. We pedalled up one side of the lake and then back down, half way up the other side and then back down, and in the process we only found one spot that was suitable for camping. It was nestled amongst the trees and off the lake a little bit, so we weren't extremely excited about it at the beginning, but after setting up camp it turned out to be the perfect place. We were out of the sun but still close enough to the lake to enjoy the water.
Our second day we did nothing but relax. We read, napped, and collected water while enjoying the beautiful lake.
On the third day we were blessed with more decline than incline as we pedalled our way home. It was bittersweet to make it back. By the end of the ride I was exhausted, hungry and addicted. And I couldn't wait to plan the next one!
Camping via bikepacking was officially my favourite way to camp (still is!). There is something about being close to nature through your entire journey to the site that makes it feel so much fuller and more worthwhile. Even with the suffering of the hill climbs, I don't know if I will ever want to camp another way again!
Watch the adventure here: