An Indescribable High–A Bubbling Over High-A Nimpkish Valley Bicycling High

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Soaked By Morning Rain, I Vowed To Get An End Of The Day Hotel Room

Vancouver Island, B.C.

June 27, ‘80

Alive in mystery, I swoon once again

to the powerful rhythms

of churning greens,

dancing yellows,

and whitewater wisps.

I move in your presence and light.


Alive in mystery,

in warm and powerful rhythms,

in churning greens,

dancing yellows,

and whitewater wisps,

this moment

moves in beauty and light.


In your powerful rhythms,

shadows, light, churning greens,

dancing yellows, and whitewater wisps,

my heart is filled to overflowing.


In churning greens,

dancing yellows,

and whitewater wisps,

this poem needs a life.


Okay, so what’s new! This poem isn’t going to get written right now. It took two and half hours just to get this far, and it certainly isn’t the fault of my surroundings. I’m sitting on a rock overlooking the larger falls in Little Qualicum Park. I really love this place. I took a day off just to bicycle here. Twenty-five miles out of my way, and all I’ve got is this unfinished poem to show for it. In a very short time I will be heading back to spend $5.50 for a place to camp and a shower. As I take a deep breath and look around, though, I guess I’m pretty happy to be here.

It was a two-hour ferry ride over to Victoria and fortunately the rain let up some on the way over. Early evening, however, to avoid getting wet, I set up camp in the woods just off the highway. A park ranger spied my tent through the trees and paid me a visit. I was already sleeping. I offered to pay money, but that wasn’t acceptable. He told me the campground was three miles down the road, and I could camp there. “Swell,” I thought, “just what I needed— tear down my tent, ride three miles in the dark, re-erect a slimy, dirty, tent, and for what—just to give bragging rights to an inflated ego.” As I was rolling up my sleeping bag, the guy came back and offered me a ride to the campground. I declined his invitation. When he drove away, I found another spot to camp. That time it was off the highway, hidden by a very wet, black, sky.

Having survived the night, but not very well, I tried not to think about Ranger Right. Biking in the morning rain, I vowed to get a hotel room at the end of the day. In Nanimo, some forty miles down the road, I looked for a room, but it was tourist season, and they were all full. By the time I reached Parksville, another twenty miles, my wet clothes had pretty much dried out. Upon entering a hotel, I went straight to the bar. The sun had tried, but failed to poke its head out of the clouds, but by the time I had finished my third beer, I had pretty much forgot what the old boy looked like. Outside, I decided to push on. Not far from Parksville, I found a spot for my tent and was able to let it dry out before I called it a night.

June 28

Just to tie up some loose ends: I wanted to go to Qualicum because I couldn’t pass it up. I remembered it to be just too beautiful, even upon repeated visits. Besides, I was feeling pretty spiritual, and I wanted a place to meditate. Under cloudy skies, I did find that special place. It was on a rock overlooking the step-down stream. The meditation experience was not that intense, however. Reaching those peaks of calm, especially when you’ve let your meditation practice slip, was never easy. Even though I was only partially “there,” I still managed to get a sense of the mystical, and I imagine the sight, sounds and smells of the rushing waters of Qualicum had a lot to do with it.

The ride back to Parksville was an enjoyable one. The rain had stopped. The camping experience, on the other hand, wasn’t so enjoyable. I paid $5.50 to pitch my tent, and then I found out campfires were not allowed. And, when I went to take a shower, I had to pay another fifty cents. The water wasn’t even hot. I was pissed.

Ferry Ride 330 Miles Up The Coast Of British Columbia

July 1, ‘80

Not too shabby; I’m sitting in the lounge, drinking a Labatt’s Blue, enjoying the view of the offshore islands. I’m on a ferry heading up to Prince Rupert. Through the windows across the lounge, British Columbia’s snow capped mountains are shinning in the sunshine. Most of the trip up to Prince Rupert, 330 miles, will be along this intercostal waterway—a route that twists in-between islands and coastal mountains—spectacular. Even getting here was sp
ectacular.

After Parksville, the ride to Campbell River was wet. In fact, I didn’t even make it to Campbell River. I got caught in a rainstorm just before I reached there. I went into a little store to escape the rain, and ended up standing on the store’s porch. I noticed the garage behind the store, so after I checked it out, I decided to put my tent up behind it. I suppose the deer and mountain goats new I was there, but I was totally out of sight of humans.

On Sunday, I bicycled into Campbell River and found that I had arrived on the last day of the Salmon festival. After thirty minutes of watching a bunch of fly fisherman fish the Campbell River from the bridge overlooking the river, I biked into town. It was a small town—all towns north of Nanimo were small, only this one was laid out so that the line of sight down Main Street pointed straight at a huge glacier. As the crow flies, the glacier was hanging atop the mountain at the end of the street–absolutely beautiful. After I watched the parade, I was ready to head out. I hadn’t gotten very far before I realized that I had lost the screw that secured the wrack that held my sleeping bag and bike panniers—my luggage—to the bike. I couldn’t trek into the wilderness that way, so I turned around and headed back into town.

It was Sunday and unless I could come up with the right screw I wasn’t going anywhere. At the last chance gas station–the hardware places were all closed and I had already covered the other gas stations–I came up empty. As I sat down on the sidewalk, an old guy asked me if I wanted to look in his toolbox. I didn’t expect to find anything in his fifty-year-old toolbox, but I looked anyway. There were a few rusty screws on the bottom, but nothing that came close to the metric screw I needed. In a word, I was screwed. (I had to say that because all day long everybody else did). Just as I was about to walk away, the old guy said here try this one, as he picked a screw up from out of his toolbox. It fit. It was magic. I was amazed.

It took five hours, but I was finally on the highway, pedaling north. Originally my destination was Kelsey Bay, sixty miles up island, but in Campbell River I found out that the ferry didn’t dock there anymore. It docked at the tip of the island, another 150 miles north. After they paved the gravel road to Port Hardy, the ferry’s home base moved there. That was both surprising and discouraging news. When, however, I found out the ferry didn’t leave until Tuesday, I felt a little better. That gave me just enough time to reach there.

I mentally prepared for the long ride ahead. A couple of hours later, I realized it was going to be a very long ride indeed. The people, towns, and even the traffic all but disappeared. When I finally reached Kelsey Bay, I found a solitary sign pointing in a different direction. It read Kelsey Bay 3 kilometers. I expected a gas station or a store where I could get a pop and chips, but that didn’t happen. I was on a tight schedule, so I unhappily pushed on. At least it wasn’t raining.

Around 8 p.m., a motorcyclist passed me heading south. He turned around and came back for a visit. He parked his bike in the middle of the highway, as we shared stories. He was pissed because it rained every day on his ten-day vacation. The only day it didn’t rain on him was today, and he was headed home. I told him I empathized. After we got through the introductions, the guy asked me if I could roll a joint. “Absolutely,” I said; so when he handed me his stash that he pulled from the bottom of his saddlebags, I rolled a big, fat, number. After a few hits off the weed, and standing in the middle of nowhere, the smiles started to pour forth from both of us, the ones that had been long suppressed. A bird even started singing, and my muscles stopped aching. After the last hit was gone, my friend went south and I trucked on north. We were both in a much better mood, and I was, luckily, bicycling in extremely beautiful country.

The next day, when I began my bicycling through the Nimpkish Valley, I found myself center stage in a beautiful dream. In the pristine wilderness of Vancouver Island’s peopleless north country, the songbirds offered up a delightful chorus, as the sun beamed hot on my bare back. With cascading mountain streams greeting me every few miles, and no traffic to break the spell, the bicycling was absolutely fantastic. Above me eagles soured. I even saw a circling vulture or two. On four different occasions I passed grazing deer. I hadn’t experienced that much beauty since that time in Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains when I coasted down into Ten Sleep Canyon. On that occasion, I experienced one of those “highs” that can’t be described–a bubbling over high. Bicycling the Nimpkish Valley was that kind of “high.”

In Port McNeill, around 8 p.m., I passed a friendly looking pub and went inside. On the backside of the pub, just outside the window where I was sitting, was a beautiful stream. At the bar, two guys were talking to the bartender. The conversation ranged from fishing, to fishing, to more fishing. Bad fishing meant small paychecks, and based on what I was hearing, times were tough. Too bad those fellows couldn’t appreciate what I was appreciating—great beer and a great view–whip cream on a great day.

That night I pitched my tent along the highway. I arrived in Port Hardy the next morning around 9 a.m. I bought my ferry ticket, some groceries, took a shower at a campground, and cleaned my bike, all before boarding the ferry. Riding the ferry up the pacific coast to Prince Rupert, I still hadn’t come down off my Nimpkish Valley “high.” Too bad life couldn’t always be this sweet!

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3 Responses to “An Indescribable High–A Bubbling Over High-A Nimpkish Valley Bicycling High”

  1. sue s Says:

    Thank goodness it is the weekend and you have posted another blog….its a wonder you didn’t suffer from trench foot and other nasties having been wet for most of your travels!

  2. wings Says:

    When I think Parksville beaches and Long Beach etc., thinking…”fog creeps in on little cat feet” (smile) You need to come back some day…and please let me know if you do.

  3. dave Says:

    Because I have been wet (Sue)–without knowing how to dry out (a big deal), I have (for the rest of my life) savored being wet and knowing I have a place to dry out– that is a life changing experience!

    There is no other place (wings) I would rather be. Maybe in five years, when I retire with full benefits, (this is probably big wishful thinking) I will end up on that land mass, bordered on all sides by the Pacific Ocean. I have visited there at least three times and it’s magnetic!

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