Vancouver – Squamish – Whistler – Lillooet – Cache Creek – Kamloops
First things first, Westjet were amazing – the crew were so friendly, helpful and funny! – but the baggage handlers somewhere along the way weren’t 😥. My bike (now named ‘Barb’) arrived eventually at Vancouver however the box which had been meticulously packed by moi was now wide open on the bottom where it’d obviously been handled by the bears I’m hoping to just see from afar… there was also a bag in there which was now empty. I still haven’t figured out what that was – but I do know it wasn’t essential for the bike!
Abby came and met me at the airport and promptly helped me put Barb back together again ready for a quick ride to Kitsilano and our 2 x warmshowers hosts for 3 nights of swapping stories, tips and routes; catching up on sleep; beers; walking the dog; eating ice cream and catching an incredible sunset over the water – as well as getting our bearings in this great city. Yep, everyone who said I’d love it was right – I could definitely see myself staying there for much longer one day…!
We eventually waved goodbye to Brendan, hopped on the bikes and headed toward Stanley Park for a beautiful exit from the city and straight on to the Sea to Sky Highway (99). Gah, what a scenic way to go! Over the next couple of days we just stayed on the one road climbing to Pemberton – just north of Whistler. We were only gutted that we were on the right-hand side of the road and not the left which would have completely uninterrupted views!
The day we left Whistler was looking a bit grey and rainy – kind of matching our slightly nervous mood. We had a big couple of days ahead with the dreaded Duffey Lake hill climb smack-bang in the middle. We’d had a couple of days under our belts though and were feeling strong so (after a massive lunch obvs) set off headed for a wild camp spot next to Lake Duffey. It didn’t happen. The weather closed in and we weren’t as close to our intended spot as we’d wanted so we pulled over, popped on some layers and held out our thumbs with our friendliest/most vulnerable faces on. We managed to get a hitch with the lovely Michael who gave us heated seats and cookies on arrival to the safety machine (yes, car), and an even nicer lift all the way to a campsite – having seen our proposed wild camp below water as the lake was still really high – and getting higher probably thanks to the storm rolling in!
Despite being ridiculously expensive ($25 for two people) campgrounds in Canada are also possibly the friendliest places. Our neighbour in Lillooet brought over freshly cut roses for our picnic table and eggs from her farm for breakfast, whilst the next night at Cache Creek we were brought coffee at breakfast time (admittedly it was possibly the worst coffee I’ve ever had but the thought was there and it was hot and caffeinated)!
Which brings us to riding into Kamloops – a day of slightly less climbing than the last couple of days but still not without its weather events. Abby’s not a fan of thunderstorms (despite being nails at everything else) and so when the weather was closing in again we parted ways with Abby hitching a ride into town (picked up within 2 minutes – these lovely Canadians…) and me enjoying a great ride alongside the lakes, getting a bit of speed up on some quiet frontage roads and the rain never quite arriving but making for a dramatic backdrop.
It’s been a great first week riding, surrounded by mountains, lakes, big skies and NOTHING, we’ve also met some fabulous people both on the roads and through warmshowers. We realised we were in at the deep end with riding into the Coast mountain/Cascade mountain range straight off the bat but it felt like we got our touring legs back and spinning quickly, well, quickly. I still have NO idea what is in what bag though – I’m sure I might figure that out ooooof by about Montreal?