Bush Camping along the San Juan River

During the summer of 2006, I was motorcycle camping with my girlfriend, now my wife. At one point, as evening was approaching, we were getting a little deperate for a campsite. Now, when I say campsite, I'm not talking KOA. I ride a dualsport for a reason; I don't consider camping a community event. My preference is for bush camping, being out there with no neighbors, unless you count the bears.

Well, as I said, it was getting dark and we were cruising the backroads from Mesachie (along Cowichan Lake) down to Port Renfrew when I spotted an access road off to the left, a wee bit after we crossed a bridge. This was a good sign. I followed this road, such as it was, for quite a ways, keeping an eye out for any potential trails towards the river. Sure enough, I hit one and then wheedled my way towards the water. Water always makes camping much more enjoyable.

After hitting the gravel banks of the San Juan, I cruised a little upstream until I found an elevated sandbar where I could set up camp. Sure, it was dry, but I'm not keen on pitching a tent 6 inches about the waterline. A few feet up the bank is much preferable.

Note that the trail in was dualsport territory - a 4x4 would not have made it. Not without cutting a new - wider - trail.

Being logging country, there was no shortage of firewood laying about and we managed to cook all our meals over an open fire. Now, that's camping :)

Anyway, the route in is HERE, in both Google Earth KML and OziExplorer PLT formats.

Note that this is BUSH (back country) wilderness camping. There are no services, no corner stores, no one coming around to sell you ice cream, no cell service, and no one to help you if you screw up. There are, however, bears, cougars, wolfs, and ferocious squirrels. My favorite definition of "wilderness" is "a place where, sometimes, the animals get to eat the people." Yes, this is meant to frighten you. Fear is a good thing; it keeps you within your limits. If you don't understand this, read my opinions on Wilderness Insurance here.

If you know what bush camping is all about, then enjoy. This isn't the best site I've ever camped at, but it's far enough off the beaten track to keep it clean and quite. Perfect for a dualsport.

Other routes are available HERE.


Powerline Tracks for Vancouver Island

Many great riding areas often start where major powerlines intersect rural or logging roads. Because of this, I traced out all of the major powerline routes on Vancouver Island. The source maps were the 50K government topos (available HERE).

Don't expect to ride the entire length of a powerline. Around these parts, they often use helecoptors to run the wire so, unless you've got wings, you'll be looking for ridable sections, which may or may not go all the way through to other roads. Also, around settled areas, powerline right of ways are often leased from farmers, so routes may dead-end on a gated field etc.. In other words, even if you find an entrance to a section of ridable powerlines, you may have to double-back the way you came.

This track is the full version, with over 900 points, so it is not suitable for downloading directly to GPS receivers - at least not mine. It's quite detailed actually. It took about an hour to trace out from the maps and includes multiple sections.

You can download the track in Google Earth (KML) or OziExplorer (PLT) formats HERE.

Similar items are listed HERE.


P.S. If you're interested in a reduced version that I made for my Garmin E-trek Legend, with a single section and less than 500 points, let me know. It sacrifices a little detail, with well over half the points removed, and includes some double-backs to keep the track in one section. However, it does work well in my GPS and is one of my "standard tracks" that I always keep loaded.