After a few days of recovery from our Nootka trail hike and some warm up to biking on Malcolm and Cormorant Island, we were ready for the next step of our trip: the Alice lake loop. We fuelled up with some amazing scones from Mugz 2.0 Coffee House before starting the uphill out of town that would last all afternoon. Luckily we could follow low traffic logging roads right out of town, so we did not have to deal with the stress of the highways. For our oldest daughter F, who is 7, this was the first bike trip where she could not just choose to go on dad's bike whenever she wanted; she was not particularly impressed with having to bike 23km of uphill on the first day. As the day went on though she seemed to grow with the task, and slowly realized that she would be able to do it. She was so proud of herself when we pulled into the Three Isle rec site. The site was not officially an overnight site, but it seemed like a perfect little campground to me. It had a small river to play in, a nice view of the lake with the three isles, and a couple of picnic tables.
On our second day the plan was to bike another 20km along the logging roads to Kathleen Lake. We passed a couple of lakes on the way and stopped for lunch at Maynard Lake. At Kathleen Lake rec area we had an unfortunate run in with a couple of retired campers that most definitely did not want to share what they perceived to be their private campground with our family of "screaming" kids. We opted to retreat, but did not have time to make it to another site, so we ended up camping on the side of the road by the bridge over Wady Creek. It was not ideal, but worked out okay in the end.
The next day we made our way to Link River campsite. It was only 15km and after the initial steep uphill it was mostly downhill, but it was a bit of a tough day for F. It was hot, she was starting to get tired and, wasn't really keen on anymore biking. Luckily Link River campsite turned out to be awesome and we quickly decided to ration our food so we could stay an extra day. On the first day we all went swimming in Alice Lake, it was a bit windy, so it got cold fast. The next day we all discovered the glory of Link River. It was warm and so fun for the kids to float down the deeper section. We spent most of the day swimming and playing in the river without another soul around. We also made another visit to the lake where the campsite host had invited us to play with their toys and paddle board. It was a welcome change to play with something other than sticks and stones for a little while.
The next day was hot with lots of flies on the logging road leading into town. The descent down to Neroutsos Inlet was steep and we had to walk some of it with our heavy loads. In Port Alice we set up our tent in a small and expensive campground in town, and then we headed out for some pizza and ice cream. We ate an early dinner in a really nice park by the Marina. Back at the campsite we figured that we could just manage to get out for a paddle in the complementary kayaks provided by the campsites. I had to stay on land with W since we didn't have a life jacket for her, but Christian took the big girls on a paddle to the Marina and around the Frigon Islets.
The next day we made our way back up the steep logging road out of town. It was a slow process, but we eventually made it up to where we had to switch over to highway 30. It looked like we had an okay shoulder, but we still decided to put F on Christian's bike in the hopes that we would be able to cover the highway faster. At this point I felt more confident regarding my shoulder after having dislocated it two weeks ago on the Nootka trail, so we piled as much as we could onto my rack including F's bike. Christian still had to carry all the kids, the chariot, and much of our gear, but still we seemed to be a good match for speed. It was nice to just bike hard on the highway for a bit, while not having to think about motivating a 7 year old. It also meant that we arrived quite early at Marble River campground, so there was lots of time to play, relax and explore. We made an expedition down to the river; it was not super easy to access, but we eventually found a way. The river had some good flow, so the swimming required one-on-one supervision, but especially N had a blast floating down the river.
We considered if we should take the logging roads all the way back to Port McNeill with another night at O'Connor Lake, but since F was not very motivated to bike and Christian and I felt like we had at our fill we decided to continue on highway 30. We had a long stop over at Beaver Lake, where we had the best swimming of the trip. It was a perfect temperature and the kids barely left the water while we were there. After our stop over we hopped back on the logging roads to avoid highway 19 back to Port McNeill. We stayed the night at Broughton Strait Campsite, who had graciously allowed us to leave our car with them while we were away. After almost three weeks of camping we felt full of experience and mentally refreshed, but also really ready to get home. We made a few stops on the drive at Little Huson Caves, which I highly recommend, and at Nymph Falls, which was cool but a bit too busy to find a good place for little kids to play around.
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