This trip was a bit of a last minute plan inspired by this 10 Lakes overnighter. However, with three young kids there is no way we can bike 120km with 2000m of elevation in a couple of days, so we planned to spend 6 days on the roads leaving time for playing and swimming.
We meant to leave Vancouver Wednesday early afternoon, but it quickly became clear that we would not be able to make the 2.25pm ferry, so we took our time and aimed for the 4.45pm, which of course turned out to be full, so we ended up waiting a long time for the 7pm that didn't leave until 7.45pm. We ended up chasing the last ferry to Saltery Bay and made it on with just a couple of minutes to spare. Due to the last minute planning we didn't really have a proper map of all the backroads, so we drove around the logging roads trying to locate Lois Lake Rec site until passed midnight. At this point the little kids were asleep, but our 8 year old, F, was not impressed and getting the tent setup was a stressful affaire. We were, however, all pleasantly surprised at how nice it was when we woke up next to beautiful Lois Lake. The kids played by the lake while we packed up, and then we headed to our starting point by Duck Lake Rec site.
Day 1 Duck Lake Rec Site to Tadpole Lake (aka Giovanna Lake)
It was just passed 2pm by the time we biked away from Duck Lake - a classic Veenstra start time. It was my first day riding the tandem with F, except a short trip in town. It took me a little while to get use to riding the bike on the gravel with panniers, but it was such a pleasure to share the bike with F. She has never been keen on riding her own bike, but she seemed to really enjoy the tandem. On the hills she would pedal really hard, but also throw off my balance a bit, and then she would happily chat and snack on the flats and downhills. It turned out to be some great quality time and I really enjoyed it. The road along Haslem lake was very hilly, but it wasn't until we reached north end and had to climb over the hill towards Giovanna Lake that we really got tested. Looking at the road head on with our heavy bikes, it seemed basically vertical. We opted to walk up, but even that turned out to be too optimistic - we had to double carry. By the time we made it over the top and started searching for the spur road to the Giovanna shelter it was getting pretty late, so we were pretty disappointed to find a chewed up ATV track down to the lake that was unridable to us. I scouted it out and decided that it would be worth double carrying, it was not like we really had any other options anyway. It took us three trips to get everything down to the lake, and despite it being late and everyone being hungry, we ended up prioritizing a swim before dinner. We noticed a few tadpoles during our swims, but it was nothing to the number of tadpoles settling down on the surrounding logs as we ate our spaghetti with tomato sauce. All the tadpoles were around 10cm long and I have never seen tadpoles that size. It was really mesmerizing for me. I somehow thought all tadpoles were small regardless of the size they reached as frogs. We expected to hear a chorus of frogs through the night, but we didn't hear a single ribbit. We nicknamed the lake Tadpole Lake.
Day 2 Giovanna Lake to North Goat Lake
In the morning we woke up to a gentle pitter patter on the tent, so we were grateful to have a shelter for breakfast and packing. After a slow morning we began the double carry back up to the road. We were ready to start biking around noon - earlier than the previous day, so I took it as a win. The hills continued all throughout the day, although along the Rainbow main they were more plentiful, but also much shorter. In general it felt like we spend a lot of time and energy making our break pads smaller and we were starting to wondering if we would have enough with only one spare pair. At the start of the Rainbow Main, we met the only traffic for the day - an empty logging truck. The driver was friendly and pulled over for us to pass. On Rainbow Main we also met up with our housemate, Noriko, who came to join us for a few days. We had wondered about going to Windsor Lake along the portage trail, but upon passing the trail it was clear that it would be way too challenging. I also made a mental note that we should not attempt that canoe portage anytime soon. The elevation from the lake to the road made for great views though, and the views continued as we biked along Goat Lake. We didn't come across any good camp option until the end of Goat Lake, where the road widened and there was nice boat access to the lake. The mosquitoes though were pretty horrendous, so I ventured a bit further to look for a better spot, while everyone else stopped for dinner. I didn't find anything within family-friendly biking distance, but did locate an ideal spot for Birthday Pancake breakfast. Back at camp the kids didn't seem too bothered by the drizzle or mosquitoes as they were busy building a shelter out of camp chairs and branches. However, the same shelter caused a great deal of conflict later, when some of the kids wanted to retract the consent for using their chair in the construction. Stiff negotiations and a couple of branch tripods eventually solved the tense situation.
Day 3 Goat Lake to Eldred River Campsite
Today was a shorter ride, so after a short pre-breakfast ride we settled down on a river bank for a few hours to play, cook breakfast and celebrate N turning 5. We all really enjoyed the relaxing time on the river with lots of water play, throwing rocks and sticks, eating pancakes and drinking tea, while enjoying the nice views. We all needed this time to reset and just enjoy after a few days of hard work. In the mean time, Noriko biked to the campsite to secure us a couple of spots.
The road out to Eldred River Campsite had more loose rock and also a few sandy patches, so the riding was challenging, but still mostly doable. On the way, there was some nice views of the big granite walls and lots of salmon berries for the kids to pick, when the adults had to push. The campsite was seriously nice and very well maintained. A bit further in to the forest was a large tarp creating a communal shelter and the washrooms where beautiful wooden structure. We had a long awaited fire, where we roasted our marshmallow gummies. The kids gather lots of sticks and bark, did a lot of whittling, made some bows, and ate blueberries. Only W was not happy, she was recently potty-train and have a bad habit of holding her poop when we are camping. It was now day 3 without a poop and she was getting cranky.
Day 4 Eldred Valley to Windsor Lake
After a nice relaxing day, we decided to do a long haul so we could avoid staying at buggy Goat Lake. The ride back out Eldred Valley was a lot faster and easier than going in, I guess it was more elevation coming in than I realized. On the way out from Eldred Valley, F started complaining about being bored. I told her that we could talk, but she declared that we had already talked about everything! I still managed to district her with a couple of stories though. Just passed Goat Lake, we noticed a fawn on the road. We approached in slowly, it noticed us, but seemed reluctant to leave the road, so we just continued slowly. We ended up following the fawn until it caught up to Christian, and then it finally decided to jump into the clearcut. At Windsor lake, we found a great campsite with a nice little beach. It was warm enough for swimming and there was a great big log to jump in from. We managed to gather enough wood to have another fire, which is always good for morale, and we had another really great evening.
Day 5 Windsor Lake to Creekside Crossing Campground
A number of large logging trucks passed our camp in the early morning, so I got a little worried about being on the more busy side of the loop, but once we were on the road we only met one truck and a handful of cars all day. We didn't have a particular plan for how far we were going, but the weather was beautiful and warm, so a stop at Dodd Lake for some swimming. The water was still pretty cold, but it was nice to bask in the sun afterwards, the kids playing while I got to read my book for a little while. We thought about stopping at Toni Lake rec site, but we thought the mile markers were kilometre markers and ended up overshooting the site. Once we discovered our mistake we didn't bother going back, so we decided to go all the way to Creekside crossing campground. It was a long afternoon with a pretty brutal hill (both up and down) at the end, but it was so worth it. The kids love the cute little family run campsite. It had a nice little playground, which was very popular, extremely clean outhouses, and fire rings - all you really need if you are a kid on a bike trip.
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