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The Serpent's lair

Welcome all,

After the failure of the planned trip in 2007, I must now play the waiting game before departing on my summer trip of 2008. I have chosen the date of 1 May to begin my ride out east. This trip will take me over some of the route I used the first time across the country, until Edmunston, NB, where, instead of heading towards St. John, I head back to Quebec; the Gaspe peninsula, then up through Labrador and by ferry to Newfoundland. Newfoundland will be the long part of the journey. I have calculated more than 2000 kilometres on the island, crossing it one and a half times. Then it is on to Nova Scotia where the trip will end.

Diary Entries

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Location: Truro, NS, Canada

Can't remember where I left off here, so let's start from Cape Breton Island. Overall the Cabot Trail is a wicked ride on a bicycle. I enjoyed it a lot. The hills are good. French Mountain is long, slow and steady climbing to 455 metres, North Mountian is fast and steep with 15 per cent grades climbing to 445 metres, and Big Smokey is slow and steady like French Mountain but less elevation. There are a lot of waterfalls to visit, but Belauch Ban Falls is the best. The vistas are nice and it would have been nice to hike the Skyline Trail, but that is my next issue.
Start to finish I have had seven weeks of rain and I guess I grew tired of it. I was not getting as many pictures as I should have been. It was pretty much riding to get out of the rain. Except I never got out of it. I made it to Port-aux-Basques where I spent three days waiting for the rain to end, checking the forecast every day only to find that rain was forecasted the whole week, so I called it quits. I made it to Newfoundland, but I was not able to ride across it. Oh well, trip for another time I guess. I have learned a valuable lesson. Seeing the whales and icebergs remains a goal, but I will not get to them on a bicycle. Iceberg and whale season in Newfoundland corresponds with their early spring, which means the rainy season. When I go to Newfoundland to ride across it I will do it during their summer: Late July and August. When I go see the whales and icebergs, I will do it by car. The rain is too much, especially on a bicycle and especially seven weeks worth of it.
Now I am on my way home. I am going to spend some time in Montreal again, since it was raining my first time through and I did not get to take any pictures.
I will do other things when I get back to Ontario. No summer is complete without a ride up to Northern Ontario, which remains forever my favourite part of the country.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Location: Newport Corner, Canada

I went to look for the trail from Quebec City to Riviere-du-Loup, but it was not there. There was a trail, an ATV trail, but there was no markings, so I took it for a while. It lead to a large clearing where six other trails branched from it. None were marked, so I decided against taking any of them. I went back to Charrny and took the train to Halifax. I spent a couple of days in Halifax. The weather was awesome. Sunny, warm, clear blue skies. I haven't seen clear blue skies since my last day in the Laurentians.
Halifax was fun. Experiencing the firing of the noon gun made the trip this far worth it. I am putting it on my list of things you have to do. Riding around Halifax was fun. I am glad I made it there. Now, St. Johns is the only capital city I have not visited. I will be there soon.
I am with family right now, before I head to Truro. I need some things done in Truro, mainly with the bike and then it is back on the road to Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland. These two places are the last part of the trip and places I have never been to, so I am anxious to see them.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Location: Quebec City, Canada

Capital city number three on the trip: Check. Been almost twenty years since I have been to Quebec City. In many ways it reminds me of Victoria. Not as busy though. The road from Montreal to Quebec City was paved with bad weather. A lot of rain. To be expected I suppose as I was in lowlands, particularly the Laurentian lowlands. It is a very nice area, with a lot of nice scenery. Half of it is farms. The other half is wonderful foliage, especially through Mount Orford Park. The trail is much improved in this region too, compared to two years ago. It is now continuous from Montreal to Quebec. It also helps to have the route planned out before I left. There are a few pit stops though. The biggest is on the way to Magog. Down Chemin Roy the bridge seems to be missing over Highway 20, or was that the 10? Either way I had to run the bike across the highway. That is fun.
Next up is the route to Riviere-du-Loup. I have not been on the trail from Quebec along the north shore. I am not even sure if it exisists. I will find out soon.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Location: Charlemagne, Canada

My road to Riveire-du-Loup starts tomorrow. I count six to eight days until I reach it. I had an unexpected stop in Montreal. I lost the top part to my rainsuit. I have since replaced it and am ready to continue on my quest to reach Newfoundland.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Location: Charlemagne, Canada

Made it to Montreal from Ottawa at about the same rate, if not faster than I did from Montreal to Ottawa two years ago. The route involves heading northeast to Mont Laurier, the apex of two systems of trails leading from Ottawa. I am succeeding greatly with filling in the pieces of the puzzle that is the Trans Canada Trail, which I missed the first time through. I have established the trails that are possible by bicycle and those that are not, for example while the scenery through Gatineau Park is extraordinary, with woodpeckers abounding, the trails are impossile.
The trail stops in Maniwaki, with theoreticals from there to Mount Laurier. I could not find them. What I did find are a series of trails suitable for ATV's, but does not include bicycles, which to some extent are ATV's. HAH!
Le P'tit Train du Nord is pretty much the same, with one major change. Its terminus, in St. Jerome, is not as it was two years ago. This was a big disappointment. The info office, at Mile 0 is now gone. C'est la vie I suppose.
The trail from St. Jerome was easy to pick up and follow to Ste. Therese. There the listed trail ended, all of which was part of La Route Vert, section 2. Up next is the trail from Montreal to Quebec City. See you there.

Wednesday, 07 May 2008

Location: Ottawa, ON

The first part of the trip is now complete as the road to Ottawa ended today. Short ride today. The trail from Carleton Place to Bell's Corners was not as long as I remember. It is a nice trail. With this section complete I have verified it is possible to ride from Uxbridge, ON, where the central part of Ontario's portion of the TCT begins, all the way to Ottawa on trail. There is only that section from Peterborough to Hastings and from Glen Tay to Carleton Place, roughly 60 km, where the trail is not finished.
The next part of the trip is the 500 km section from Ottawa to Montreal. I have ridden this section before, up through the Laurentians to Mont Laurier and then south to Montreal, but there are some parts I missed due to lack of information, or the trail was incomplete. Those sections I missed are the trails through Gatineau Park to Wakefield, Wakefield to Low, Maniwaki to Mont Laurier and Saint Jerome to the old port of Montreal Island. The trails through the Laurentians are very nice, especially Le Petite Train du Nord, so it should take me five days or so to get there.
The experience of riding the trails through Ontario was fun. Yesterday I saw my first owl ever. It was extremely exciting. Got some pictures of it. When you come across that it makes all the kilometres of peddling worth it. In fact the trail from Sharbot Lake to Glen Tay I saw more wildlife than any other time. I came across deer, an owl, turtles, beavers, hawks, vultures and all the other usual stuff. I will have to count how many rolls of film I have shot so far.
After a bad start weather-wise it has changed for the better. The first few days were cold, then rainy. It even snowed in Ajax while I was riding north on 30 April if you can believe it. The last few days have been sunny. Got a sunburn yesterday. It is good to get some colour again. Spending ten hours a day in the sun it is bound to happen. You gotta burn to tan I always say. Nights are still cool, so it is important to bundle up. See everyone in Montreal.

Saturday, 03 May 2008

Location: Canada

My first entry from the road. This is day number five. I have made it to a small village known as Hastings. I am here looking for the Trans-Canada Trail, which is supposed to run from here to Campbellford and, ultimately, Kaladar. The trail from Peterborough to here is not developed yet, so I had to take Hwy. 7.
Overall I have noticed a big improvement in the trails from two years ago. The trail runs non stop from Oakville to Peterborough. It is in Peterborough where the trail stops dead.
My route has been an adventerous one from Georgetown, ON, where I left April 29. I headed south to get the Waterfront Trail in Oakville and took it to Pickering. The Waterfront Trail has seen the biggest improvement. It used to be all broken, bits and pieces of it finished here and there. Now it is continuous. From Pickering I took the Waterfront Trail to Ajax, where I picked up the Duffins Trail, which follows Duffins Creek, from the Duffins wetlands. At the end of this trail, the TCT continues along roadways into Durham Region Forest. There are three tracts of forest I rode through along the trail, which, when they exit the forest, continues along roads into Uxbridge. The trails through the forest are a dream. There are some nice hills through the Glen Major section. All boast good scenery.
In Uxbridge another rail trail picks up and runs all the way into Lindsay. It is not marked as part of the TCT, but on maps it is designated part of the TCT. It is in fact a snomobile trail controlled by the OFSC, trail E108. I will have to see if the portion of the trail from Omemee to Lindsay is finished, but I noticed as I was picking up the trail from Heights Rd., about 10 km from Lindsay that it did continue west. Two years ago it did not.
From Heights Rd. the trail runs through Omemee into Peterborough. In Peterborough there is about a 30 km section tyhat is not complete yet, but if you ride into Hastings the trail picks up again and continues into Campbellfrod, which is where I am for the night.
My progress today was checked by the rain. It has now been raining for two days straight. Good thing I have my rainsuit. Anyone plan on travelling through the rain, I recommend a Gore-Tek Pac Lite rain suit. It is expensive, but well worth the money.
Tomorrow I should make Sharbot Lake as the road to Ottawa continues. See you soon.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Location: Niagara Region, Canada

Back from the Niagara Region. Trip was successful. I did not get to accomplish all I wanted to. It is somewhat difficult to take pictures in the rain, which started Tuesday night with some spectacular thunder and lightening storms and continued all day Wednesday. Monday and Tuesday were nice days and I did get out to see some of the things I wanted to. I made it to Decew Falls. It is a spectacular set of waterfalls. There are actually a total of three falls around that area. Decew Falls is the lower fall. The best part about the falls is they are not really accessible, except to the truly adventurous and able. Getting to the base involves scaling, and I literally mean scaling, down the side of the Niagara Escarpment. At this point the escarpment is not like the section around Kelso, which is easy to navigate. Here it is steep and slippery. Very precarious, but a whole lot of fun. I was all muddy and bloody by the time I reached the bottom. What fun. It is well worth the climb. The falls are the best I have seen along the far. There is a swimming hole, what appears to be an old mine shaft and turtles. The Bruce Trail does run through this area, but it stays on top of the escarpment, hence the reason I had to scale down it to see the falls.
I then made it to a place called Rockway, site of another set of theoretical waterfalls. I say theoretical because the rock formation supports a waterfall, the only problem is that there is not any water falling anywhere. It must have been dry. My plan that day was to get to Ball's Falls, but having not eaten since breakfast time left me out of gas and I still had to get back to Welland.
On account of the rain I did not make it to some of the other destinations I was planning on, but they can wait for another day.
I did, however, get to test out my new, very expensive rainsuit. It is a GoreTex PacLite and, as anything designed to be light weight, it was expensive, yet well worth it. It kept me very dry. I felt like a duck. The water rolled right off of me. I think my weatherproffing is now complete. I have everything, except a new bike tarp, to keep me warm and dry for this summer's ride out to the east coast. And believe me, riding to the east coast I will need some reliable rain gear. That is all it does out there. I will make it to Newfoundland this summer and get me some whale pictures, or I will die trying.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Location: Canada

I guess I have been neglecting the site for a while now. Many apologies. I guess I felt disappointed from having to abandon the ride this summer. It is a long story, so here we go.
I started out on 1 June from Kelowna with plans to take the TCT all the way to Horseshoe Bay and the ferry to Nanaimo. There are some parts of the trail I had not ridden on my first time through, for lack of clarity with the trail markings. It is something the TCT organization is going to have to work on if they want to be taken seriously. As luck would have it though, the morning after I set out I ran into a huge problem. I woke up, did my usual morning routine, which included fetching water. Upon doing this task I discovered my water filterer was not working. Here I was on a trail very far from any town without any water. Did I mention at this time the temperatures were in the 35 degree range in British Columbia at the time? I had to ride a hundred kilometres, or so to the nearest town in the blistering heat without any water. By the time I got to a town where I could catch a bus I felt crappy. It was then I decided to cancel the trip and return home. I took a train back to Ontario.
While in Ontario I have been exploring much of the area, especially the Niagara escarpment and the Bruce Trail. I tookm a two-week ride up to Manitoulin Island and back. It was absolutely fantastic too. At the same time it made me a little sad becasue I realized what I missed this summer. Oh well. Makes me look forward to next years ride all the more.
Anyways, the ride up to Manitoulin Island and around the island was incredible. The scenery is marvellous. I passed through some really great places, such as Chatsworth and Owen Sound, which, while I was not there for an incredibly long amount of time, captivated me. They are two more places that I had to leave bits of myself in, yet places I take with me wherever I go. More places on the list I am fond of.
The island itself has a lot of charm. The people are friendly and there is some good scenery. Bridal Veil Falls is worth the trip. My advice though is to go either in fall, or spring. I was there during the hottest part of the summer and the volume of water spilling over the falls was minimal. There was a drought at this time and pretty much all of the falls I visited this summer were dry, or minimal. Mindemoya Cave and Lake are nice. I do not recommend Providence Bay though. There is not much to see there.
The ferry ride over from Tobermory was fun. Ferry rides are always fun, especially when you are on a bike loaded for touring. So many people are curious with what I am doing and do not hesitate to ask questions, or just talk.
If anyone does do the trip up Highway 6 to Tobermory it is worth stopping by Spirit Rock, which is a couple of kilometres north of Elmira. The most incredible portion of the Bruce Trail is found here. There is a metal spiral staircase that descends down the escarpment and leads to the shores of Lake Huron, which is very picturesque.
Since being back in Ontario, I have explored the beginning, or end, of the Bruce Trail in Tobermory and the middle portion. This coming week, I am going to the Niagara Region to explore the end, or beginning, of the trail down there. One of the things I regret is not exploring the Niagara Region while I was living down there. Time to correct that.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Location: Kelowna, Canada

After five months I find myself back in Kelowna, again scratching at the walls wishing I could be riding. Unfortunately, I must be patient. I have the bike in the shop getting a tune up and some parts replaced. The trailer is together. I have a ton more room with the trailer. I am eager to see how it performs.
I am also fine-tuning the route I will be taking to Vancouver. I have to explore the TCT in some parts that I did not the first time through, particularly the Coquihalla Summit trail, which runs from Brrokmere to Hope and the Chilliwack Valley Trail, which runs from Hope to Chilliwack. Last time I was in Hope I was advised against taking the trail, but this time I am going to give it a try. It all adds to the mission.
The bike will be ready Wednesday, and I should be on the road either Thursday, or Friday.
My first major destination is Port Hardy, at the northern end of Vancouver Island. From there is 65 hours worth of ferry rides to Skagway in Alaska. See you all there.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Location: Georgetown, ON, Canada

The time is almost here. All my plans are in place, route planned and all my new gear set to be tested.
Here it is: Starting in Kelowna I ride to Port Hardy; the northern-most port on Vancouver Island, where I catch a ferry to Prince Rupert. From Prince Rupert I take another ferry to the Queen Charlotte Islands. I will spend a few days on the islands before returning via a ferry to Prince Rupert. In Prince Rupert I hop on another ferry to Skagway, Alaska. All told I will spend about 65 hours on ferries to get to Skagway. From Skagway I ride to Whitehorse in the Yukon. I will spend a few days there before riding across the territory to Watson Lake along the Alaska Highway. From Watson Lake I continue along the Alaska Highway to Mile 0 in Dawson Creek, BC. After Dawson Creek I will take a little detour before heading to Prince George, which is almost in the geographical centre of BC. The trip from Whitehorse to Prince George should take me about 18-20 days. It is the longest part of this trip. In Prince George I pick up the Yellowhead Highway, which will take me across the country to Winnipeg, Manitoba. From there it is a pleasurable trip around Lake Superior concluding in Georgetown, ON.

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Recent Messages

From Teuvo Tuohimaa
It had been a while since I checked your progress I am quite impressed that you are in already in Alberta!. Being a wannabe x country rider I was wondering if you had much mechanical difficulty with your bike?. Good luck the rest of the way..enjoy the best scenery in the world.

Good to hear from you Teuvo. To answer your question, aside from the normal difficulties with riding across a landmass the size of Canda, i.e. worn out tires, brake pads, broken spokes and popped tubes, there has not been any significant mechanical problems. I did have my entire drive system replaced in Thunder Bay, but a bicycle in some ways is just like a car, after so many kilometres things need to be replaced, or serviced. I had over 7,000 km on the drive system and it was time to replace it. There was no problems with it; it was not skipping, or giving me any problems, but I figured to do the safe thing before I hit the mountains. Nearing the end of my journey I must suggest that if you are thinking about doing the cross country, go for it. It is quite the experience.
Take care.
From bruce
Hello J. I spoke with you briefly in Marmora . Many who speak with you will ask themself if they are in a life rut . Your trip is inspiring . I,m dissapointed but not surprised that Ont. trails are lacking . Ont. tourist info re. trails is appalling . bon voyage

Response: Thanks for the words of encouragement. It was a pleasure meeting you and everyone so far on my journey. I have come across a lot of great people.
From Teuvo Tuohimaa
met you on the trail just before Omemee while the trail was still in good condition. My ride home was fast with plenty of help from the strong wind. I hope the trail was OK to Lindsay.
Good luck on your journey I look forward to checking on your progress!.
Response: Thanks for checking out the site. The rest of the trail was a little rough and incomplete. I had to take the 7 the rest of the way into Lindsay.
From Suzette Taylor
Hi, Jarrett.
Ah, the anticipation before the journey! You must be excited, with maybe the tiniest twinge of apprehension in the back of your mind. Don't pay any attention to it - it'll go away once you're on the road, trust me! Take care of yourself and enjoy the passing scene. I can tell you one thing - you'll never, ever regret any of the time you spend traveling. I'll be thinking about you out there. Thank you for including me when you sent out this link!
Happy trails,
Suzette Taylor
Thanks Suzette. The advice you gave before the journey was very helpful. It has allowed me to help other travellers I have met along the way.
From Paul Dayboll
This is a great site. I can't wait to read of the adventure. You are a rare individual that has the confidence in taking the road for such a long journey.
Good luck.
Paul Dayboll
Response: Thanks Paul. I will update ity as much as I can. I apologize for the length of time for the reply. I am in Winnipeg and plan on spending a day, or two so I have some time to kill. It is a city I have always wanted to visit.