Camino Victoria Day 1: Nanaimo to Ladysmith, 30k

Ready to set forth (left to right: Linda, Cathy, Liz). Posing with Roger’s raven.

In what has to be the worst ill timing, Cathy, Linda and I headed out today in a gale, to walk to Victoria from Nanaimo. We estimate 5 days…. maybe 6….maybe zero if the rain washes us away.

Some of the artwork on the old school chain link fence on Irwin St as we were heading south out of Nanaimo.

We started in downtown Nanaimo and walked along the waterfront, then through south Nanaimo onto Haliburton Rd, along the estuary, found a little trail that joined onto a small subdivision crossed Cedar Rd only to find our planned route behind the garbage dump blocked, so we opted to follow Cedar Rd. It is busy and only has a small shoulder to walk along. There was one hair raising tight corner once we crossed the Nanaimo River bridge but once passed, the shoulder widened. We passed Cedar Church, but a large sign said it was closed due to Covid. I hadn’t thought that the churches would be closed. I wonder if they are in Spain?

We found a cafe open for take out and took our cofee over to a bus shelter to drink out of the rain. We got chatting with a young man who was waiting for the bus and unfortunately, the bus came, saw up having a coffee break and kept going to the young man’s dismay.

We did end up finding another discrepancy with Mr Google’s map when we tried to avoid Cedar Rd. He just doesn’t understand private farm roads. So we did another backtrack for 1 k until we got back onto Cedar Rd. Going through Cedar was pleasant,especially once we got onto Haslam, Adshead and Code Rds. We were in farm country with very little traffic. We bought some Red Russian garlic at a farm stand, to plant once we finish the walk. Next year the smell of garlic will remind me of Camino Victoria. Another farm stand had a sign ‘Please use coins or e-transfer, someone is stealing the bills.’They apparently didn’t want coinage. Picky thiefs!

Linda and the rabbit.

It went surprisingly well, considering the wretched forecast, the long distance, and the lack of reasonable trails joining Nanaimo to Ladysmith. Give me a kayak!

We decided to use our large backpacks, they are comfy and we know them so well. Foot care kit goes into left side pouch along with spare socks, spare inserts, water bag into the back, rain gear on the bottom, snacks in the right hand pouch, umbrella between the pack and the ventilation back. Kleenex, Ibuprophen and Splenda in the belt pouch. And for this trip, since we didn’t need to bring sleeping gear or clothes, we brought lightweight chairs! Brilliant idea.

Thank goodness for the Cedar Community Hall with a covered doorway with a bench. A bench! perfect for dealing with first day blisters. And a good spot out of the rain for lunch.

While sitting on the side of a farm lane airing our feet–our Camino experiences taught us to do that once every hour– we met an 87 year old man out for a walk and he reminisced about hiking Cape Scott (mud up to his thighs), and the West Coast Trail three times (north to south and south to north).

We ended up walking 600metres on the TransCanada between Brenton page Rd and Oyster Bay which had a wide shoulder but it wasn’t fun. Then again between there and Kwumut Leylum before finding an old road alongside where we could follow the lower road into Ladysmith.

The first hour was wet and the last ten minutes. In between there was the odd shower but the sun also came out a few times.

Gary met us at Tim Horton’s and drove us back to Nanaimo where we boated back to the island for the night. We did 27k but it felt good. I knew however, that tomorrow it might not.

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