Thursday, July 2, 2015

Galloping Goose Gals

Ernest Hemingway once said,

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”

We just got back from our third bike tour in British Columbia and I've come to the realization that I totally agree with Hemmingway's statement... there really isn't a better way to experience your environment than on a bicycle. One website I visited called it 'slow tourism.' I think that slow tourism is my new favourite thing.

So in keeping with this theme my friends and I decided to visit Vancouver Island and bike the Galloping Goose Trail. Like the Kettle Valley Railway, "the Goose" as it is affectionately called, is an old railway bed that has been reborn as a multi-use regional trail. This 55km trail has is it all, showcasing all that makes the west coast so spectacular... from lush rain forest to our province's capital city of Victoria.... there's something for everyone along the Goose... even a Castle!

We spent 4 days exploring the Galloping Goose, these are just a few of our highlights.

The Inner Harbour
While technically not on the trail, the Inner Harbour is so close by that you really shouldn't miss the chance to experience this bustling tourist magnet**. The Empress Hotel, the Royal Museum and of course our Parliament Buildings surround this beautiful harbour. After touring the Legislature we went to Red Fish, Blue Fish for supper on the wharf. Don't let the long line-up deter you... it's worth the wait! Personally I recommend their deep fried dill pickle. Yum.
Red Fish, Blue Fish

**This is a very popular tourist area, especially in the summer, so we walked our bikes on the sidewalk instead of attempting to ride on the busy road.  After crossing the Johnson Street Bridge it's just another kilometre south on Wharf Street. 

Hatley Castle (km 14)
This incredible 40 bedroom mansion was built in 1906 by the Lieutenant Governor at that time, James Dunsmuir. You could spend all day exploring this 586 acre estate (which is now a university) but if you don't have all day, you could take the hour long Castle Tour. You'll hear about the eccentric Dunsmuir family (talk about drama!), why their home was designed to look like it a Tudor castle and even about their very own ghost!

Sooke Potholes (km 46)
The potholes are a series of deep, polished rock pools and potholes carved naturally into the bedrock of the Sooke River. The Potholes Provincial Park is right beside the Goose (km 46) and is a great place to stop, have some lunch and check out these geological oddities.

Todd Trestle (km 47)
Giant old growth Douglas firs were used to build this imposing trestle bridge. It is one of the few original examples left of a timber bridge on the west coast.

Leechtown (km 55)

When we were preparing for this trip we had read that the section between Todd Trestle and Leechtown was narrow and difficult to navigate. Don't believe it. This is a beautiful part of the trail with many breath-taking views of the Sooke River below. When you get to km 55 you will see a small trail leading into the forest and taking you to what's left of an old house. It's hard to imagine that this area was once was a thriving lumber town.

Of course, what's a biking trip without stopping for geocaches along the way? Fortunately the Goose does not disappoint as there are hundreds of caches in the vicinity. We found about 25 along the trail which was just perfect. Here's a few that we really enjoyed. 
Hope you have as much fun exploring the Goose as we did.

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1 comment:

Eddie said...

What a wonderful ride....beautiful scenery each mile of the trip. I bet you forgot how sore your butt gets after all that riding! :)