Day 3 - Sunday June 25th, 2006 - Leechtown to Leechtown

We woke up and packed up quickly to escape being chewed on by the bugs. Our map showed (incorrectly) a bridge across the river down by the campground, so we headed down there. It was bug free so we had a long and relaxing breakfast, used their fresh water, and talked about our route through the forest roads.

One of the folks who worked at the campground told us that motorcycles had crossed the river last winter and so he thought there was probably an easy way to ford across.

John took off and scouted a way across the river. He returned reporting success with a possible but challenging crossing. At about 10am we were off.

The river crossing was fun but challenging. It was actually pretty easy to cross the river itself, but getting up the other side required climbing up a steep bank. We first got everything across the water and onto a staging area on a rock beach. Then we moved everything to the base of our climb and setup a line going up to a halfway point on the climb. We tossed the bags one by one to the middle staging point and again to the top and over an hour later we were 100 feet away from our starting point, but across the river with the bikes loaded up.

The first section of logging road was good. We saw a truck or two, but it was pretty quite and the surface was in good shape. We found a camp site that we had been told about earlier and stopped in for a swim.

We knew that we wanted a left turn with a gate near the bottom of the road that followed along the Leech River. We took the first left that we found and after climbing a few hundred feet realized that it wasn't the correct left, backtracked, and took the next one. This one was it, the gate was just after the turn and it stayed flatter along the river. It felt nice to be on our way again.

The road was mostly in pretty good shape. There were a few potholes, but nothing too bad. The climbing was challenging, but not too challenging. The views were good. We could hear the river to our right most of the time.

Then the road ended. There was a dip in the road, then it got very wide and there was the end with ~10 year old trees growing out of a berm in the road. It was hard to tell if it ever went through. John went exploring by foot to see if this was just a washout or if we had taken another wrong turn. He came back reporting that there didn't seem to be any road on the other side.

A while back we had come to a fork in the road (not shown on our map) and took the side which seemed to be much more heavily travelled. We decided to ride back and check out the other fork, maybe we had taken a wrong turn.

Just as we were leaving Larry pointed out that my rear tire was flat. I sat down to fix it and discovered a sidewall puncture that had taken out a few cords in the tire. I booted it with a Clifbar wrapper, put in a new tube, and we were off again.

On the way down we discovered that we could see a pickup truck parked on the side of the road. We found the fork in question and started heading down it. This section of road had just been logged and there was tree debris everywhere with most of the road being unrideable. We found the truck in question but there was no one around. We lugged our bikes over the clearcut and rode about 500 meters to find another dead end.

At this point we were pretty stuck. We pulled out the maps and considered our options. Leech Main, the road that we were on, was really the only choice to get through. It looked like one of the other roads might go through, but the line was drawn as if it was even more minor than the road that we were on.

To make matters worse Leechtown and Sooke Potholes Park were sort of in a corner with no other way out than how we had come in. To our north and due east was a closed watershed. We had just failed in an attempt to go due west. So our only option was to head South.

We made the best of bad news by heading back to the nice campsite that we had found early in the day. While setting up camp a few other trucks started to pull into it, saw that we were there, and backed out. One of them stopped to ask how we had arrived and showed us his route on the map. They had been exploring the logging roads all day in their 4x4 pickup and found a very convuluted route that got them through. It would also work for us, but looked like it required at least two days of riding and we didn't have the 3-4 days of food that I'd have wanted to try that route.

My mood improved as I realized how nice the camping was and how good the riding had been so far. We talked about various options for the rest of our trip, but knew that it wasn't going to be what we had originally planned.

The bugs chased us back into bed pretty early and we were asleep by nightfall.