Home

Current adventure


A wish list:
Long Distance Trails and Routes around the world

Resources for Cyclists, Hikers, and other self-propelled travellers

Gear Reviews

Previous journeys

Some thoughts

About Alex

“I can neither base my life on models nor make of my life a model for anyone; instead, I will most certainly fashion my life in my own way, whatever may come of it. With that, I need not represent any principle but something even more wonderful – something that resides within oneself and is warm and resounding life, something that is jubilant and wants out…”
-Lou Solame

Alex's journals

June 2015-Jan 2016
Pacific Coast Hike

Summer/Fall 2014
Oregon Coast Trail

Trans Canada Trail Section Hikes

April 2012
Sunshine Coast

August 2011 - March 2012
From the Great White North to the Land of Fire; Part One

July 2010
Northbound Cascades

March-October 2009
Pacific Crest Trail

March-November 2008
East by Northwest

June-November 2006
Along the continental divide

May-August 2003
On the river's edge

Dec 2001-Jan 2002
Arizona Scrapbook


 

"If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito."
- the Dalai Lama  

 


Recommended Books

support your local independent bookstore**


A wonderful book about my backyard published by Maa Press

hikerbiker.org
Cycle-touring adventures, wilderness treks, and other long-winded ramblings of a hiking biking vagabond
 

Welcome to hikerbiker.org
My name is Alex Grove. I have been heading off on long distance wilderness backpacking and cycling adventures since 1986. My journeys are usually solo and mostly self-supported (in that I carry all required gear either on my back or on my bicycle, and generally spend nights stealth or wilderness camping).

As well as detailing my personal travels, this site is intended as a resource for those who are - or who are thinking about - engaging in self-propelled and low key travel. I am also currently gathering resources for those who are interested in exploring, developing and sharing appropriate technologies, especially technologies based on bicycle mechanics.

This site is about moving gently and slowly on this amazing earth, savouring and supporting it's many diverse communities and environments.  Life is too precious to rush through!

alex on the continental divide near Monarch Pass, 2006
(Alex on the continental divide near Monarch Pass, 2006)

February 15, 2016 - Enough with the rain. Time for a desert hike. On January 11th I walked across the Golden Gate bridge into San Francisco, after a long drawn out and fragmented hike along the Pacific Coast, a hike which I had started on the Sunshine Coast north of Vancouver back in June of last year. I've now been back in Vancouver for a month, taking a break from the backpack, enjoying a temporary roof over my head, trying to heal a sore arm/shoulder, and preparing for the next hike. After all the rain I experienced while winter hiking on the coast, I am opting to leave the rest of the California Coastal Trail for another time, and, instead, going on a desert hike this spring. If all goes well with the arm/shoulder healing process - it's looking good at the moment - I will be catching the 'hound to Tucson on March 8th, with plans to hit the southern terminus of the Arizona Trail on March 12th or 13th.

The Arizona Trail is a sometimes rough trail of roughly 800 miles, running from the Mexican to the Utah border. My plan is to complete the southern 700 miles, ending my hike at the Grand Canyon sometime in late May. After that I will be heading back up to Canada for some home-grown long distance hiking.
www.trailjournals.com/arizona2016

July 17, 2015 - Going Coastal (again) - a long walk on the pacific coast, BC to Mexico. So I've finally done it. Cut my ties to living in a box. After 2 and a half years in Vancouver, I am leaving my apartment at the end of this month. I'll still be in and around the south coast of BC for the next 2 months (hiking, biking, visiting with family and friends, and working for a couple of weeks), but then I'm southbound on a long walk along the pacific coast. Along beaches, rocky shores, over forested headlands, timing my maneuvers with the ebb and flow of tides. At night I will hang my hat in my tent and fall asleep to the sound of the surf (and perhaps the sound of rain on nylon). By day I will walk, as far and as fast as my arthritic body will allow, as slow as my spirit desires.
www.trailjournals.com/pacificcoast/

Oregon Coast, Sept 2014
(Oregon Coast - September 2014)

August 19, 2014 - Going Coastal Update. For various reasons - uncertainty about how my body will hold up for an extended multi-month hike, a desire to continue to learn more about film making (I'll be taking a couple of courses this fall), and simply a growing attachment to the friends and community I have found in Vancouver - I have decided to truncate my coastal hike to just over three weeks along the oregon coast. My plan is to hike the Oregon Coast Trail as far south as I can make it in the allotted time, but I am also just playing it by ear. If I find myself in too much pain, or if I just feel like skipping sections of roadwalking, I may also take advantage of the nearly continuous and quite cheap county bus system along the coast. You can follow my adventure at www.trailjournals.com/oregoncoast2014.

May 20, 2014 - Trans Canada Trail Section Hikes. Today I started section hiking the Trans Canada Trail. I'm starting with day hikes that I can access by bus from my place in Vancouver, and will progress to multi-day hikes further afield as my body gets stronger. I'm keeping a journal at www.trailjournals.com/alexsummer2014.

TCT in Burnaby, Greater Vancouver

February 3, 2014 - Going Coastal. Towards the end of last January (2013), I made the decision to stay in Vancouver beyond my 5-month sublet. And to get a job. This was in part motivated by how much I was enjoying the connections I was making with people here in Vancouver. It was also motivated by the reality of the knee and foot problems that continue to plague me(I'm dealing with osteoarthritis in various joints, including my knees and big toes, as well as fairly severe plantar fasciitis in my feet). Staying in Vancouver, and letting my body heal to the extent that it is healable, made sense. And since I wasn't going to be out adventuring, then getting a job, and saving money rather than depleting my meagre savings, also made sense.

Slowly I am healing. It is and has been a long process involving help from various practitioners of the medical arts. I am still far from healed, but I have hope.

I am aiming my sights at doing a number of shorter hikes and backpacking trips this coming summer. Both to feed my soul, and to test my body.

In the fall, if all goes well, I will head south to hike along the coast of Oregon and California. Many times in the fall of 2011, as I was cycling along this coastline, I was wishing I was walking rather than cycling, to be more connected with the wild beaches and the cliffs and headlands, and the ocean that sculpts them. I have walked some of this before - I followed much of the Oregon coast during my hiking and hitchhiking journey south from Victoria to San Francisco in 1986 - but it is hard for me to grow tired of being by the ocean, and there are so many nooks and crannies (coves and capes and caves, and long long stretches of sand) I have yet to explore.

Harris Beach, Oct 2011
(Harris Beach, Oregon - October 2011)

January 1, 2013 - What's next? As I bring in the new year, sitting in the comfy chair that came with my sublet apartment, drinking ginger tea, I notice that the lights of downtown Vancouver have disappeared into the fog. Perhaps this is an omen that I am indeed meant to venture beyond the city lights that I have become reaquainted with these last two months. After speding last summer working in Nelson, and a 20 year hiatus from big city living, I decided to give urban life another go. Moving to Vancouver was a good decision and I am enjoying my time here - though I am struggling with my current project to write a first draft of a novel.

My sublet here is over in early April and that begs the question: what next? Parts of my novel are set in Europe - particularly the former DDR - so perhaps a research trip is in order. Various foot and joint (particularly knee) pains are making dubious the advisability of another self-propelled adventure. At the moment my knee is especially aggrevated and I am keeping my walking to a minimum and not cycling at all. So one possibility is to take a more sedentary trip than is my usual M.O. and travel by train and other motorized ground transport once I am in Europe (Plan C).

However I find myself chomping at the bit to be more active and have a hard time letting go of the hope that I will be up for a good long cycling or hiking adventure come spring. If I'm going to fly all the way to Europe I think I would like to take my bicycle, fly to Ireland, make my way to the Dingle Penninsula (the tip of which is the most westerly point in europe) and start riding eastwardish, via Scotland, Holland, Germany, Demark, Norway, Sweden, ferry to Gdansk, Poland and from there follow the Iron Curtain Route (with variations and side-trips) to the Black Sea, perhaps ending my journey in Istanbul (where I lived as a small child). That is Plan B. Plan A is completely different and comes out of my longing to be hiking again and my feeling that I have some unfinished business with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Plan A is to head down to southern california mid-April and walk the first 700+ miles of the PCT, with the hope that the desert air will ease my joint pains. I would take my time and not push my body to quite the extent I did in 2009. I know I can do the whole trail in one go - I've done that. (It is hard to say if the bragging rights are worth it; three years later I am still suffering from the foot pain that started during my final month on the trail). Now I want to explore the trail and its environs more fully, enjoy lingering in the places that warrant lingering, and let the moment set my pace.

alex at Vasquez Rocks, PCT 2009
(Alex at Vasquez Rocks, PCT 2009)

March 30, 2012 - Gone Hiking. For now, the cycling journey to points south is over, but with nearly a month left before I return to Nelson, I have been filling in my time here on Vancouver Island doing some day hiking - http://hiking.topicwise.com/doc/spring2012 - as well as visiting with my parents and friends. On Monday I will head up island to visit another friend for a few days and hopefully do some hiking on Hornby Island, then cross over to Powell River on the mainland to hike some or all of the Sunshine Coast Trail - http://www.trailjournals.com/sunshinecoast/
with marta and raul in baja

There is much for me to think about, both about the last 7 months of interupted touring and about what I will do in the future. At this point I do not know when, or even if, I will resume the bike journey south to Tierra del Fuego. I know that if I continue south alone, I will only do so after making a concerted effort to learn more spanish. But one of the things that kind of hit home with me on this trip is the importance of human relationships and also the importance of having someone to talk to when I am surrounded by a foreign culture and language. The other thing that kept coming up for me is that I often wished I was hiking rather than biking. I do love things about both modes of transport, but too many days on busy roads on the bike can really get me dreaming of walking slowly and quietly along a wild beach or a mountain trail...

"It's not the destination or the journey
It's to wander from the path and find another way."

- Roger Maddy (kite builder and flyer)

(pic on right: Alex with Marta and raul [www.theamericasbycycle.com] in Baja, 2012 (photo courtesy of Jen Smart))

2011 - From the great white north to the land of fire - a solo bicycle journey. Having now, on more than one occasion, explored "the great white north," I feel that it is time to set my bearings south. It is my hope to eventually reach Tierra del Fuego (the land of fire), but I may take some years to do so. (Revised start date is August 27th).
My first conception of the journey was to ride my bike south from Nelson, BC (my current home) in one uninterupted swoop, returning to Canada only once I reached Ushuaia, Argentina ("the end of the world") or whenever my money ran out. There are many things to recommend an uninterupted trip; however I am currently leaning towards doing this trip in a number of segments... more (www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/roadtonowhere-part2).

alex at the low point of north america, 2012
(Alex at the lowest point on the north american continent, Badwater Basin, Death Valley, 2012)

December 1, 2010 - Armchair Adventures (aka Purgatory). Since seriously spraining my ankle during my July backpacking trip, I've been reduced to being an armchair adventurer. And, as much as I enjoy reading about other people's journeys, I'm getting very tired of this state of affairs. I'm appalled at how slow my recovery is, despite physio sessions and a regime of flexibility and strengthening exercises. Trying to negotiate the streets of Nelson in the snow is adding a new challenge, and I am now resorting to wearing an ankle brace while walking and using a trekking pole for stability. The only thing keeping up my morale is that I'm doing some serious planning for the next adventure - my biggest and longest one yet. Since I've been told that ligament injuries like mine may require a year to heal, my hoped for departure date is late summer/fall of next year. Wish me luck!

July 2010 - 9 days of hiking in the Canadian Cascades. From July 18th to 26th I revitalized my soul by heading off on a laidback (though unfortunately, somewhat ill-fated) adventure along the first leg of what I hope will someday be a new long-distance hiking route.
Find out more about the trip and the concept at hiking.topicwise.com/doc/c-ct1.

January 2010 - A year of working and dreaming. For the duration of this year, and possibly next year as well, I am back in Nelson, BC, working for a living, saving up for the next big adventure, enjoying the company of my friends, and engaging in a few smaller scale adventures.

the sierras by evolution lake
(Evolution Lake, High Sierras, California, Pacific Crest Trail, 2009)

2009 - A long walk: I did it! On October 12th, I completed my walk of nearly 2600 miles (4200 km) between Mexico and Canada, mostly along the Pacific Crest Trail. I set out with the modest goal of completing whatever amount of trail I was able to, focusing more on being out hiking for as many days as possible rather than hiking as fast or far as possible. alex at the northern terminus of the PCT 2009My journey began on March 31st at the Mexican border just east of San Diego. I started out taking it fairly easy by PCT thru-hiker standards, letting my body slowly adjust to life on the trail. The strategy paid off, and by the second part of the trek I was walking more miles a day than I ever done on any previous backpacking adventure.

My original plan was to walk a continuous line north from Mexico through California, Oregon, and, if the weather and my body held out, Washington into BC. I was less interested in faithfully following the official PCT than I was in having a great hike and keeping my footsteps connected. My biggest goal however was to remain flexible and not set any real rules for myself. rattler gives warning Flexibility was the key ingredient and, ultimately the only goal I stayed with. For reasons I won't go into here (details on my webjournal), I had to return to Canada by August 20th, so ended up only going northbound as far as southern Oregon, then walking south from Manning Park back to southern Oregon. The plus side of which is that I got to experience the Washington Cascades in what is probably the best season. And although I did end up in a couple of snowstorms in Oregon, and one in the Sierras, I have to say that for joshua trees, PCT 2009most of the six and a half months that I was out hiking, I experienced incredibly favourable weather conditions. The biggest challenge for me was some of the hotter days (with tempertures rising to over 100 degrees F) in the deserts of southern California, but even there luck was with me, and I walked the most dreaded section - thru the Mojave desert - just after a heat wave broke and tempertures dropped to about 85 to 90 degrees fahrenheit.

As well as being the longest continuous hike I have done, the PCT was also by far the most social. I usually prefer hiking alone since I find that hiking in the company of others tends to mitigate the intensity of the wilderness experience. For this reason, while I have been drawn to hiking the PCT for many years, I always held off because I worried that the trail would be too crowded for my tastes. Indeed at times it was quite crowded, but not for long. And most important, I came to appreciate the company of my fellow hikers as I met some of my fellow hikers at one of the passes in the Sierras, PCT 2009them along the trail or relaxing at town stops. In fact I ended up walking a large chunk of the trail in the company of one other hiker, although we rarely actually walked together for very long, mostly just taking the odd break together and camping in the same place. For all the differences that exist among PCT hikers, there is something about us that we all share and that bonds us - this crazy need to walk day in and day out! As well as by this motley crew of PCT hikers, my trip was further enriched by the many generous people who reached out to support my hike in various ways. Some of these people are pretty much an institution along the trail, having lent support to hundreds of hikers over the years. Others were chance encounters along the trail or in a supply town that resulted in a ride (to or from town) or a bed for the night or, something as simple but much appreciated as the gift of a piece of fresh fruit.

All in all, this hike was an amazing adventure. The Sierras and Cascades are incredible mountain ranges to hike through, and the desert too has a special kind of beauty. At times my mental and physical endurance were tested to nearly the breaking point; other times everything felt just perfect!

You can follow my journey along the PCT at www.trailjournals.com/hikerbiker2009


alex at Turnagain Pass, Alaska, 2008
(Alex at Turnagain Pass, Alaska, 2008)

2008 Tour - East by Northwest: From mid-March until late October of 2008 I cycled some 13,000 kilometres (8100 miles) across North America. I started from Victoria, British Columbia, with a 3 week bicycle tour in western Washington State to work out the kinks - mine and the bike's. Upon returning to Victoria, I slowly made my way north by bike and ferry to Anchor Point, Alaska, the most westerly point in North America reachable by continuous road from elsewhere on the continent.

I reached Anchor Point on the evening of May 30th, and from there rode, in my usual dawdling and "hickely-pickely" fashion, to Cape Spear, Newfoundland, the most easterly place in North America.

This has been the longest journey yet in my human-powered explorations of the north american continent, a journey which I hope to extend into other parts of the americas and possibly around the world over the next few years. To find out more about my cycling traverse of the north american continent please visit my trip journal at www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/roadtonowhere

sunrise over the Atlantic, Beach Meadows park, Nova Scotia, 2008
(sunrise over the Atlantic, Beach Meadows park, Nova Scotia, 2008)

Some Previous journeys

copyright Alex M. Grove, 2007-2016

 

Mines Action Canada

 

 


Alex's journals

June 2015-Jan 2016
Pacific Coast Hike

Summer/Fall 2014
Oregon Coast Trail

Trans Canada Trail Section Hikes

April 2012
Sunshine Coast

August 2011 - March 2012
From the Great White North to the Land of Fire; Part One

July 2010
Northbound Cascades

March-October 2009
Pacific Crest Trail

March-November 2008
East by Northwest

June-November 2006
Along the continental divide

May-August 2003
On the river's edge

Dec 2001-Jan 2002
Arizona Scrapbook



Appropriate Technology

For a great definition of appropriate technology and a list of resources check out this page of
the Bikes Not Bombs site

Maya Pedal
Maya Pedal - Guatemala

 

Bikes Not Bombs

 

Pedal Energy Development Alternatives

 

 

Check out this video
Pleasant Revolution
The Ginger Ninjas -
Band Travels On Bicycles And Uses Bikes To Generate Electricity For All Performances!


Home - Current adventure - Long Distance Trails - Resources - Gear Reviews - Some thoughts - Previous journeys - About Alex

email Alex at hikerbiker(at)riseup.net [replace the (at) with @]