Indian Bay | U24O Bikepacking Adventure

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

Indian Bay is located on the north side of Bonavista Bay in the province of Newfoundland & Labrador. For generations Indian Bay has been well known for being one of the best spots for brook trout and salmon fishing in the province. Add in the expansive ATV and snowmobile trails and it's a destination for those who enjoy the great outdoors.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland
Source: Google Maps

Back in the early 1980’s I visited Indian Bay during one of my father’s annual fishing trips in search of “the big one”. I remember a bunch of us cramming into the extended cab pickup for the long drive to Indian Bay and what seemed like a longer much rougher drive into Big Bear Cave Pond. While I don’t remember if we caught “the big one” I do remember having a great time. I have always wanted to get back to Indian Bay to try some fishing and I figured now was the time and a fat bike would be my choice of transportation into the back country.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland
Indian Bay 1983

Since the 1980’s there have been many changes to the area . . . with some of them not for the better. In response to the decline in brook trout population and overall deterioration of the environment, the Indian Bay Ecosystem Corporation (IBEC) was created. Since that time IBEC has done a tremendous job in supporting and reviving the Indian Bay Watershed.

This U24O was going to be a little different as all my past adventures were solo - riding at my own pace and making itinerary changes on a whim. This trip I was going to have company as a buddy of mine wanted to dip his toe into the bikepacking thing. Being quite comfortable as a soloist, I wasn’t sure if having someone else along for the ride would cramp my style or make the adventure more fun.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

After doing some initial internet satellite scouting of the area and mapping a route on Gaia GPS , I reached out to IBEC and received permission to use the office parking lot as the start of my Indian Bay U24O adventure. The initial game plan was the Victoria Day weekend (May 24th), but the freezing drizzle postponed those plans. It was late July before we set out on the adventure.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

We landed in Indian Bay around 10:45 and it was closer to 11:15 by the time we hit the dirt pedaling. It seems like any good fat bike ride starts with a climb . . . and this one was no different. But in this case the trail was a groomed gravel road with no pot holes or loose rocks to deal with. We settled into a slow and steady cadence on our way to Number Two Pond.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

The grind into the half-way point was relatively uneventful, except for the chatting and complaining about the hills. The weather was actually quite nice for carrying 40+lbs of gear on out fat bikes - mostly sunny with a slight breeze and a temperature hovering around 25 degrees C.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

The turn-off to Number Two Pond was clearly marked on the road. While there was a caution sign warning of snowmobiles, at this point in the trip I was a little more concerned about the black flies and mosquitoes.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

The texture of the road changed dramatically after we turned left, with the graded dirt road being replaced with a much narrower and rougher trail peppered with pot holes and rocks. Now this was more to my liking.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

We passed a couple of cabins and Big Bear Cave Pond before we got to the Alleys Pond intersection.  We were about 2/3 of the way to our final destination and had plenty of time to finalize the details of our fishing contest.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

We dropped into Little Bear Cave as that was going to be a fall back location if we could not find a camping spot at Number Two Pond. Unfortunately the brush went pretty much to the shore line and there was not much of a beach. So it was going to be Number Two Pond or nothing.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

We arrived about 20 minutes later and I was surprised at the number of cabins in the area. It looked like a small community with a dock and a few boats tied up. 

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

After some scouting we found a suitable location to make camp. A short walk from the trail out to a rocky point provided a great view of the lake, easy access for fishing, decent spots for pitching a tent/hammock and tonnes of fire wood.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

Anxious to get the fishing contest underway, we unpacked our gear and set up our lodgings for the night. I brought a Dramur hammock by AMOK and my buddy stuck to a traditional tent. As the trees were not large, it took me a little while to get things hanging right . . . however driving tent pegs into granite posed an equally frustrating problem for my camping buddy.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

We both got to the pond at pretty much the same time. With a slight on shore breeze, casting any great distance was a bit of a challenge. We both worked the shoreline, swapping out different tackle, but the massive trout lurking somewhere in the pond were nowhere to be found.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

As supper time neared we headed back to camp to fuel up. I cooked some spiced Quinoa on my little wood burning stove and ate that with a tin of salmon. My buddy had fuel burning stove to heat up some sort of noodle concoction.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

After cleaning up, we gathered some firewood and headed back down to the pond for some more fishing. Unfortunately our trouting skills were no match for Number Two Pond and we walked back to camp empty handed as the sun dipped under the horizon.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

We proceeded to build a fire pit in the middle of the granite outcropping and retrieved our adult beverages from the pond where they had been cooling all afternoon. We collected some kindling and started a fire, stoking it with the driftwood collected earlier in the day. We chatted and told stories for a couple of hours, but hit the sleeping bags well before we ran out of wood . . . it was a long day.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

Awaking around 6:30 I was thankful to climb out of my comfy hammock as I had been tortured by a mosquito all night. Somehow he snuck inside the fly net as I was crawling into bed and buzzed around the entire night. However, I much preferred the company of the Mr. Mosquito over what happened when I went to Clam Cove and Argentia. Those nights are etched in my mind forever.

It was another beautiful morning and after a bite of breakfast and a cup of tea we headed back to the pond for a little last minute fishing - still no luck.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

Breaking down camp we packed up the fat steeds and headed back out the road.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

It seemed a little warmer on the way back and I didn't remember all those hills, however the most frustrating part was my panniers kept jumping off the rack every couple of kilometres. I remounted and reattached several different ways, but nope they just wanted to lay in the dirt.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

We got back to the trail head at 11:30 with a total distance of 52.5 km and a surprising average speed of 10.1 km/hr. Even with my stubborn panniers we were only 15 minutes over the 24 hour deadline. We made good time.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Adventure Indian Bay Newfoundland

So what did I learn with another U240 under my tires?
  1. Don't plan a bikepacking trip for May in Newfoundland. Its not gonna happen.
  2. Bikepacking with a buddy can be a good thing. It's no fun complaining to yourself.
  3. I need better pannies. Or more bungee cords.
  4. I need to hone my trouting skills. Or buy better tackle.

RIDE FAT!


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