We came onto Vancouver Island via Victoria a couple weeks ago. Heard about the fires, particularly @ Naniamo (south end). Early into our visit on the island and while in Strathcona Provincial Park really did notice an increase in smoke, but didn't hinder our desires to hike and bike. We spent a few days in Campbell River area and biked Quadra Island, although they were doing road construction and had more ripped up gravel roads than usual we still found it welcoming and bike friendly. We headed north to see Port McNeil, Telegraph Cove and Port Hardy. Enroute to the northern villages and driving through the mid island mountain range noticed numerous helicopters hauling buckets of water toward what looked to be some sizeable fires (towering smoke).
We spent the night in Telegraph Cove, enjoying our campsite and meeting some awesome fellow adventurers (Gary, Nancy, Jerry and Shannon) who were from Kelowna. We spent the evening with the crew, sharing dinner, drinks and great stories. The day closed with a spectacular sunset and cool breezy night. Next day we noticed increasing smoke and fog as we continued north to Port McNeil and eventually ferrying to Alert Bay (another post to come on Alert Bay visit). We spent a day walking the small island visiting the U'Mista Cultural Center and getting some great (what we thought :-)) photos of totem poles and historical points.
We wanted to get back over to Van Island where we could make a decision on whether to board the north bound ferry out of Port Hardy to Prince Rupert or stay on the island. With quickly increasing smoke / decreasing visibility and reports of highways and utilities being shut down we figured stay local (we later found out that the northbound ferries were booked for the remainder of the week so regardless we were remaining on the island).
Visibility was down to less than 1/4 mile and more significant was the point that Jeannie's asthma was being triggered big time by the smoke and we needed to get out of it as soon as possible. We knew we left Campbell River with light to moderate smoke so we wanted to get back down island. Driving the 200 km south we were enveloped by dense smoke and ash. Even with damp bandanas over our faces and air conditioning full on we were really worried that it would get worse before we got south. Arriving in Campbell River @ 11:00pm the smoke had really not decreased. We could not see lights on Quadra Island (less than a mile or so from CR waterfront). We hunkered down for the night in hopes that the morning would bring a bit clearer air and some relief to Jeannie's respiratory destress. Next day - no relief, with chest pains and challenges to breath we drove to local clinic for some meds and inhaler, which helped tremendously.
We now needed to decide where we would go to get to better air!