I'm not sure if I mentioned it, but it's 5 or 6 (Pacific time) in the afternoon already and I still have another 1000 km or so of backroading (via the scenic route) remaining to my destination.
But for some reason I still think it's a good idea to go exploring. I think it was a combo of the realization that baby #4 was coming soon (meaning this is likely to be my only extended bike trip this year) and the beautiful day, which seemed like it would never end. (SPOILER: it did.)
Anyways, at this point, I should introduce my GPS:
Okay, so technically it's not a GPS, but it's much better on batteries and always has reception. I had bought it before my trip
last year and have come to love it.
The SealLine case was an impulse purchase the day before and would prove to be one of my better. Not only did I not have to take a map in and out it's waterproof lodging, it acted as a fairing (weighted down as it was,) blocking a good portion of the wind even at speed. And the D-rings were the perfect size distance apart to span the mirror bases.
As for the Mapbook, there are definitely mistakes in it (I found 6 or 7 just on this trip) and the detail goes down once you are further north but the planning potential and bounty of tracks and trails more than makes up for the occasional surprise dead end and/or missing bridge.
You can also get these maps for a GPS if you're so inclined, complete with updates correcting errors and road changes as they're discovered. But I would guess it's pricey.
As it was, I had just driven on to this page.
And this road.
I didn't know what it was called then, but I just checked and it's known as the Core Lodge Road. It turns south off the highway right after you cross Babcock Creek. There is a nice little waterfall on the creek only 1 km from the road with an easy trail in. But I didn't know that at the time.
The reason this road exists is the Trend Mine, operated by Peace River Coal
. As such, there was a lot (for me anyways) of mining traffic until you're past the mine at km 25 or so. (From there, there was no one.)
You can see a little bit of the mine infrastructure here.
But if you turn off right before the mine (I think there was signs to "The Boulder Gardens") and head up to Mount Babcock, you're in for a treat.
I didn't hike into the boulder gardens, being short on time and all, but it looks kinda of like this.
But with more rocks.
Now, according to my "GPS", this road should wind its way around the side of Mount Babcock and through a series of switchbacks and cutoffs connect to the Barbour Creek FSR, where I could then head north, sneak my way through the Quintette Mine site somehow and make a beautiful loop back to the highway and then onward to Tumbler Ridge.
But it was not meant to be.
The road dead-ended at a well site up on the mountain. I could see where the road used to go around, but it wasn't just "deactivated" it was taken right out and blocked off with a mountain of rubble.
Oh well, I still got these pictures.
After quickly snapping these shots, I looked at my watch and beelined back down the mountain. But when I hit the Core Lodge again, I decided to go just a bit
further down the road to see what I could see.
That my my first mistake.