Last year I had two weeks and with Vito hatched this idea to do the Western TAT on my F800GS and Vito's KLR 650. We had a great time on the trip as reported here: http://advrider.com/forums/showthrea...hlight=cathulu
This year, Vito planned a one week trip around southern BC and of course I was in, as well as a couple of Vito's friends from work - Brian and Vlad. Brian rides a Suzuki DRZ400 and Vlad a KLR 650. Brian likes his tequila straight. I am with Vlad, more of a scotch guy.
Unfortunately a third work mate, Kevin, couldn't make it but saw us off on the day of departure.
So the idea was we would do a loop of Southern BC, starting in Vancouver and getting as far North as ? and east as ? hmmm - at the time I was not so sure. I saw the map and it was a loop, that was all that registered on my brain. It looked pretty complicated. I put my trust in Vito and his GPS!
Usually when we had any discussions on which way to go my brain would shut down and I would saunter away, or I would say something stupid and Vito would have to correct me.
For the record, here is the map of our route. It shows how far North and East. On this day we are going to Lillooet from Pemberton along the red line, and not the long way by the purple line.
So our departure date was Saturday September 8. That happened to be the date of the GranFondo Whistler - and we were on the same road to Whistler and beyond so we had to leave very early to beat the hoard of cyclists and avoid the resultant traffic jams. We met at 6:00AM at a gas station in West Vancouver for immediate departure. It sucks to get up so early but it would be a long day, so it was good we did.
Kevin and Brian at the departure point.
Me and Vito. I got the helmet hair.
So we quickly get on the road. It was a bit chilly in the early morning and I plug in my heated jacket - I recall my bike thermometer was below 10C as we rode to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway. So I was nice and toasty on the ride up. I don't think everyone else was as quite as comfortable. We get a bite to eat at the North side of Whistler Village at the Lift Coffee Company. Sun was finally up and clear of the mountains and starting to warm up a bit, but still on the cool side.
I start to worry, did I have enough gas in the tank? I didn't fill up in the morning... last thing I want to do is run out of gas... I think I am starting to get a reputation as I ran out on a recent day trip and on the TAT. I decide to risk it and gas up in Pemberton.
Photo of Vito, Vlad and Brian from left to right as we get ready to depart to Pemberton.
Up the Pemberton Valley to get onto the backroads... I had gassed up by this time in Pemberton - I made it with about 10 km to spare.
Vito leading... it was going to be a beautiful summer day. Warming-up quite nicely now.
The sign just off the road, we are going onto the gravel roads now.
And so it begins again... we get on the Lilloet River Forest Service Road which is fast gravel. I take the tail gunner position, cause I hate dust and Vito leads the way. I hang back, let it settle, and take photos...
At least until the red mist descends!
We turn onto the Hurley River Forest Road and start to climb the mountain pass. I am waiting for the dust to settle.
We stop on the way up, change out of our warm stuff. Going to be a hot day today. Vito waiting as Brian pulls up first.
I pull up next, I passed Vlad while he was making some adjustments iirc.
Vlad pulls up. We aren't the only traffic. We would see the occasional vehicle on the trip, and sometimes large logging trucks. But usually we were left alone.
Just taking it easy overlooking the Pemberton Valley.
So we get going again, Vlad is taking off. Beautiful BC in Behind.
The gravel on Hurley pass. This can be a bug infested hell hole! The black flies even attack your bike, attracted to the heat. Not so bad this time of year... we don't really stop to find out.
More Hurley gravel...
We finally pop out at the community of Gold Bridge, with some 40 full time residents living there. Bralorne mine operations buildings in the background, the actual mining is south of here. The river is the Cadwallader River.
So I looked into this Bralorne Mines thingy. Seems the first stake was in 1896 (gold rush!) and then the mine finally shut down in 1971. There is an old ghost town down by the mine site. Now that Gold is so pricey, the current mine owners can chase after the more difficult to get at stuff, or the lower grade ores. In 2005 they bulk sampled 20,000 tons of ore and recovered 2,910 ounces of gold - basically recovering 1.5 ounces for every 10 tons. They sold most of it off for $2M and retain 430 ounces among other assets. Now they stockpile ore at up to 100 tons per day. Who knows how many tons they have stockpiled and how profitable this mine will be for investors... they are at the exploration and development stage and have been for a while it seems. It all sounds so boring yawn...
Here is the mine in relation to Gold Bridge in case there are any investors out there.
Anyways, good luck to them and hopefully they make money and keep the economy going in Gold Bridge. Now back to Gold Bridge... a very small community that with the mine staff and visitors supports a gas station and motel with pub. This is the motel with the pub.
The door to the pub inside. Things can get a bit wild in here methinks...
And inside the pub on a quiet Saturday afternoon... the fighting was all last night.
One of the few persons there but outside having a smoke was this guy on a 1200GS. A nice guy, formerly from Romania. Rides backroads a lot. Used to have a F800GS and misses the dirt capability of it. Looks like a nice place for a drink but we are thinking of getting on our way.
Outside I find Vlad stretching his back. This is an ominous sign, we worry for Vlad, looks like he is on the way out and going home. His back was really acting-up at the time. We make plans for Vlad to take an alternative route. Even with his back killing him Vlad finds time to smile.
This is where we separate, and Vlad follows the Carpenter Lake Road out to Lilloet. We take the dirt road heading up the hill to Mud Lakes and Poison Mountain then to Lilloet. This was an awesome part of the ride and involved some adversity. We surmise that Vlad with his back acting-up would have been buried up there.
Starts off fairly gentle.
Vito is all smiles
Gravel is tightening up and turning into dirt. This is fun.
We stop for a quick bite at Mud Lakes.
Brian is back in motion, lunch in the belly, we are feeling good...
The road leading along Mud Lakes, just past where we stopped to eat.
Little to no dust or gravel, rolling terrain, got to watch where you put the front wheel. Zen like.
I'm loving it! (trademark)
Brian inching his way down the hill, much steeper than it looks, we don't want to go back up. Only forward for us now.
Typical, this area I figure ain't called Mud Lakes without reason. This would be difficult and muddy after heavy rains. My tires are plumb worn out as I am carrying the same from the TAT trip and offer little grip in the mud.
Water! I soak myself to my gloves. We had a few crossing like this. F800Gs takes this with aplomb.
But not this!
We all had to put our bikes down here. Although I think I was the only one that put it down carefully on purpose.
But I must admit that after stopping I slid backwards out of control. Thanks Vito for keeping me up-right! But then if you didn't go down, maybe I would have made it... you were in my line buddy!
There was no where for us to put our bikes on the side stand or prop it up somehow, it was just too steep. And it wasn't a short steep section, it was a long steep section a couple of hundred metres.
Hey look, in the picture down the hill - you can see a Sasquatch if you look carefully, I think that was what really threw me and Vito off our game from making it to the top...
Yes, it was a Sasquatch - look, coming out of the woods!
Another perspective of the hill. So to get out we had two pushers and one guy on a bike. Once we got the bike back up to speed a bit with the support of the pushers we were able to ride it up safely. Momentum is your friend! This is where we would have buried Vlad I think.
Finally at the top safely...
The sign at the top of the hill in case anybody recognizes it...
Back on the gravel, dueling cameras
Near Poison Mountain. Nice riding here...
Rest stop and then down the gravel through the Yalakem Valley.
Nice shot of Brian
Vlad finds his Brother-in-Laws site at the BC Hydro Campsite in Lillooet. It is a free campsite so it can pack up. We are still on the trail. A happy coincidence for Vlad as he slept in the van iirc in relative luxury.
Near Lillooet, a beautiful canyon marred by gravel operations.
We made it to Lillooet. The GPS info courtesy Vito...
We have dinner. We meet an old friend Brian Henderson, a former road racing alumni from Westwood, SIR and PIR. Brian was fast! He was on the BC Big Adventure Trail Ride. There were a lot of dual sport bikes in town. Hope we can all hook up soon for a ride together.
Our campsite in the morning. Things were busy when we arrived but John, a former South African, riding a very nice BMW R80
invited us to his site. He was very friendly and we all had a good time. This is the morning...