A few days into the interior of BC - offroad adventure style

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by madbiker1, Aug 2, 2013.

  1. madbiker1

    madbiker1 Evilman

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Victoria, BC
    Well, I've never done one of these ride reports before. It's a good opportunity to try it.
    I've been working 7 days a week for a few months now and I was desperate to get out for a longer ride. I like the idea of doing things on the big adventure bikes that aren't the common practice. I luckily have a few friends that believe in the same theory:D
    I had done some research on the route in the weeks prior to this ride and worked out as much offroad riding for a loop through the BC interior that I could safely manage. The total trip would be about 2500kms or so over 5 days. Not huge mileage for highway but offroad, that was a different story. 500-700km days would be BIG days - particularly for some of the terrain.
    THE PLAN: Friday - Day 1. Leave Victoria - ride up to Pemberton and stay the night in a rustic cabin with 4 guys in bunk beds.
    Day 2 - leave Pemberton, go over Hurley Pass, ride around Carpenter Lake, Seton Lake, Anderson Lake, do Duffy Lake Road (hwy 99), head to Clinton via Big Bar Ferry. (this was optimistic)
    Day 3) Head East of Clinton offroad, head down to McLean Lake, over to Merritt via offroad, possibly get to Hope via Tulameen and the Old Coquihalla Hwy.
    Day 4) Head up the West side of Harrison Lake offroad and back down the Sea to Sky hwy to head home.
    Day 1 - the day we were supposed to meet at the cabin on Lillooet Lake. There were a few difficulties with this:
    1) Some of us had to work Friday and couldn't leave until 5pm to catch a 6pm ferry for a 1.5hr ferry ride and a 210km run through heavy Vancouver traffic. Luckily, I wasn't one of these people :evil
    2) There was no physical address for the cabins that we were staying at - only map co-ordinates. This was interesting.

    So, onto the trip and how my well laid plans didn't follow exactly how I had thought they would - not that they ever do.

    Here's an overall map of the route we did:
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    I thought I'd get up early and start off Friday morning to take the scenic way to Pemberton.
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    This was the first bit of the trip that I stuck to almost all off-highway backroads through Southern Vancouver Island. Not much dirt to begin with. Not too much picture taking either.
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    After heading through Cedar south of Nanaimo, I had a look at the ferry schedules and I could make the 3:15 going to Powell River and taking the Sunshine Coast down. Worked pretty well...until I realized at Saltery Bay that I would be waiting until 6:40 to depart. That's not good. Still another ferry to take. I was planning on being at the cabin around 7pm. From the last ferry, it's a 156km ride - about 2 hours - in the dark...with the last bit on a logging road...oh well.
    I met another biker along the way - Owen. Great guy to talk to as we trundled along between ferries. He was riding a Buell sportbike and me on my KTM were a little bit of an odd match but we passed the time talking about the ferry waits and big Harleys.
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    Next ferry - 9:40 and is a 40 minute crossing. Arriving in Horseshoe Bay at 10:20 - with a 2 hour bike ride ahead. I'm sure the boys are drinking all of the RUM at the cabin already. Damn.
    After a long ferry ride, I was off on the Sea to Sky highway right around dusk. I headed through Whistler in the dark without much issue. The GPS guided me to the co-ordinates...somewhat. It became a little intimidating when I passed the final gas station and the signs to Lillooet Lake Cabins were somewhat sparse. The logging road I turned down at just after midnight didn't seem like such a good idea. I kept thinking that it was just 10kms down so no big deal - fire up the Ridgid Dually D2's and the HID's and we're off. It was only a little disturbing to see the wrecked minivan on the side of the road with 4 flat tires. Finally the cabin sign came up and it was time to pull in.
    I was greeted with some bleary eyed but talkative friends - Brent on his F800GS, Jonathan on his F800GS, and Jason on his KTM950 Adventure. There was still some rum left and after polishing that off, we hit the bunks.
    When I booked the cabin, I talked with the owner, Jacob, who had some good knowledge of the area. He described some of the roads to us talking about the "hairy" High Bar road and that it was possible to go from Harrison Lake South all the way back up to Pemberton offroad. We added these things into the "want" list for routes. The cabins were described as "rustic" and I though that this would add to the experience as well as allowing 4 of us to sleep fairly cheaply. This was the cabin:
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    and this was the view from the cabin - absolutely spectacular:
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    Looking south down Lillooet Lake. It was somewhat disappointing to me that I spent so little time here but we were ADVENTURERS and it was time to find breakfast and head to the hills!

    So - off we go - the team of 4! Like Ewan and Charlie...and Charlie...and Charlie...I guess?
    Hurley Pass was our first destination. This was a nice little 10km offroad stretch to get us warmed up. I just about plowed into the ditch on the first corner as my offroading skills were VERY rusty.
    https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Hurley+Road,+Squamish-Lillooet+A,+BC,+Canada&daddr=50.8483268,-122.8365353+to:Gold+Bridge,+BC,+Canada&hl=en&ll=50.819276,-122.815475&spn=0.113222,0.264187&sll=50.844511,-122.822084&sspn=0.02829,0.066047&geocode=FaPOBgMdZPCt-Ckf8BO3Jhx-VDFIMAvMwsQ3XQ%3BFUbiBwMdyamt-CmZb9BwBxl-VDEpIjgUnV7dAw%3BFXrtBwMdlJ-t-CkvF_cvrxl-VDHeW7G2PMxgJQ&oq=Gold+Brid&t=h&mra=dpe&mrsp=1&sz=15&via=1&z=13
    Along this route, the substrate is a little marbly and not the highest on the fun factor but the scenery is quite nice.
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    We arrived in Gold Bridge without issue. The local store said they were closed for lunch and there was no gas station to be found - luckily, us KTM riders are prepared with extra fuel...well, some of us KTM riders. There was an Adventure Rider that stopped by while we were having a drink that seemed particularly concerned with finding gas and wasn't thrilled that there wasn't a gas station in Gold Bridge. Before we could offer him some, he was off. I'm sure that he made it the 15 or so kms back to Pemberton.:D
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    Now the scenery starts. Going around the north end of Carpenter Lake is phenomenal - great scenery, a mix of gravel road and chunks of pavement with NO TRAFFIC! A great ride.
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    Here's a picture of the boyz.
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    Here's Brent on the beach. This would be our version of "beach photos"
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    #1
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  2. madbiker1

    madbiker1 Evilman

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    Off around the lake we went - I had done this route before but the other guys hadn't - although Jason and Jonathan probably had in a rally car years ago - at ridiculous speeds, in the dark, and maybe in the snow. This was much more scenic.
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    You can see the road going around the mountain on the left. This was a great twisty road that did some great curves around the hills to conform with the lakeshore.
    Our route took us to the end of Carpenter Lake where there is a cool short tunnel.
    https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=...-VDHeW7G2PMxgJQ&oq=Gold+Brid&t=h&mra=mrv&z=11
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    At this point, we had the decision of going directly to Lillooet and short-tracking to the final destination or continuing on with our plan of going to Seton Portage, D'Arcy, and back down Duffy Lake Road. Lillooet was only 50kms away on mostly paved roads - the other route would take us 190kms of rougher logging roads but finishing off on one of the best paved roads in BC. Of course we chose option #2
    This is Seton Lake - a very scenic lake with a switchback road leading down to Seton Portage. Seton Portage has a gas station and a general store with a pub and restaurant. It's a great place to stop for a drink.
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    The road going into Seton Portage is a little sketchy with marble like gravel going down several switchbacks into town.
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    There is a logging road that locals use called Powerline Road that runs on the north side of the lake - at a fairly high elevation at times. This road leads back to D'Arcy and eventually back to Pemberton. Below is Anderson Lake.
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    After this, we headed down Duffy Lake Road at a pretty good speed and had dinner in Lillooet at the local Subway. Being almost 7pm, we had missed the Big Bar Ferry's last crossing and needed to make a decision about where we wanted to end up. I knew the offroad route into Clinton and we had a room booked at the Cariboo Lodge where I had talked with the owner's wife. She had said the owner was a very avid BMW 1200GS rider and would love to talk to us about our route. We headed north From Lillooet and turned left at Pavillion which led us up through Downing Provincial Park.
    https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=...Gold+Brid&t=h&mra=dpe&mrsp=1&sz=10&via=1&z=11
    Interestingly, the offroad route was faster than onroad in this situation. The owner met us at the lodge and welcomed us with a big handshake and we had a great conversation about where we were going and the route we were taking.
    https://maps.google.ca/maps?q=clint...oid=e3LjMjYdnCR5EdiCBQ_u5w&cbp=12,310.76,,0,0

    After a good dinner in the pub, we were off to bed. A solid day of adventure riding!
    #2
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  3. madbiker1

    madbiker1 Evilman

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    Up in the morning - breakfast at the lodge and we were off!
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    We felt a little out of place alongside all of the people that were coming out to polish their bikes with the cloth that was supplied by the Lodge - but that's fine - we were PROUD of our dirt so far!
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    This was going to be one of the biggest days for offroad riding. I hadn't done some of these routes before so it was somewhat new to me. From Clinton, we went West around Loon Lake.
    https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=...dFpLC-A&oq=Gold+Brid&t=h&mra=mrv&via=1,2&z=11

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    We had some fun along the way
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    We started heading south on 97 and then West on 99 back to a little road that had one time brought me to the back of the landfill by Cache Creek which had an incredible view and some challenging rougher two-track roads. This was the trail leading past McLean Lake. The GPS says it doesn't go through...but it does.
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    #3
  4. madbiker1

    madbiker1 Evilman

    Joined:
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    After the Cache Creek Landfill, we headed north back to Cache Creek and got some gas and lunch. We then headed south along Hwy 1 for a few kms until we came to Hat Creek Road which was supposed to bring us into Spences Bridges but we ran into a snag that the GPS led us through a private ranch which clearly wasn't the way.
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    On our way back to the highway, the GPS said there was a "road" to our right which we thought might lead us to a new route.
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    While this wasn't exactly a road - it did bring us along an interesting route back to the highway. This little offshoot would be hard pressed to even call it single track as often we were just following the GPS with no sign of a trail whatsoever. Brent at the back was struggling with his tracking skills to figure out which direction we had gone.
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    Jonathan, on the other hand, was reveling in the fun of terrain that mimicked Odessa.
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    Jason was just enjoying the scenery and enjoying something other than commuting on the big 950.
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    We got back on Hwy 1 and continued a little further down the road to come across another dirt road heading west. We took this and went across some very scenic land heading down into Spences Bridges - which got us back on our original route.
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    After a quick drink in Spences Bridges, we headed south on Hwy 8 until we got to Skuhun Creek turnoff.
    For some reason, at this point I put away the camera and didn't take it out until the next day. Our ride consisted of the GPS leading us down some VERY doubtful single track trails and up into the mountains above Merritt. This became a little sketchy as we were quite a distance away and it was getting to be 6-7pm. We headed down one of the better marked logging roads with mile markers that decreased with distance and became more populated with signs. Finally, pavement greeted us at a gate and it was a high speed race down into Merritt where we stayed at the Sportsman Inn - definitely one of the cheaper motels in Merritt.
    Chinese Food for dinner - a little rum to finish off the day and we were done! A GOOD DAY!
    #4
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  5. madbiker1

    madbiker1 Evilman

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    Up in the morning - it had rained overnight in Merritt and things were wet. We were going to be heading south from Merritt onto a dirt road called Kane Valley. Again, the GPS failed us and we ended up making our own route which became some of the most entertaining of the ride. Through the forest we went with our big adventure bikes at ridiculous speeds - finding berms and jumps to do along the way.
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    This led us down through Tulameen where we stopped for a drink and then headed west to find Old Coquihalla highway. We ran into a couple of dead ends along the way with washed out roads and private land but eventually made it. Old Coquihalla Hwy was closed due to construction so we bee-lined in for Hope. It was about mid afternoon so we stopped for lunch. At this point, I had an extra day to play with and the other guys were aiming to get home so we parted ways and I was back solo riding - which meant that I'd be going slower and taking more pictures!

    From Hope, I headed North along a dirt road that is on the West Side of Harrison Lake which is sometimes closed. It was a very long stretch of logging road that deteriorated into rough jeep trails near the top end of the lake.
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    When I got to the east side of Lillooet Lake, I noticed a strange cloud formation - which actually was the start of a forest fire.
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    I stopped back in at Lillooet Lake Cabins to talk to Jacob about the fire and where we had been but there was no sign of him. I didn't stick around long as the mosquitos were swarming around me - as soon as I peeled off my glove, my hand was black with the critters wanting to suck my blood. Off I went - Duffy Lake Road again - zero cars - perfect weather - utterly fantastic!
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    I arrived in Lillooet just before dark. I picked up a very nice motel for the night and got ready for my trip the next day. Big Bar Ferry, here I come!
    #5
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  6. Import

    Import Been here awhile

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    Great pics, and thanks for the blog...... It really is the most beautiful country round there.... Though some of those back roads are truly rough....
    #6
  7. woofer2609

    woofer2609 Less flow, more Gnar

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    Excellent RR:D
    Just so much great riding in BC that has to be accessed from June through September. Looks like you too can make a 100km trip take 6 hours and 300km's on the odometer!
    #7
  8. madbiker1

    madbiker1 Evilman

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    From Lillooet I headed North again to West Pavillion road but instead of cutting into Clinton, I headed North towards the Big Bar Ferry via Highbar road.
    This is just North of Lillooet
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    West Pavillion Road is quite nice and very easy to negotiate.
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    Looking up the Fraser River, Highbar road was coming up which was described as "hairy." I didn't quite know what this meant but I was about to find out.
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    Doesn't look too steep from this angle
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    Little steeper looking up.
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    GPS said it was a little steep, too.
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    Made it! Down the hillside to the river. The scenery coming down was absolutely fantastic as the road twisted its' way through the ranches along the rivers' edges.
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    After travelling for about an hour along the twisty dirt roads, I came to the ferry "terminal" which consisted of a house and a ramp going onto a 2 car ferry. This is a cable operated reaction ferry that is manned most of the day until 7pm.
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    [​IMG] I rode aboard and talked to the ferry captain who talked about getting a KTM 530 as his next bike. I asked him about the route to Gold Bridge from there and he said that quite a few people take "China Head" down and around. Seemed like a safe bet to me. This is where the trip turned a little "hairy."

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    It was a great road from the ferry heading West. I came to a junction early on that would have brought me back down to where I started pretty quick so I decided to continue on. My bike at this point had about 100km on the tank (it goes about 200 before the light comes on) and I had a spare tank with 3 gallons of gas in it. I was good for a long while.
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    #8
  9. madbiker1

    madbiker1 Evilman

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    Into the forest I go - trusting my ferry captain and thinking that I'll make good time to be home tonight.
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    Moore Lake - a really pretty lake when the trees start again. For quite awhile, I have been considering my tire condition and trying to gingerly negotiate trails instead of the previous KTM style of spinning the tire wherever I go.
    Front:
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    Rear:
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    I rode for quite a way - and I hadn't seen a soul since the ferry. The GPS was flaky at best and didn't guide me very well at all. I had purchased a brand new backroads map card to do this trip and whenever I fired it up, the GPS would shut down. Interestingly, my buddy had borrowed a backroads map card as well and he was having the same trouble with his. I stuck to riding the clearer roads thinking that this would be the route to where I wanted to go. I would study how far the GPS was telling me that the nearest gas station was and I was glimpsing at the mile markers as they rose instead of declined. At 114km mile marker, I was starting to get nervous as I now had about 180km's on the main tank. I said that I'd continue until the reserve light came on and then put the extra fuel in.
    I rode past a sign that said "China Ridge" and looked at the road - it was quite overgrown and didn't seem to be the likely route. After fumbling along for quite a few more kms, I came to the end of the road and turned around thinking that I had two options, find the right route, or head back the way I came. I went back to the "China Ridge" sign.
    This is what the road looked like:
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    Looking at the odometer now reading 200 and looking at the two routes leading back, they looked to be about equal although if I headed back to Gold Bridge, I'd be quite a bit closer to the ferry home and quite a bit ahead of the game timewise as I wouldn't have to ride Duffy Lake Road again. I continued on.
    The road got rougher:
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    It got tighter as I went and a bit rockier. The GPS was hit and miss as my tracks would be nowhere near the mapped route. The GPS spent its' time recalculating over and over again. I was still gaining altitude at this point.
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    The trail became narrower again and quite rocky. As I went, I thought about how I didn't want to have to come back this way and continued to forge ahead. I came through the treeline at the top at around 7000ft and was greeted with a spectacular view of a ridge leading across the landscape:
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    At this point, my fuel light had come on and I had ridden another 10kms or so - which I was quite happy about my mileage being 230kms. I decided to put the extra rotopax fuel tank on. I got off the bike and looked at my back rack - nothing was there! My mount had broken somewhere along the way and I had lost my rotopax tank and my tire repair/tool kit! I was saying a few swear words as I thought about how I was going to get out of this predicament and what the best option was. I hoped that the tank had at least contained the gas inside if it had fallen off instead of spilling its' contents. I decided the only course of action was to start riding back until I found it.
    Back across the rocky ridge I went, back down the jeep trail and through the woods - I went about 10kms back and found my gas can and tool kit on the side of the trail. I was thrilled to be able to put all of the gas into the bike and I looked at what had happened to my Rotopax mount. It seems that the shaft of the handle -the threaded bit - snapped from fatique of bouncing up and down over the rocks while trying to hold on the three gallons of gas and the 5 pounds of tools. I was unimpressed.
    After putting the gas in, I extracted what remained of the bolt in the rotopax mount and threaded the handle back in with only the tool kit. I had to leave the gas can on the side of the trail as I had no way of collecting it - hopefully another traveler can have a bonus can on his travels.
    Off I went again - across the ridge and back down the other side:


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    This was now becoming not so fun of a ride and more of a "I need to get the hell of this mountain" ride.
    Down into the valley on the other side of the ridge, things looked a little more travelled and worn. GPS was still not doing much but when I'd come to a dead end, I could cut through the bush to find a bigger trail.
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    I found my way back to Yalakom River FSR after trying several options of roads through the valley. I was extremely pleased to see the mile markers DECREASING in value and the road getting larger and larger. I trucked along at a decently fast speed until I saw a LARGE brown thing crossing the road in front of me. I slammed on the brakes and came to a stop to see a large grizzly crossing the road directly in front of me. I sat for a second and thought about pulling out the camera...but he raised up on his back legs and put his paws up on a tree beside the road...and turned to look at me. This was my decision maker to get the F*^& outta there.

    I had resigned myself that I would have to head back to Lillooet as this was now the closest and safest bet for gas. The Yalakom Road was quite big and fast - a typical logging road in BC.
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    #9
  10. madbiker1

    madbiker1 Evilman

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    Nearing the end of the Yalakom Road, there's a great view of the valley below with paved roads and OTHER PEOPLE! You wouldn't believe how happy I was to see traffic again :D
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    This road led me back into Lillooet where the heat was about 35 degrees C. It was about 5pm and I was determined to get a ferry back home. I high tailed it down Duffy Lake road (for the 3rd time) through Pemberton, Whistler, Squamish and caught the last ferry taking me into Nanaimo from Horseshoe bay:
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    This put me on the 9:30pm ferry which landed in Nanaimo around quarter after 11. It was an hour and a half ride back home that night in the dark but I was sure pleased to roll in late that night.

    A fantastic trip that ended much better than it could have. I can't wait to go back and am planning the route for Sept 14/15 weekend - but this time bringing other people with me. :D
    #10
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  11. what broke now

    what broke now Petroleum Brother

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    Cool ride, and superb photos!

    How bad was the riding from China Head to the Yalakom intersection compared to the Big Bar to China Hd. part?
    #11
  12. madbiker1

    madbiker1 Evilman

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    The roughest part was going up the east side of China Head where it would be considered rocky wide single track in some sections.- at the top, it was rocky but relatively straight. Coming down the west side, some of the trail was somewhat rough where there were washouts and stream crossings. There were sections where the trail was quite angled off to the side and you would be clinging onto the edge of the trail to avoid the rocky centre portion that had been washed away previously.
    #12
  13. Spetz

    Spetz Adventurer

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    Nice write up!
    #13
  14. redbastard

    redbastard Long timer

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    I wish we took more pictures of the trails we opted not to ride. There were a few we figured we could get down, but maybe not back up if we had to turn around.
    Here's a few I took.

    On the way to Lune Lake.

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    Mad Biker

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    Nice road.
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    Some good lookin' bikes, and a couple of KTMs :evil
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    Following Mad bikes, at times there was just a trail of pushed down grass to know where he went.

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    Here comes Gamaman, I'm stopped so they'd know were to turn. The route was not even a trail :D

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    Some over grown jeep trail. Follow the trail in the grass..

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    Yes, that is the route...

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    We rode a steep loose little hill climb. Madbiker went in for another pass, it didn't go as planned.

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    random picture after accidently riding around a gate. Road to nowhere

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    My trusty Panda Phone:lol3
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    Good times, with good guys
    #14
  15. madbiker1

    madbiker1 Evilman

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    "...and a couple of KTM'S"


    HAAAAA HA HAAAA:rofl
    #15
  16. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    Looks awesome! Please don't tell me that all of these awesome photos were taken with the panda phone! :huh
    #16
  17. madbiker1

    madbiker1 Evilman

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    Redbastards's photos were all taken with the Pandacam- and I'm very impressed with the quality! He was smart and took pics of the harder trails that we were on. I somehow missed doing that.
    #17
  18. L.B.S.

    L.B.S. Long timer

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    Wow, great pictures and RR, MadB! :clap

    I had my Rotopax mount break from vibration fatigue and go AWOL off into the great unknown, just a few weeks ago @ Goldbridge, lol. Some of those roads are rough, eh? :lol3

    I didn't lose or have the fuel pack fall off the bike entirely though, because I had webbing straps as a just in case back up, also looped around the handles to my luggage rack, thank heavens.

    I would heartily recommend having secondary methods to secure your Rotopax in case of mount failure. A few 1" X 24" straps take up no appreciable weight or space, but are invaluable for those times when you really, really, didn't need to lose your fuel :doh
    #18
  19. madbiker1

    madbiker1 Evilman

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Oddometer:
    163
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    I agree! I actually had a strap on (not strap-on) the tanks for all of the trip until my rear rack broke on day 4 around Hope. That's when I had to zap strap the rack together and I took the strap off and left it somewhere. I started off being smart...and then not so much. In Hope, we had to swap the rack with my buddies so that I could continue on. The Caribou rack for the KTM Adventures just isn't up to the task of carrying stuff on heavy offroad.
    #19
  20. MasterMarine

    MasterMarine Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,221
    Location:
    Now serving just Snohomish County
    Looks like you had a fun ride. Thanks for sharing! :clap
    #20