BC coast to Williams Lake and back, as much dirt as possible

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by squonker, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    With a week off work and a bike to ride my only real question was whether to go south of the border and explore more of Washington and Oregon, or stay in British Columbia. I was always told to make a list of the pros and cons when faced with a decision like this, so here goes:

    Reasons to travel in the US
    1) Cheaper food
    2) Cheaper gas
    3) Cheaper accommodation
    4) Cheaper parts, should I need any
    5) Better, more aware and courteous drivers
    6) It's always more exotic traveling in a foreign country

    Reasons to travel in Canada
    1) Tim Hortons


    Ok, that was easy. Canada it is :D



    I've always liked the Williams Lake area and wanted to see more of it. I could have just blasted up the highway and back but there are two problems with that: firstly it's supremely boring, and secondly I ride a KLR, so 'blasting' isn't really something I'm able to do. I was in no particular hurry and had no definitive plan, just a direction to head in, so I decided to do some exploring, stay off the highway as much as possible and ride as many back and dirt roads as I could.

    Day 1. Monday June 9th 2014
    My Mum's 70th birthday today, I guess I'm not a very good son.

    I had a few things to do at home in the morning, but left at 11am and made the noon ferry from Victoria to Vancouver. One other bike on the ferry, a very tricked out HD which the owner told me had won all sorts of awards. I could see how. The rider also owned some trucks and claims to have had them on the winter road in Yellowknife. He says that T.J. Wilcox from the first series of Ice Road Truckers worked for him, making this guy the second person I've met from Vancouver Island who claims to have been T.J's boss during the filming. But, T.J. did drive two trucks for two different people during that series, so it is certainly possible that they're both telling the truth. (Unlikely though, seeing as how they're both truck drivers and bike riders!)

    Vancouver
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    Whatever happened, the first little bit was going to require some bigger roads, but I at least took bigger roads that I hadn't been on before. Turning off the Trans Canada at Abbotsford, I went to Mission and then took the Haztic Dewdney rd to Agassiz and Harrison. It's kinda pretty out that way.

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    ^ I prefer unorthodox monasteries, where everyone swears like a trucker and shags nuns rotten all day, but each to his own.

    I did a little exploring too, just venturing off up side roads for a few hundred meters or a couple of kilometers. Even though I was barely an hour outside Vancouver it was very pleasant here, some pretty farms and all sorts of logging roads to explore. Spectacular snow-capped peaks in the distance. I didn't have a Backroads Mapbook for this area so my main focus for right now was to keep heading towards the Harrison Lake area.

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    My friend inmate Cowgirl had told me about a FSR hat runs up the east side of Harrison Lake and can cut across to Boston Bar so I thought that sounded like as good a plan as any. First though, I became a little sidetracked here:

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    There was so much to explore that I didn't know where to begin.

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    I thought that this was as good a place as any to camp for the night, but I almost had too many choices as to where to stay. I'm happy to bush camp so I didn't need anything in particular. I chose the Skewellepil Creek road for no good reason, and rode perhaps 10km up it but didn't see anything spectacular. This whole area was big enough for a dedicated trip of its own, it seemed, and I ended up pushing on towards Agassiz a little more. Not knowing this area, before I knew it I ended up at Harrison Lake itself, a resort, and having lived in Whistler for several years when I first came to Canada I'm not a big fan of resorts. Therefore I didn't stop, but make my way to the far side of the lake and began to look for the logging road that would take me all the way up along the east side of it. It wasn't hard to find.

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    And it wasn't long before things began to get really pretty.
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    I think that the shot below is actually from the Skewellpil Creek Road
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    Back to the Harrison East FSR
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    Just as I was thinking that I should find a good spot to set up my tent, I stumbled across the first of three campgrounds near the south end of the lake. This was the Cascade Peninsula Recreation Area, and very pretty it was too. Not too shabby to have to spend the night in.

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    Seems like as good a place as any to end day one.
    #1
  2. Gale B.T.

    Gale B.T. Long timer

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    So nice to see again one of your RR and that off Red KLR in the background.

    Thanks for sharing and hope your winter project was a huge success and almost paid for ;))))

    Keep us smiling, enjoy a great summer/riding season.

    gale
    #2
  3. homeontherange

    homeontherange Ochlophobiac

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    I've been waiting for another ride report for 3 years...nice to see you on the road again!
    #3
  4. Jimmythechiz

    Jimmythechiz Been here awhile

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    Prince George B.C.
    Your pics look nice,especially the waterfall.I'm looking forward to your next day,and your route.
    #4
  5. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    Thanks Gale, I hope you're doing well and I'll drop you a line properly soon. Be good!


    Thanks, great to hear from you again. If The Chanteuse is out visiting her mother again this summer make sure she looks me up. Hope to catch up with you again face to face one of these days.


    Here you go...
    #5
  6. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    On setting up camp that first night I opened a pannier to find that one of my water bottles had decided to take a spill, emptying half of its contents all over everything in the pannier. I always pack everything in ziplocs so all was not lost, but I also couldn't be bothered to dry everything out so I opted for just leaving it as it was. By the end of the week the stench in that pannier was pretty ripe! I refilled the water bottle from the lake and hoped that it would be ok. If I suddenly stop writing this report perhaps the water caught up with me :1drink

    I had the entire campground to myself, and therefore the pick of the spots. The manager had suggested which ones would still have sun, and I told him about my plans to ride to Boston Bar up the side of the lake. He seemed unsure, saying that he'd never heard of anyone getting beyond kilometer 45 before. I didn't even have a Backroads Mapbook so I wasn't going to argue with him, but I also wasn't going to let him put me off.

    Day two: Tuesday June 10th 2014
    Not as sunny today, and in fact I hadn't gone more than about 5 mins up the road before I had to stop and put on my waterproofs.

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    The campground I had stayed in was at Km 11 up the road, and there were two more marked on the map. I don't have their names, but all three were within a few kilometers of each other, and of three the third had the most beach access but it was also right on the side of the road.

    An old log dump
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    It was starting to get pretty wet by now, and the only thing that kept me from becoming drenched was the fact that I was under the forest canopy.


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    An active log sort
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    You know that if they put in a bridge with a load rating of 136 tons, there used to be some heavy duty shit going on out here.
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    All the time I was wondering what I would find at Km45, the point that the campground manager had told me about that he thought was the end of the road. I was soon to find out.

    This:
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    This:
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    And most significantly, this:
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    #6
  7. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    I considered turning back, but I wanted to know what the construction was all about, so I went to speak to the guy in the pick-up. I thought he was going to tell me that it was a logging camp, but apparently they are building a hydro station there, with a pipeline running from Pemberton. He told me that he'd be able to let me go in about 15 minutes, that he'd send me out in front of an empty logging truck. I asked whether he knew if I could get through to Boston Bar but he wasn't familiar with the area. It seems that no-one around had heard of the road I was hoping to find. Of course, a smarter man would have begun to question whether it existed at all, but that's me - smart like a horse and hung like Einstein.

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    It wasn't even close to 15 mins before he let me go. The road was a little worse beyond this point, but still not bad by any stretch of the imagination. I saw a couple of deer then came around a corner to find a black bear in the middle of the road. I stopped and we both sized each other up. I was just about to go for the camera in my tank bag when I remembered the logging truck behind me and decided that I might be better getting a move on! Good thing I did as soon after it had caught right up to me. I began to wonder how far I should go before I turned back if I didn't see any signs of the route I was hoping to take. I have a range of 400 kms so decided that I wouldn't go beyond 150 km, giving myself a large safety margin (I find it extremely difficult to go past a side road and not explore it so that would burn extra fuel).

    At km 57.5 I came across this:

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    Alright! Very kind of someone to mark that, because without my Backroads Book I'd never have known whether it was the road I was looking for or not. This is the one:
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    It was 10.30 and the sun was beginning to come out, so I stopped to admire the mountains and the scenery.

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    ^ What a coincidence - that's exactly how I like my women.


    This road was smaller, but there were some relatively fresh 4X4 tyre tracks. Fresh bear scat, too.

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    There were a couple of washouts that I investigated and decided that I could get through. What you have to consider, though, is that it is more important to be able to get through coming back the other way should you have to turn around. A little bit of excitement and a definite sense of adventure now, heightened by the fact that I'd been climbing but was now just starting to descend, leading me to believe that I was on the final stretch. But then about 10 km up the trail another washout, this one bigger.

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    Someone had made a nice, smooth, wide entry ramp off to the right of the frame and getting into the ditch wouldn't have been a problem, but the water towards the far side was quite deep, and running fairly hard. It wasn't an impossible crossing by any stretch, but it was a risky one. I had no extra pair of hands to help me, no-one knew where I was and there was that fresh bear scat on the road. The only smart thing to do was to turn back. :cry

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    #7
  8. Cowgirl

    Cowgirl Cougar on the prowl

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    I guess it's too late to warn you about "beaver fever" :lol3
    Great pics!!
    #8
  9. Jimmythechiz

    Jimmythechiz Been here awhile

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    Prince George B.C.
    Great update.I'd love to see the rest of that road,but an upside-down bike in deep water would be a problem.Did you just let the log truck pass? Any idea what the "filth-mode" stuff is about?
    #9
  10. RevyRider

    RevyRider FXD Traveler

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    Revelstoke, BC
    Great ride report, I am hoping that you opted for the lesser smart thing to do, and continued on your trip?? Cheers!
    #10
  11. Spicy McHaggis

    Spicy McHaggis Darth Peach's cracker...

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    Drama queen.



    Good to see you back on the moto, Ben!!!
    #11
  12. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    Oh, the campground was empty - no women there :evil


    I just pictured myself lying in the water, leg broken, bike pinned on top of me as a bear came ambling by. Yeah, I think I did the right thing! I stayed ahead of the log truck until I turned off. Later on, on the way back again, a log truck pulled over to let me pass. Nice. No idea what the filth mode stuff means - I looked all over the bike and couldn't a filth mode switch!


    Keep reading... Cheers!

    Andy, you dirty bastard, I didn't know you were still alive! Great to hear from you! Are you still riding, or is it all pedal power for you these days? One day you and I will meet face to face again. (I won't invite Dave and Andrea seeing as how they haven't posted here yet!!) Thanks for posting, bud :thumb
    #12
  13. Advdave

    Advdave jubilado

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    I'm here. lurking. I rode that Harrison L road to Boston Bar a couple of years ago. Pretty remote for a solo rider, even one with ice road experience on a KLR 650.
    Andrea's turn. Time for another sleep over on the Island?
    #13
  14. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    Good on ya Dave, that didn't take you long! Your pardon will arrive in the mail shortly.

    Perhaps Brian can guilt Andrea into posting....
    #14
  15. Jimmythechiz

    Jimmythechiz Been here awhile

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    Prince George B.C.
    It looks like "Dirt first" and "Filth mode" is possibly connected with a motorcycle club/blog based in Vancouver. Featuring a XT500.
    #15
  16. randylahee

    randylahee Adventurer

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    damn i was hoping to see you made the loop as im planning to do the same. maybe ill go for the harrison west loop. great RR :freaky
    #16
  17. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    I think as long as you have company you should be fine, and I'm sure other people have gone through since I did, perhaps one of them will chime in.

    In the meantime, here's a map for those that don't know the area.

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    #17
  18. Cowgirl

    Cowgirl Cougar on the prowl

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    Nice detailed map there, couldn't possibly go wrong with that :lol3 As a matter of fact some guys I know did go up East Harrison within days of you but there was a group of them.
    #18
  19. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    That's the map I was having to use at this point, it's all I had! My Backroads book didn't kick in until Lillooet :dunno
    #19
  20. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    This looks like it might have been one of the earlier washouts, one that I made it over.
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    So I turned around and decided I would stop at Harrison for what would be a late lunch, and come up with a plan while I was eating.

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    This time at the other end of the 'road closure' (where the pick ups were blocking the road), I had to wait longer and I spent the time chatting with the guy in the truck. He was super friendly and had heard about the road that cut through to Boston Bar, but he thought it was at kilometer 54. He also referred to it by a name other than Shovel Creek, and when I mentioned that it had been at kilometer 57.5 he said again that he was pretty sure that it was at km 54 or 55. This combined with the name confusion made me wonder for a while whether I'd even taken the right road, but the difference between km 54 and km 57.5 could easily be explained by inconsistencies between odometers (if my odo is as inaccurate as my speedo, anyway!), and I really don't think that someone would have spray painted 'Boston Bar' on that rock if it was the wrong turn off just to mess people up. So buddy let me go when he could and I rode the 50 or so km from that point back down the Harrison East to the community. Funny, but on the way to that construction at km 45 there had been nothing at all to indicate that it was coming up. But on the return, between it and Harrison I saw no end of camp shacks on flat beds and pick ups all going to and from the site.

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    It was after 2pm when I arrived in what is apparently more accurately called Kent rather than Harrison and found a place for lunch. It was right beside a gas station and as I was getting ready to go again three guys on dual sports pulled up at the pumps. One of them walked over and asked whether I'd made it through.

    I had no choice but the take the highway for a while now. I did turn off towards North Bend looking for the other end of the road I'd tried to take to Boston Bar, but after a couple of minutes decided that if I kept dilly-dallying I'd never get anywhere so I turned back around. On the other side of the canyon I could see a dirt road that lead to what looked like a big quarry and I wondered whether that is where I'd have ended up coming out.

    I turned off the highway at Lytton and fueled up.
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    This place was right next door.
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    In order to minimize my highway miles I then took the road from Lytton to Lillooet, and that's a really cool road. Nice twisties in parts, very little traffic, and some great scenery.

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    This caught my eye, it looks to me for all the world as though there is some sort of man made fence up there!
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    But using my binoculars it did just appear to be a line of rocks. Kinda cool, though.

    The whole area is very arrid, and temps often reach above 40c in summer, but down in the bottom of the valley by the river there was a fair amount of land being irrigated.

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    At one point I pulled over to snap a pic and saw a sign referring to the Stein Valley. I remember from when I first arrived in the country being told that the Stein Valley was the last valley in BC that had no road access, or something along those lines. Google has just informed me that it is the last untouched watershed in the southern Coast Mountains. Much of BC has been logged, and if you think that you can see a lot of logging from the highways, take a plane ride out to the areas you can't see from the road and it'll blow your mind just how much has been affected by logging. The environmentalists manage to prevent the Stein Valley from suffering the same fate, meaning that there aren't even any FSRs. It is a provincial park apparently, and the only access to it is by hiking. I hadn't realized that Lytton was the nearest town.

    After what must have been an hour of having got almost nowhere due to stopping so much to take pics, I saw a small dirt road off to the right called 'Fountain Valley' and went exploring. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I made on the entire trip...
    #20