Just follow the Arrow (Lakes)!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by woofer2609, Aug 6, 2019.

  1. woofer2609

    woofer2609 Less flow, more Gnar

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,850
    Location:
    Extreme Pacific SouthWest (of Canada)
    Get a beer/coffee, this might be a longer post.
    So, 4 years ago, we were returning from Nelson, BC, where we had been visiting the in laws. As is the custom in the past 5-10 years (sadly), BC had a very bad forest fire year (this summer is thankfully somewhat of a reprieve.)
    Anyway, 5 month old son in tow, we were driving home in our regular cab Mazda b2300 (yes, very, very cramped quarters), but had to take an alternate route to avoid a fire that had closed the main highway.
    In order to avoid this, we headed west on #3 , and then north, before heading west again on a different highway #6, and then southwest on #5, west on #1 home to Vancouver.
    This made for a 13 hour trip (should have been 9), but we connected #3 with #6 by heading north on a Forest service road I've never heard of. I vowed to come back and explore this area north of Grand Forks. It was absolutely gorgeous.

    Fast forward 4 years, and my wife is happy to head up to the inlaws a few days before me with our son (having a four year old seems like WAY less work than 0-2 years old). She's happy to have me take 3 days to come up and explore the area north of Grand Forks and metro her in Nelson.

    It's over 500km's to Grand Forks, and I get a late start on Sunday, stopping along the way to explore a new forest road at the Hope landslide (link here), and get a picture for the abandoned highways thread.
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    So I only make it as far as Bridesville that night and camp in a spot that is a favourite of mine and read a book I've been really into. I'm getting over a summer cold and riding the WR on slab for 500km's just isn't that fun today. Might be the fact that I just want to get off tarmac to unexplored regions. I'm not sure. I arrive with my muscles aching all over the place. I stretch for 20 minutes, and set up my tent near the creek. I take a walk around and speak with the fellow who just cut the grass at this Rec site. He asks me how long I've been coming here. I say about 10 years, thinking it's a long time. He mentions that the first time he was there was 1972.

    I made some Indian food and basmati rice. I had absolutely crazy dreams associated with the book I was reading and God knows what else was perking in my brain, and subsequently slept for 11 hours.
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    Next morning, I made a straight line for Grand Forks!
    Who am I kidding? I stop and explore the slag heap from the copper mining that went on in Greenwood in the first 2 decades of the 20th century, as well as the associated towns nearby such as Phoenix.
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    There is nothing left in Phoenix apart from a senitaph and a hole/lake in the ground that is quite a nice blue. I cannot appreciate just how many people died between 1914 and 1919 from war and influenza. It must have seemed like the end of the world at the time.
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    For whatever reason, I am now writing ion the past tense.
    Finally, I made it to Grand Forks. I headed north along the Granby River. I stopped and checked out a forest service rec site at the end of the pavement. Absolutely great place to camp, as you can ride your bike right down to the river, or camp on the beach on the other side of the bridge.
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    Funny thing is that everyone there was camped in the dusty parking lot in huge RV's.
    Oh well.

    I explored a western branch road (Granby Main) off of the Burrell main, then I went North on and up the valley parallel to the Arrow lakes (these used to be two distinct lakes until the early 1960's when the lower lake was dammed). What used to be a fertile fruit growing valley was mostly flooded. One of the fsr's is named Renata after the the main town in the area. Sadly, due to fuel, but mostly time logistics, I did not get in to Renata. I'll come back to Renata by boat and explore the natural land bridge there (not my photo).
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    The main north-south FSR (Burrell) goes up the valley and is inland of the lakes by about 10km's as the crow flies. This map give a pretty good description of the area:

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    See you in part 2!

    #1
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  2. woofer2609

    woofer2609 Less flow, more Gnar

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,850
    Location:
    Extreme Pacific SouthWest (of Canada)
    I was on a mission to explore pretty much all the rec sites just out of curiosity, but also to find a place to stay that night. I headed up a pretty minor branch road (Burrell West) that paralleled Burrell main branch heading north, but on the west side of the Granby River.
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    The whole 8 hour day I saw exactly one other vehicle, and I don't think the side route had seen any traffic in days/weeks, as I had to clear at least 4 blown down trees (I cannot recommend the Komelon 12" pull saw enough.)
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    I had to make a few side detours that racked up the kms, as in some spots, where my 10 year old map book showed bridges, they didn't exist. At this point, I am really thankful for my 3.1 gallon tank.
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    I finally exited Burrell West and after 2km's on the Gloucester Union FSR, reconnected to the Burrell Main FSR.
    I headed north, looking to investigate a rec site a little to the north east.
    I explored Bearpaw Lake Rec Site (and actually saw huge bear prints in the mud trail leading out to the lake.) This and the fact that the lake was at almost 6,000' negated it as a good camping choice, so I opted to camp at a nice place I'd passed earlier on the Gloucester Union FSR.
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    I set up camp at 7 and sent an inReach message to the wife to let her know I was OK. I cracked a beer I had placed in the river earlier and continued reading my book. I had KD and broccoli for dinner. Broccoli is an ideal motorcycle food, as it can survive 3 or 4 days being tossed around in a pannier without being kept cold, and cooks up nicely.

    No dreams this night, but I did wake at 5:30 because I was intent on getting into Nelson in the afternoon the next day. I left the campsite before 7. I would have been earlier, but in my infinite wisdom I decided to have coffee in bed and read. I subsequently spilled my coffee in bed and all over the inside of my tent. Dropped a few f-bombs because of this.

    So after draining my tent (The floor is waterproof, which is a good or bad thing depending on where the moisture is located!), I ripped up the Burrell main, and sure enough, on my right (east) side, found the Jump creek main. This was an absolutely beautiful connecter to head east on. It looked like it had seen little traffic, and thankfully there was no blow down on it to clear. It ascends to about 5500', so quite an elevation gain over the 3100' or so I had camped at.
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    This connected me to two other fsr's that had me drop 4000' in elevation to the Johnson Creek Rec site. But not before seeing the Arrow Lakes from above:
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    I'm always a bit intrigued by these old abandoned rec sites. At some point in time, they were visited and used, but now, they are overgrown and neglected, slowly taken over by alders and rendered unreachable by bridge and road washouts.

    Which is what appears to have happened here.
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    I was planning on taking a decommisioned very minor FSR called the "Cow Trail" on my map north from the Johnson Cr. rec site to the village of Edgewood, but I ran into this washout.
    These are the kinda interesting moments in ADV riding that we all love; go forth and explore the unknown, or backtrack and take the safe route. In your head you calculate risk vs. reward, and in this case, that meant backtracking and taking the long way around into Edgewood. I was confident that I could ford Johnson Creek, but there is always that "What if".
    I was at a location that would be pretty difficult to have someone come and salvage me if I drowned the bike, and I wasn't sure if the road even continued on the other side of the crossing.
    I was a good 15km's from Edgewood as the crow flies. I made a plan with myself to explore the "Cow Road" from the north.
    #2
  3. woofer2609

    woofer2609 Less flow, more Gnar

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,850
    Location:
    Extreme Pacific SouthWest (of Canada)
    Before heading back up and around to Edgewood, I stopped at what must have been a weigh scale for trucks before they continued on down to the Arrow lakes and were barged across on a logging company ferry. The outbuilding was intact (relatively; someone took out the wiring, not sure if it was the company or looters), with paperwork still on the desk from the last time it had presumably been used, in late 2012. The scale was still intact, and rated for a massive 110,000 kg's! I gotta say, seeing the Herman Cartoon kinda took me back a few years!
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    So I went back up and around, and eventually found the north end of the "Cow Trail". I took this south, and low and behold, I found myself looking back across the river crossing that I decided to not take 2 hours earlier. I let out a "whoop" in my helmet and reached for my phone to take a picture.... and saw it had been knocked off my Ram mount somewhere along the way (the "Cow Trail" was pretty technical, lotsa loose rocks, and many many face slappers.)
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    My mood went from yay to nay, as I realized I had lost my phone, so I turned the bike around and SLOWLY rode my way back up to where the face slappers started. Finding nothing, I parked the bike, ditched my helmet and jacket, and started walking downhill, looking for my phone on foot. Did I mention that it was starting to get hot? I didn't notice it too much on the way down, but on the way back up the 13% grade I got pretty flushed. Fortunately, my phone had landed face up, and the screen was reflecting sunlight, so I only ended up having to walk about 3 km's.
    I think I was angrier with myself, because I tend to lose my phone somewhat regularly and should know better to put it in a zippered pocket, than the loss of the phone itself. I didn't want to lose all the photos of this trip.

    So, I finally made it into Edgewood around noon and stopped for gas (my low fuel light had been on for a while, but I figure I had about another 20 km's. There is a post office and a general store in Edgewood. And this general store had EVERYTHING from a deli, to a pretty complete hardware section, to a kitchen section.
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    Within a space of 5 minutes, or 10km's, I had exited dense forest, and was into a fertile valley with endless views. It felt good to be on pavement again, not worrying about tires washing out, and just enjoying the ride.
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    It's about a 20km ride to the (free!) Needles-Fauquier cable ferry that takes you to the east side of the Arrow lakes. There we're a lot of bikes on board. Mostly Harley's (which seem very popular here) and a father and son on their BMW 1200RT's. I know it's snobbish, but personally, the best places I have found to explore are usually somewhere many km's down a gravel (at best) road.
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    #3
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  4. woofer2609

    woofer2609 Less flow, more Gnar

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,850
    Location:
    Extreme Pacific SouthWest (of Canada)
    Now, from the Faquier ferry terminal, I was presented with 2 options. Take the 210 km road option into Nelson, or attempt the 100km FSR route.
    I must be getting older and responsible, as I opted for the former. Again, I didn't want to get 70 kms up the road and have to come back down the same 70 kms and take the 210 kms into Nelson by road. The first 110 km's is mind numbingly boring straight sections that might be fun on a super bike, but were just tedious on a weighted down 250cc bike geared for off road. Once you get closer to New Denver, at least the road gets twisty, so there is that.

    I reached Nelson around 4 and went for a swim in the West arm of Kootenay lake. Very refreshing. As an aside, I communicated with some local riders who confirmed that you actually can take the road from Faquier to the lower section of the Slocan valley, which is exactly what I did the next day (this is known as the Powerline Road).
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    I spent the next 4 days visiting with family in Nelson and exploring with my son (we even saw a moose!)
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    By the end, was more than happy to load the bike onto my trailer hitch carrier and drive it home behind me. It took 4 years, but I'd finally gotten around to seeing what was in the Arrow Lakes area.
    #4
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  5. SuperChuck

    SuperChuck Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2016
    Oddometer:
    385
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Great RR, thanks for sharing!
    #5
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  6. BrockEvan

    BrockEvan Brock Warwick Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,462
    Location:
    Brea, CA
    Fantastic report! Really enjoyable, thanks for posting it!
    #6
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  7. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,043
    Location:
    Kingsmill Corner Ont.
    Thanks for posting. I enjoyed your trip very much.
    #7
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  8. eaglescan

    eaglescan Borrego rocks Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2009
    Oddometer:
    533
    Location:
    Langley,B C
    Nice report and photos. I have looked at that route on google, and is the main fsr road OK for bigger bikes? I am on a G 650x Challenge, did the Phoenix mine road a few years ago. Also, can it be done in 1 day, no side trips planned. thanks
    #8
  9. woofer2609

    woofer2609 Less flow, more Gnar

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,850
    Location:
    Extreme Pacific SouthWest (of Canada)
    Yes it can be done in one long day, but leave as early as possible, and yers, an X-Challenge will be fine, just avoid the Cows Trail.
    PM sent.
    #9