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cathulu 10-21-2012 09:06 PM

A Loop Around Southern BC
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:

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! :clap

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. :lol3

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. :D

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. :lol3 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. :clap

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... :wink:

At least until the red mist descends! :lol3

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... :lol3

Here is the mine in relation to Gold Bridge in case there are any investors out there. :D

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. :lol3 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.

Easy peasy

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. :bmwrider 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! :lol3

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! :lol3:lol3:lol3

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.:muutt

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 :bmwrider invited us to his site. He was very friendly and we all had a good time. This is the morning...

More later...

gunnerbuck 10-21-2012 09:28 PM

Enjoying it so far...
I see Scooter is still riding the same old DR 400......

Droptarotter 10-22-2012 01:52 AM

Hey Chris;
Great write up so far.............sure was nice running into you guys in Lillooet......I'll subscribe to this and try and leave unwanted comments along the way!


cathulu 10-22-2012 06:48 PM

Thanks Brian! Unwanted comments are wanted :D

Oh crap, my furnace is on the fritz and it is not igniting the gas. So I am going to try and fix it tonight, gonna start the tear down right now. Tomorrow I have Spanish, so no update until Wed... unless Brian Vlad or Vito has something to say...

Duas Rodas 10-22-2012 08:39 PM


Originally Posted by cathulu (Post 19877284)
Thanks Brian! Unwanted comments are wanted :D

Oh crap, my furnace is on the fritz and it is not igniting the gas. So I am going to try and fix it tonight, gonna start the tear down right now. Tomorrow I have Spanish, so no update until Wed... unless Brian Vlad or Vito has something to say...

Our furnace just went south also! What a coincidence:eek1 The plumber finally found the problem but will have to wait until tomorow to get the part. Is your spanish good enough to understand "mucho dinero" on parts?:cry

That's enough complaining...

Great start to the report Chris. I don't have any unwanted comments yet either even if wanted them:lol3

Droptarotter 10-22-2012 10:21 PM

Ok..............first unwanted comment...........I wasn't were just slow!!:lol3

Sorry to hear about your furnace. Vito's furnace must have sympathy sickness!


LittleWan 10-22-2012 10:52 PM


Originally Posted by cathulu (Post 19870267)

The sign at the top of the hill in case anybody recognizes it...

We were just there in July. :D
Made it up Poison Mtn.

Enjoying your photos, thanks!
Looking forward to the rest of the report.

cathulu 10-25-2012 08:45 PM

Well I fixed my furnace, loose connector at the gas valve. Hard to find. I jammed a couple of nails into the connector and now it works. :D

Now onto the report...

Sunday September 9.

Saturday was an awesome day, especially around mud lakes and poison mountain, where it was more than just fast gravel forest service roads. The rest was OK but I'm not a huge fan of fast open gravel roads, they are just a means to get somewhere more fun to ride - at least for me. I like it when it feels you are more on a jeep trail, or a tight gravel road with lots of ups downs lefts rights and whoopsy doodles. And mud lakes / poison mountain delivered! :clap

Well today will be another awesome day with some cool stuff.

But first we got to get some food in the belly, and if I recall correctly the Reynolds Motel in Lillooet was plain but decent. I think everybody got a good meal. We got going after 11:00AM.

We then ride out of Lillooet heading North following the west side of the Fraser River on the gravel road aka West Pavillions. Highway 99 is on the East side - at least for a while, then turns away while we stay close to the river. The mighty Fraser! I am reminded of this map from when I was a kid. A version of this map has been kicking around for a long time. This is how I learned my BC geography. :lol3

(jpeg from a blog called Retro Coast).

Heading out of Lillooet up the Fraser Canyon.

We ran into three stray or feral dogs along the way. This one looked particularly nasty but was not aggressive, just wary. They probably reside on lillooet tribal lands and are more than 10 kilometers from home. Reserve dogs are a problem in many communities.

We stop for a break. Vito and Vlad.

This is when I find out my headlight has lost a bolt and the whole thing is rattling around. Thanks to Brian who carries a spare collection of bolts lest his thumper vibrate away a few. We managed to get it to work pretty good. Brian recommends going through all my bolts with loctite. I concur. Vito, me and Brian.

We continue Northwards. The typical road surface here.

We come across this spectacular slope that looks more unstable than it probably is... but it does look unstable. One wrong move and it is a quick trip to the bottom of the Fraser Canyon. A one way trip.

The side of the slope. Yikes!

Beautiful BC

Where we are going... up the hill to the right.

Looking back to Where we just came from, interesting how this slope is wooded and the other previous shot is nearly bare.

Going down to Big Bar Ferry. Some steep slopes with tight switchbacks. No problem because the surface is well graded but a bit loose in sections.

At the bottom it got really sandy. I decide to wait for Vlad with my camera :lol3 and help Vlad if he needs any. Turns out he does as I see a rider down in a cloud of dust.

I run up to see how he is doing, but first I take the photo. That is very important, photo first! :D
But I could tell he was OK, he was smiling.

We continue down through the sand. Big Bar Ferry in the distance.

We stop to help somebody in a Honda Odyessy who got stuck pulling a trailer up from the Ferry. One idea was to turn the trailer around so they could head back the way they came. Luckily, somebody was driving by in a truck that could pull the trailer out past the sand section.

And off they go, to be reconnected to the Honda a kilometer or so away. I hope they got home OK, maybe they are still there... somewhere...

Heading to the Ferry. This ferry has no motor, it uses the river current to move back and forth, held in place by a fixed tether to a suspended cable. The technical term is a reaction ferry. Never was on anything like it. Using the current to sail across the river by angling the pontoons.

All aboard as Brian is last down the ramp.

Ready to roll to the other side

We are back on gravel on the Big Bar Road, working our way further North. This cozy spot caught my eye.

Some years are tough, and there is no market, so the farmers leave their crops in the ground. It is sad... :cry

Looking back, this sign gives the operating hours for the ferry. Funny I don't remember any signs coming from the other way.

This was a fun bit of gravel road, swoopy and turny. The kind of gravel I like. I got into a fun groove on this one. The road is called Dog Creek Canoe Creek Road on google maps. They can't make their minds up.

We cross back over the Fraser to get onto Gang Ranch Road. Hey I know all this now cause of Google Maps. At the time I was clueless. There is a neat bridge across the Fraser here.

We all gather for a group shot midspan. Had to make sure the kickstand was in the right place as you can see. It was windy, I lost a glove that was blown into the river and had to throw the other one away as a result. So this was an expensive photo.

So the last man before me leaving the bridge was Brian, I was last to go as I was dicking around getting my other pair of gloves out. Brian takes off, and doesn't wait and the road splits soon after, which was one of our rulez - wait until the last guy can see which direction the group went. I can't see any tracks in the road. I have to decide left or right. I never studied Vito's map. I turned right. BRIANNNNNN!!!!!! :ddog

This is a shot of Brian from Vlad's bike, I am way back, not sure if I am going the right or wrong way.

Gang Ranch...

I am all alone. I can't see anyone in the distance. I am thinking to myself that I will camp in the woods if I don't catch them soon as it is getting a bit late in the day. I will try and phone them tomorrow. Thinking about finding a spot by a stream. In some kind of way I was enjoying the thought. Shit happens. Make do and it will go right in the end. :lol3

I did have some company though...

Hallelujah, by this time I had caught up to them. Brian, you are forgiven. All is well. I was going the right way after all. :D

Vito is arguing with me about who will close the fence. I am in a trance, he is getting angrier.

This was the entrance to this nice jeep trail on the Gang Ranch Vito found... it was NICE

Over fields

More fields. We did not go up the hill, our route turned left at the bottom of the hill.

Into the woods. We had to make our way through this section. Impassable for most vehicles. We go up.

Then down...

Then across...

PS that was the only in focus shot. It is not all about me, I just happened to be in the shot that was in focus. :D

Now we are all safe on the other side. We briefly contemplate camping in the area, but it looks like it might rain and it is a bit muddy. It would be bad to ride out of there in real muddy conditions. Unfortunately we didn't get any shots after this one to give a good impression of the trail beyond here. It was a fun little trail.

We finally kick out to a major gravel road - Farwell Canyon Road. It is getting late, we need to camp soon.

Very nearby we stop for a view of Chilcotin River in Farwell Canyon. Very nice spot, picture does not do it justice. River rafting through the canyon in the summer is a draw.

This is our view. We spy an area next to the river where we figure we can camp. It is a First Nations fishing area with an old run-down cabin in the background.

We check it out and get the OK from the two natives camping there. They were very friendly and happened to be also very stoned. We contemplated camping right next to the Chilcotin River but it was too rocky. So we ended up on the bench nearby.

We sucked back some Scotch and took it easy. More later...

PS I leave it for Brian to describe what happened to him in the sand at the Big Bar Ferry... Brian???? Or maybe I will have to say something. I only wished we got photo evidence. Guys, photo first!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

Droptarotter 10-25-2012 10:12 PM

This is great Chris..............keep the report coming!


gunnerbuck 10-25-2012 10:22 PM

Great stuff, I believe the river in your last 3 pics is the Chilco...

yamalama 10-26-2012 07:54 AM

Looking forward to more.

Deadly99 10-26-2012 08:20 AM


Duas Rodas 10-26-2012 12:05 PM


Originally Posted by gunnerbuck (Post 19902740)
Great stuff, I believe the river in your last 3 pics is the Chilco...

Yea, it is the Chilcotin River at Farwell Canyon. Beautiful spot.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
Let us go back to the mini van pulling the camping trailer up through the sand after the Big Bar ferry event. <o:p></o:p>
When going by them I asked if everything was ok and if they needed help. The old guy looked quite stressed but said it was all under control. I just carried on not giving it much thought.<o:p></o:p>
Waiting at the bottom, it seemed like it took for ever for the guys to show up. Chris shows up last and right away wants me and him to go back up there and help:eek1<?xml:namespace prefix = v ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" /><v:shapetype id=_x0000_t75 stroked="f" filled="f" path="m@4@5l@4@11@9@11@9@5xe" o:preferrelative="t" o:spt="75" coordsize="21600,21600"></v:shapetype>I roll me eyes and thinking to myself; what the f*** I hate riding deep sand, especially downhill, and now he wants me to do it all over again just because he wants to play good samaritan?
Well, we weren't going to cross the river any time soon anyway 'cause the ferry operator just took off up the road to help too:lol3Oh well up we go and help... <o:p></o:p>
Talking with the ferry guy later, he said this was the worst condition he had ever seen the road in all the years he has been running the ferry!

Droptarotter 10-26-2012 05:31 PM

I can't believe someone would be foolish enough to take a mini van up that road?? And to haul a trailer up there with a mini van is just sheer stupidity!!
How many kids were in the back of the mini van?
Did you guys at least get a beer for your efforts?


cathulu 10-28-2012 02:03 PM

OK, I corrected the errors, it was the Chilcotin River, not the Fraser... Chilcotin River kicks in to the Fraser, but not close enough.

Yes, those folks in the minivan were a bit foolish! And no beer, but we were ok with that, just wanted to see them get on their way safely.

Working on the next days...

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