Can you remember the first time you released the clutch on a motorcycle? I can. I can still remember the smell of the 16 to 1 break in mix of Castrol oil emanating from my Hodaka Wombat, smoke thick in the air. I can still see the front wheel rolling through the small creek onto the trail that led to freedom. I can remember the feeling as my first bike carried me along with a big excited smile on my face.
After that moment thirty five years ago, I always thought about how much fun it would be to go on a camping trip on a motorbike.
35 years later.
I left Nanaimo on the ferry to the mainland with the idea of getting as far along the Sea to Sky Highway and past the Pemberton area as I could in an afternoon. There were plenty of bikes on the ferry, mostly big street bikes with the usual suspects, bikers on Harleys with beads in their beards and full sleeve tats. Yuppie bikers on Harleys that wished they could have beads in their beards and full sleeve tats and just regular folks on cruisers on their
way to somewhere.
The ferry ride went fast enough and soon I was caught up in the rush of traffic roaring off the ferry, I jockyed for position into the correct lane that would take me where I wanted to go, and found myself riding along the sea to sky highway towards Whistler and Pemberton stopping only at Squamish to pick up some dehydrated food and some fruit.
I carried on through the heat of the afternoon riding past a beautiful lake and eventually came to a deserted campsite at Owl Creek.
After a swim in the river to cool off from the 34 degree heat I made a meal of Katmandu Curry. This is where I realized that I had left my spoon at home but quickly improvised an eating utensil from one of my tire irons.
After dinner I figured out my route for the next day and fell asleep on the picnic table with a bright starlit sky shining above.
Woke up early and noticed that my sleeping bag was damp from condensation but I wanted to get some Klix under my tires so I packed my gear into the Giant Loop bag, had a quick breakfast of oatmeal eaten with my tire iron, and got moving.
I rode through Mount Currie and gassed up in Darcy, spoke with a a girl at the gas station about the fires in the area had a quick cup of coffee and headed for the start of the Highline Road that climbs up beside Anderson Lake and eventually passes through Seton Portage, and Shalath and then up over Mission Mountain Pass.
The ride was spectacular. Climbing to about 4200 ft and the views of the lake were amazing. Cruised along the gravel at about 50 to 70 klics except for the hairpins and some of the rough spots.
I stopped at the summit and got my sleeping bag out and dried it in the sun and soon got on my way again.
I carried on up and over the Mission Mountain Pass pretty well grinning the whole way as my bike chugged its way up the grade. The views from the pass are very nice and as I climbed to an elevation of about 4200 ft I could see smoke in the distance from the wildfires around Clinton.
I eventually got down to Carpenter lake and roared along the wide flat gravel to the east end, and a Hydro damn.
I cruised through the tunnel and onward to Bridge River which is a First Nations Reserve. there is a narrow bridge over the river and as I crossed it I met a couple of ladies that were walking back from the native sockeye fishery, They invited me to come and have a look so I went and watched the process for a while and had a bite to eat with them and carried on my way to Lillooet.
I carried on through the heat to Lillooet and stopped at a little german bakery that had wireless so that I could get my Spot transmitter working properly and have a cool drink. When I had finished the lady charged me $3.50 for less than half and hour on the internet so I didn't feel bad about lifting a fork from her to solve my dining problems.
At this point I had planned on following some more off road sections to Cache Creek but the extreme heat and the fact that I was riding solo made me think slabbing it would not be too much of a sin. So I headed off in the direction of Cache Creek on tarmac.
It was very hot and I took every opportunity to swim that came along. Marble Canyon was one spot that I would have liked to camp at but also wanted to drive on so I just stopped for a swim in the cool water.
I stopped at Hat Creek Ranch for a photo and carried on.
It was getting late in the afternoon and I wanted to get close to the start of the Kettle Valley Railway as possible so I motored on through Cache Creek and on to Savona where I turned south towards Merrit on a super curving country road that passes through ranch land and lush farms. I thought to myself that this must be what entices street bikers to ride long distances.
I stopped at Tumkwa Lake Park for the night. This is a huge grassland campground on a lake that is teeming with fish. As I lay on the picnic table listening to CBC radio on my mini radio I could hear Coyotes howling in the distance and the stars were once again bright in the sky.