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Old 08-06-2011, 08:42 PM   #31
Crooked Creek OP
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Crooked Creek to Chetwynd - 321 km

So after warming up by the giant beaver, off again I went, wet and getting wetter. I stopped at the border for the two aforementioned pics and then tucked in behind my imaginary windshield and beelined to Dawson Creek. Somewhere in that stretch, I remembered that I had forgotten to stop in DeBolt and pick up the Therm-a-rest style mattress I had arranged to borrow.

I decided to stop at Walmart in DC and get one of those cheap mattress pads (like I did last year.)





But the mattresses were $16.97 and not $12 like I had remembered, so I hesitated. Instead, I called Swinada to let him know I was going to be later than I had planned and to ask if he had an extra mat I could borrow. He did. Standing in the camping section of Walmart, talking to Mrs. Swinada on the phone, my thoughts turned to a different area of comfort and I spied some some cheapo chest waders like this:



Hmm. The wheels started turning. Not only would these be actually waterproof (the "resistant" in "water resistant" might as well be "just kidding" IMO) but they would be handy for the river crossings that we had planned.


After hanging up the phone, I took a closer look. Unfortunately, there only was L/XL pairs in stock, and after trying them on (and getting some funny looks) in the aisle, I decided that they were just too humongous for my 150lb (well maybe 152 as I was soaking wet...) self. Underneath, was a pair of these:



They were a little more $, but still Walmart cheap, so in a rush I grabbed them and headed for the till, picking up a spray can of silicone waterproofing (for tents) along the way. For the next couple days I would empty the can on my coat gloves and pretty much everything, much to the chagrin of Swinada, who didn't care for the smell. Eventually, I left it empty at 2Trider's in Hazelton, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Having gone through the till (and most of my "extra" budget for the trip), I set about donning my new rain gear. Since my Princess Auto overalls were completely soaked (despite my best efforts to waterproof them) I put my the waders underneath them. I felt a little weird dressing in front of strangers, but hey, it was Walmart and such things should be expected.
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4000km Cassiar/Spatsizi/Telegraph/Alcan fish and ride here
What you're Missing: a Guide to Side Trips off the Cassiar here
Canada's Best Kept Secret: 500 km from the nearest paved road here

Crooked Creek screwed with this post 08-06-2011 at 08:47 PM
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Old 08-06-2011, 09:14 PM   #32
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LOL.....I wonder if you're going to show up on the "People of Walmart" website now
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Old 08-06-2011, 09:22 PM   #33
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Old 08-06-2011, 09:51 PM   #34
Crooked Creek OP
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Crooked Creek to Chetwynd - 321 km

Having safety entered my chest waders in Walmart, I reinstalled my coat and helmet and was back on the road. How do you like me now, rain?! Not only did my dual purpose rain gear keep out the water, it kept out the wind... And it had the added fringe benefit of not breathing at all, so that my wet clothes gradually warmed up into a soggy embrace. Kind of like when your rubber boots are full of water, and your wet sock eventually heat up and become quite cozy (in a raisin foot kind of way.)

And so I beamed down the highway, basking in the warmth of my ingenuity. Ok, I was still cold, but it was definitely better than before. Before long I was at Swinada's house in Chetwynd. I know I took some pics there, but they must have got lost in the shuffle as as thinned the herd of the 600-700 photos I took that week.

We spent some time in the garage figuring out what gear we could leave behind and how we could carry all that we would bring. I did some re-packing and a couple other things to the bike. But the rain was killing the morale, so we headed inside and chatted, reminisced, and schemed until is was later than it should have been.

I'll let Swinada tell the next bit from his perspective:

Quote:
I woke up a few times during the night and always heard the rain on the metal roof, this can be a very calming sound but not when you are planning to go on a extensive bike trip the next day. I was up at 5 AM finishing packing all my gear in dry bags.

CC got up a little later and I could tell he wasn’t too eager to go out there right away to load the bikes. We had breakfast and then finally got out doors. We managed to load the bikes and around 8:30 we were ready to head out, or so we thought.

Everything has to be learned, something’s you forget again and have to be learned over again. Strapping down a bike on a trailer seems to be simple enough, does it not? We didn’t even make it out of the driveway before I heard CC yell, “Stop My Bike!” over she went. Try again, this time we loop the straps around the frame and screw some 2x4’s on the trailer to keep the tires from sliding out. We think “now we got it” but not so a couple potholes later the bike goes over again.
L It takes the genius of my wife to tell us that we need to have individual straps on both sided that pull both directions. This time it holds and around 9AM we are finally off. My bike in the back off the pickup kind of slumps over on its side against the spare tire somewhere on route, but it can stay that way.

Now we are really late as the trip through the Pine pass these days’ increases from regular 3 hours to 5-6 hours thanks to construction sites. (Slides caused by all the rain we had, and regular construction. The saying up here is “we have 8 months of winter and 4 months of construction”). We have to stand in line for a considered amount of time which gives us time to check our tie downs and CC a little time to practice some moves on his bike. J




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Old 08-06-2011, 10:23 PM   #35
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Old 08-06-2011, 10:43 PM   #36
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Looking forward to this one.
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Old 08-07-2011, 07:27 PM   #37
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Chetwynd to Hazelton - 745 km


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I should explain why we were trailering the bikes, especially during the only sunshine of the trip. Swinada had to bring his daughter to Vanderhoof and pick up a car for his son there. That was one of the main reasons he was able to justify the bike trip, since he was heading that way anyways. The ride up gave us some time to talk a little sense into ourselves re: the rail bed attempt.

What rail bed attempt? There's some info in the thread I started the week before here.

I'll save the details until we get to that part, but as my partner and I discussed our timeline, our equipment and the current conditions north of Takla Lake, we agreed that a southern assault on the rail bed (our initial plan) wouldn't be the best use of our precious time off.

Even if nothing went wrong, it would be 250km of muddy gravel to Takla landing, where the one store would be closed for the weekend (because we would never make it by 5:00 and it was Friday.) So we wouldn't be able to buy gas, and would have to carry an obscene amount from Fort St. James in case by some miracle we made it 3/4 of the way through and had to turn back at the bad section (where there is no rail bed at all) north of the Kluatatan River crossing.

But the gas wasn't really the problem. I could have arranged for some gas in Takla Landing, as I had made connections with the chief and a relative of hers. I had even been fortunate enough to find a willing accomplice in a stranger from Takla who happened to be in the store when I called. He is a young man who approved of my shenanigans and has relatives further up the rail in Bear Lake. Bear Lake is a small settlement of the Takla First Nation further up the rail bed, where the only way in is via ATV between the rails.

So we could have made to Takla, got on the rail bed and road between the rails, bumping over the wet ties all the way to the Minaret logging camp (where the rails end) with our overloaded bikes (in the rain.) We might have even made it all the way to the Mosque River. But with all the rain that had fallen and was still coming down, even with a decent raft a successful crossing wasn't too likely because of the swiftness of the river. Add that to the fact that no one in the area (as far as I can ascertain) has even heard of someone traveling that section of the rail bed in the last 20 years. I did find a bush pilot out of Fort St. James who knew of a man who rode the whole thing with a mountain bike, but that was 20 years ago and I wasn't able to track said adventurer down.

Here's an idea of the route (from my research on Google Earth):




So instead, we decided to try from the north. Swinada had never been further than 25km in from the top, and from last year I knew it was easy going for at least 150km in that direction, so we could a least get a good ride in even it it did rain (and it did . )

As soon we settled on the plan B, I dug into my stuff and found 2Trider's phone number. Last year he offered me tent space in Hazelton (which I took him up on), so I had PMed his a couple days before "just in case" and had gotten his contact info. Even though it was late by the time we got to Vanderhoof, I knew we needed to push hard if we were going to be camping in the Spatsizi Wilderness the next night. Hazelton is 344 km from Vanderhoof and just about as far as we could make it before it got too dark.

There was ridiculous amount of construction in the pine pass because of all the flooding and washouts, so we were late getting to Vanderhoof. But--guess what--the sun came out!




As we re-packed the bikes at the home of friends of Swinada, I was cooking to death in my long underwear and the only pair of pants I brought, which happened to be black and super toasty. This was quite a change from the day before, and I was sweating up my only pair of clothes for the week.




Now that we had changed the plan, Swinada had to decide what would stay with the truck here and what we would still need to take. I had to carry all of my junk now, as I would be splitting up with him at the rail bed access and not at the truck back in Vanderhoof.

It was pretty much supper time by the time we finished out lunch (which was amazing), but the strawberries and cake alone were worth the time we spent there. We said goodbye and were soon on the highway. It was great to be on the bike again. We dodged the weather all the way to Hazelton. Sometimes it was raining on both sides of us and sometimes the road was wet, but I don't think we took a drop. Didn't even get to use my new custom rain gear.

I missed the turn off to 2Trider's place, but once I got into the right neighborhood, I remembered where he lived. It was good to catch up. Swinada cooked up some sidekicks for us while we chatted and eventually we were smart enough to call it a day.

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4000km Cassiar/Spatsizi/Telegraph/Alcan fish and ride here
What you're Missing: a Guide to Side Trips off the Cassiar here
Canada's Best Kept Secret: 500 km from the nearest paved road here

Crooked Creek screwed with this post 08-08-2011 at 12:31 PM
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Old 08-07-2011, 10:30 PM   #38
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The Hazelton Shortcut - 100 km

Some guys love to ride, other live to ride. 2Trider is one of the latter. He moved up here from Ontario for the riding and spends many of his days on his bikes, whether it's blasting down forest service roads on his old DT200, single track on the KTM300 or climbing up into the snow on his trials machine.

Check out his youtube channel here.

The night before, as we chatted, he revealed that he had arranged for he and a friend to escort us down a series of forest service roads that cut the Kitwanga corner off the Cassiar. Sweet.

So in the morning, he ran over to his neighbors, grabbed some fresh eggs for breakfast (and by "fresh" I mean, he had to move the chickens to grab them ) which we fried up on the stove for a well-balanced meal. After our protein fest, it was time to load up the bikes.


I was ready for the rain this time ,



If you're between Prince Rupert and Smithers and you need roof/house washing or weed spraying, 2Trider is your man.


Pretty soon, his friend Warren showed up on his KTM 640 Adventure and off we went. Swinada and I were straggling on the gravel at first with out overloaded bikes. But they were gracious and made sure that they didn't lose us.

This is how 99.9% of people travel through this part of BC:


View Larger Map

This is how we would do it:


(Sorry, because Google can't calculate this route, it won't let me embed it. This is a screenshot.)

I'm not aware off any name for this route, so I'm calling it the Hazelton shortcut for obvious reasons. It cuts off about 25km from the highway, and on an unloaded bike you could actually save time on this pleasant gravel diversion.

2Trider may need to correct me on the route, but here's what I think I remember. From Hazelton, we crossed the Skeena and headed north on the Kispiox Valley road to the native settlement of Kispiox.

Quote:
Kispiox is a Gitxsan village of approximately 550 located at the confluence of the Kispiox and Skeena Rivers in British Columbia. Located 13 km north of Hazelton, the community is situated within the Kispiox Indian Reserve and is managed by the Kispiox Band Council. Kispiox is perhaps most known to outsiders for its totem poles, some of which were the subject of Emily Carr paintings in the early 20th Century. The Kispiox River has, in fact been host to two world-record steelhead catches; a 33 pounder and a 36 pounder. Ideally, Kispiox has remained a favoite tourist attraction for both its historical village and its superb fishing.
I'd love to have taken a shot at the steelhead there, but maybe next time. For a tiny village, the place was hopping. Turns out we were passing through in the middle of the 17th Annual Kispiox Valley Music Festival, which seemed like quite the party. We crossed the Kispiox River once at the townsite and a couple miles upstream again as we turned on the the Helen FSR. The second bridge was full of people jumping off, swimming and basking in the sunshine. They were visibly amused at the sight of four geared up dirt bikers heading up into the backcountry, especially Swinada and myself with our heavily laden steeds. The bridge was really narrow and packed with people, so Warren wisely resisted the urge to wheelie across the bridge lined with bikini clad festival goers, though he later wondered why .

The Helen FSR eventually led to the Mitten FSR, which took us the rest of the way. I would taken more pics, but I was having too much fun trying to keep up with 2Triders empty 2 stroke to stop. The riding was superb, narrow at times, but with a solid base and very few rocky sections. You could do this ride on a big GS anytime, though probably not as fast...

We past several little lakes on the way (Affleck Lake, Helen Lake, Mitten Lake) and eventually ended up here.



Now this I what I came for.









2Trider has the only one of these I have ever seen, but if I find one, I think I might buy it .



The bike is a quiet 195cc, 2 stroke, 6 speed factory dual sport. Not sure why they don't make these any more.

Probably as close a you can get now.




But to be fair to the newer Yamaha, I think I can carry more stuff .




Swinada checking the load.




I should have asked Warren about trying his bike. I have always wanted to try one of these and He seemed like the kind of guy who might have let me...




Yep, brought too much again. Handled just fine though. Except for the one time I almost went off the road coming into a corner too hot, but that was my fault. Bike brakes a little different loaded like this...




After a stop for water and pictures, we were back on bikes and soon we were back at the highway. If you're taking the shortcut coming down the Cassiar, this is where you'd turn off the slab.



Once we got on the highway, the tables were turned and now we were waiting on the other two.
__________________
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4000km Cassiar/Spatsizi/Telegraph/Alcan fish and ride here
What you're Missing: a Guide to Side Trips off the Cassiar here
Canada's Best Kept Secret: 500 km from the nearest paved road here

Crooked Creek screwed with this post 08-08-2011 at 12:39 PM
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Old 08-08-2011, 06:32 PM   #39
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Going to try that shortcut next trip out. Are we about to hear banjo music?
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Old 08-08-2011, 08:40 PM   #40
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Man who is the fat guy on the Green KLR?????
You never relize how overweight you are until you see some pictures of your self. :(
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Old 08-08-2011, 09:07 PM   #41
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"Once we got on the highway, the tables were turned and now we were waiting on the other two."

Hey I was not speeding....a steady 100kph ... plus road side fuel stop. If you wanted me to go faster I could've hauled out the KTM....and go bye bye


Amazes me more "Adventure" riders don't do the Mitten to the Helen or Kispiox FSR roads....so so so much nicer than pounding out all that slab
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Old 08-08-2011, 09:09 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swinada View Post
Man who is the fat guy on the Green KLR?????
You never relize how overweight you are until you see some pictures of your self. :(
The bike makes you look small....er

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Old 08-08-2011, 10:39 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swinada View Post
Man who is the fat guy on the Green KLR?????
2Trider and I can make anyone look fluffy in comparison.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2Trider View Post
"Once we got on the highway, the tables were turned and now we were waiting on the other two."

Hey I was not speeding....a steady 100kph ... plus road side fuel stop.
Well that fuel stop must have taken 20 minutes, cause I wasn't speeding. Much. I just don't slow down for the corners .
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What you're Missing: a Guide to Side Trips off the Cassiar here
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Old 08-08-2011, 11:32 PM   #44
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Cranberry Junction to Tatogga Lake - 317 km


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It's only about 80km from where the Mitten FSR pops out at the Cassiar Highway to Meziadin Junction. And from there only another 66.4 km to Hyder. In any other circumstances, I would have ran out to the Salmon Glacier, but Swinada and I were committed to tackling the rail bed and we wanted to make it to my campsite (from last year) on the Little Klappan River by nightfall.




So once our slow friends ( ) arrived, we thanked them again and bid them adieu. 2Trider and Warren did make the trek out the the glacier and were kind enough to record what we missed.




Just 2km from Bell II, Swinada ran out of fuel, confirming the WR250R as the fuel range champion. But we hadn't fueled up since Smithers, so considering its load and the pace I was setting, the KLR's performance what nothing to scoff about. And it was good to have an idea of our range before the Spatsizi.




One of my favorite things about riding in northern BC is the steel grate bridges. Lots of fun on knobbies .



Actually I don't really mind them. If it's not raining, I find that the faster you hit them the better. Don't fight it; just stay loose and let the front end follow the grooves.

While waiting for Swinada here at Bell II, I took some pics of this bluebird picking up a load.










Saw the first moose of the trip here.




Can't see it? Try 12x zoom.




With a little digital zoom (bringing it to 48x), you can see that there are actually two.




We didn't waste any time, though, and pretty soon we were in Tatogga Lake, filling up our jerry cans.
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What you're Missing: a Guide to Side Trips off the Cassiar here
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Old 08-09-2011, 07:42 AM   #45
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A video recap.
Up to the 1:32 mark is the run out the Mitten from Hazelton then the rest is a condensed version of Stewart and Hyder


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