West Coast G-amboree 2005
Friday July 29th through to August 1st
9:15 Ball family departs Surrey for Langley: Chris & Bini, Angus (3) and Erin (1).
10:00 meet Barbara and Jim in Langley, Jim brings the Lexus, "I don't need the aircon but I'm doing it for the wife"
Fill up at 80.9 at the Mohawk
12:00 Arrive at Harrison Lake The road seems a bit more rough than in May possibly due to the heavy rains in June.
2:00 Stop for lunch at the beach by Big Silver Creek. The beach is empty and the water is warm. The kids immediately want to jump in and play. We have a quick lunch and get to talk to Jim & Barb a bit more.
3:15 Hit the road again.
3:30 Turn off to Clear Creek, this trip we see alot more wildlife but alas no bears.
4:00 Arrive at the hot springs, nobody here but us and the big bugs, the water level is low and the hot tubs have been recently cleaned. We get to use the new jerry cans and roof-rack from Hannibal. With extra water & fuel, there is less concern about being careful.
Quiet evening with some hottubbing and dinner, woke up briefly during the night as people were driving around.
SaturdayWake up to find Kris and Sonja who have arrived from Germany on vacation for three weeks. The were sleeping in their rented GMC Envoy because they drove in after dark and saw a bear in the road and between nervousness about the bears and the dark hampering their ability to see the camp decided the car was the best place to stay. They had actually managed to park within a couple hundred yards of the hot springs, very good navigation considering the unfamiliar terrain, sketchy directions and complete darkness.
10:00 Finished breaking camp and drove on to the washout that spells the end of the Clear Creek FSR. With some dedication, a cat D-9 and some dynamite this road may or may not continue on to the Fraser River. One map shows to roads almost but not quite meeting in a valley not far past the point where the road is thoroughly washed away.
10:45 Pass by the camp site on the way back from the washout.
Slow trip back to the Clear Creek Junction as we managed to get behind a two wheel drive pickup tentatively picking its way back to the road.
11:30 Arrive at the junction and wait for Charles, Mako, Rob and Kim. Unfortunately they had driven past the junction and were waiting for us further down the road. We eat some watermelon, drive about in the giant sand pile and talk. Charles arrives after realizing that they had perhaps drove too far.
12:30 Start heading away again. Meet up with Kim and Rob. We stopped at a couple of the bridges to look at the views down the river. Bini finds some berries. They could be wild blueberries but they were definitely not poisonous. Next time we may bring the Audubon books.
2:00 Stop for lunch at Spade Creek, the bridge is in better repair than earlier in the year including a new sign mentioning that the bridge is out. The end of the bridge had washed away and the makeshift ramp up to the bridge deck was steep and had a fairly sharp break-over angle at the top. No problem and I was somewhat relieved as I figured for sure we would be lifting the ML over the sharp angle at the top. The bridge repairs included someone's chevy pickup tailgate.
We had a nice leisurely lunch and swam for a bit in the smooth rock slides that were worn in the creek bed.
3:00 Back on the road, drove past active (during the week) logging, made lots stops to keep the group together. Saw some smoke from a distant forest fire. We also drove through a small burnt out area that we didn't remember from the May trip.
4:30 Descend down into the Nahatlatch valley. Burned rubber through to the campground at Kwoiek Creek.
Made camp and were stalked by a doe for a while, she appeared to have a fawn hidden away in the bushes nearby. this camp is has wonderful amenities: huge rock slab table for cooking on, massive rock fireplace with wind break, and a cool but clean lake to swim in. We met up with some other folks who were down from Surrey and they talked about the area's history a bit. With a wonderful skyscape, you could watch the planes fly towards Vancouver, see the stars, comets, and satellites zooming overhead. The bugs were really bad here and poor Angus seemed more bitten alive than anyone.
10:00 Charles & Mako had a wonderful announcement for us this morning. They were officially engaged. It explains why they were the last ones out of the tent. We noticed then that the gwagon had gone flat overnight. ...barbed wire... after swapping our spare in -we headed out. This would be base camp so we left all our gear.
10:40 Jim & Barb had to return to the city, so we said goodbye to them at the Kwoiek Creek junction. With Charles, Mako, Kim, Rob, Kris, Sonja, and the Balls - we head up the west side of the Fraser to Lytton.
Drive along some fairly exposed sections of road and through a largish burned out area.
Grab the ferry across to Lytton and say goodbye to Kris and Sonja who are heading off on their journey and doing some river rafting. It was great to meet them and have them along the way. Don't really know what happened when they brought their rental truck back - but im sure it was worth the trip.
We then drove down to Boston Bar on the highway and cut over to North Bend.
We had heard from a friend about a Geocache and it was in the area so we thought we would give it a try. The road was fairly steep but otherwise an easy drive. There were quite a few winding spots and we were glad we had the new Garmin GPS with the topo maps built in to keep us on track. We had to stop the G (and sometimes the truck stopped us) to let her cool down, 1400 meters elevation was being gained in a pretty sustained way, but it seemed like it was a good time for lunch until we left the car. Thats when these enormous black monster flies began to rip our flesh off. It was wretched - it was too hot in the car (no aircon) and the flies were wicked out of the car. Needless to say, we didnt eat much or stay long. We considered hunkering in the ML but we werent going to show the Godwin's that we were pansies. Rob & Kim had a blessed moment when they opened up one of their coolers and had cold water to guzzle.
The road then narrows considerably and continues up to the lookout. The road narrowed enough that we had to make some multi-point turns to get around a couple of the switchbacks. From the heli-pad by the forest service lookout we could see a long ways back along the Kookipi FSR back towards Shovel Creek.
We found the geo-cache, signed the book and Angus left a small dinosaur behind. This was a particularity difficult picture to take as it involved standing dead still for the 30 secs for my nikon to take the picture adding at least an extra 5 bites to the collection.
As we headed back to Kwoiek Lake to camp I went over a bump and our two water jerry cans went arcing over the windshield to hit once on the hood and continue another 15 feet down the road. It turns out that the suspiciously wimpy latches on the Hannibal jerry can holders were more than just suspiciously wimpy. The steel jerry cans were pretty dented but still nice and water tight.
We got back to base camp and everyone was hot and dusty. Whilst the lake was cold for most (Bini is apparently a polar bear), it did keep the bugs off us a bit. We settled in to the evening's routine: the family (us) with children were running back and forth feeding, cleaning, changing, chasing, and grabbing small bites in between. The two families without children were sitting, talking, drinking wine and having some fancy cooked meal. We managed to get the kids to sleep pretty quick (all the adults were apparently listening to the bed-time story) and then we strung up our Stroll-Lights on the tent, talked and watched the night sky.
Our last day, Charles had some trouble with his front end on the ML (plastic skirting trying to escape) but it was quickly resolved and we packed up camp and headed down the trail. We were always lucky to be the lead car on most of the drive but this time - we had to eat the dust of the cars in front. Even with the windows up and the vents closed - the dust filled the car like a thick fog. The kids must have been blowing their noses for a week afterwards! We drove home south on the highway through Boston Bar, Hope and then along Highway 7 back to the city.
Looking forward to planning the next trip (and getting the details up sooner). If you want to join our 2006 Gwagon trip or Recce trip - email us. We are still looking for ideas on where to head this summer.
Lots more pictures