West Coast G-amboree 2006 Recce
Thursday May 18th through to the 22nd
This is our annual test trip to make sure we have a route for the G-amboree that is workable for all the vehicles that will be attending.
May 18th, Surrey - Alice Lake
Left town late rushed to get into a campground before things were locked up for the night. We filled up in Squamish and saw a little black bear on the drive in to Alice lake. Pretty much the whole campground was reserved but fortunately for us it didn't matter since we were leaving in the morning.
May 19th, Alice Lake - Pemberton - Hurley
Topped up gas and filled the jerry cans in Pemberton. We then bought some ice cream and carried on over the Hurley Pass. Once we were on the Hurley I dropped about 10psi out of all the tires and we had some snacks. The road was officially opened for the year the previous day but it was pretty clear that it had been plowed and active for a while.
May 19th, Hurley - Braylorne - Gold Bridge
Braylorne is a semi active mining town, with the atco shelters to prove it. I have read that the main reason people stop around Gold Bridge/Braylorne is to read the sign above, I am dubious about the value of doing this...
Whilst driving around, we found a rather complete lack of bridge to the Pioneer mine (see picture), a museum that couldn't quite decide if it was open (it would have been really open the next day), some reasonable camp spots at Sucker Lake and gas that was only trivially more expensive than in Pemberton. We also ran into some more bears whilst driving around the area.
May 19th, Gold Bridge - Gun Lake - Carpenter Lake
We drove around Gun Lake to have a look around and see the non-recommended Forestry camp site (we concurred) and took the back way down through to Carpenter Lake. Both Downtown and Carpenter lakes were very low as you can see. This appears to be rapidly correcting itself to the tune of about half a meter a day as I write this. If so inclined you can read all about the Lajoie Dam (see picture) and the lakes here. We camped at a very nice Hydro campsite right on Carpenter Lake.
May 20th, Playing around the old Minto townsite
A quick walk from the Gun creek campground is the townsite of Minto, this was a gold mining town up until it was flooded out which it appears to have occurred before the dam went in.
May 20th, Tyaughton Lake Rd - Mud Creek Rd - Mud Lakes
There appear to be about three separate Forest Service campgounds around the Mud Lakes which are considerably nicer than the name implies. Depending on your point of view the lake were very high, or the road was very low in spots. On the shady side the lake still had a good covering of ice which is not too unexpected since we were over 1800m.
May 21st, Mud Lake - Swartz (Fish) Lake - Mud Lake
We decided to try to push through to Swartz Lake despite the rather less hospitable road, If we had done this yesterday we would have been the first people to attempt it this year. The road takes you briefly along a stream bed and then up quite high over Swartz lake. As we decended the other side we reached a steep downhill off camber section that leaned heavily into the hillside and had a fairly deep diagonal notch washed out of it in the middle. For me to feel even slightly comfortable doing this I felt we would have to do a bit of digging and at the very least pull 60kg or so of stuff off the roof. Since the fellow at the gas station mentioned that the next bit of road was very likely deep under water, Bini was sent ahead on foot whilst the kids napped. The picture of the beaver dam was taken from the road, since we genenerally have ML's going on the gamboree and pretty much everything past Mud Lake was ML proof we decided that discretion was indeed the better part of valour and decided to do a 10-point turn and go back the way we came, doubley so since we were soloing it and if we sunk the truck and couldn't self rescue, it was a very long walk back to anything.
On the way back we tried to take a lower road that skirted the first Mud Lake, this proved to be more suitable for a submarine than a car. We briefly tried to climb up a spur (that wouldn't have reconnected the the main road anyway, we found out later) but the combination of snow, side angle and the disconcerting blubing sound coming from our under water exhaust caused us to re-examine our choice and just back up a bit until we could turn around, this was another place where a minute or two shifing snow with the shovel would have allowed us to carry on although only to a campsite just out of site. Of course the shovel is under everything and I'm lazy and there was a perfectly good road just a half a kilometer behind me...
May 21th, Mud Lake - Mud Creek FSR - Marshall Lake Rd
Not to much to say about this bit other than, what is so special about Marshall lake? Suddenly as we arrived at the lake, the road transitioned from a 1.5 lane normal logging road to a behemoth four or more lanes wide.
May 21th, Marshall Lake Rd - Carpenter Lake Rd - Yalakom FSR - Lake la Mare
The scenery along the Carpenter Lake Road is spectacular and the road is pretty much all nice and paved to boot. Deep gorges, steep avalanche chutes, strange geological formations, and interesting hydro workings all attract your attention as you drive along. Lake la Mare is a nice little lake with a few campsite around its circumference.
May 22th, Lake la Mare - Yalakom FSR
We obviously woke up too early for me since I proceed to drive back to where we crossed the Yalakom which is also a nice spot to camp by the by, which is completely the wrong direction. The kids were quite excited to ride the cable car across the river but the rope that allows you to pull the cable car back to the platform was somewhat missing, We didn't bring any climbing gear so I wasn't willing to retreive the car from the middle of the river.
After we explored the Yalakom river campground a bit I sheepishly turned around and headed by the turn-off for lake la Mare again. Beaver Dam rec site looks quite nice but as we drove around we couldn't help but notice that the stream had overflowed its banks and left just about the whole campground with a thin veneer water over the grass.
May 22th, Yalakom FSR - Poison Mountain Area
We were thinking of taking the road to the Big Bar ferry that bears off to the east once you reach Poison mountain. This seemed to be a brilliant plan except that we were just about out of gas in the main tank (we still had the jerrys on the roof) and we didn't really know if the ferry would be running. We drove straight past the road we wanted, it starts with a longish but shallow looking stream ford and we just drove over the nice big bridge. After driving over the bridge we were on the wrong side of the valley but on a fairly nice road. As we drove along, it became increasingly obvious that we were the first people that went this way in a bit. I had to cut the ends off a couple of blown down trees to get by one spot and then a bit further on we ran into some deeper snow drifts, since at this point it was clear to me that we were on the wrong side of the valley, I took off on foot for a little bit rather than brave the drifts. I didn't go far enough along to know if the road would circle around the end of the valley or not, just far enough to see the road we wanted climbing up the other side and lots more deep snow drifts. I was deeply suspicious that the road was just going to stop dead in another couple of kilometers because we were skirting the lower edge of a recently replanted clear cut and I kindof figured at the end of the cut we would find the end of the road.
Since as has already been established, I'm a big chicken, we turned around, almost immediately after turning around we saw the proper road further back along the valley presenting the most percarious angle to our view. We continued along, and explored around Poison mountain a little bit more and dumped one of the jerry cans into the tank. As we drove back we could see that it is entirely possible to drive right to the top of Poison Mountian which we immediately pencilled in as a worthy goal for the G-amboree.
May 22th, Yalakom FSR - Poison Mountain Area - Carpenter Lake Rd - Lillooet - Duffey Lake Road ... Home
Lots to see but an otherwise uneventful trip back. We were planning to stay in the Hydro campground outside of Lillooet but after dinner at A&W (not much that didn't look to be a bar open after 7 or so) it seemed a bit late to bother setting up camp so we just tore straight home.