5 DAYS IN A MOG: PART 3
EXPLORING IN TRUE OVERLAND STYLE
We were now starting Day Four at Gaspard Lake.
Waking up in the tent, I crawled out before our group (aka “the Tribe”) woke up and made a cup of tea. Life never feels more peaceful than when viewing a lake covered in early morning mist. The algae of the lake in full bloom, and the beach covered in hundreds of itty-bitty baby frogs, turned this into a true wonderland where I felt like Alice in search of her Mad Hatter. Sadly, it was time for the guys and I to pack. I’m never one to stay in the same place for very long, yet this is one place that my mind returns to again and again and feels like home.
I tossed my gear in the back of Heavy, then took my seat as co-pilot and we traversed back through the marshes and meadows to the dead man’s lean-to. Here we connected with the main line of paved Forest Service Roads (FSR’s) in the area that would allow us to power through some kilometres with greater speed (well as much speed as Heavy could manage). We stopped, pulling out the Backroads Map Books and my GPS to forecast which trails could successfully help us find our way through to the Poison Mountain area.
After powering through for a few hours we came to one of the most iconic middle of nowhere signs in BC. Standing in front of the words Poison Mt, Big Bar Ferry, Lillooet and Gold Bridge always makes me smirk, never more so in a Unimog. Normally it’s the lack of gas that keeps me from going deeper into the rugged terrain, but with a Unimog that’s not an issue. It truly hit home just how much more appropriate Unimogs, and these types of well-outfitted trucks are than my Jeep for long overland
Those of us in Heavy started down the washed out, switchback, off camber traverse to Mud Lake. Having previously travelled these routes solo, I now realize how crazy I am to do them on my own in the Jeep. However, sitting in the back of Heavy going down, brought a whole new feeling to this section. Oddly, I have never felt safer, yet more at risk of rolling or sliding sideways than ever before.
After reaching the bottom, the rest of the Tribe continued in front of us along the well-known trails between here and Swartz & Mud Lakes. The trails are beautiful, slightly off camber, not enough to scare you, but enough to make it fun, and they traverse through some of the most beautiful terrain in BC. We approached Swartz Lake, and stopped to have lunch, while a few of the guys grabbed their poles to try their luck in the lake. Unfortunately, unlike Gaspard Lake,
there wasn’t anything that was biting on their lines. I took the opportunity to lie back in the tall summer grass and close my eyes, taking in the sounds of the crickets chirping, and letting the butterflies land on me.
Pat decided he wanted to take the lead from here, luckily there were radios, and I talked him through the turns and routes to take us to Carpenter Lake. In general, it worked fairly well, but when someone is a few kilometres ahead and you don’t know exactly where they are, it can be a bit challenging. It truly highlights the importance of having a radio when travelling in a group.
As we reached Carpenter Lake, we sought out one of the must see spots for a few of the guys - the long abandoned Minto Mine. I’ve always enjoyed walking through mines, but they do have their dangers. If you do decide to venture
in, please take the proper precautions. We spent about an hour walking through the caves, before continuing down Carpenter Lake; here the tides of fortune began to change. We found Graham pulled over to the side of the road. Stopping, Shawn did what the Tribe has come to depend on him to do, be a mechanic. He climbed under the vehicle and managed to MacGyver it into running shape once again. However, it would be the end of the trip for them as they headed to Lillooet for parts. The remainder of us continued on up and over the Shalath Road towards Seton Portage. Along it, near a small spring waterfall, there is a memorial that has been dedicated to Boom Chain.
We found our way into town, passing the hydro substations, stopping at one of the local stores to grab a few things. Seton Portage has a few interesting sights that I will return to explore one day. Travelling over the mesmerizing Highline Road, Travis oddly got a flat in one of his new Duratrax.
We reached D’Arcy, and everyone gassed up, while I grabbed the one thing that every road trip needs – ice cream! Our next stop was to be Skookumchuk Hot Springs, and tonight was a special night, as it was the one-year anniversary of when the Tribe and I met. They towed me out of Hale with Heavy when the clip broke in my rear yoke, and my winch caught on fire.
The next morning after breakfast, we packed up and continued down the West Harrison FSR. I had one last spot that I wanted to show the guys, and that is the abandoned logging camp near the 50 km marker. There is something special about this place with its private cove, the lake lapping at the shores, and the ghostly structures. Most of the decaying buildings have fallen down, but it is a gorgeous camping location.
As we neared the Sasquatch Inn, and the trip was coming to a close, I knew life would never be the same. I had tried multi-day overlanding in a whole new style; one that created a craving for more. I know many who would find the travel too utilitarian, but for me it fit just right.
Highway to Heaven.
Iconic mileage marker.
Swartz – Mud Lakes.
Hanging at Minto.
The fun begins..
Remains of the past.