- Words and pho­tos by Kristina Wheeler United States Forest Service · Lillooet

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.

 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Hid­den Trails
Hid­den Trails
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? High­way to Heaven.
High­way to Heaven.
 ??  ?? Iconic mileage marker.
Iconic mileage marker.
 ??  ?? Swartz – Mud Lakes.
Swartz – Mud Lakes.
 ??  ?? Hang­ing at Minto.
Hang­ing at Minto.
 ??  ?? Bridge­less cross­ings.
Bridge­less cross­ings.
 ??  ?? The fun be­gins..
The fun be­gins..
 ??  ?? Re­mains of the past.
Re­mains of the past.
 ??  ?? Skookum­chuck set­tled.
Skookum­chuck set­tled.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada