4WDrive

BRALORNE BOUND

One of the 7 Won­ders of BC

- Camping · Travel · Outdoor Hobbies · Hobbies · Pemberton, MN · British Columbia

Bralorne, an area that rolls off the tongue of any knowl­edge­able ex­plorer of BC back roads, is a must see des­ti­na­tion. How­ever lit­tle is usu­ally men­tioned of the hid­den gems you will find along the way. It was May Long week­end, and I had a dream des­ti­na­tion, one that had been on my list for years.

I left the lower main­land Satur­day morn­ing head­ing up the 180 km of the beau­ti­ful West Har­ri­son FSR; this route is a great be­gin­ner off-road ex­plo­ration op­por­tu­nity. Noth­ing too chal­leng­ing, how­ever it will leave you breath­less with mes­mer­iz­ing wa­ter­falls, hid­den coves off trails along the lake, and the vast beauty of the moun­tains that em­brace the wa­ters. Af­ter a leisurely drive, and tak­ing a few hun­dred pic­tures, I was near­ing the Pem­ber­ton area as the sun was start­ing to set.

The Hur­ley wasn’t open for the sea­son, so I found a quiet camp­ing spot a bit off the main road. The next morn­ing I en­joyed spec­tac­u­lar moun­tain views as I drove one of my favourite paved scenic routes, the Duffy Road to Lil­looet. I made my way to Horse­shoe Canyon, stop­ping to grab a few geo­caches along the way,

The Horse­shoe Canyon could eas­ily be one of the 7 Won­ders of Bri­tish Columbia, there is noth­ing more calm­ing then sit­ting on the edge of the precipice, look­ing down at the sandy cliffs that hold you up, and gaz­ing over at the walls of the canyon sur­round­ing you. Vis­i­ble lay­ers show the pas­sage of time, dis­play­ing BC’s ge­o­log­i­cal past in a sin­gle glimpse.

The pri­mary road from Lil­looet to Bralorne is a scenic route that of­fers a unique half pave­ment, half off-road ex­pe­ri­ence where you can see the rav­ages of past for­est fires, the cul­ture of the abo­rig­i­nal peo­ples, with the op­tion to ex­plore many tougher side roads and off­shoots lead­ing to amaz­ing vis­tas with a lit­tle bit of low-range use.

Along the Car­pen­ter Lake road, you have the op­por­tu­nity to visit the his­toric sites that still re­main since the flood­ing from the dam, in­clud­ing Minto Mine, lo­cated at the well-marked camp­site on what used to be the town of Minto. I don’t rec­om­mend ex­plo­ration of aban­doned mines, how­ever I could not re­sist grab­bing

a head­lamp and tak­ing a quick glimpse.

The growths on the ceil­ings and walls were mes­mer­iz­ing, and the colours that I could see through the head­lamp were beau­ti­ful shades of red, and pearles­cent white. Rem­nants of the work­ing mine could still be seen in the lit­tle signs hang­ing along the walls, the metal spikes, and the wires run­ning along the ceil­ings. I turned a corner and saw the wooden struc­tures that still re­mained. Sev­eral chutes branched off, along with a larger cen­tral room that had a rather large hole in the mid­dle of it, along with what ap­peared to be drop-in ramps for the carts.

I closed my eyes for a mo­ment, and could hear echoes of the men that had worked here decades ago. I could hear their laughs as they made their way through the day, and their frus­trated grum­blings when things didn’t work, and feel their pain as they were in­jured from the carts slam­ming fin­gers. It was time to go, I could smell a whiff of air that wasn’t quite right, and knew that I’d re­turn an­other day to ex­plore more.

Next up was Gold­bridge and Bralorne. When you first come into the town, there is a lit­tle side road to the right, which will lead you to the mag­i­cal Will Hayl­more Her­itage site. You can ex­plore the site, step into the build­ings, and see the pieces of ma­chin­ery that still lit­ter the grounds. It’s a great in­tro­duc­tion to what you can ex­pect as you head fur­ther into town and out­ly­ing ar­eas.

On your way you’ll pass by “The Model Bak­ery”, which put out 6,000 loaves per week at one time. A lit­tle fur­ther on are a few busi­nesses that re­main run­ning and aban­doned cars that will bring a smile to your face. Then, like an episode out of the twi­light zone where time has stopped, you’ll see the rows of neat tidy houses, which have stood va­cant for years.

A short jaunt up the road, an un­ex­pected af­ter­noon of ad­ven­ture, ex­plor­ing and won­der await. Your next stop is the Pi­o­neer Mine and the town built for those who pulled gold out of the moun­tain. This his­toric area was one of the most im­por­tant gold mines in B.C. for most of the 20th cen­tury. As you crest the hill, you can see a de­cay­ing struc­ture to

the left on a hill­side, mak­ing you won­der which will give way first. To the right of you is a me­chan­i­cal grave­yard, which will make any pho­tog­ra­pher feel like a kid in a candy store.

Among the gears, dis­carded wires, and wood splin­tered by rusty bolts, you can hear the mur­murs of aban­doned dreams. You can stand in the dy­na­mite room, a few root cel­lars, and the re­mains of the bridge where ve­hi­cles once crossed.

A lit­tle fur­ther up the hill (which can be ac­cessed ei­ther by hik­ing, or di­rectly by road if you go back into town and take a side route) you will find an­other hid­den gem. The homes of “Pi­o­neer Town” are start­ing to lose the war with Mother Na­ture. You can still find a light­bulb in a socket, and un­der the floor joists, plumb­ing lines that brought all the mod­ern con­ve­niences to this now deso­late lo­cale. I was amazed at how well pre­served some ob­jects were, stand­ing along side items rav­aged by the pass­ing of time.

It was near­ing dark and time to head to the Yalokum River Recre­ation Site, how­ever I made one last stop at the house of ill re­pute. It re­ally hits you when you’re stand­ing in arch­ways of the abodes of our an­ces­tors how dif­fer­ent life was, in a way that you can’t com­pre­hend un­til you are sur­rounded by the ghosts of the past. I had at­tempted, but failed, to find the old RCMP de­tach­ment I’d heard ru­mour of. So many places up here that I still need to ex­plore, an area that will keep me en­ter­tained for years to come.

 ?? Words and pho­tos by Kristina Wheeler ??
Words and pho­tos by Kristina Wheeler
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? The Horse­shoe Canyon could be one of the 7 Won­ders of Bri­tish Columbia. An old pickup truck left to the rav­ages of time.
The Horse­shoe Canyon could be one of the 7 Won­ders of Bri­tish Columbia. An old pickup truck left to the rav­ages of time.
 ??  ?? The house of ill re­pute at Yalokum River. Spe­cial Edi­tion 1
The house of ill re­pute at Yalokum River. Spe­cial Edi­tion 1
 ??  ?? De­posits in­side the old Minto Mine.
De­posits in­side the old Minto Mine.
 ??  ?? The Model Bak­ery in Bralorne.
The Model Bak­ery in Bralorne.

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