A Tale of Mur­phy’s Law

4WDrive - - Contents - Words and pho­tos by Kristina Wheeler

We had 36-hours, five trucks and a lot of ground to cover; a few years back I’d made my first at­tempt at Molyb­den­ite Lake; a trip that went so spec­tac­u­larly well, in be­tween the snow and off-cam­ber slip­pery sec­tions, that I thought let’s try this again! Over the years, I’ve learned it’s im­por­tant to go back and re­visit the chal­lenges that al­most stopped your heart.

We headed up the canyon to­wards the Lyt­ton re­ac­tion ferry, our first stop be­ing for the leg­endary De­roche Beef Jerky! Re­ac­tion fer­ries are liv­ing proof that rudi­men­tary func­tion­al­ity is all that is gen­er­ally re­quired, and it is a quite of­ten a bet­ter re­turn on our in­vest­ment.

It turned out our tim­ing was im­pec­ca­ble, af­ter half of us crossed it was af­ter­noon cof­fee break for the ferry men, and I had a good chuckle wait­ing for the oth­ers. It was a re­minder that life and time work dif­fer­ently here, and you ap­pre­ci­ate it dif­fer­ently in th­ese re­mote lo­ca­tions.

The slower, more pic­turesque west side of the Fraser canyon pro­vides that “al­most home” feel­ing for me as wild horses greet me through my win­dow, ghosts of de­cay­ing struc­tures call my name, and time stops. We reached the Texas Creek for­est ser­vice road (FSR), turned off, and as we ap­proached the four-kilo­me­tre marker I got my first ever, flat tire while wheel­ing. As we stopped and swapped out my tire, I care­fully read the signs speak­ing about fines for en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age and

clo­sures dur­ing breed­ing sea­son.

We con­tin­ued along the FSR sur­rounded by pris­tine moun­tains, how­ever none of the area seemed fa­mil­iar. We ex­plored sev­eral of the side roads, and in the dis­tance, could see the moun­tains cas­cad­ing down into a val­ley, which I was cer­tain con­tained Molyb­den­ite Lake. Be­com­ing con­fused I pulled out the GPS to load fresh bat­ter­ies, at which point I re­al­ized the map chip was now likely float­ing around in the bot­tom of the Jeep. Tak­ing the lat­i­tude and lon­gi­tude, and com­par­ing it to the Back­roads Map­book, I re­al­ized we were some­what off.

We headed back tak­ing the cor­rect turn off to Molyb­den­ite Lake, with fur­ther ad­ven­tures in Mur­phy’s law oc­cur­ring. Shortly af­ter it be­came ap­par­ent that Adrian did not have 4WD, and was at­tempt­ing the climb in 2WD, so they at­tached a tow rope to bring him through the rock­ier sec­tions. As this com­edy of er­rors was en­su­ing, an­other one my tires seemed to be sink­ing below the low tire pres­sure that I’d nor­mally sug­gest on this run. I’ve trav­elled 150,000 km on dirt roads and never had a sin­gle tire is­sue. But to­day, I get two flat tires within an hour of each other. As we plugged my tire, the tell tale signs of over­heat­ing struck Shaun’s Jeep, so he had to leave it run­ning so the fans would keep work­ing – and it didn’t help that his e-brake wasn’t at its best when park­ing up­hill.

It was late and I made the ex­ec­u­tive de­ci­sion to cre­ate base camp for the night. It was ob­vi­ous that con­tin­u­ing to the lake would push our luck to an un­safe level. As I parked the Jeep, I could see that the patch job on my tire was fail­ing.

We started up the fire with the spare wood I car­ried, as it turns out the chain­saw I was given will need a bit of work be­fore it can be de­pended on. A few sto­ries were shared around the camp­fire, as peo­ple got to know each other, and then we re­tired un­der a per­fect star filled sky.

The next morn­ing, we got up to fin­ish the work we needed to con­tinue our trip. Shaun got his drone up and run­ning, how­ever in the at­tempt to charge the bat­ter­ies the in­verter had shorted out his

cig­a­rette lighter.

Work started on my tire, tak­ing it off its bead so Jody could patch up the side­wall, along with re-plug­ging the other punc­ture. We were then back on the trail, head­ing up a road where even rid­ing as a pas­sen­ger can raise your anx­i­ety level. Half way up, Jack’s rear track-bar bracket im­ploded, so Jody se­cured it by at­tach­ing ratchet straps to the var­i­ous tie points to al­low a safe jour­ney.

The rugged ar­eas of BC are breath­tak­ing, with nar­row roads, and small slides that in­crease the off-cam­ber sec­tions; the kind of roads that you can feel de­cay as you pass.

The road snaked along the moun­tain side, with the earth’s ore slid­ing onto the road­way in front of us. To our left we could see the rocks scat­ter­ing down the steep hill­side to the val­ley floor far below. As much as that makes your heart skip a beat, it is quickly off­set by the seren­ity of an ex­pe­ri­ence that mixes the child in your heart with the adult in your soul.

We slowly made our way to the lake, spots of snow still cling­ing to the walls of the sur­round­ing moun­tains. One I called the Spirit of Moly, as it re­sem­bled Casper the Ghost. Shaun brought out his drone, smil­ing like a kid in a candy shop.

I sat on the shore of the lake, my knees up to my chin, arms wrapped around them, feel­ing at peace; the drone passed over head, zip­ping along the moun­tain sides and river, head­ing out over the lake. It was time to head back. Shaun wanted the tail gun­ner spot so he could cap­ture some footage to put to­gether a video.

Back at base camp, we swapped out my Jeep’s tire, Jody then tack­led the next project; an on-the-trail weld­ing job! Bring­ing out two bat­ter­ies from the trucks, they were con­nected with jumper ca­bles. Adrian had a few weld­ing rods on him and I got a les­son on the sci­ence be­hind weld­ing. Sev­eral vari­a­tions in the set up were made to get the volt­age cor­rect, al­ter­nat­ing be­tween two and three bat­ter­ies. Af­ter some trial and er­ror, Jody was suc­cess­ful in get­ting a firm weld on Jack’s bracket.

In the mean­time, Jack re­al­ized he’d lost his phone where he’d stopped to recheck the ratchet straps. Shaun drove him back up, but over shoot­ing the lo­ca­tion, they ran back all the way back to the lake; luck­ily the phone was found un­harmed. We headed into Lil­looet, gassed up, grab­bing the ice cream re­quired at the end of any good ex­pe­di­tion; then it was time to make a bee line for home.

As we neared Lyt­ton, the very fa­mil­iar big horn sheep were at their five o’clock spot, I pulled over with Shaun to grab a few shots of them. As I en­tered town, I sighted the wav­ing metal gi­ant, faded by decades of ser­vice. He has faith­fully greeted me each time I’ve passed, and I re­al­ized at that mo­ment where home was; the open road amongst those who refuse to set­tle for com­fort.

For video of the trip please visit www.shot­byan­

Spe­cial Edi­tion 1

Fer­rily along.

The Mis­taken Moly.

4x4’s in a row.

0 PSI. Eter­nal H20.

Off Cam­ber Humps.

Moly’s Trio.

The beauty of Moly.

Weld­ing 101.

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