Current News -We are writing this in the social area at Toad Rock motorcycle campground, it has been a great few days here. Good company and good times. Just finished our tour of Jasper and Banff National Parks, usually when people hype something up there is a big gap in the reality but we can honestly say the last two weeks have definitely been a highlight and we would thoroughly recommend a visit. From here our plans are still flexible Montana, Idaho, Utah or head west to travel the Oregon coast the weather will play a large part in our final plan.
Blog 266 Sea to Sky 4th – 7th June – 2013
We remained at Harri and Judy’s for a couple of days just tweaking and sorting a few things. They had to head off to Alberta soon and we needed to head north. The summer season is short up north and we had to cram in the vastness of British Columbia, the Yukon, Alaska and back before Autumn or Fall as they say out here.
We got a warm welcome back in Vancouver, Harri said the dogs had missed us. We even got to witness this amazing effect of the sun with a corona all around it. We did some research and discovered that halos around the sun and moon are caused by high cirrus clouds which contain tiny ice crystals which refract and reflect the light. Interestingly they appear slightly differently to each person that sees them depending on the angles to the sun.
Sadly the one thing we really wanted namely the replacement coil didn’t show up in time before we all had to leave Vancouver. Harri and Judy would not be returning for a couple of weeks so we poured over a map to find a town we could post it to. We didn’t have any friends or contacts in Yukon at this time so we had to ask Harri to send it to a post office for collection.
In most countries this is called post restante and it enables you to send mail ahead and collect it up to a month later. Kev checked Canada Post’s website they ran a similar service but you had to register in person at the post office you wanted to send too which defeats the object of sending it ahead. We wanted to ride a different way up and back, the only place we could visit twice on our route through Canada was Whitehorse.
The bike was running well and we were ready to go. We watched one last sunset from the balcony of Harri’s.
June 6th dawned sunny and hot, it was a late get away but we were rolling again, this time seemed different almost like Vancouver Island was a holiday and this was the real deal, back on the road again, no fixed plans beyond just head North.
Our chosen route out of Vancouver was the Sea to Sky highway from the sea in Vancouver to the ski fields of Whistler 130 kms away. It was a cracking twisty road which we enjoyed riding with some spectacular scenery thrown in.
We enjoyed walking round Whistler famous for holding the 2010 winter Olympics, a dream that the early pioneers had worked for since the 1960′s. The Olympic rings are a much photographed icon.
It is a ski resort first and foremost but in the summer the mountain bikers come to ride the mountains and make use of the ski lifts to get them to the top. Many mountain bikers were whistling down hill along the specially made trails.
We encountered these bikers out for a joy ride whilst we were stopped to view one of the many mirrored lakes. Log jams at the end of the lakes are common out here.
We followed the highway with spectacular vistas of snow-capped mountains until it was time to find our first real free camp in bear country. Next to a fast flowing river there were fire pits and evidence that others had camped there before. We were fairly high up at this point and being early in the year it was cold at night. Spring was very late coming this year and many places were still covered in snow in May so it was fortunate we were a bit later than planned.
While we were on Vancouver Island Kev had been in touch with the guys at http://www.titaniumgoat.com/ in Utah. They make lightweight back country camping equipment and we’d ordered one of their folding titanium wood burners for our tipi. This was the first time we had needed it, Kev put it together and fired it up in the tent just as it was getting dark and it was toasty warm in minutes. The stove and chimney are made of thick titanium foil, to assemble it you roll up the chimney lengthwise and slide on 6 wire clips.The body of the stove goes together in the same way with two titanium end plates one of which has a door you stoke it through. To pack it away you just roll it up width ways and the whole thing folds up to the size of a rolled up news paper. Our tipi has a flap to poke the chimney through already although Titaniumgoat supply some heatproof material to sew into a tent that doesn’t. It was great to be warm at the end of the day and this will extend our camping season, the other great thing is that we will be able to light the stove to dry the tent and our gear out if it gets wet. Karen was nervous about free camping in bear country and didn’t get much sleep, every cracking twig and noise made her jump but Kev slept okay.
The bears left us alone and after coffee and oatmeal for breakfast we got going stopping briefly in Seton to look at the dam before heading into Lillooet. We rode around town and stopped a few times to look at some of the sights including this historic house. Built in 1890 by Casper and Cherise Phair designed after her ancestral home in county Galway, Ireland. There is a huge lump of jade outside the house. British Columbia is the number one source of jade in the world today. The history of jade in Lillooet is from time immemorial. Jade is part of the geographical history of the region and can be found on the shores of the local rivers and in the surrounding mountains. Jade is found only in certain unique areas where the two rock formations shift, thereby allowing jade to surface from its source fifteen miles deep under the earths crust. Lillooet is lucky to be one such rare place.
After fuelling up we got going again on another stunning highway following the Fraser river with big vistas of mountains and valley, we stopped at Marble Canyon and Hat Creek ranch.
Later we stopped at Pavilion lake for lunch and got talking to Alligator Al who was there fishing in his boat. After a nice chat for 10 mins or so he said stay there I will get you a couple of trout that I caught this morning. Karen got talking to a passing touring cyclist while he was gone and he gave her a packet of sidekicks (pasta in sauce) from his saddlebags to go with it too. We felt guilty taking food from a cyclist but he insisted that it would go well with our trout. Talk about friendly people !!! Kev helped to fill his water bladder before he left.
Riding down the valley the mountains were lit in the sunlight bringing out the rust colours of the iron oxide in the rocks.
Further down the road we spotted signs to the Chasm which was worth the detour as you can see from these pictures.
We stopped at Mount Begbie to walk up to an old fire lookout sited at 1276 metres (4176 feet), at the top it had a spectacular views out across the Cariboo region almost 9 million hectares, there has been a fire lookout here since 1923.
Most of the campsites and pull outs have picnic tables and bear proof bins and as we were still new to the bear issue and we had yummy fresh trout for dinner to minimize attractive food smells for bears we decided to cook our trout here.
We arrived at the town of 100 Mile House so called because it was 100 miles from the start of the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek mile 0. There was a nice municipal campsite which was good value and having already eaten we took a short walk down to this waterfall in the same park.
After coffee and breakfast we bought some bear spray (pepper spray) and a bear banger in a sporting goods store in town. Robert on Vancouver Island had recommended a banger when he heard we would be bush camping sometimes, they are basically a blank 0.22 round which sparks more pyrotechnics to scare the bears off before they get too close.
After fueling up at 100 mile house we took some pictures of the last remaining original stagecoach no. 14 which used to service this route right up until 1917. The Barnard Express and Stage line traveled between Ashcroft and Prince George and a road house was built here at the hundred mile point to feed the travelers and change horses, the original building burnt down in 1937. The road houses eventually became settlements and in time small towns sprang up to service the stage and the rest is history.
Now it was time to point the bike north again.
Next up – 108 Mile House