As day 2 of my ride came to a close, the sky was getting angry and it looked like a storm was brewing. After being told adamantly by the locals that it was going to storm overnight and into the next morning, I decided to get motel in Lillooet. Now Lillooet, isn’t much of a town. Main street consists of a bar, a couple of hotels and a gas station. It is quite the location as is sits in one of the driest and hottest locations in all of BC. The clouds pass over the high mountains, dumping very little precipitation. The area is also unique from a native history perspective. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places on the North American Continent. The confluence of the Fraser river and many major streams combined with the warm long growing season made it an ideal meeting place and residence for the indigenous people. In fact, in my visits there, I’ve encountered more 1st nations people than outsiders. In the summer months when I have passed through, it has always been hot.
|Native Fish Camp|
|West Pavillion Road... Heavenly Ride|
|Fraser River canyon is beautiful|
|Moran Canyon... The most dramatic section of the Fraser River|
The first sight I had was seeing a fishing camp along the Fraser. A narrow slot in the rapids of the Fraser are choice for native dip netting. The salmon were running and I was told that the bears were out in force. I would see 6 bears this day. The road quickly climbed up in elevation and soon I was high above the river valley. The photos look as if I was in a helicopter floating over the canyon. It was quite a sight. In fact the entire road to Big Bar Ferry was a sight to behold. It provided dramatic vistas at nearly every corner. During the course of my travel here, the road dipped in and out of the forest where I would intermittently see open range cattle, bears and Ptarmigan. Once I arrived at the road to drop down to the Big Bar Ferry, there was dramatic shift in grade.
|Remote desert in British Columbia?!?!|
|Descending to the Big Bar Ferry|
|I feel like a modern day explorer|
|Surreal beauty and loneliness|
|The land tells a geological story|
|Basalt lava is exposed|
|Bassalt and sandstone|
I believe one sign stated a 14% grade, but I swear it was much worse in many sports, perhaps up to 20% or more. As I descended into the river canyon, the trees gave way to sage brush and the road… ah yes, the road turned into a horrible mess. At times I was nearly axel deep in sand. Not just ordinary sand. This stuff was like fine talcum powder. I nearly dumped my big GS a couple of times. I must have been a sight to see as I had my legs out like training wheels to keep the bike upright. Because the grade was steep, I could not alleviate the load off the front wheels. I would encounter vehicle tracks and they would pull me in every direction and I had to pay strict attention to keep upright. Thankfully this lasted only a couple of miles until I came to the loading ramp of the ferry. Man, I was dripping with sweat and the temperature must have gone up another 10 degrees. It is really different world in the deep canyon. Much more arid sage brush down there.
|Waiting for the Ferry|
|Cool Ferry ride|
The Big Bar Ferry is interesting in that is a “reaction” ferry, powered by water current. It is connected to a cable spanning the river and propelled by angling rudders to drive the ferry across. Once across, the road leads up to Big Bar Ranch and Jesmond. My destination was to go beyond there and out past Gang Ranch and head over to the Nemiah Valley.
|Looking back at the escarpment I came down|
After much anticipation of more sandy roads on the east side of the Fraser river, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of sand and the firmness of the road there. It also helped that the road wasn’t quite as steep. I was having fun again and versus the terrifying death grip I had on my handle bars on the other west side.
|My route takes me up into the plateau and out of the sage into trees|
|It was here where a bear came sneaking up behind me|
|Approaching Churn Creek Provincial Park|
|Riding parallel to the Fraser River Canyon|
|The land gives hints about massive flooding|
|Crossing the Fraser River (looking north)|
|Looking south as I cross the Fraser|
|Water carve sandstone walls deep in the canyon|
|I almost camped here beside Churn Creek|
From there I rode over toward Canoe Creek and encountered yet another bear. This time, I could see the bear in the distance ambling down the road long before it noticed me. I stopped to get my camera and proceeded slowly forward. The bear heard my engine and crossed the road to my right and paused briefly, looking at me. It then disappeared into the brush and all I could see was its haunches as it casually walked away from me. Soon after I was running parallel to the Fraser River near the Churn Creek Protected area. The area is a mix of dry arid canyon land that dips off the edge of the Chilcotin Plateau grasslands. It is a fantastically beautiful country with grand vistas, colored rock mixed with golden grasslands and green trees. I crossed a metal grate suspension bridge and then made my way up to Gang Ranch. It was now late afternoon/early evening. I stopped in for a soda at the general store which also serves as a post office. I checked to see if there as camping and was told no. So off I went hoping to make it out to Fletcher Lake before it got too late in the evening. By this time, the sky was beginning to thicken with dark sinister clouds. Another storm was brewing.
|Arrival at Gang Ranch|
|It is a beautiful ranch|
|Post office and General Store|
|Grasslands around the Gang Ranch|
|Arrival at Big Creek Junction|
|A pay phone out here? It works... I made a call home|
|View from my camp|
|Loons keep me company and other waterfowl sing while I have dinner|
|One final look at the sun before it disappeared|
|My last sight of the lake before I turn in for the night.. Priceless!!|