RubiKon Adventures

Tales and travels of "GrizzLee", "Looksha Lori" & "Yukon Johann"

Monday, December 19, 2016

Part 1: Tales & Trails of the Chilcotin, Bella Coola and Beyond

Before I begin, I must preface this with the fact that British Columbia has received and incredible amount of rain this past summer. The area I was heading into, known as the Chilcotin Plateau, is usually arid and dry for most of the summer as it is located in the rain shadow of the coastal mountains. But not this year. As such, all my attempts to ride into this area this year were stifled by rain. Wet roads and mud, not a usually a problem, but, out in the Chilcotin country, the roads are entirely dirt, with the exception of hwy 20 between Williams Lake and Bella Coola… and even then it is a mixture of chip seal, gravel and asphalt. For those who have never ridden out in the Chilcotin country it can be hard to understand, but trust me, I can attest first hand that the mud out there is no ordinary affair. I have ridden the rain soaked calcium chloride laced roads of the north and yes that is an experience best described at riding on a tiled floor smeared with Vaseline. In the Chilcotin, it can be an entirely different experience. So much so, that even the local natives have advised not to drive them in rain, even in 4x4s, as one is very likely to end up stuck in a ditch... or worse yet, a steep ravine, hidden away form the road, in country that is sparsely traveled at times.

My Actual Route

So my planning for my annual fall trip was a bit dicey this year. I usually leave the weekend of Labor Day for 9-12 days of solo travel in central BC. The reasons for doing so are simple to understand. The summer crowds are long gone and the fall colors are beginning to settle in and the Salmon are running. So there is a really good chance to see some Bears. Labor Day came and went and the weather was still pretty bad up that way.  I found myself still sitting at home wondering if I’d get to go this year at all. After much angst from the weather the time had come to finally leave. It was mid September and the window of opportunity was closing fast. Leaving much later than this, meant encountering possible snow and cold weather and the uncertainties that the fall shoulder season can bring with it.
My annual pilgrimage begin at my home in Snohomish Washington. I packed my trusty steed, a R1200 GSA, that I affectionately call Gretchen. Gretchen now sports over 83K miles. She still runs like a clock.

Having packed my bike the week before, I was eager to start. The forecast for the Chilcotin Plateau looked spectacular. In fact, it looked even better than any other window of opportunity I had the entire summer. The only hiccup was that it was supposed to rain Saturday, the day I was leaving. No problem, I made reservations for Sunday night at the Bella Coola Inn. This meant that I couldn’t “dawdle” along the way like I usually do.
I usually plan a route that avoids as much pavement as possible, but having a timed destination meant less dirt and more slab.
Snohomish-to-the Canadian Border

I left my home sometime between 5:00 am and 6:00 am Saturday morning. It was a bit chilly and misty… near rain-like conditions. Just enough cold wetness to make it so that your windscreen fogs up every 10 miles and the wetness gradually makes it way into you final under layers… leaving with that soaked and cold feeling.. i.e, no different than if you had ridden in the rain.

After crossing the US-Canadian border on Hwy 9 at Sumas, the weather began to improve gradually as I headed over toward Harrison Mills.

I stopped for “brunch” in Hope and drank a couple of cups of coffee to get me going again. Also took the opportunity to dry my gear. The sun was finally out and I was ready to head up Canadian Hwy 1  to Boston Bar.

Border to Boston Bar

I wanted to ride the dirt from Boston Bar out to Nicomen village which would take me out to a high pass above the Thompson River with spectacular views of the river valley below. Unfortunately, my map and GPS took me over to a road that veered quite a bit away from my route. I was lost. Fortunately for me, I ran into a couple cutting firewood who set me straight. I was on a road that would eventually take me over to Merrit, BC. A place much, much farther east. A wonderful ride for sure, but not the direction I needed to go. So with an hour or so of lost ground I finally found the correct road… Ansile Rd N… which is north of Ansile Creek.. Duh!! This was where I needed to be. For future reference, if you go to Blue Lake Resort, you’ve gone too far north. Don’t ask me how I know. Lets’ just say my map and GPS must be out of date with their data.

Somewhere near nowhere - Lost!?!

In any event, I ended up on the correct road, but still managed to get lost as there are numerous side roads and logging roads going every which way. I spent another hour or so retracing my steps on roads going the wrong way. Finally, I made my way to Nicomen road. I had been her earlier this summer, but I had come from the northerly direction.

High Mountain Pass on Nicomen Road

As I headed up the Nicomen road I quickly noticed a bunch of bear scat. A lot of bear scat. Some fresh, some old. I was soo excited to see a bear. I had my camera gear ready for action. I even saw bear tracks in the road. But alas, no bears were to be seen.

Looking Down toward Hwy 1 and the Thompson River


My route would take me on the east side of Kanaka Mt, Mt Lytton and Jackass Mt. I eventually pulled up on a high pass on the Nicomen Road overlooking the mountains with grand views of Hwy 1 and the Thompson River far, far, below me.

Zoomed view form my vantage at the pass.

The views were spectacular to say the least. It was hard to believe, but the road I was on must make its way down that way. There must be a great deal of switchbacks and steps parts. I was a bit nervous.

However, I got nearer and nearer the bottom, I realized that it wasn’t really that bad. A few big ponds and such in the road, but nothing challenging.

Roadside Lake.. complete with Beaver

I was ready for the next leg of my trip which was to take me over to Loon Lake outside of Cache Creek and make my way back over to Hwy 97 via some dirt roads. But I encountered severe thunder storms and it rained like the dickens as they say. I had to wait it out a bit in a Canadian Petro Station in Cache Creek. I supped on some coffee and got a sandwich. About 45 minutes later, I made a break for it. The bulk of the storm appeared to have passed. But now, the temperature had dropped dramatically. A bit cold and wet, I had to stop and bundle up. Loon Lake was going to have to wait for another time. I was not hoping to make it to a town called 100 Mile House. If the weather didn’t look any better, I was going to find a room there and hold up for the night. Which is exactly what I did.

Time to bundle up... Cold... Brrrrrr...

Along the way, on Hwy 97 I came upon a really serene lake in between storms. I stopped and soaked up the views and got some video of a beaver.

Accidental selfie

I also noticed some really cool cloud formations off to the west. I knew that the clouds were moving fast and I was quickly losing my light. I snapped some pictures and shot some video along the roadside.

Beautiful Cloud formations

I arrived in 100 mile House with my teeth chattering. Being the tough guy I think I am … some laziness as well, I didn’t stop to put my heated gear on. I got a cheap motel and took a nice hot bath. Afterwards I walked over to the A&W to get a burger and Root Bear. I checked my email and called home to give an update. I see I had a note from Paul, a fellow ADV rider, whom I’ve met before out this way, stating that he and a friend were to be riding out to the Chilcotin starting Sunday. It would be a long shot, but maybe we’d bump into each other out there.

It was off to bed that night and my mind was not thinking about work, home or anything else at this time. I went to sleep dreaming of the Bella Coola valley, my ride across the Chilcotin Plateau, seeing bears and riding through Tweedsmuir Park. I can assure you, it was a wonderful way to fall asleep.

Until Next Time...

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