RubiKon Adventures

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

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Part 7: Tales and Trails of The Chilcotin, Bella Coola and Beyond

The great ride Continues.....

We arrived at Lee’s Corner (officially called Hanceville) and enjoyed a nice lunch. Lee’s Corner Store is somewhat of an oasis and a hub; a meeting place out in the Chilcoton Country. The store is not much… a small café, fuel, some hardware, liquor, fishing licenses, a laundromat and a small selection of food items.
However, it is also a place of historical value as the surrounding area was originally named Lee's Corner after Norman Lee one of the early pioneers and legendary cattle ranchers in the Chilcotin Region.
Norman Lee met with bad fate and with little success in his quest to go to the Klondike Gold Fields in the Yukon. I recommend that folks read his book “Klondike Cattle Drive” where his massive undertaking to the Yukon and how the epic journey ended in disastrous consequences.
The terrain and geography around Hanceville is absolutely stunning with river valleys; sandstone carved canyons, rivers cutting and flowing through ancient lava flows, endless graze land and spectacular territorial views.
After lunch we made out way past Riske Creek and over to Farwell Canyon. Farwell canyon is not only stunningly gorgeous it is of historical significance as well. It is known to the local Tsilhqot'in First Nation as Nagwentled - 'place of landslides'. It is a place of important salmon fishing and the spectacular Farwell rapids
The Chilcotin River flows here,
joining the mighty Fraser river just a bit
farther south at Sheep Range Provincial Park.
From a geological standpoint, the glaciers that were once estimated to me nearly 2 miles thick in this region all melted, carving these fantastic canyons as ice dams formed backing up water resulting in lots and lots of glacial silt. As a result, the land is unsteady and one of the reason why heavy rains make driving and riding in this area a real chore and even out right dangerous.
Farwell Canyon
The glacial fed Chilcotin River flows through here

The road winds through the canyon and up the otherside
Sod covered log buildings dotting the countryside
We headed out towards Gang Ranch but first had to pass through the Gaspard Ranch lands.

Along the way we came across old sod covered cabins and a farm. Numerous cattle dotted the roadsides. We even had to negotiate with logging trucks and the dust… oh my gosh. The dust was horrific. I got dust particles in every nook and cranny of my luggage, my riding gear and my bike. We made it a point to ride separated and the 3 of us were at times strung out as far as 2 miles apart to wait for the dust to settle. 

Eventually we made our way to the well known grasslands and the edge of Gang Ranch. The evening sun was stunning on the golden lands. It made for an enjoyable riding experience. Eye candy galore with rolling hills, majestic cliffs and canyons and not a paved road around for miles and miles and miles.
Yep, that is the “Gang Ranch” sitting in the valley below.
After riding through Gang Ranch we dropped dramatically down into the Fraser River gorge and crossed the Fraser River via the Gang Ranch bridge.
Here in the Fraser river canyon, I personally the dramatic scenery to be stunning. It is a drastic and somewhat sudden change from the high plateau country we just crossed. The canyon walls reflecting the late afternoon sunlight is breathtaking to say the least.
Through this section I slowed down a bit, to really soak it all in. It was a time of reflection for me.

My horse
The dramatic cliffs of ancient silt/sandstone along the mighty Fraser
Accidental selfie
Brent, Paul and myself eventually climbed out of the Fraser River canyon and regrouped just outside of a place called “Canoe Creek”. The sun was now setting quickly and I was very pretty excited now as I was hoping to see a bear or two. It seems like there is a 10 mile stretch just south of Canoe Creek where I always see some black bears. In fact, one year, I nearly collided with one here as it was lying in the road (napping?) as I came around a blind corner.  This time was no different. We saw two black bears grazing in a meadow. I presume they were siblings that were kicked out by their mom recently.  I didn’t take any pictures, but I did shoot some more video.
Sunset along Meadow Lake Road
Soon I found myself on a road I have never traveled before. That road being Meadow Lake Road. Paul knew it well however and we were trying to making it to Clinton BC and grab a cheap motel for the night.
Another lake in a meadow along Meadow Lake Road
The evening sun gave way to dusk and soon we found ourselves riding under a moonlit sky among hundreds of cattle which lined the road and much of the rolling hills in the countryside.
At one point Brent lost some luggage and we were talking about having to turn back to retrieve it. However, Paul, who was bringing up the rear saw it and saved us some time.

Riding under the moonlit sky was a special treat for me personally as I have never ridden much at night, especially in country like this. It was very surreal and enjoyable. However, it did have its drawbacks, that being as it got darker, it got increasingly harder to see the cattle and it was a bit dangerous IMHO to ride under such conditions. The cattle seemed less inclined to move out of the way as our lights blinded them. One thing I thought was cool was how the crying (mooing) of the cows echoed through the dark landscape. It added to the ambiance of the ride.

Full moon
 The ride through Meadow Lake road over to hwy 97 took much longer than anticipated and we had a short jaunt over to Clinton BC in the dark. Paul told us about a cheap motel which we are all excited to stay and clean up. However, when we arrived, all the motels were booked full. There was massive highway construction going on and the road crews were using the motels as temporary homes.
We managed to  get the last room but it only had two queen size beds. You can imagine how that went with 3 dusty cowboys and all their gear. I felt like I was back in college on one of my youthful road trips. It was a lot of fun. We did manage to get a nice dinner, as the diner down the street (Old School’s Bar & Grill) was still open at this late hour. Even better, as they catered to bikers and the entire place was decorated with Harley and other biker accessories.

I don’t know about Brent or Paul, but I slept pretty good that night. Still being severely congested, I can only hope that my snoring didn’t keep them awake.  I am sure it did, and they were kind enough not to bring it up. Great guys to ride with and I am happy to call them my friends.

Stay Tuned for the finale to this magnificent ride...

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