Monday, January 28, 2008

Pictures from White Rock

Posted a few pictures of a beautiful day of caching in White Rock; these are all scenery pictures.

Right click here and select "open in new tab" to go to my Flickr page to view the pictures... to view the captions with the pictures, mouse over the first picture and when you see the "i", click on it and the captions will appear at the bottom of each picture. Don't forget to click "view as slide show"!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rambling Around Ridge

Had a chance to get out in the sunshine today and fix up a few caches that I have hidden. In the process the day was so nice I fired off a few scenic pictures and have posted them on my Flickr site for you to enjoy...right click with mouse here and choose "open in new tab"to view them.
When you go to the Flickr site click on "View as Slide Show"
Any one of these photos will make a great wall paper for your computer.....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Squamish to Lillooet to Hope to Vancouver

ABOVE: Old ore car from Britannia Mine Museum

Here is the trip report from one of the road trips I hosted for the Backroad Drivers Northwest web group of which I am a member; the trip was done a few years ago but it's still one of my favourite routes!

Hosted by Ed Pedersen


Cheryl Steele from Everett (AKA CJ)
Amanda Pedersen from Maple Ridge
Jeanine Albert from Pitt Meadows
Ed Pedersen from Maple Ridge

Rain, sun, then rain, then clouds, then sun, then, well you get the idea...

We were hoping for a bright sunshiny day to get the full benefit of the mountain vistas we would be traveling through today, alas, but that was not to be.

We left our North Vancouver rendezvous point around 9.30 AM after waiting for any last minute stragglers that might appear. As Cheryl (CJ) was driving by herself today, Amanda opted to ride with her to keep her company.

We traveled west along highway #1 through West Vancouver and turned north at Horseshoe Bay to begin our trip on Hwy #99, also known as the Sea to Sky Highway. For the next twenty miles we were treated to soaring cliffs on one side of us, complete with runaway creeks that often cause road problems during the winter. Even the cliffs themselves have been some what tamed; in sections they are covered with wire mesh, or even cemented over to try and control the rock face that crumbles and continually falls onto the road.

On the other side of the highway was an expansive ocean view occasionally limited by one of the Gulf Islands like Salt Spring or Galiano.

ABOVE: Mill buildings at Britannia Beach Mine Museum

We headed north and made our first stop at the Britannia Mining museum. Here you can take a short ride on an underground mine train that takes you under Britannia mountain to show you the real life working conditions of a mine, as well as the various types of drills used by hard rock miners.

The actual mine is higher on the mountain, but here at ground level were the still standing old mill buildings that crushed the ore to extract the copper from the rock. There was also a company town here to support the mineworkers and their families. Most of the old houses are gone now, just a few remaining buildings to show what they once were like.

ABOVE: Hercules Power water pump at mine museum

We walked around the grounds of the museum and spent time inside the gift shop/museum viewing the different rock types found in the mine. It was interesting to see the old pictures of the mine from 40, 60 and 100 years ago.

Back on the highway and another ten minutes along found us at Shannon Falls, a must see for anyone driving this route.

ABOVE: Shannon Falls

Shannon Falls slides through a narrow gap at the top of a 1200 foot cliff, and crashes noisily down a sheer cliff wall, creating a wall of mist that spreads for hundreds of feet away from the cliff site. Shannon Creek itself is wide, rough and full of sass, and competes for your attention as the water from the falls continues it's short journey to Howe sound.

The large creek caroms down a steep hill side and over the house size boulder slabs that have fallen over time from the cliffs above.

I have fond memories of Shannon Falls; as children our parents would come here for a day of picnicking and playing, and my brothers and I would climb right to the base of the falls and try to stand as close to the torrent of water as we could without getting knocked over. On a hot August day the cool mountain water fresh from the glaciers above was heaven!

Five minutes up the road was the logging town of Squamish, and it looks like every other logging town in the Pacific Northwest.The chosen ride is a pickup truck with a toolbox or huge diesel tank in the bed, all tools of a logger.

Squamish is being rejuvenated by eco-tourists anxious to see some of the remaining pure forests close to Vancouver; many other tourists with spending dollars are brought up from Vancouver by the Royal Hudson, a restored steam train that makes day trips to Squamish.

Plus, all the tourists on their way to Whistler and Blackcomb ski resorts stop in for a coffee, donut and a chance to re-stock their supplies.

A trip to the area wouldn't be complete without a side trip to Brackendale, home to the world's largest winter congregation of Bald Eagles.

While we were not in prime viewing time, there were still some juvenile Bald Eagles circling and playing on the thermal currents generated by the warm sun; and in the waters of the Squamish River a harbour seal dived repeatedly for young salmon and trout in the cloudy waters.

All around us the magnificence of the mountain scenery was hidden by the occasional rain shower that seemed to be following us so far this day. A major bummer to miss out on the towering mountains that encircle this small town.

ABOVE: Sign board at Brandywine Falls

Just south of Whistler we stopped to view the scenic Brandywine Falls; so named as two surveyors wagered a bet over the exact height of the falls. One wagered a bottle of brandy, and one a bottle of wine. The falls are 61 meters tall (approx 200 feet) and have formed a pocket as the water has eroded the surrounding rock. I have been here several times and I am always amazed at the power of water to change the landscape it courses through.

ABOVE: Brandywine Falls

Next stop was the main tourist Mecca of Whistler and it's multitude of ski slopes, shops, restaurants and clubs that make it so popular to the hordes of tourists.

Even in the height of summer the town was buzzing; I swear that there was a million dollars worth of mountain bikes buzzing around the town. Every place you looked there were families, young folks, and professional riders all pedaling away.

Miles out of town we seen athletes-in-training on the wide bike pathway that paralleled the road just a-charging up some of the steep hills the mountain highway traversed.

We left this bustling, scenic resort and traveled another half hour north on Hwy #99 to the tiny town of Pemberton.
This is a REAL, no frills logging town...two blocks of Main Street made up the downtown section, the local hotel, aptly named the Pemberton Hotel, with busy bar; a true one-bar town. To complete the image of a typical small town, the old railway station was smack dab at the centre of town and at the edge of the tracks.

A smattering of houses completed the downtown area; everyone else lived in the outskirts where they could park there heavy machinery and logging trucks on their own property with out the neighbours complaining.

Now it was time to turn eastward, still on Hwy #99, to travel through the First Nations area of Mt. Currie.

This is BC's biggest Indian reserve, and they hold a rodeo every year that is one of the best examples of real life cowboys; no rhinestones here!

Mt. Currie is situated in a small valley surrounded by the Lillooet River on one side, and the Birkenhead River on the other. The large strip of river delta that is formed by the two rivers is very flat and peaceful; I always expect to see orchards of apple trees on either side of the road.

Mt. Currie was also the start of the steady climb into Pemberton Pass that would take us over the divide of the Coast Mountains as we headed for the dry Interior of BC.

ABOVE: Pemberton Ice Fields

The descent coming back down into Mt. Currie is so steep that cars coming past us invariably smelt of burning brakes. I shudder to think how motor homes make it down the hill without some scary moments!

Gaining elevation into the Pass we noticed the warmer coastal air was being replaced by a cool breeze being swept down the mountains from the glaciers on the surrounding mountain peaks.

We stopped at a local Mecca for hikers, a destination called Joffre Peaks. Here you have your choice of easy day hikes around the valley and the glacial lake; or hard day hikes to the upper two lakes in the shadow of the Mattier Glacier. If you were hardy enough you could climb on the glacier itself.

ABOVE: First Lake at Joffre Lakes Park

Our group opted to pass on scaling the glaciers and only went 10 minutes down the trail to First Lake; a green gem of a lake in the shadow of Joffre Peak. Even that was rewarding enough, and it required several photos to capture the full beauty of the area before the mosquitoes chased us back to the cars.

A few more minutes of following the road as it climbed the mountain pass brought us to summit of the pass; the next 20 miles were to consist of level travel, with a slight elevation decline as we headed for Lillooet. At least that's what we thought; I had forgotten about the steep sections still to come.

ABOVE: Mountain Peaks of the Cayoosh Mountain Range

As we went along, the vistas had us continually chattering on the CB asking each other if we saw that mountain over there, or this peak here, or the lake back there; there was just too much to see, the scenery was fantastic!

ABOVE: Duffey Lake

Duffey Lake is the halfway point of Pemberton Pass, and the lake is a deep glacier-carved narrow lake situated between two mountain peaks, and COLD !! BRRRRRRRR !!

Here we pulled out the sweatshirts and hats while we drank in the cool mountain scenery.....avalanche chutes stretching from the mountain peak 3000 feet down to the lake reminded us of how truly wild this area was. Quite often during winter this route is closed due to bad weather, snow accumulations and the danger of avalanches.

We continued on along the road still awed by the scenery presented around every new bend in the highway.

ABOVE: Cayoosh Creek

We reached the end of the lake, and where the lake ended, Cayoosh Creek started. Cayoosh is a Lilloeet area variant of the Spanish word cayuse, meaning horse. In the Lillooet area it specifies a particular breed of mountain pony.

ABOVE: Cayoosh Creek

Cayoosh Creek runs noisily and angrily alongside the road for several miles, at times it is almost level with the road. We kept expecting the creek to jump the banks and cover the roadway, us included.

Soon enough we started our steep descent from the high mountain pass, down through the sharp switch backs where 20 miles an hour was way too fast for the sharp bends in the road. At times, if you looked over the edge you could see the highway a thousand feet below you. YOWSER!!

ABOVE: Seton River Valley looking east; the town of Lillooet is in the valley beyond. That same valley contains the Fraser River
EDITOR's NOTE: This picture is from a previous trip

Before we knew it we were spit out of a narrow valley pass where vertical walls 2000 feet tall were so close you swear you could throw a rock from one side of the pass and make it skip across to the other.

Suddenly we were down the last of the steep section; no more need for second gear to hold us back.....we had reached the other side of the Cayoosh Mountain range and the Fraser River was once again in site.

We were now 2/3 of the way through our trip, and a stretch break at Seton Lake presented us with a contradiction of sorts. We had started off in the cool rain showered West Coast right on the ocean with it's rain forest of Western Red Cedars, Douglas Firs and soaring waterfalls, we then climbed through a high mountain pass with peaks covered in year round glaciers that blew a cold wind down on us, and now we were back in summer!!

The hot August feeling wind that blew along the light green waters of the lake was warm and dry, and we were wondering how half an hour ago we could be so cold even with our sweat shirts on. The temperature change was amazing!

We shed our excess "cold weather" garments and rolled down the windows to let the "summer" in.

The tall rain coast trees had been replaced by shorter Ponderosa and Lodgepole Pines, interspersed with various Birch and Spruce species. The water loving wild ferns on the forest floor were replaced with bunch grass more conducive to rattlesnake territory.

We were in the rain shadow of the mountains, and the arid landscape was indicative of the low amount of precipitation that made it over the mountains. All that water that we had as rain in Squamish was now destined for the glaciers in Pemberton Pass.

Lillooet is the Mile Zero on the Caribou Wagon Road of the Gold Rush Days; 70 Mile House, 100 Mile House, 150 Mile House all exist today due to their beginnings as stage coach stops during the 1890's. Their names are indicative of their distance from Lillooet; many other road houses existed, usually based on how many days out of Lilloett they were; very few survive today.

We had a quick tour of the highlights of the town of Lillooet:

-the Mile Zero cairn

-the Hanging Tree where Judge Begbie dispensed frontier justice to 8 men, similar to the legend of Judge Roy Bean in Texas

-the remnants of gold diggings by the Chinese workers from the railroads; mountains of gravel and bedrock all lined up in an orderly fashion

-the museum with it's placer gold mining equipment

-The Bridge of the 23 Camels; this is a new bridge named to commemorate the bright soul that thought camels would make an excellent pack animal in the arid land of the Thompson Plateau. Only problem was the soft feet of the camels were ripped apart by the hard rock of the trails; and they scared the horses and mules.

By now a time check showed it to be 6.00 PM, and we still had many miles to go. We pushed on through the dry country as we now followed the Fraser River high above the river on the bench lands formed thousands of years ago from a time when the Fraser was many times it's present size.

The landscape was more desolate now then we were used to seeing on the west coast; sparse Ponderosa Pines with their reddish trunks sparingly covered the hillsides, prime habitat for deer, and we saw one right at the edge of the road feeding 4 feet of the highway. It was so well camouflaged that we did not see it until we were only 20 feet away! Lucky for us it did not dart out into our paths.....

The appearance of more farms and houses indicated that we were approaching the small town of Lytton.

Here we wanted to see the contrasting colours of two rivers merging. The Thompson River flows a deep blue as it travels through the harder bedrock of it's watershed. Cleaner gravel and less sediment means less contamination and a"purer" water column.

By contrast, the Fraser's watershed is composed of more sandy and clay like hills and mountains; small particles are easily suspended by the mighty river that contribute to it's "muddy" appearance.

Where the two mighty rivers meet is a clash of colour and a fight for supremacy. The Thompson resists the embrace of the muddy Fraser for hundreds of feet downriver, but the Fraser eventually wins. Where the two rivers first meet there is a fine line between blue and mud brown, just like someone took a pencil and drew a line.

But we were denied this treat was now 8.00 PM and the sun was disappearing behind the mountains, and the absence of bright sunlight caused the shadows to hide this exceptional sight. Somewhat disappointed we walked back to were we had parked the cars, but in true Backroader fashion we were already planning another day's adventure back to this area.

Seeing as that we were about to enter the scenic Fraser Canyon in the twilight, we would be missing all the wonderful sights that this section has to offer. We decided to hold a future trip and take the day to explore the Fraser Canyon at a leisurely pace.

Back on the road we hightailed it south towards the gateway town of Hope and the end of daylight and the end of the tour. We pulled into Hope just as dark was falling, at 9.00 PM and had a late meal at one of the local restaurants that served big meals and HUGE portions of home cooked pies.

We fed our tummies with food and our brains with coffee, then rejuvenated, we headed back out on the road for our last leg of the trip towards home.It was an awfully long day that passed way too quickly, and the sights that we saw continually amazed us during the day, and I think I got a sore neck from whipping it around trying to see everything there was to see!

It was an ambitious day, not for the faint of heart,and we made the most of it !!

In true Backroads mentality, knowing we missed a lot, and there is so much more to see, the return trip to the Fraser Canyon won't be too far off before we are once again racing along side the Fraser River, rubbernecking at the Super Natural Scenery of BC.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Views From Stanley Park on a Sunny Winter Day

We went downtown to view the new BC ferry that has just arrived and found out most of Vancouver had the same idea. After finding out the line up was 40 minutes long, (apparently the shortest it had been all day), we nixed the idea of standing in line. Instead, we opted to take some photos of the ferry from the promenade deck of Canada Place, and then go for a drive through Stanley Park.

Pictures can be found here on my Flickr site.

When the page comes up look in the upper right corner for the wording "View Slide Show". That will start the slide show for your viewing pleasure. Mouse over the centre of the picture and then click on the "i" in the centre of the picture to read the text that goes along with the posted pictures

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Jeeps In The Wild

I haven't posted anything for a while for a very simple reason; I haven't been out any where recently!
But I know that there are many people coming back to the site looking for new postings, so I thought I should at least put something new up.

So what I did was find a bunch of old pictures of my two Jeeps while they were out in the mountains exploring the back country. Don't look for some wild 4X4 action, that's not my style.
I'm more into exploring the endless miles of forest service roads available in this corner of southern BC.

Follow the link here to go to my Flickr site and view the pictures as a slide show; by now you should remember how to see the captions for each picture as the slide show plays.

ENJOY! I did while I was out taking these pictures!