Part 1 of 5 of a solo trek to the Shulaps area of British Columbia… Previously published on Overland Canada in 2014.
I had about four days to spend on a solo adventure and the weather in the South-Western BC area was looking half decent. After some hasty googling and research on Dualsport BC and Bivouac.com (Canadian Mountain Encyclopedia), I set my sights on a generally unknown and rarely visited area in the Shulaps Range north of Lillooet, BC.
I developed a few rough goals for the trip, specifically because setting objectives makes things spicier. Also, leaving behind my family for this adventure allowed me to plan to do some things I normally wouldn’t with the fam along (i.e., certain risks or comfort levels).
1) Explore somewhere new;
2) Spend the night on top of a mountain;
3) Get some exercise.
Due to other commitments, I did not leave the XpedBC home base in Langley Township until dark. I left my trip plans with two separately reliable people, however, they were pretty vague considering things could change instantly depending on weather and trail conditions. I do not travel with a sat phone or SPOT-type device, however certain things will be tweaked for added layers of safety, such as carrying double the extra amount of food/water to await assistance, or bringing the gear that would allow me to load up a pack and hoof it out on foot. There will always be risk, and the ‘what if’s’, but that is inherent in pursuing adventure, and I’m fine with that.
I hit the road and enjoyed the light weeknight traffic which added to the good spirits for the days ahead. I flew out on the Trans Can east toward Hope, enjoying the new 110 km/h speed limit. I buzzed through Hope, which is typically a ghost town after dark, and even bypassed the usual stop at the Blue Moose Cafe – the best stop in town.
I continued and wound my way up the Fraser Canyon, stopping to take some night photos at one of the many historic spots along this area of the highway. Turned out not bad considering I wasn’t using a tripod:
While the digital point and shoot I was using is a fairly decent camera, it lacks the manual functions required to really obtain decent night shots…
Since highway traffic was so light, I stopped to take a snap of one of the tunnels that are pretty cool to drive through. Usually the truck traffic is too busy during the day to stop and get a shot. As kids we’d always have fun trying to hold our breath while dad drove through the tunnels. Sometimes he would slow down so we’d have to hold our breath for longer but it would just make us laugh. The longest tunnel, the China Bar tunnel, is only about a kilometre long though. This is one of the short ones:
So the plan that evening was to continue all the way to the Lillooet area and stay at the BC Hydro Rec Site on the west end of town. It would just be a quick stopover for sleep and not really to camp. Unfortunately, when I pulled up to the Rec Site, the gate was closed (probably because it was after midnight). Stumped, I continued on to the picnic area and found the gate open! I drove down to the parking lot at the edge of Seton Lake / BC Hydro dam area and had the parking lot to myself. I backed into a stall, climbed in the back to sleep and “ninja-camped” right there. The first night wasn’t glorious, but I was “out there” and sometimes crashing in the back corner of a desolate parking lot is just what you need to do. It was still better than boon docking in the Walmart parking lot!
I love how rugged the Lillooet area is.There’s no doubt why the town’s slogan is “Guaranteed Rugged”. Lillooet sits at the bottom of a deep rocky canyon with peaks rising to almost 9000 ft all around it. All roads leading in and out of town are fairly windy canyon-carving type roads with switchbacks, frequent rock slides and forest fires. Despite its semi-arid environment, there are plenty of glaciers and ice fields in the area. The town itself doesn’t exactly exude character, but living in the area would be an outdoor enthusiasts dream.
Usually it’s a scenic landscape or vehicles in the photos, however every once in a while I’ll capture a rare shot of myself in front of the lens – so why not at least pose beside the truck.
Driving through the area, it’s hard not to notice the beauty… British Columbia is so large and has such a diverse array of climates and geographic regions. The Lillooet area is ruggedly beautiful.
Soon I would hit dirt and climb from the valley floor to above treeline in the alpine.
…continued in Part 2: Four-low & Slow.