Words By: Brandon Willms
Sometimes it’s too easy to forget the enormous feat that is modern road travel. The fact that I can hop into my truck in Calgary and magically zoom across the Great Divide arriving in Golden BC in 2.5 hours should be nothing short of mind-blowing! In my reality though I have become so numbed to driving Highway 1 that the astronomical phenomenon is totally lost on me. Sometimes attempting to travel 10 km on a deactivated BC logging road is the solid kick in the nads one needs to wake up from that numb state. Me and Danny Leavett got just that and more on our last trip to the depths of BC interior.
We did have some idea of what we were getting into, thanks to another amazing piece of technology called google earth. We could see the faint outline of a road which was reinforced by some squiggly lines in our backroads mapbook. Our target was a section of river about 8 km upstream from a cutblock which, if all went to plan, would be as far as we could drive Danny’s jeep. Danny had spotted the section of river a few years ago, and with the resolution being good enough to accentuate some beautiful looking pool drop whitewater combined with a pretty intense elevation profile, we were both phsyced to finally give it an old fashioned try.
Ever since the invention of the watch, time has been the adventurer’s greatest enemy. We set out with five days to achieve the goal, expecting it to take three. Every part of the journey seemed to take forever. We kept setting deadlines for ourselves and missing them. We camped at the bottom of the deactivated road instead of the top on day one. Driving up the logging road on day two felt like going back in time. Each fork we past represented a longer period between when it was last driven. The bushes started closing in around us until before too long we were driving through a jungle of alder. I had to walk out in front of the jeep in order to scout where the road bed existed. Travel was tedious.
We plodded along though, and eventually got close enough to the cutblock that we decided to quit the jeeping and bush bash down to the river. The bushwacking was something we had been mentally prepared for and we pushed through it best we could. Once we made it to the river our spirits were high again as we expected our upstream travel to be significantly easier. At times I thought about the coureur de bois of the 1600’s and how the rivers were to them what highways are to us now.
Day three dawned, and we now knew we were going to be pressed for time. To follow our original plan, we would have to hike the last three km’s up to the confluence, bushwack two more km’s to the top of our target creek, paddle the gems, paddle twenty k of slow moving river and drive my truck back to the jeep and right back out all in a day. Unbeknownst to us, the stars would not align this time around. Be it low water, long windy river, missed take-outs, long hikes, deep ditches or a torn fuel line, everything seemed to conspire against us. Among all that we had a grand old time, and needless to say, will be back for more next year with a greater appreciation of both modern and old school travel.