Kinbasket by Circumstance 2010

July 31 to August 8

The trip started with a plan to visit some folks up in Fort St. John, B.C. followed by dropping down to the West Kootenay area to visit some more people.  We know that the Fort St. John area is often very greasy and muddy, so for this trip we put the dirt wheels on the WR250Xs and loaded them in the Sprinter.

We expected to be doing significant quading.  We did some of that.  We also did some riding on the WRs.  The odd thing is that everywhere we went was dry!  It was amazing!  It certainly made for some good exploring weather.  There are many old roads and trails through the bush up this way.  It is not uncommon to come across abandoned equipment dating back 40+ years.

After a few days visit up North we loaded up the Sprinter and headed down South through Prince George.  The plan had been to head towards the Vernon area, possibly detouring along the Adams Lake road.  Things were pretty hazy looking by Prince George so we stopped at a visitor centre to find out that most of Highway 97 was on fire and all the towns along the way were either actively being evacuated, or under evacuation alert.  This is not the sort of thing you want to head into if you have a choice.  This also explained why we hadn't been able to get in touch with SheWolf.

So, with that knowledge, we altered our course and went West on Highway 16, turning South at Highway 5.  There are some long stretches without much there, so we pushed to make it to Valemount that night.  We've been through the area a few times, but never before stopped and spent time there.  Since our plans had changed we decided to stay a couple of days and explore a part of Kinbasket Lake we hadn't seen before. 

Kinbasket Lake is a large reservoir formed by the Mica Dam North of Revelstoke.  The Southern arm extends down towards Revelstoke, the Eastern arm extends towards Golden, and the Northern arm extends up towards Valemount.

We headed down the West side of the Northern arm exploring the deactivated logging roads on the WRs.

One of the things we came across was this tug boat.  It was on a rail car from British Columbia Railway.  It was likely used for working with log rafts in the lake long ago.  You could tell it hadn't been in the water for a while as the rails leading to the water were displaced and there were trees growing up in between.  The name RIVTOW50 was welded onto the hull. 

Not sure how it kept afloat with that much weight and that little displacement, but it was obvious how it kept upright.  Opening the still weather tight hatch revealed a Detroit Diesel engine in the bottom of it.  The thing was all engine. 

We were a mountain range over from where the fires were but there was still a smoky haze over the lake.

On one of the spurs we took, the road ended with a land slide.  This is still near enough to civilization that people obviously come here so a warning sign was put up.  There wasn't much trail past that.  It would have been quite technical with no room for error due to a drop-off beside it so we decided not to continue that way.  Maybe another time.

Another spur had a bridge out.  The trail kept on going and there were still a few logs and some 3/8 plywood on it, but we decided it was getting late enough in the day that we didn't feel like gingerly getting the bikes across to keep exploring.

Watch that last step.  It's a doozy!

On the other side of the bridge this old International Scout had been abandoned.

On the way back we went down a few more spurs and came upon a number of people fishing, complete with semi permanent camps, generators and freezers.  Make sure you don't go over your limit there folks.

Lodging in Valemount

Stay at the Yellowhead Motel.  They have the best rates in town and some of the best rooms too.  By far the best value.  It is run by a couple who have given attention to details including tall shower heads, brightly lit bathrooms, screen doors, plug ins, bigger fridges, makeup/dressing area separate from the bathroom, etc.  Rooms are recently renovated, very clean and tidy.  Best of all, there were no tour busses jamming up the place, complaining about the missing remote control for their TV, etc.

Food in Valemount
If you're not into fast food and prefer a real dinner like we do, go to the Caribou Grill at the end of 5th Avenue just before the train tracks.  Everything about it is superb.  No Caribou on the menu as of this writing, but they were trying to find a source.

The Caribou Grill

For breakfast go to the Great Escape restaurant across the street from the Yellowhead Motel.

Do not go to the Loose Moose Pub and Bistro next to the motel for anything.  It is just as expensive as the Caribou Grill but with the added bonus of poor service and mediocre food.  The walk or short drive to the Caribou Grill is well worth it.

Kinbasket South-Western Arm
Upon leaving Valemount, we decided to high tail it the 530km to Revelstoke with the intent of heading up to Mica dam and exploring on the WRs for the afternoon.  We've been up to Mica Creek and Mica Dam many times before, but never on little dualsports.

The section from just North of Kamloops to Revelstoke was a complete cluster full of Alberta A$$holes in pickup trucks trying to run people off the road.  Their universal theory seems to be that as long as you have pedal left, you're not going fast enough, regardless of whether you can stay on your side of the road or how much your trailer is swaying.

Once at Revelstoke we discovered that there only seemed to be one Diesel pump working in town so that was another cluster to get the Sprinter refuelled.  Imagine all the Alberta road hogs with their RVs, trailers, and pickups jockeying for position to fuel up.  Then while they're at the pump they stop for a coffee, get a snack, go in their trailer for no apparent reason, before finally leaving the pump.  It would have been nice to skip that filling, but we didn't have enough fuel to safely make it to Mica dam and back.

Finally the bikes and the Sprinter were refuelled and it was time to head up another arm of Kinbasket lake towards Mica Creek.  It was pouring rain on and off, so rather than unload the bikes to get soaked, we Sprintered up various spurs to explore where we could, remembering that we were driving a one wheel drive cargo van with no winch and no tire chains.

On one spur we found this old, abandoned beast:

The number plate on the engine said it was built in 6-77 by Cummins and had 335hp at 2100rpm.  The hour meter showed 7208.2 hours.  Fairly beefy for the time.

A few more spurs and some more pouring rain and it was time to head back to Revelstoke for supper after the 250km side trip.

Sunday morning dawned to more clouds with just 441 more km of Alberta A$$holes in pickup trucks to contend with on the highway back.

It was a good trip.  Not nearly as much riding as we would have liked and not in the places we intended.  We hadn't even planned on going to Kinbasket Lake.  But, by circumstances beyond our control the trip changed and we had a chance to see some things we hadn't before which is always a treat.