back roads, British Columbia, crazy exploits, driving, exploration, Google Earth, Google maps, logging roads, Mission, mountains, Pemberton, Sasquatch trail, toyota, travel
Perfect Husband likes to explore.
I never knew this about him when we lived on the East Coast, but it turns out that’s because he’d already explored the East Coast pretty well. But in B.C., there are lots of funny little roads that take you out of the city and into the mountains, and within minutes BAM! You’re in totally foreign territory.
So he sits at home and looks at Google Maps and finds roads he doesn’t recognize, and then he piles us into the car and we explore it.
We’ve found some cool stuff this way, like a little air field for toy r.c. airplanes. PH likes to revisit that road a lot. He likes planes.
Well, this week PH had some time off for Easter and I let him persuade me into trying the Exploration of all Explorations.
The Sasquatch Trail.
Now, there’s really only one way to get from Vancouver to places in the mountains like Whistler and Pemberton. You go along the Sea to Sky highway. Where sometimes rocks fall.
The last time rocks fell, there was a lot of talk about what to do if this happened during the Olympics. If the only road was closed due to tumbling mountains, how would people get to the ski slopes where, you know, the snow is?
They started talking about a series of logging roads, which they called the Sasquatch trail. Supposedly you can get to Pemberton by following this route.
PH decided that he needed to try this. Go out to Mission, drive the Sasquatch trail, have dinner in Pemberton or Whistler, and come home on the Sea to Sky.
The problem is, the “Sasquatch Trail” seems to be more a hypothetical than a reality. Google Maps can’t give you directions along it. Some of the roads don’t even have names. In fact, Google Maps says some of the roads don’t even connect, but PH looked at the satellite images and decided that they were lying.
So we bought a lot of snacks, some water, and packed 24 hours worth of cloth diapers in the diaper bag, and we headed out for an adventure.
“You sure you don’t mind doing this?” my husband asked me, in the same voice that I might ask “are you sure you don’t mind me eating the last brownie?”
“I trust you,” I said.
“I just don’t want to fall off a mountain. Don’t let us fall off the mountain,” I said.
“Don’t worry – the whole plan is to hug Harrison Lake. Look – we’ll be right along the water most of the way. We can’t possibly fall off anything.”
Mental note: Next time, get PH to use Google Earth instead of Google Maps, and check on the elevation.
The drive out past Mission was fine and normal. Then we hit the dirt-and-rock-and-pothole logging road, and it started to look like this:
We passed this sign.
By the way, I drive a 2003 Toyota Echo.
It needs new shocks, and a new battery. But hey, it’s insured, and it’s never let me down!
We began to go up.
We finally could see the Lake that we were supposed to be hugging.
The dirt road continued to wind up the hill, and the view continued to be breathtaking. When I wasn’t terrified that we were going to fall off of the mountain, I was taking pictures.
Meanwhile, the road kept winding upwards.
Then it started winding inwards. We couldn’t see the lake any more.
We came to a fork in the road, and experienced a dilemma. PH’s directions, which he had written on paper (no service for his Crackberry up here), were “KEEP RIGHT. STAY NEAR LAKE.”
The problem was, the righthand path had a big sign that said “Logging Road. One way, radio controlled traffic. No access to campground.”
That didn’t seem like the correct path.
So we went left.
The road got narrower. And went deeper into the forest. It went up. And up.
Then we reached another sharp bend in the road… and it was covered in snow.
A lot of snow.
Like, 20 cm deep tire-ruts of packed snow.
Perfect Husband stopped the car, and we looked ahead. And we looked down.
Did I mention we were in my little Toyota Echo? With no cell phone service? And every vehicle that we had passed (which I could number with the fingers of my left hand) had been some form of truck? And our baby was in the back seat?
Despite my nagging anxieties, I really hadn’t had any real thought of turning back. PH is always taking us on crazy roads and it always turns out all right. But I didn’t want to take my tiny car through heavy snow around a sharp turn ON A MOUNTAIN with no phones, two wheel drive, and our baby and we didn’t even know if we were going the right way.
Perfect Husband knew it was the end. I got no argument from him. But he stared at the road for a long time before we finally drove back.
He has spent the last few days checking out books on B.C. back roads from the library, examining elevations and satellite imagery on Google Earth (mental note, use in future. Can’t fall off the mountain, my ass), and the price of renting a 4X4.
We’ll be back.
Possibly on PH’s birthday in the summer when hopefully all the snow will be gone.
In the meantime, PH wants it noted that we did NOT fall off a mountain, and the car, once washed, will be fine.
i like the positives:)
Not as much as me!
Hi, I'm Natalie. said:
I just have to say… GOOD FOR YOU! =)
(And my 1994 Civic was the QUEEN of backcountry – I’m sure the Echo is just fine out there. =)
Once we get the snow off the damn mountain 😀
We used to do this before we had the kids – just take random back roads and weird turnings because we could. It’s how we stumbled across the Mennonite community near North Mountain.
I can’t wait to hear part 2 of this story…
I went wandering with some friends up Deep Hollow Road on South Mountain. Now THAT was creepy.
What an incredible trip! I can’t wait to see the photos from when you go back. I’m so jealous of the views you have in BC. Ontario is pretty, but it’s nothing like that.
It’s possibly the best reason for living out here. We aren’t city folk naturally, but damn, we have a view.
I think our husbands might be long lost brothers. My hubby LOVES to explore. We have a Kootenay Backroads book. Does PH have a Lower Mainland backroads book?
The positive thing about my hubby and his adventures is that they don’t include me…most of the time. A friend of his used to work in the forestry industry and knows allllll the back roads in our area.
I love living in BC. I’ve only lived in BC and Alberta and since you can see all the way from Lethbridge to Edmonton without any interruption, BC is by far the best.
Best of luck on your next adventure.
He has one now!
Wowsers! I’m glad you survived, but that would have been scary. Exciting, but scary. (My husband likes to explore, too, but does it on foot. He spent entire weekends when we were apart after basic training just walking all day long, camping in the nearest wooded area, then walking back. Like eight to ten HOURS of WALKING. And he wonders how he got that perpetually ingrown toe… :P)
Beautiful country, Canada. Or so the photos you’ve got there tell me, anyway! 🙂 I know the feeling of being scared because you’re going somewhere you hadn’t quite planned – as in, you know where you’re going, only the roads there turn out to be … unexpected. It’s horrible! But once you get there, there is the “woah, that’s pretty” feeling, which sort of makes up for it.
Forme Toknow said:
Thanks for this! I was trying to figure out if one had to go all the way to Lilloet or something to get around the “long way” from Mission to Whistler/Sqamish and back to Vancouver. Amusing comments and good photos.
Pingback: Role Reversal | If By Yes