It was the end of August, a very hot time to be in the interior of BC following old Gold Rush trails and looking for new sites to see. I was leaving Kelowna early morning and had no agenda. Just get to the coast in a day, find a place to crash overnight, and then head back to the island the following day. But I made no plan, and I think that was the secret to how amazing this day became and the connections I made.
Left Kelowna Following the connector to the Coquihalla. That was about the most normal part of the trip. The fun happened when I got to Merrit and realized theres a highway that connects Merrit to Spences Bridge which is on the TransCanada Highway. I figured I’d take the Fraser Canyon down to Hope BC and the on to Vancouver.
Highway 8 Between Merrit and Spences Bridge was incredible. It was like stepping back into the 60’s and the scenery reminded me about old Magazines I had seen when I was a kid. Someone in my family had them but the magazines were all about BC and were created in the 60’s. The old images always fascinated me and maybe a lot of my wanderlust started with viewing those images of the road when I was a small child.
What was so amazing about this highway was how it criss crossed with an old deactivated rail line. There was ancient trestles, bridges and carved out canyons that the train ran through. The hills in this area or like arid desert almost, dirt, grass and brown with the odd, green, irrigated farm adding colour to the road. And hot! As a die hard North coast boy, I was a little bit out of my element but I endured, pressed on by the new sights around me.
The drive from Spences Bridge to Lytton was much of the same, following the Thompson River, and passing old abandoned buildings. Its sad to see these old places on the TransCanada highway. This section of road was once the main life line through BC and connected Hope to Kamloops. When the Coquihalla highway was built, it put a stop to a lot of traffic going up the Fraser Canyon. A much faster, wider and easier highway had stolen the glory of the old goat trail that followed original Gold rush trails from the 1800’s
When I got to Lytton, I decided I had the time in the day to go to Lilloett, drive down to Pemberton, Whistler and Squamish, and If you’re in Whistler, you have to hang out with the Dalla brothers. I quick Facebook message and I had secured a place to stay in Whistler, overnight, for free and with great company! Also they had a shower which was a needed bonus.
But I needed gas, and while I was crossing the bridge over the Thompson River, right where the water intersects with the Fraser River, I noticed there was a reaction ferry crossing. I was stoked! I had always wanted to take one of these across the river, and this one was one of five left from the 30 that used to ferry traffic across rivers in British Columbia. So I fuelled up the truck, and inquired of the road on the other side of the Fraser River. It was the original road from Lytton to Lilloett and it was opened. I was told to watch out for washouts as they had some rain the previous day. With that Information, I went down to the ferry and got in line.
There it was, going back on forth carrying a few cars at a time, depending on the size of them of course. A reaction ferry works when the captain of the boat angles it in the current and it is carried across by the flow of the river. The ferry is held in place by a cable that runs across the river and a rudder is used to control the angle of attack of the boat as it crosses. More angle, more speed, less angle, less speed. pretty simple and there is no engine to run this. Just the current of the river.
My ride across was pretty normal for the guys operating the “ship” but for me, I was as excited as a child on Christmas Morning. Two reasons, one being the ferry itself, and the other being what laid on the other side of the river. A complete mystery, just as the rest of the roads I had taken for the day. The ferry literally took 2 minutes to cross the river. When I hit the dirt on the other side, I noticed how sandy the dirt and soil was. I could see why they said to watch out for washouts on the road. That bank on the Fraser river was a lot of clay sand and dusty soil. But what did this road hold!
I was expecting the odd house leftover from the old days, maybe a farm or two tucked away into the bank, but I was shocked. On this road was whole communities of people living where they loved to live! and what a spot to live. The road was super twisty, super steep and a couple times I used 4×4 to get the footing I needed on the steepest hills. My truck is pretty light in back, so it skips around a bit and loses traction. That will be fixed once the overland camper is built and installed.
I saw a little road off to the left of the road that I was on. It looked interesting but I didn’t think I would have the time to actually go down it so I moved on. This proved to be one of the biggest mistakes I made on my journey. If I had only known what laid an hour down this road, I would have taken it. Molybdenite Ridge. A ridge line you can drive on and see a view of the mountains that is unprecedented. I found out when I got home the following day, what I had missed. I was researching the road and the local area and was stunned. I need to get back there.
Lilloet was a dinner spot and I found a greasy spoon diner that had everything I needed to catch up on the lunch I had skipped. Just a few more hours of driving and I’d be hanging out with some friends. But another cool thing happened. A grey Landrover Defender passed me that said Overlanding BC on the back of it. Given my innate interest in all things Overlanding, I had to catch up to the guy and hope he pulled over. I lucked out! Just outside of Lilloet I met Christopher Walker of Overlandingbc.ca
Talk about making connections! This guy is incredible and we had a good conversation about overlanding and driver training. If you ever need someone to teach you how to drive an off-road truck properly, this guy can show you tips and tricks that are mind blowing, being simple to execute with a little practice. What a good connections to make.
As this blog post is getting a little long, I’m going to cut it off short and say that the rest of the trip was beautiful and I can’t wait to go Explore this area again once my truck is finished and especially get to Molybdenite Ridge. Keep on exploring and never stop adventuring. There is so much of this world to see whatever your mode of transportation. Don’t stop, keep going!